Flee Away, My Beloved, and be Thou Like to a Roe or to a Young Hart Upon the Mountains of Spices.
The soul having now no other interest than that of the Bridegroom, either for self or for any other creature, and who can will nothing except His glory, seeing something which dishonors Him, cries out, Flee away, my Beloved! Leave these places which offer Thee no perfume. Come to those souls who are as mountains of spices, raised above the fetid vapors corrupted by the wickedness of this world. These mountains owe their sweetness to the odor of the exquisite virtues which Thou hast planted in them, and it is only in such souls that Thou wilt find true repose.

The soul, arrived at this point, enters so fully into the interests of the Divine Righteousness, both in respect to herself and others, that she can desire no other fate for herself, nor for any other, than that which the Divine Righteousness would allot, both for time and eternity. She has at the same time a more perfect charity than ever before for the neighbor, serving him now for God only, and in the will of God. But though she is always ready to be cursed for her brethren, like St. Paul (Rom. ix.3), and is incessantly laboring for no other end than their salvation, she is nevertheless indifferent as to her success. She would not be afflicted either at her own damnation or at that of any other creature, regarded from the point of view of God's Righteousness. What she cannot bear is, that God should be dishonored, because He has set love in order within her; since then she has entered into the purest affections of perfect charity.

We must not suppose that the soul in the state of this Spouse is constantly eager for the sensible presence and sweet and continual enjoyment of the Bridegroom. By no means. She was once in that state of perfection in which she ardently longed for that delightful possession; it was necessary then to attract her on in her progress towards Him; but now it would be an imperfection which she must not entertain; her Well-beloved, in truth, possessing her perfectly in her essence and powers, in a very real and unchangeable manner, above all time and place and means. She has no more to do with sighing for seasons of distinct and conscious enjoyment; and, besides, she is in such an absolute state of abandonment as to everything, that she could not fasten a desire of any kind upon anything whatever, not even upon the delights of Paradise. [51] And this state is even the evidence that she is possessed at the centre. This is why she here testifies to the Bridegroom that she is satisfied He should go where He pleases, visit other hearts, gain them, purify them, and perfect them in all the mountains and hills of the church; that He should take His delight in souls of spices, embalmed in grace and virtue; but, for herself, she has nothing to ask or desire of Him except He himself be the author of the emotion. Does she therefore despise or reject the divine visits and consolators? not at all; she has too much respect and submission for the work of God to do that; but such graces are no longer adapted to her state, annihilated as she is, and established in the enjoyment of the centre; having lost all her will in the will of God, she can no longer will anything. This is beautifully expressed in the verse cited.

So great is the indifference of this soul, that she cannot lean either to the side of enjoyment or deprivation. [52] Death and life are equally acceptable; and although her love is incomparably stronger than it ever was before, she cannot, nevertheless, desire Paradise, because she remains in the hands of her Bridegroom, as among the things that are not. Such is the effect of the deepest annihilation.

Although she is in this state more than ever fitted for the help of souls, and serves with extreme care those sent to her by the Bridegroom, she cannot have a desire to assist others, nor can she even do it without the special direction of Providence. [53]


[49] John of the Cross gives another equally true and very beautiful turn to this passage (Canticles between the Bridegroom and His Bride. Stanza 28). When, she says, sucking the breasts of my mother, she means sucking out, drying up and extinguishing in me the appetites and passions, which are the breasts and milk of our mother Eve, in the flesh. These are a hindrance in this state. Then having found Thee alone without, that is, outside of everything and of myself, in solitude and nakedness of spirit, and, my appetites being destroyed, I may there kiss Thee in the stillness, and thus my nature, purified of every temporal, natural or spiritual imperfection, may be made one with Thine, without the intervention of any other means than love. This is only accomplished in the spiritual marriage, and is the kiss which God receives from the soul. Here no one despises nor dares to assault it, so that it is not annoyed either by the devil, the flesh, the world, or its appetites, but that word is fulfilled in it, The winter is past, the rains are over and gone, and the flowers have appeared upon the earth.-- Canticle ii. 11.

[50] The mystics tell us that there are three characteristics of the dead; they are shrouded, buried, and then trodden under foot, until the day of judgment. It is a striking description of the insensibility of the dead; and we may be confident that we are wholly dead to nature if we discover by this test that these requisites exist perfectly in us, and are truly fulfilled in every point. When men shall do with us, whether by the instigation of the Devil or by the permission of God, whatsoever they will, without its causing in us the slightest thought as to its bearing upon ourselves, and this in time as well as in eternity, we may conclude ourselves to be dead as to them. Let us see to it, then, whether we be dead or only dying, for the difference between these two states is immeasurable. It is true enough that they who suffer constant agonies are very near to death, but, for all that, they may never wholly die; and it seems to me that it is one of the rarest things in the world to find a man in these latter times who in so entirely dead that he may be likened to a corpse in the particulars I have cited above.--John of St. Sampson, Spirit of Carmel, ch. 12.How rare it is among spiritual persons to find one who is really stripped of everything! Where shall we find the poor in spirit, detached from the love of every creature? We must go to the end of the world before we can find this precious pearl.--Imitation of Jesus Christ. Book ii., ch. 11.

[51] It seems to me very easy to understand that one who places his happiness in God alone, can no longer desire his own felicity. None but he who dwells in God by love can place all his happiness in God alone; and when the soul is thus disposed, it desires no other felicity than that of God in Himself and for Himself; and thus no enjoyment with an end of self, not even the glory of heaven, can be a source of satisfaction, nor consequently an object of desire. Desire is ever the child of Love; if my love be in God alone, and for Himself alone, without respect to self, my desires will be in Him alone, and equally pure of selfish motive. This desire in God no longer presents the vivacity of the former desire of love, resulting from an absence of the thing desired; it has the quietness and repose of a desire completely filled and satisfied. For God being infinitely perfect and forever blessed, and the happiness of the soul consisting in this perfection and blessedness of God, its desires cannot manifest the restlessness of unsatisfied wants, but must present the repose of one who has no ungratified wish. This, then, is the foundation of the soul's state, and this is the reason that it does not perceive in itself all the good desires of those who still love God from a regard to self, nor of those who love and seek self in the affection which they manifest for God. It must not be supposed, however, that God cannot implant such dispositions and desires in the soul as may seem good to Himself. Thus He sometimes causes it to feel the weight of its tabernacle and to exclaim: I am in a strait betwixt two, desiring to depart and to be with Christ which is far better (Philippians 1:23); and at another, under the constraining influence of love for the brethren, and of an absolute freedom from every selfish consideration, it will cry out: I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren (Romans 9:3). These apparently contradictory feelings are perfectly reconciled in the depths of the souls which never change, so that, though the essential happiness of the soul consists in the blessedness of God in and for Himself, in which all the perceptible desires of the soul are merged and swallowed up, still God excites in it from time to time such desires as seem to Him best. But they are not like those of the former days, which had their seat in the selfish will, but they are stirred up and excited by God Himself, without any thought on the part of the soul. He holds it so immovably turned towards Himself, that He is the author of its desires as well as of all its other acts, without any aid from the soul, and even without its knowledge, unless He reveals them to it directly or by means of the words which it is led to address to others. A desire having reference to self is the necessary result of a will still unpurified from self; but as the whole design of God is to destroy the will of the creature by making it one with His own, so He must at the same time necessarily absorb and destroy every self-originated desire. There is still another reason why God takes away and implants in the soul, at His own good pleasure, the desires of which it is conscious. Designing to confer some blessing upon it, He first infuses a desire for it that He my hear and grant its request. Lord, Thou hast heard the desire of the humble, Thou wilt prepare their heart. Thou wilt cause Thine ear to hear. (Psalm 10:17). He prepares the heart and grants the request. Delight thyself also in the Lord and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart. (Psalm 37:4). The Spirit making intercession in and for it, its desires and requests are those of the Holy Ghost (Romans 8:26). and Jesus Christ dwelling in it declares, I know that Thou hearest me always (John 11:42). An intense desire for death in such a soul would be almost certainly followed by death. The desire of humiliation is far below a desire to enjoy God, yet since it has pleased God to humble me greatly by means of slander, He has infused into me a great thirst for humiliations. I call it a thirst to distinguish it from desire. At other times He inclines the soul to pray for particular things when it is perfectly conscious that the prayer is not originated in its own will but in the will of God; for it is not free to pray for whom it pleases, nor when it pleases, but when it prays its requests are always heard and granted. This produces no self-gratulation in it; the soul is perfectly aware that it is He who possesses it, that prays and grants His own petitions. All this seems to me infinitely clearer in my own mind than I can make it in words--Justifications, i. 180.

[52] To bless God and to thank Him for every event of His Providence is, in truth, a great attainment in holiness. But while we leave to God alone the care of willing and doing in us, by us and through us, just what He pleases, without any solicitude as to what is going on, though we perceive it distinctly--if we can at the same time occupy our hearts and fix our attention upon the Divine gentleness and goodness, adoring it with thanksgiving, not in its effects or in the events it ordains, but in itself and in its own infinite excellence, we shall be engaged in a far higher and more blessed employment. The daughter of a skilful physician lay in a continued fever, and knowing the deep attachment and singular love her father had for her, she said to one of her young friends: I feel a great deal of pain, but the thought of a remedy for it never crosses my mind, for I know nothing of their curative virtues. I might desire one thing when quite another was what I required. Do I not do well, then, to leave the whole care of that matter to my father, who does know, and who can and will do for me whatever is necessary for my recovery? I should do wrong to think about it, for he will think for me; I should do wrong to wish for anything, for he will see that I have everything that is good for me. I will wait, and let him will whatever he thinks best; my only occupation shall be to look to him, to testify my filial love to him, and to manifest my implicit confidence in his love. Her father asked her if she did not desire to be bled, in order to recover? I am thine, my father, she replied; I know not what I ought to desire in order to get well; thou must both will and do for me of thy good pleasure; as for me, it is enough for me to love and honor thee with all my heart as I do. Behold now her arm bandaged, and her father opening the vein with his lancet; but while he cuts and the blood flows, his daughter never turns her eyes from her fathers face to behold her bleeding arm, but keeps them fixed upon his countenance with a look of affection, saying nothing, except an occasional expression, my father loves me, and l am wholly his. When all was over she did not thank him, but only repeated the same expressions of her attachment and filial confidence--St. Francis of Sales, on the Love of God. Book ix., ch. 15.

[53] The greater the purity and simplicity of a substance, the more extended is its usefulness. Nothing can be purer or simpler than water, and what a vast range of uses does it present on account of its fluidity! Having no sensible qualities of its own, it is ready to receive all sorts of impressions with facility; tasteless in it self, it may be infinitely varied in flavor; colorless, it becomes susceptible of every color in turn. Thus it is with the Spirit and Will in a state of simplicity and purity; having neither flavor nor color derived from self, God is the author of whatever of either they may manifest, just as the water owes its scent or its hue to the will of Him who prepared it. It is not correct, however, to say that the water, however flavored or however colored, is in itself possessed of these qualities, inasmuch as they are but accidental and impressed upon it from without, and it is its very quality of freedom from taste and color that enables it to exhibit every variety of both. I feel this to be the state of my soul; it can no longer distinguish or take knowledge of anything in itself or as belonging to itself, and this constitutes its purity; but it receives everything bestowed upon it, just as it comes, without holding any part of it as for itself. Should you ask of this water, what are its properties? it would reply, that its property is to have none at all. But, you may reply, I have seen you of a red color; I dare say, it would answer, but I am not, for all that, red. I am not so by nature, nor do I reflect upon what is done with me either in imparting to me flavor or color. It is the same with form as with color. As water is fluid and yielding, it instantly and exactly assumes the form of the vessel in which it is placed. Had it consistence and properties of its own, it could not thus take every form, receive every taste, exhibit every flavor and appear of every hue.--Madame Guyon, Justifications, i. 184.

13 thou that dwellest in
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