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

St Philip Neri

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"Let persons in the world sanctify themselves in their own houses, for neither the court, professions, or labour, are any hindrance to the service of God."

St Philip Neri

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"The name of Jesus, pronounced with reverence and affection, has a kind of power to soften the heart. "

St Philip Neri

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Blessed John of Rusybroeck   (1293-1381)




by Blessed John of Rusybroeck



49. Showing how God possesses and moves the Soul both in a Natural and a Supernatural way

Now mark well: I will show you an image of this. God has created the highest heaven, a pure and simple Radiance, which enrings and encloses all the heavens and all bodily and material things that God has ever created; for it is an outward dwelling-place and a kingdom of God and His saints, full of glory and eternal joy. Now since this heaven is an unmingled Radiance, there is here neither time, nor space, nor movement, nor any change; for it is immovable and unchangeable above all things. The sphere which is nearest to this glowing heaven is called the First Movement. For here all movement arises from the highest heaven, by the Power of God. From this movement the firmament and all planets derive their courses. And, through it, all creatures live and grow, each according to its kind[54]. Now understand this well: so likewise the essence of the soul is a ghostly kingdom of God, full of Divine radiance transcending all our powers, except they be in that simplified state of which I will not speak now. Behold, in regard to the essence of the soul, wherein God reigns, the unity of our spirit is like to the First Movement; for, in this unity, the spirit is moved from above by the power of God, both naturally and supernaturally. For we have nothing of our own, neither in nature, nor above nature. And this stirring of God, when it is supernatural, is the first and principle cause of all virtues. And through this stirring of God, there are given to some men the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost, like to the seven planets, which illuminate and make fruitful the whole life of man. This is the way in which God possesses the essential unity of our spirit as His kingdom; and in which He works and flows forth with His gifts into our potential unity and into all our powers.

50. Showing how a Man should be adorned if he is to receive the most Inward Exercise

Now consider diligently how we can acquire and possess the most inward exercise of our spirit in the created light. The man who is well adorned with the moral virtues of the outward life, and has risen into nobility and divine peace by inward practices; he possesses the unity of the spirit, enlightened by supernatural wisdom, flowing forth in generous love toward heaven and earth and lifting itself up by its reverence and its merits, and flowing back into that very ground, the most high Unity of God, from which all things proceed. For each creature, according to whether it has received more or less from God, has more or less of ascending love and inward tendency towards its origin; for God and all His gifts invite us into Him, and through charity and the virtues and resemblance, we desire to enter into Him.

51. Of the Third Coming of Christ

Through this loving inclination of God, and His inward working in the unity of our spirit, and further through our glowing love and the pressing of all our powers together into the very unity in which God dwells, there arises the third coming of Christ in inward working. And this is an inward touch or stirring of Christ in His Divine brightness, in the inmost part of our spirit. The second coming, of which we have spoken, we have likened to a fountain, pouring forth in three rills. But this coming we will liken to the duct which feeds the fountain. For there is no rill without a fountain; and no fountain without a living duct. So likewise the grace of God flows forth like rills into the higher powers, and impels and enkindles a man in all virtue. And this grace springs up within the unity of our spirit like a fountain, and falls back again into that same unity whence it arises; even as a living and gushing spring which comes forth from the living ground of the Divine Richness, where neither faithfulness nor grace can ever fail. And this is the touch which I mean. And the creature passively endures this touch. For here there is a union of the higher powers within the unity of the spirit, above the multiplicity of all the virtues, and here no one works save God alone, in untrammelled goodness; which is the cause of all our virtues and of all blessedness. In the unity of the spirit, into which this duct gushes forth, one is above activity and above reason, though not without reason. For the enlightened reason, and especially the power of love, feels this touch; and reason cannot understand, nor can it comprehend, the way or the means of this touch, how or what it is, for it is a working of God, the upspringing and the inrushing of all graces and gifts, and the last intermediary between God and the creature. And above this touch, in the still being of the spirit, there broods an incomprehensible Brightness. And that is the most high Trinity whence this touch proceeds. There God lives and reigns in the spirit, and the spirit in God.


52. Showing how the Spirit goes out through the Divine Stirring

Now, through this touch, Christ says inwardly within the spirit: Go ye out with practices in conformity with this touch. For this deep touch draws and invites our spirit to the most inward practices which a creature is able to fulfil in a creaturely way in the created light. Here the spirit raises itself, through the power of love, above all works, into the unity where this life-giving spring or touch gushes forth. And this touch invites the understanding to know God in His brightness, and it draws and invites the power of love to enjoy God without intermediary. And this the loving spirit desires to do, both in a natural and a supernatural way, above all other things. By means of the enlightened reason the spirit lifts itself up in inward observation, and it beholds and observes the most inward part of itself, where this touch lives. Here reason and every created light fail and can go no further. For the Supernal Brightness brooding over all, which gives rise to this touch, blinds in its coming every created sight; for it is abysmal. And all understanding in the created light is here like the eyes of a bat in the light of the sun. Yet the spirit is continually invited and urged anew by God and by itself to sound and to know that which is stirring these deeps, and what God is, and what this touch is. And the enlightened reason ever asks anew, whence this comes, and ever seeks to explore further, that it may follow back this stream of honey to its source. But in this it is, on the first day, as wise as it shall ever be. And this is why reason and all observation say: "I know not what it is," for the Supernal Brightness brooding over all, strikes back all understanding and blinds it whenever they meet.

So God abides in His brightness above all spirits who are in heaven and on earth. And those who have pierced through their ground by means of the virtues and inward practices, to their source, that is, to the door of eternal life, may feel this touch. There the Brightness of God shines so mightily that reason and all understanding fail and can go no further, but must be overcome and give way before the incomprehensible Brightness of God. But when the spirit feels this in its ground, then, though its reason and understanding fail before the Divine Brightness, and must remain outside the door, the power of love desires to go forward; for it too, like the understanding, has been invited and urged. And it is blind and desires fruition; and fruition abides more in tasting and feeling than in understanding. Therefore would love go forward, whilst understanding stays outside.
54. Here again Ruysbroeck and Dante, both depending upon scholastic conceptions of the Universe, are in close agreement. Ruysbroeck's "heaven of unmingled radiance" is the Empyrean "ch' � pura luce" (Par. xxx. 39): from this the Primum Mobile, or first revolving heaven, takes and distributes the power by which all creation is moved.

"E questo cielo non ha altro dove
che la mente divina, in che s'accende
l'amor che il volge e la virt� ch' ei piove."

(Par. xxvii. 109.)