Total Death

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.

Pere Jacques

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.               Extract from Conference 7.

Hurry and Come Down

Hurry and come down, for I must stay in your house today. The master unceasingly repeats this call to our soul which He once addressed to Zacchaeus. Hurry and come down. But what is this descent that He demands of us except an entering more deeply into our interior abyss?

Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am. Such is Christ’s last wish, His supreme prayer before returning to His Father. He wills that where He is we should be also, not only for eternity, but already in time. It is important to know where we must live with Him in order to realize His divine dream. The place where the Son of God is hidden is the bosom of the Father, or the divine Essence, invisible to every mortal eye, unattainable by every human intellect, as Isaiah said: Truly You are a hidden God. And yet His will is that we should be established in Him, that we should live where He lives.

Remain in Me. It is the Word of God who expresses this wish. Remain in Me, not for a few moments, a few hours which must pass away, but remain…  permanently, habitually…
We must enter ever deeper into the divine Being through recollection… we must descend daily this pathway of the Abyss which is God. Abyss calls to abyss. It is there in the very depths that the divine impact takes place, where the abyss of our nothingness encounters the Abyss of mercy, the immensity of the all of God. There we will find the strength to die to ourselves and, losing all vestige of self, we will be changed into love … Blessed are those who die in the Lord !

You have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. St Paul comes to bring us a light to guide us on our pathway of the abyss. You have died ! What does that mean but that the soul that aspires to live close to God in the invincible fortress of holy recollection must be set apart, stripped, and withdrawn from all things in spirit.

I die daily. I decrease, I renounce self more each day so that Christ may increase in me and be exalted. I live now not with my own life but with the life of Christ who lives in me.

Our God, wrote St Paul, is a consuming fire, that is, a fire of love which destroys, which transforms into itself everything it touches. The delights of the divine enkindling are renewed in our depths by an unremitting activity: the enkindling of love in a mutual and eternal satisfaction. It is a renewal that takes place at every moment in the bond of love. Certain souls have chosen this refuge to rest there eternally, and this is the silence in which, somehow, they have lost themselves. Freed from their prison, they sail on the ocean of Divinity.

For these souls the mystical death becomes so simple and sweet! They think much less of the work of destruction and detachment that remains for them to do than of plunging into the furnace of love burning within them. They enter into Him by living faith, and there, in simplicity and peace they are carried away by Him beyond all things, beyond the senses, into the sacred darkness and are transformed into the divine image. Now this simple possession is eternal life savoured in the unfathomable abode. It is there, beyond reason, that the profound tranquillity of the divine immutability awaits us.

  • St Elizabeth of the Trinity.  ( Extract: Heaven in Faith )

Wholly Burned Away

Upheld, and yet without support,
darkness around, no light of day
while I am wholly burned away.

My soul is free and set apart
from every created thing,
lifted above itself to sing
of richer life delight the heart.
God is the rock to which I cling.
Now I can tell it as I ought:
the source of all my greatest bliss –
to feel, to know that my soul is
upheld, and yet without support.

I walk along a shadowed way
of suffering in this life of night,
and yet although I see no light
my sorrows not without allay:
I know the heavenly life burns bright.
The blinder love is I can say,
the greater is the life that flows,
holding the soul in peace that grows,
darkness around, no light of day.

Since Love began to work in me
his touch transforms me, this I know.
I see my soul translucent grow,
for at his pleasure, equally
both good and bad are changed and glow.
Filled with delight to be Loves prey
I feel his flame consume, and see
nothing is left, for rapidly
the whole of me is burned away.

Oh happy nothingness

Preserve the spirit of poverty and disregard for all things, with the desire to be content with God alone. And keep in mind you will neither have nor feel any more needs than those to which you desire to submit your heart. For she who is poor in spirit is happier and more constant in the midst of want, because she has placed  her all in nothingness, and in all things she thus finds freedom of heart. O happy nothingness, and happy hiding place of the heart ! For the heart has such power that it subjects all things to itself ; this it does by desiring to be subject to nothing and losing all care so as to burn the more in love.

  • St John of the Cross


When the spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.1

For reflection, a selection of extracts from the writing of St John of the Cross.

The limitations of human nature are such that when the communication and knowledge of the Beloved, which gives more life to the soul and for which she longs ardently, is about to be imparted, she cannot receive it save almost at the cost of her life.2

The reason for this is that such favours cannot be received wholly in the body, for the spirit is elevated to commune with the divine Spirit Who comes to the soul. Thus the soul must in some fashion abandon the body.3

The Beloved revealed to her some rays of His grandeur and divinity and carried her out of herself in rapture and ecstasy: “for they cause me to take flight and go out of myself to supreme contemplation, which is beyond what the sensory part can endure.”4

She would not want to receive the Spirit in the body, for there she cannot receive Him fully, but only in a small degree and with considerable suffering. But she would want to receive Him in the flight of the spirit, outside the body, where she can freely rejoice with Him.5

For a better understanding of the nature of this flight, it should be noted that, as we said, in this visit of the divine Spirit, the spirit of the soul is carried away to communicate with Him, and it abandons the body and ceases to have its feelings and actions in it, for they are in God.6

1. John 16:13
2. St John of the Cross. Spiritual Canticle.(SC) 13:3
3. SC 13:4
4. SC 13:2
5. SC 13:5
6. SC 13:6

Primordial State

If you know me, you know my Father too.

Have I been with you all this time and you still do not know me?1

The problem, for the disciples, seems to be with Jesus’ experience of self.

To have seen me is to have seen the Father.1

Jesus does not identify with what they are looking at, Jesus of Nazareth.

I am in the Father and the Father is in me.1

“it is made apparent how being that truly understands itself grasps at the same time that in being itself it does not belong to itself; that it only comes to itself by moving away from itself and finding its way back as relatedness to its true primordial state.”2

I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.1

  1. John 14:6-14
  2. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. 1969. Introduction to Christianity. pp189-90



Is Love

God is love and he who abides in love abides in God and God abides in him.

The soul lives where she loves more than in the body she animates; for she does not live in the body but rather gives life to the body, and lives in the Object of her love.

The soul that loves God lives more in the next life than in this, for the soul lives where it loves more than where it gives life, and thus has little esteem for this temporal life.

It should be known that love never reaches perfection until the lovers are so alike that one is transfigured in the other. And then the love is in full health.

The reason is that in the union and transformation of love each gives possession of self to the other, and each leaves and exchanges self for the other. Thus each one lives in the other and is the other, and both are one in the transformation of love.

In the spiritual marriage the soul thereby becomes divine, becomes God through participation. It is accordingly the highest state attainable in this life.


Extract from the Spiritual Canticle by St John of the Cross