"The Lord has always revealed to mortals the treasures of his wisdom and his spirit, but now that the face of evil bares itself more and more, so does the Lord bare his treasures more."

St John of the Cross, OCD - Doctor of the Church

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"The essence of perfection is to embrace the will of God in all things, prosperous or adverse. In prosperity, even sinners find it easy to unite themselves to the divine will; but it takes saints to unite themselves to God's will when things go wrong and are painful to self-love. Our conduct in such instances is the measure of our love of God."

St Alphonsus de Liguori

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"Whoever wants to stand alone without the support of a master and guide will be like the tree that stands alone in a field without a proprietor. No matter how much the tree bears, passers-by will pick the fruit before it ripens. "

St John of the Cross, OCD - Doctor of the Church

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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

29. Showing what the Forsaken Man should do


Here the man should bethink himself with a humble heart that of his own he has nothing but misery; and he should say in resignation and self-abandonment the words which were spoken by the holy man Job: "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; as it pleased the Lord, so it hath been done; blessed be the name of the Lord. And he should renounce himself in all things, and should say and mean in his heart, "Lord, I am as willing to be poor in all those things of which I have been deprived as I am ready to be rich, O Lord, if it be Thy will and to Thy glory; not my will according to nature, O Lord, but Thy will and my will according to spirit be done. For I am Thine own, O Lord, and would as well be in hell as in heaven, if it were to Thy glory. Lord, do unto me according to Thy good pleasure."

Of all this suffering and abandonment the man should make an inward joy; and he should give himself into the hands of God, and should be glad because he is able to suffer for the glory of God. And if he be true to this disposition, he shall taste such an inward joy as he never tasted before; for nothing is more joyful to the lover of God, than to feel that he belongs wholly to his Beloved. And if he has indeed followed the way of the virtues straight to this degree, even though he has not passed through all the states which have been pointed out heretofore, it is not needful, if he feels within himself the source of the virtues: which is in activity, humble obedience; and, in passivity, patient resignation. In these two things this degree is established in everlasting surety.

In this season of the year the sun of heaven enters the sign of Libra, which means the Scales; for day and night are evenly balanced, and the sun divides the light from the darkness in equal parts. So likewise Christ stands in the sign of the Balance for the resigned man. Whether He gives sweetness or bitterness, darkness or light, whatever he lays upon the scale, the man balances it evenly; all things are equal to him, save sin alone, which is for ever cast out.

When such utterly resigned men have thus been deprived of all consolation, and believe that they have lost all virtues, and are forsaken of God and of all creatures: then if they are able to reap them, all kinds of fruit, the corn and vine, are ready and ripe. And this image means, that all that the body can endure, whatsoever it be, should be offered up to God gladly, and of one's own free will, and without resistance to the supreme Will. All the outward and inward virtues, which a man practised with joy in the fire of love; these, since he knows them and is able to perform them, he should now practise diligently and with courage, and should offer them up to God. Never were they so dear to God; for never were they so noble and so fair. All the consolations which God ever gave should gladly be given up, if it be to His glory.

This is the harvest of the corn, and of all kinds of ripe fruits, on which we shall live eternally, and which make us rich in God. Thus the virtues are made perfect, and sorrow is turned to eternal wine. By such men, and by their lives and their patience, all those who know them and all their neighbours are taught and changed for the better: and so the corn of their virtues is sown and multiplied for the benefit of all good men.

This is the fourth way in which a man by inward working is adorned and perfected in the bodily powers and the lower part of himself: and in no other way can he continually grow and become more perfect. But as such men have been harshly afflicted, and have been tried, and tempted, and combatted, by God, by their own selves, and by all creatures, in them the virtue of resignation reaches a singular perfection. Nevertheless, resignation, or the renunciation of self-will for the will of God, is before all things needful for all men who wish to be saved.
 

30. A Parable: How one may be hindered in this Fourth Degree


At this season of the year, so soon as the equinox is come, the sun begins to descend and the weather becomes cooler. And then some imprudent men become full of noxious humours, which enter into the stomach, and spoil the health and bring many diseases: and these destroy the appetite and the taste of good food, and bring many to death. And some men are corrupted by these noxious humours, so that they get dropsy, and have therefrom long torments and sometimes die. And from the super-abundance of these humours come sickness and fever from which many men suffer, and of which some die.

And so likewise it is, when men of good-will, who once tasted God, have swerved from Him and from truth, and have gone astray; these either sicken in the way of perfection, or wither away as regards virtue, or fall into eternal death, through one of these maladies, and some through all three. Especially when he is forsaken a man has need of much strength, and must exercise himself in the way I have just taught you: thus he shall not be deceived.

But the unwise man, who rules himself ill, falls easily into these maladies; for in him the weather has grown cooler. For this reason his nature becomes slow in virtue and in good works, and craves for comfort and softness of the body; often without discretion and more than is needful. And other men would like well to receive solace from God, if they might partake of Him without pains and labour. And some seek for solace in creatures, wherefrom great harm often ensues. And some think themselves sick and feeble and that their powers are exhausted, and believe that they have need of all that they can get, and that they must cherish their bodies in comfort and repose.

When a man yields himself in such a way, and seeks without discretion after bodily things and comforts; then all such things are noxious humours which fulfil the stomach, that is to say, the man's heart, and take from him the taste and the enjoyment of good food, that is to say, of all the virtues.
 

31. Of another Hindrance


If a man thus falls into sickness and cold, he is sometimes caught by dropsy, that is to say, he has an inclination towards the outward possession of earthly things. The more such men acquire, the more they desire; for they straightway become dropsical. The belly, that is, the appetites or lusts, swells terribly, and the thirst will not be quenched. But the face of conscience and discretion becomes small and thin, for these men put hindrances against the inflow of the grace of God.

If they thus accumulate the waters of earthly possessions about the heart, that is, if they cling to them with desire, they cannot progress in works of charity; for they are sick, they lack the inward spirit of life and breath, that is to say, they lack the grace of God and inward charity. And therefore they cannot rid themselves of the waters of earthly riches: the heart is submerged in them, and they are often choked therein and die an eternal death.

But those who keep the waters of earthly riches far below the heart, so that they are master of their possessions and can renounce them whenever it is needful: these, though they may suffer long from inordinate inclinations, may yet be cured.
 

32. Of Four Kinds of Fever wherewith a Man may be Tormented


Those men who are full of noxious humours, that is to say, full of inordinate inclination towards bodily comfort and towards foreign and creaturely consolations, can fall into four kinds of fever.

The first kind is called the quotidian fever. It is a multiplicity of the heart; for these men wish to know all things, and to speak of all things, and to criticise and to judge all things, and meanwhile they often fail to observe themselves. They are weighed down by many strange cares; they must often hear what they do not like; and the least thing troubles them. Their thoughts are restless; first this, then that, first here, then there; they are like to the winds. This is a daily fever; for they are troubled, and busied, and in multiplicity, from morning until evening, and sometimes in the night also, whether they sleep or wake. Though this may exist in a state of grace and without mortal sin, yet it hinders inwardness and inward practices and takes away the taste of God and of all virtues. And this is an eternal loss.

The second kind of fever comes on alternate days. It is called fickleness. If it lasts long it is often dangerous. This fever is of two kinds: sometimes it comes from intemperate heat, and sometimes from cold. The one which comes from intemperate heat befalls certain good men; for when they are, or have been, touched by God, and then are forsaken of Him, they sometimes fall into fickleness.

To-day they choose one way of life, and to-morrow another; at one time they wish to be silent, and another time they wish continually to speak. First they wish to enter into this order, then into that. First they wish to give all their goods to God, then they wish to keep them. At one time they wish to wander abroad, at another to be enclosed in a cell. At one time they long to go often to the Sacrament, and shortly afterwards they value this but little. At one time they wish to pray much in a loud voice, and another time but shortly after, they would keep silence. And this is both a vain curiosity and a fickleness, which hinder and impede a man from comprehending inward truth, and destroy in him both the source and the practice of all inwardness.

Now mark whence this unstable condition comes in some good men. When a man sets his thoughts and his inward active endeavour on the virtues and on outward behaviour more than on God and on union with God: though he remains in the grace of God (for in the virtues he aims at God), yet none the less his life is unstable, for he does not feel himself to rest in God above all virtues. And therefore he possesses something that he does not know; for, Him Whom he seeks in the virtues and in the multiplicity of acts, he possesses within himself, above intention, above virtues, and above all ways and means. And therefore, if this man would overcome his fickleness, he must learn to rest above all virtues in God and in the most high Unity of God.

The other fever of fickleness, which comes from cold, all those men have who love God indeed, but at the same time seek and inordinately love some other thing. This fever comes from cold, for the heat of charity is poor indeed where not God alone, but foreign things besides and with God, urge and excite us towards the works of virtue.

Such men are fickle of heart; for in all the things which they do, nature is secretly seeking its own, often without their knowledge, for they know not themselves. Such men choose and abandon, first one way of life, then another. To-day they choose one priest, to whom they would go for confession and for counsel their whole life long; and to-morrow they will choose another. On all things they will ask advice, but hardly ever do they act upon it. All things for which they are blamed and rebuked they like to excuse and to justify. Of fine words they have plenty, but little is in them. They like well to have a reputation for virtue, but without great effort. They wish their virtues to be known, and these are therefore empty, and have no savour either of God nor of themselves. Others they teach, but will themselves hardly be taught or reproved. A natural self-love and a hidden pride make them thus fickle. Such people walk on the verge of hell: one false step, and into it they fall.

In some men this fever of fickleness may produce the quartan fever; that is, an estrangement from God and from themselves and from truth and from all virtues. And then they fall into such confusion that they are at their wit's end and know not what to do. This illness is more dangerous than either of the others.

Through this estrangement a man sometimes falls into a fever which is called the double quartan, which means indifference. Then the fourth day is doubled, and he can hardly recover, for he becomes indifferent and heedless of all that is needful to eternal life. So he may fall into sin, like one who never knew anything of God. If this may befall those men who govern themselves ill in this state of abandonment, then it behoves those to beware who never knew ought of God, nor of the inward life, nor of that sweet savour which good men find in their exercises.