"It is not God's will that we should abound in spiritual delights, but that in all things we should submit to his holy will."

Blessed Henry Suso

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"It is vanity to love what passes quickly and not to look ahead where eternal joy abides. "

Thomas á Kempis

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"He who wishes to be perfectly obeyed, should give but few orders."

St Philip Neri

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Blessed John of Rusybroeck   (1293-1381)

 

THE ADORNMENT OF THE SPIRITUAL MARRIAGE (cont)

 

by Blessed John of Rusybroeck

 

THE SECOND BOOK

6. Of the Second Coming of our Lord in the Inward Man


The second way in which Christ comes inwardly, with a higher nobleness, more after His likeness, with increased gifts, and with a greater radiance, is a pouring forth of the riches of His Divine gifts into the higher powers of the soul, whereby the spirit is strengthened, enlightened, and enriched in many ways. This streaming of God into us demands of us a flowing out and a flowing back, with all these riches, into that same Source from which that torrent has flowed. And in this torrent God gives to us and shows to us great wonders; but He asks back from the soul all His gifts, increased beyond anything that any creature could accomplish. This exercise and this way is more noble and more like unto God than the first; and by it the three higher powers of the soul are adorned.
 

7. Of the Third Coming of our Lord


The third way in which our Lord comes inwardly is by an inward stirring or touch in the unity of the spirit, wherein are the higher powers of the soul; wherefrom they flow forth, and to which they return again, and with which they always remain united in the bonds of love and through the natural unity of the spirit. In this coming consists the highest and most interior condition of the inward life; and by it the unity of the spirit is adorned in many ways.

Now, in each coming, Christ desires of us a special going out of ourselves, toward a life that shall accord with the way of His coming. And therefore He says in ghostly wise within our hearts at each coming: Go ye out in your lives and in your practices in the way in which My graces and My gifts shall urge you. For according to the manner and way in which the Spirit of God urges, and drives, and draws, and streams into us, and stirs us; in this way we must go out and progress in our inward practices, if we are to become perfect. But if we withstand the Spirit of God by a life that does not accord with it, we lose that inward urge, and then the virtues will depart from us.

These are the three comings of Christ, in inward exercises. We will now explain and set forth each coming separately. Attend therefore with diligence; for he who never has himself felt or experienced this he shall not easily understand it.

 

8. How the First Coming has Four Degrees


The first coming of Christ in the exercise of desire is, as we have said, an inward and sensible thrust of the Holy Ghost, urging and driving us towards all virtues. This coming may be likened to the splendour and the power of the sun, which, from the moment when it rises, enlightens and brightens and warms the whole world.[43] So likewise Christ, the eternal Sun, beams and shines, dwelling above the summit of the spirit; and enlightens and enkindles the lowest part of man, namely, the fleshly heart and the sensible powers. And this happens in a moment of time, shorter than the twinkling of an eye; for God's work is swift. But that man in whom this should take place must be inwardly seeing, with the eyes of the understanding.

In the higher lands, in the middle region of the world, the sun shines upon the mountains, bringing an early summer there, with good fruits and strong wine, and filling that land with joy. The same sun gives its splendour to the lower lands, at the utmost part of the earth. There the country is colder, and the power of the heat less; nevertheless, there too it produces many good fruits, though little wine. The men who dwell in the lower parts of themselves, in their outward senses, yet with a good intention, in moral virtues, in outward work, and in the grace of God: they too produce the good fruits of virtue, in great numbers and in many ways; but of the wine of inward joy and ghostly consolation they taste little.

Now the man who wishes to feel within himself the glow of the Eternal Sun, which is Christ Himself, he should be seeing, and should dwell on the mountains in the higher lands, by a gathering together of all his powers, and lifting up his heart towards God, free and careless of joy and grief, and of all created things. There Christ, the Sun of righteousness, shines upon the free and uplifted heart: and these are the mountains that I mean.

Christ, the glorious Sun, the Divine Brightness, by His inward coming and by the power of His Spirit, enlightens and brightens and enkindles the free heart and all the powers of the soul. And this is the first work of the inward coming in the exercise of desire. Like as the power and the nature of fire enkindles everything which is offered to the flames, so Christ, by the fiery ardour of His inward coming, enkindles every ready, free and uplifted heart; and in this coming He says: Go ye out by exercises according to the way of this coming.
 
 
   
 
43. The source of this image seems to be a well-known passage in Dionysius the Areopagiteó

"That brilliant likeness of the Divine Goodness, our great sun, all-radiant and ever-shining as a distant echo of the Good, enlightens all capable of receiving light . . . pouring upon the universe above and beneath the splendour of its rays. And if anything does not share in them this is not because of any lack in its distribution of light, but because of the inaptitude for light of those things which do not unfold themselves that they may participate in the light." (Divine Names, cap. 4.)