O LORD, I am in sore need still of greater grace if I
am to arrive at the point where no man and no created
thing can be an obstacle to me. For as long as
anything holds me back, I cannot freely fly to You.
He that said "Oh that I had wings like a dove, that I
might fly away and be at rest!"1 desired to fly
freely to You. Who is more at rest than he who aims
at nothing but God? And who more free than the man
who desires nothing on earth?
It is well, then, to
pass over all creation, perfectly to abandon self,
and to see in ecstasy of mind that You, the Creator
of all, have no likeness among all Your creatures,
and that unless a man be freed from all creatures, he
cannot attend freely to the Divine. The reason why so
few contemplative persons are found, is that so few
know how to separate themselves entirely from what is
transitory and created.
For this, indeed, great grace is needed, grace that
will raise the soul and lift it up above itself.
Unless a man be elevated in spirit, free from all
creatures, and completely united to God, all his
knowledge and possessions are of little moment. He
who considers anything great except the one, immense,
eternal good will long be little and lie groveling on
the earth. Whatever is not God is nothing and must be
accounted as nothing.
There is great difference between the wisdom of an
enlightened and devout man and the learning of a
well-read and brilliant scholar, for the knowledge
which flows down from divine sources is much nobler
than that laboriously acquired by human industry.
Many there are who desire contemplation, but who
do not care to do the things which contemplation
requires. It is also a great obstacle to be satisfied
with externals and sensible things, and to have so
little of perfect mortification. I know not what it
is, or by what spirit we are led, or to what we
pretend -- we who wish to be called spiritual -- that
we spend so much labor and even more anxiety on
things that are transitory and mean, while we seldom
or never advert with full consciousness to our
Alas, after very little recollection we falter,
not weighing our deeds by strict examination. We pay
no attention to where our affections lie, nor do we
deplore the fact that our actions are impure.
Remember that because all flesh had corrupted its
course, the great deluge followed. Since, then, our
interior affection is corrupt, it must be that the
action which follows from it, the index as it were of
our lack of inward strength, is also corrupt. Out of
a pure heart come the fruits of a good life.
People are wont to ask how much a man has done, but
they think little of the virtue with which he acts.
They ask: Is he strong? rich? handsome? a good
writer? a good singer? or a good worker? They say
little, however, about how poor he is in spirit, how
patient and meek, how devout and spiritual. Nature
looks to his outward appearance; grace turns to his
inward being. The one often errs, the other trusts in
God and is not deceived.