Rabbi (quod est interpretatum Magister) ubi habitas? dixit eis: Venite et videte.
Rabbi (which is to say, being interpreted, Master), where dwellest thou? He saith to them, Come and see.
We read in St John's Gospel that St John the Baptist was standing, and two of his disciples, (one of them being Andrew, Simon Peter's brother), and, when he saw Jesus pass by, he said: "Behold the Lamb of God." The two disciples heard that, and saw them following, and said unto them: "What seek ye?" They said unto Him, "Rabbi (which is to say, being interpreted, Master), where dwellest thou?" He saith unto them; "Come and see."
These words teach us three things, first, the overflowing Wisdom of Christ in the words of the Master, secondly, the Dwelling-place of His inscrutable Being, the stronghold of all beings, for they said: "Where dwellest thou?" and thirdly, the Comfort given to us by the invitation of God to seek Him in spirit, in the resting-place of His Godhead, and to learn at the Source of wisdom, that is, in the school of the Holy Trinity. He thus speaks of it: "Come, O soul, abide with Me and in Me; and look that thou mayest learn; I will open unto thee the depths of My Divine Heart, that thou mayest learn and see all that is for thine eternal good."
Now listen first to the Master: O Master, teach these daughters for me, that not one of them may remain amongst the five foolish virgins. Then He answered and said: Daughter, learn of Me that thou mayest be meek and lowly of heart, as He also said to St Andrew and the other disciples. Now, if thou bethinkest thyself again, this teaching is too hard for me; for sloth, care, anger, cowardice and such-like resist me and afflict my heart, so that I lose all meekness of spirit. Christ our Master replied: "How much will it help thee, O man, if in thy service thou gainest the whole world and losest thine own soul?" For from thence will many sorrows come upon thee, agitation of mind, anguish and bitterness of heart, vexation in all good works, indolence of mind, whereby the soul loses all meekness of temper. Thus it comes to pass that the overflowing Spirit of Christ cannot pour joy or consolation into the soul; for His tenderness cannot suffer the bitterness of thy soul; for He is sweeter than honey. Therefore he that will have nought to do with the deceitful comfort of man must receive the sweetness of this Spirit. And therefore, dear child, begin manfully, follow this Master, and cast thyself down before Him in the depths of humility, and say in thine heart: "Lord, I am the least of all the creatures that Thou hast made," and compose thyself in meekness of spirit; and then shalt thou know that God is a short word which has a long meaning. Exercise thyself diligently therein, grow not weary; and then shalt thou perceive that which before was hidden from thee.
At another time the soul will be attracted by the Dwelling-place of the Divine Nature of our Master. Now, know that this question is one sought out by all creatures; and therefore they long for the same nature themselves, that they may find out the Nature of God; for all natural works are but a seeking after and a questioning after the Dwelling-place of God. If it were not so, the heavens and the elements could no longer exist. Dear child, what askest thou outside thyself, and why seekest thou God in the strange lands of mortal things? Thou canst not truly find Him; they all deny Him, and point thee away from themselves. "We are not God," they say. But Augustine writes: "Exalt thyself above us to the things eternal: for there is God."
Now, mark that God may be found in many ways in which the soul receives instruction. First, the soul finds God her Creator on the heights of penance or penitence. Therefore the soul must, above all things, exert all her strength to subdue her own free will, ready, for God's sake, to learn to give up all things both great and small, to do hard penance, and to punish herself for following the will she had forsaken. The more the soul exercises herself in these works, the more will she find God in her, and herself in God. This is shown in the Book of Love; for the Well-beloved says: "I will get me up to the mountain of myrrh, and will speak unto my love." The mountain of bitter myrrh is the height of the exalted spirit, which transforms into bitterness the desire for all personal gratification and deceitful delights in all things that are not according to God's Will. Thus God speaks in spirit to the soul: "Thou art all fair my love, pure and undefiled, there is no spot in thee." But he who lives according to his own will, for his own pleasure, cannot thus find God, but will find Him as his adversary in all his works. Thus man will spoil all that he begins; for the works of the flesh will help but little, if the will and the affections of the heart are not first subdued. A Psalm, said by one who has subdued his will, is worth many Psalms: that is, the least work done by such a man is more pleasing to God than the greatest work done by a man who follows his own way.
At another time man finds God in the wilderness, in the burning bush, as Moses found Him. The bush in the wilderness signifies such a temper or spirit that, withdrawn and estranged from all creatures, puts forth leaves or blossoms on the heights of the Eternal Godhead. As the Divine Being comprises within Himself three Persons, so also this spirit has laid hold of God in His threefold powers, as the bush laid hold of the flames in its blossoming branches; and this is of grace. This putting forth of leaves causes the soul to grow steadily in light, in godlike virtues, day by day without ceasing, until she, with the vision of angels, beholds God in Zion. Now, mark, in the measure that thou hast found God, in that measure also wilt thou find in thyself the divine training and virtues -- more to-day than yesterday. But he who will thus find God here, must cast off all carnal desires, and, with Moses, he must come under the dominion of self-restraint and the light of reason; for flesh and blood cannot posses the Kingdom of God. I believe, dear children, that nearly all your daily shortcomings proceed therefrom; that ye follow by word or deed the sudden impulses that thrust themselves into the heart from without, before the light of self-restraint can shine therein.
Thirdly, God may be found on the mountain, in the cloud; for the union (Testament) of Divine Light and of the commandment was written on the stone by the finger of God. The mountain is like a high-minded, large-hearted man, who has no pleasure in any of his works, neither can he find any rest in them, unless, like St Paul, he is confirmed in all his works by an express sign of the Will of God; so that the will of the soul does not even carry on human actions according to his own will, but after the manner appointed by the Divine Will, divinely. Thus the soul by her works sanctifies the body, so that when the body does the soul does also; and again, on the other hand, the works of the Divine Will and the works of the soul are at one; so that the soul can say: I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; I work, yet not I, but the power of Divine Being worketh in me. This takes place in the cloud, in the eternal splendour of the Divine Light, for the light of all creatures is as night compared with the Divine Light.
Then God may be found in the cave with the prophet Elias. We read that the prophet came into the wilderness, and that in his soul he longed that he might die, for he had become weary in spirit with the turmoil of this world. While he slept, an angel came, and placed at his head a cake baken on the coals and a pitcher of water, and bade him arise and eat, because he had still a long way before him that he must go. And he went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights, until he came to the place where he found God.
Then a strong wind came rushing by, which rent the rocks and the stones; but God was not in the wind; for God shows the spirit which is moved by stormy winds to be like those which Daniel saw contending in the sea of this world; that is in a worldly heart, in inordinate fear, hope, joy and scorn; for all these things blind the light of the spirit with which a man ought to seek after God. The stormy wind also signifies to us the restless heart of a man, who in all things, both in his words and works, behaves so unkindly and impatiently towards his fellow Christians, that it might grind the stones to powder; that is, that large-minded men are often robbed of their soul's peace thereby. Dear children, with God's help, beware of such violence. Keep watch over yourselves; subdue your unmortified nature, that it may not break out as violently as that of the wild, untamed beasts. It is indeed a dreadful thing to see such a man, endowed with reason, to whom God of His goodness has given so much light, and in whose nature He has implanted that kind of courage which enables him even to tame the wild beasts, if he chooses to exert his will, and follow the promptings of his own integrity. Alas! sometimes we are even wilder than the bears and lions, and a disgrace in the sight of God our Creator; living contrary to the nature He gave us, as though the light of His countenance had never shone upon us. I tell you in truth that we shall have to give an account to God for all that we ruin by such storms. It may be that we shall ruin ourselves (as often happens with the wrathful) or our neighbour, who is not only disturbed thereby, but also angered, and hindered in much that is good -- and of this we are guilty. Then, when we say it grieves us, but it is our nature, and we are obliged to do it, we are excusing ourselves falsely, and we never learn to die unto ourselves. Verily, if we turned to God in earnest fervent prayer and humble submission, these infirmities of our nature would not overpower us, nor, as we say, oblige or force us to commit such faults.
Then came a fire, and God was not in the fire. Fire is a thing which can never say "Enough;" and it represents the heart of a man who is never satisfied, either with his goods or with the gifts of God; but is always burning to increase without measure those things which are neither divine nor pure; desiring to receive comfort or other temporal things, and to find love and pleasure in them. All this is a sign that the Spirit of God is not there. I mean also all those people who make light of and belittle all the gifts of God, as though God had never done them any good, and who say: "Why did God make me? since I am so empty and barren of all that is good;" and who do not perceive that God has preserved them from many a fall, and protected them from many sins into which they would have fallen, if He had not so carefully watched over them, and called them away from the world to a spiritual state, in which they might have been pillars of all Christendom, if only they had lived in accordance with that state.
I tell thee, dear child, that such unthankfulness might well have dried up the springs of love, of Divine Grace. Therefore, I beseech you, by the Eternal Love of God, that ye be not quickly moved by the desire for these things, as I have taught you all, with heartfelt earnestness, and as God knows; and if any other spirit teach you otherwise, it is at the peril of your salvation in the sight of God; as St Paul says to the Galatians: "If any man preach to you a gospel beside that which we have preached to you, even though it were an Angel from heaven, let him be anathema."
There came a still small voice, like unto the sweet breezes of May; and in that voice came God; for so saith the Scripture. This signifies to us one who walks with God, in the eternal words of God, and whose thoughts and words are holy according to the Word of God, and whose longing spirit communes with God. Then it is that God comes; for in such spiritual sunbeams a steady blessed light is borne in upon the soul from God. They are not worthy of this blessedness, who, by strange forms of man's words (or even of an Angel, As St Paul says) are drawn away from the good desires they had received from God. This it is that the soul longeth after in the Book of Songs, when she says to God that the north wind should depart and go away; meaning thereby all that entereth into the spirit from the flesh, from whence all evil comes. So saith also the prophet Jeremias; for he saw that in the seething-pot all the budding spiritual gifts of God boiled and withered away when it was turned towards the north wind. Then his spirit was troubled within him, and he could no longer hold fast to the inner savour of the north wind. Therefore, when the soul longs for God,she says: Come, O south wind, (for it is sweet) blow through my garden, and let the aromatical spices thereof flow; that is, that my works may have a godly savour.
Fourthly, God is found above the Angels; for the soul must be exalted above all Angels (though by nature below the Angels) if she would find God. Therefore she finds Him in the Father; for thus the soul must bring all her works, free from all self-seeking, as the Eternal Word uplifts Himself eternally to God, if she would find Him, as he was found by the soaring Seer of God, John the Evangelist, when he said: "In the beginning was the Word." Then Andrew, and the loving souls that were with him, ask with earnest longing: "Master, where dwellest Thou?" John answers: "In the Beginning was the Word;" for in words we shall not find God, if we do not lift up our souls in the Beginning. Therefore we must pierce through all things that are beneath God and are not God, and the Beginning (from which we have our being) seek earnestly again; for therein alone is our dwelling and the future resting place of our eternal bliss. This must be done by turning earnestly to the vision of the Divine Being and union with Him. As He said to those two disciples: "Come and see;" as though He had said: Come, that is turn away from the things by which ye are inordinately troubled and absorbed, that hinder your eternal peace; for ye must be emptied of all works, understanding and carnal desires. And see that ye come to the knowledge that God the Lord is empty and bare of all; so that your spirits may be guided to that pure and holy Being. For of necessity the soul must be empty and bare of all, that would enter into the secret Presence. Therefore man must divest himself of all those things of which he is conscious. Dionysius said to Timothy: "O dear friend, we must no longer listen with our outward ears to the sweet and loving words of our dear master, Paul; but we must go to God, emptied of all things." This we can only do when our eyes are blinded and our inmost desires are raised on high, in order that we may learn to know His hidden Unity. May God help us all to this. Amen.