In Practice

It should be known that if a person is seeking God, her beloved is seeking her much more.

The soul, then, should advert that God is the principal agent in this matter, and that He acts as the blind man’s guide who must lead it by the hand to the place beyond the reach of the mind and senses.

Since the soul cannot function naturally except by means of the senses, it is God who in this state is the agent, and the soul is the receiver. The soul conducts itself only as the receiver and as one in whom something is being done; God is the giver and the one Who works in it, without the soul’s natural acts and discursive reflections.

Since God, then, as the giver communes with her through simple, loving knowledge, the individual also, as the receiver, communes with God, through a simple and loving knowledge or attention, so that knowledge is thus joined with knowledge and love with love. The receiver should act according to the mode of what is received, and not otherwise, in order to receive and keep it in the way it is given.

If as I say – and it is true – this loving knowledge is received passively in the soul according to the supernatural mode of God, and not according to the natural mode of the soul, a person, if she wants to receive it should be quite annihilated in her natural operations. A person should not bear attachment to anything, neither the practice of meditation, nor to any savour, whether sensory or spiritual, nor to any other apprehensions. She should be quite free and annihilated regarding all things, because any thought or discursive reflection or satisfaction upon which she may want to lean would impede and disquiet her, and make noise in the profound silence of her senses and her spirit, which she possesses for the sake of this deep and delicate listening. God speaks to the heart in this solitude, in supreme peace and tranquillity, while the soul listens to what the Lord God speaks to it, for He speaks this peace in solitude.

When it happens, therefore, that a person is conscious in this manner of being placed in solitude and in the state of listening, she should even forget the practice of loving attentiveness I mentioned so as to remain free for what the Lord then desires of her. She should make use of that loving awareness only when she does not feel herself placed in this solitude, this oblivion, this spiritual listening.

It is impossible for this highest wisdom and language of God, which is contemplation, to be received in anything less than a spirit that is silent.

Bring her to as complete a withdrawal and solitude as possible, for the more solitude she obtains and the more she approaches this silent tranquility, the more abundantly will the spirit of divine wisdom be infused into her soul.

The least that a person can manage to feel is a withdrawal and an estrangement as to all things, sometimes more than at other times, accompanied by an inclination toward solitude in the gentle breathing of love and life in the spirit.

The blessings this silent communication and contemplation impresses on the soul, without its then experiencing them, are inestimable. For they are most hidden unctions of the Holy Spirit and hence most delicate, and they secretly fill the soul with spiritual riches, gifts, and graces; since it is God who grants them, He does so in no other manner than as God.

  • St John of the Cross. The Living Flame of Love.

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