Christ possessed the beatific vision precisely because no human “I” separated him from God. Thus Christ directly beheld God’s very being. Conversely, the blessed Virgin Mary did have a human “I”. As a totally human creature, she was a human person. As such, she would say, “I wish, I love or I do”, on the basis of her human personhood, which informed all her actions. However, Mary was so closely conformed to God’s will, that her human “I” dissolved and became bathed in the divine will. Thus, both Christ and Mary attained the pinnacle of prayer. Such prayer is the goal of the entire teaching of Saint John of the Cross. It is the “Living Flame of Love”, which blazes at the summit of the road and crowns the conclusion of the “Canticle”. It is Mt Carmel itself. That flame burns with infinite intensity in Christ and with great brilliance in Mary. Like all others who have come to Carmel, we have come with that same goal in mind.
In Christ and in Mary, the action of God himself slew, so to speak, in a single stroke, the human “I”.
Such a death is equally essential for us. We must die to ourselves. Our “I” must come to know this mystical death in order to attain a life of profound prayer. To the degree that we die to ourselves, to that degree will we come to know the fullness of prayer. There truly is a direct correlation between mystical death and the full
flowering of prayer.
If we hold on to ourselves for fear of mystical death and the surrender of our worldly desires, and if we hold on to our soul with its earthly attitudes, then we will remain just as we are with our own little soul and our own little bit of human happiness. In order to grow rich in God and all that comes from God, we must die to ourselves. We must let our human “I” diminish and ultimately coalesce into the divine will, the very being of God.
This mystical death affects every aspect of our life. Ultimately, the only source of inner peace, and the actual attainment of the heart’s deepest desires, is increased participation in God’s Infinity.
The soul is made to possess infinity, a spiritual infinity, God’s infinity.
We have, by this stripping of self, mortally wounded everything in us that is the human “I”. We no longer exist. We are being entirely submissive to the will of God.
We are literally a new being. This mystical death is thus real, and not merely figurative.
Let us quell within us whatever remains of our old self. Then, we, too, will be able to find complete happiness in the Infinite Being of God. Amen.
- Pere Jacques. Listen to The Silence. Conference 7.