"If you wish to learn and appreciate something worth while, then love to be unknown and considered as nothing. Truly to know and despise self is the best and most perfect counsel."

Thomas á Kempis

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"Men should often renew their good resolutions, and not lose heart because they are tempted against them."

St Philip Neri

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"Those who love God are always happy, because their whole happiness is to fulfill, even in adversity, the will of God."

St Alphonsus de Liguori

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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

17. Of the Second Degree of our Inward Exercise, which increases Inwardness by Humility


But, having likened the four degrees of the first coming of Christ to the splendour and the power of the sun, we also find in the sun another power and another action, which hastens the ripening, and increases the numbers, of the fruit.

When the sun rises very high, and enters the sign of Gemini (that is, the Twins; or a twofold thing of one nature), which happens in the middle of the month of May: then it has a double power over flowers and herbs and everything that grows out of the earth. If, then, the planets which govern nature are well ordered according to the need of the season, the sun shines upon the earth and draws the moisture into the air. Thence come dew and rain; and the fruits increase and multiply.

So likewise, when Christ that bright Sun has risen in our hearts above all things; when the demands of our bodily nature which are opposed to the spirit have been curbed and discreetly set in order; when we have achieved the virtues in the way of which you have heard in the first degree; when, lastly, through the ardour of our charity, all the pleasure, and all the peace, which we experience in these virtues, have been offered up and devoted to God, with thanksgiving and praise:—then, of all this there may come down a sweet rain of new inward consolation and the heavenly dew of the sweetness of God. This makes the virtues grow, and multiplies them twofold if we hinder it not. This is a new and special working, and a new coming, of Christ into the loving heart. And by it a man is lifted up into a higher state than that in which he was before. On this height Christ says: Go ye out according to the way of this coming.
 

18. Of the Pure Delight of the Heart and the Sensible Powers


From this sweetness there springs a well-being of the heart and of all the bodily powers, so that a man thinks himself to be inwardly enfolded in the divine embrace of love. This delight and this consolation are greater and more pleasant to the soul and the body than all the satisfactions of the earth, even though one man should enjoy them all together. In this well-being God sinks into the heart by means of His gifts; with so much savoury solace and joy that the heart overflows from within. This makes a man comprehend the misery of those who live outside love. This well-being melts the heart to such a degree, that the man cannot contain himself through the fulness of inward joy.
 

19. Of Spiritual Inebriation


From this rapturous delight[44] springs spiritual inebriation. Spiritual inebriation is this; that a man receives more sensible joy and sweetness than his heart can either contain or desire. Spiritual inebriation brings forth many strange gestures in men. It makes some sing and praise God because of their fulness of joy, and some weep with great tears because of their sweetness of heart. It makes one restless in all his limbs, so that he must run and jump and dance; and so excites another that he must gesticulate and clap his hands.

Another cries out with a loud voice, and so shows forth the plenitude he feels within; another must be silent and melt away, because of the rapture which he feels in all his senses. At times he thinks that all the world must feel what he feels: at times he thinks that none can taste what he has attained. Often he thinks that he never could, nor ever shall, lose this well-being; at times he wonders why all men do not become God-desiring. At one time he thinks that God is for him alone, or for none other so much as for him; at another time he asks himself with amazement of what nature these delights can be, and whence they come, and what has happened to him.

This is the most rapturous life (as regards our bodily feelings) which man may attain upon earth. Sometimes the excess of joy becomes so great that the man thinks that his heart must break. And for all these manifold gifts and miraculous works, he shall, with a humble heart, thank and praise and honour and reverence the Lord, Who can do all this; and thank Him with fervent devotion because it is His will to do all this. And the man shall always keep in his heart and speak through his mouth with sincere intention: "Lord, I am not worthy of this; yet I have need of Thy boundless goodness and of Thy support." In such humility he may grow and rise into higher virtues.
 

20. What may hinder a Man in this Inebriation


When, however, this coming and this degree are granted to such men as first begin to turn from the world; even though their conversion be perfect, and they have abandoned all worldly consolation, that they may be wholly God's, and may live altogether for Him,—yet they are still feeble and have need of milk and sweet things, and not of the strong food of fierce temptation and the loss of God. And in this season, that is to say, in this state, hoar-frost and fog often harm such men; for it is just in the middle of May according to the course of the inward life. Hoar-frost is the desire to be somewhat or the belief that one is somewhat; or to be attached to one's self, or to suppose that we have earned these consolations and are worthy of them. This is hoar-frost, which may destroy the flowers and fruits of all the virtues. Fog is, the desire to rest in inward consolations and sweetness. This darkens the air of the reason; and the powers, which ought to open and flower, close again. And thereby one loses the knowledge of truth, and yet may keep a certain false sweetness, which is given by the devil, and which in the end shall lead us astray.
 
 
   
 
44. The word "weelden," here translated "rapturous delight," really means a luxury of enjoyment: an overpassing and voluptuous rapture, in which the soul partakes of the rich content of God.