"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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"Try to turn your heart from the love of things visible and bring yourself to things invisible. For they who follow their own evil passions stain their consciences and lose the grace of God. "

Thomas á Kempis

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"Every man naturally desires knowledge; but what good is knowledge without fear of God? Indeed a humble rustic who serves God is better than a proud intellectual who neglects his soul to study the course of the stars."

Thomas á Kempis

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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

41. He shall go out towards all Sinners


At times this same man shall descend towards sinners, with great compassion, and with generous mercy, and shall bring them before God with fervent devotion and with much prayer; bringing to God's remembrance all the good which He is, and all His power, and all that He has done for us, and has promised us, right as though He had forgotten all this: for God wills that we beseech Him. And charity shall obtain all that it desires; nevertheless it must not be stubborn and self-willed, but must leave all to the rich goodness and to the generosity of God: for God loves without measure, and herein the lover best finds his peace. Now, since this man bears a common love to all, he prays and beseeches God that His love and His mercy may flow forth towards Pagans and towards Jews and towards all unbelievers, that He may be loved and known and praised in heaven, and that our glory, our joy and our peace may spread to all the ends of the earth.

This is the second going out, towards sinners.
 

42. He shall go out towards his Friends in Purgatory


At times the man shall behold his friends in purgatory, and shall consider their misery and their yearnings and their heavy pains. Then shall he pray and beseech the pity, the mercy, and the generosity of God; and shall plead their good-will, and their great misery, and their yearning after the rich goodness of God, and he shall bring to God's remembrance that they died in love, and that their only refuge is in His passion and mercy.

Now understand this: it may sometimes happen that this enlightened man is specially urged of the Spirit of God to pray for a certain thing, for some sinner, or for some soul, or for some ghostly benefit, in such a way that he feels and understands it to be the work of the Holy Ghost, and not of his own choice, or self-will, or nature. Then the man sometimes becomes so intense and so ardent in his prayer that he receives in ghostly wise the answer that his prayer has been heard. And with the coming of this sign the thrust of the Spirit and the prayer abate.
 

43. He shall go out towards himself and towards all Good Men


Now the man shall go out towards himself and towards all men of good-will, and shall taste and behold how that they are tied and bound together in love; and he shall beseech and pray God that He may let His customary gifts flow forth, that thereby all may be confirmed in His love and His eternal worship. This enlightened man shall faithfully and discreetly teach and instruct, reprove and serve, all men; for he bears in him a love towards all. And thereby is he a mediator between God and all men. And then he shall turn wholly inwards upon himself with all the saints and with all the just, and possess in peace the unity of his spirit, and therewith the most high Unity of God, wherein all spirits rest. This is a true ghostly life; for all the degrees and all the virtues, inward as well as outward, and the highest powers of the soul, are supernaturally adorned by it in a right and profitable way.
 

44. Showing how we may recognise those Men who fail in Charity to all


There are some men who are very subtle in words, and skilful in showing forth high things, and yet do not enjoy this enlightened condition, neither this common and generous charity. In order that these men may learn to know themselves, and also may be known of others, I will distinguish them by three signs. By the first sign they may be known of themselves, and by the two others they may be recognised of all men of understanding.

The first sign: Whereas the enlightened man, by virtue of the Divine light, is simple and stable and free from curious considerations, these others are manifold and restless and full of subtle reasonings and reflections, and they do not taste inward unity, nor the satisfaction which is without images. And by this they may know themselves.

The second sign: Whereas the enlightened man possesses a wisdom inpoured by God, wherein he knows and distinguishes the truth without effort, these men have shrewd and sudden notions, with which they work in their imagination, and which they display and develop with much cunning. But their ground is barren and they cannot bring forth fruitful doctrine. Their doctrines are manifold, they are concerned with outward things and addressed to the understanding. And thereby inward men are troubled, hindered, and led astray. They neither lead nor point to unity; but they teach subtle observations in multiplicity. Such people hold obstinately to their own doctrine and opinion, even though another opinion be as good as their own. And they are idle and careless as regards all virtues. Spiritual pride is in all their being. This is the second sign.

The third sign: Whereas the enlightened and loving man flows forth in love towards all in heaven and on earth, as you have heard, this other man sets himself apart in all things. He thinks himself to be the wisest and the best of all; and desires that others should think highly of him and his teaching. All those whom he does not teach and advise, all those who do not follow his way of life and do not cling to him as their master, these seem to him to be sunk in error. He is large and spacious in satisfying his bodily needs, and little faults do not count heavily with him. This man is neither just, nor humble, nor generous, nor a servant of the poor, nor inward, nor fervent, nor does he feel the love of God. He knows neither God, nor his own being, in the way of true virtue. This is the third sign.

Mark these, and study them, and cast them out of yourselves, and out of all men in whom you remark them; but condemn no one for such things unless it be that they have proved it by their deeds, for this would soil your heart and would hinder it in the knowledge of Divine truth.