"Lord, here burn, here cut, and dry up in me all that hinders me from going to You, that You may spare me in eternity."

St Louis Bertrand

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"It is well to choose some one good devotion, and to stick to it, and never to abandon it."

St Philip Neri

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"Whom do you seek, friend, if you seek not God? Seek him, find him, cleave to him; bind your will to his with bands of steel and you will live always at peace in this life and in the next."

St Alphonsus de Liguori

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Blessed John of Rusybroeck   (1293-1381)




by Blessed John of Rusybroeck



53. Of an Eternal Hunger for God

Here there begins an eternal hunger, which shall never more be satisfied; it is an inward craving and hankering of the loving power and the created spirit after an untreated Good. And since the spirit longs for fruition, and is invited and urged thereto by God, it must always desire its fulfilment. Behold, here there begins an eternal craving and continual yearning in eternal insatiableness. All such are the poorest of all men living; for they are avid and greedy, and their hunger is insatiable. Whatever they eat or drink, they shall never be satisfied, for this hunger is eternal. For a created vessel cannot contain an uncreated Good: and hence there is here an eternal, hungry craving without satisfaction, and God poured forth above all and yet staying it not. Here are great dishes of food and drink, of which no one knows save he who tastes them: but full satisfaction in fruition is the dish which is lacking there, and therefore this hunger is ever renewed. Yet, in the touch, rivers of honey, full of all delights, flow forth; for the spirit tastes these riches in all the ways which it can conceive and apprehend; but all this is in a creaturely way and below God, and hence there remains an eternal hunger and impatience. Though God gave to such a man all the gifts which are possessed by all the saints, and everything that He is able to give, but withheld Himself, the gaping desire of the spirit would remain hungry and unsatisfied. The inward stirring and touching of God makes us hungry and yearning; for the Spirit of God hunts our spirit: and the more it touches it, the greater our hunger and our craving. And this is the life of love in its highest working, above reason and above understanding; for reason can here neither give nor take away from love, for our love is touched by the Divine love. And as I understand it, here there can never more be separation from God. God's touch within us, forasmuch as we feel it, and our own loving craving, these are both created and creaturely; and therefore they may grow and increase as long as we live.

54. Of a Loving Strife between the Spirit of God and our Spirit

In this storm of love two spirits strive together: the spirit of God and our own spirit. God, through the Holy Ghost, inclines Himself towards us; and, thereby, we are touched in love. And our spirit, by God's working and by the power of love, presses and inclines itself into God: and, thereby, God is touched. From these two contacts there arises the strife of love, at the very deeps of this meeting; and in that most inward and ardent encounter, each spirit is deeply wounded by love. These two spirits, that is our own spirit and the Spirit of God, sparkle and shine one into the other, and each shows to the other its face. This makes each of the spirits yearn for the other in love. Each demands of the other all that it is; and each offers to the other all that it is and invites it to all that it is. This makes the lovers melt into each other. God's touch and His gifts, our loving craving and our giving back: these fulfil love. This flux and reflux causes the fountain of love to brim over: and thus the touch of God and our loving craving become one simple love. Here man is possessed by love, so that he must forget himself and God, and knows and can do nothing but love. Thereby the spirit is burned up in the fire of love, and enters so deeply into the touch of God, that it is overcome in all its cravings, and turned to nought in all its works, and empties itself; above all surrender becoming very love. And it possesses, above all virtues, the inmost part of its created being, where every creaturely work begins and ends. Such is love in itself, foundation and origin of all virtues.

55. Of the Fruitful Works of the Spirit, the which are Eternal

Now our spirit and this love are living and fruitful in virtues; and for this reason the powers can no longer remain idle in the unity of the spirit. For the incomprehensible brightness of God and His boundless love brood above the spirit, and touch the loving power; and the spirit goes forth once more into its works, but with a more sublime and inward striving than ever before. And the more noble and inward it is, the more quickly it is spent and brought to nought in love, and goes forth once more into fresh works. And this is heavenly love. For ever does the craving spirit yearn to eat and to swallow God; but itself is swallowed up in the touch of God, and fails in all its works. For the highest powers are made one in the unity of the spirit. Here are grace and love in their essence, above all works; for here is the source of charity and every virtue. Here there is an eternal outflow into charity and the virtues, and an eternal return with inward hunger for the taste of God, and an eternal dwelling within in pure love. And all this is in a creaturely way and below God; it is the most inward exercise which one can perform in the created light, in heaven and on earth; and above it there is nothing but the God-seeing life in the Divine light and in the Godlike way. In this exercise one cannot go astray, nor can one be deceived; and it begins in grace, and shall for ever last in glory.

56. Showing the way in which we shall meet God in a Ghostly Manner both with and without Means[55]

Now I have shown you how the free and uplifted man becomes, through the grace of God, seeing in his inward practices. And we see that this is the first point which Christ demands and desires of us where He says: Behold. As to the second and third points, wherein He says: The Bridegroom cometh, and: Go ye out, I have shown you the three ways of the inward coming of Christ; and further that the first coming has four degrees, and how we are to go out with practices answering to each way in which God inwardly enkindles, teaches, and moves us. Now we must consider the fourth point, which is the last. This is the meeting with Christ our Bridegroom. For all our inward and ghostly vision, in grace or in glory, and all our going out in the virtues, in whatsoever practices this be done, it is all for the sake of a meeting and a union with Christ our Bridegroom: for He is our eternal rest and the end and wage of all our labour.

You know that every meeting is a coming together of two persons, who come from different places, which are separated from, and opposite to, each other. Now Christ comes from above as a Lord and generous Giver, who can do all things. And we come from below as the poor servants, who can do nothing of ourselves, but have need of everything. The coming of Christ to us is from within outwards, and we go towards Him from without inwards; and this is why a ghostly meeting must here take place. And this coming and this meeting of ourselves and Christ takes place in two ways, to wit, with means and without means.
55. "Middel en sonder middel": i.e. mediated, through gifts, forms, symbols and conceptual images; and unmediated, being given as a direct intuitive experience to the soul in the unity of the spirit.