Transformation

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.

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Extract from the Spiritual Canticle by St John of the Cross

Pure and Naked

This sublime knowledge can be received only by a person who has arrived at union with God, for it is itself that very union. It consists in a certain touch of the divinity produced in the soul, and thus it is God himself who is experienced and tasted there. This knowledge tastes of the divine essence and eternal life.

Manifestly, in this high state of union God does not communicate himself to the soul through the disguise of any image or likeness, but directly: the pure and naked essence of God with the pure and naked essence of the soul.

  • St John of The Cross.  Asc. 16 : 9

Vision of Beauty

The soul is right in daring to say, may the vision of your beauty be my death, since she knows that at the instant she sees this beauty she will be carried away by it, and absorbed in this very beauty, and transformed in this same beauty, and made beautiful like this beauty itself, and enriched and provided for like this very beauty.

Reveal Your presence,
And may the vision of Your beauty be my death;

This presence is so sublime that the soul feels an immense hidden being is there
. . from which some semi-clear glimpses of His divine beauty emerge
. . And these bear such an effect on the soul that she ardently longs for what she feels hidden there in that presence

At this time the soul faints with longing to be engulfed in that supreme good she feels present and hidden, for although it is hidden she has a significant experience of the good and delight present there. Accordingly she is drawn and carried toward this good more forcibly than any material object is pulled toward its centre of gravity. With this longing and heartfelt desire, unable to contain herself any longer, the soul begs: Reveal Your Presence.

 

St John of the Cross. The Spiritual Canticle (11:10)

My Soul Melted

God’s speech is the effect He produces in the soul.

Since this flame is a flame of divine life, it wounds the soul with the tenderness of God’s life, and it wounds and stirs it so deeply as to make it dissolve in love. What the bride affirmed in the Canticle is fulfilled in the soul. She was so moved that her soul melted, and thus she says: “As soon as He spoke my soul melted”.

This feast takes place in the substance of the soul where the mind and senses cannot reach. God is the doer of all without the soul doing anything. Since the soul cannot do any work of its own save by means of the corporal senses, from which in this event it is very free and far removed, its sole occupation now is to receive.

And this is what happens, in an indescribable way, at the time this flame of love rises up within the soul. The divine substance which, because of its purity, touches everywhere profoundly, subtly and sublimely, absorbs the soul in itself with its divine flame.

Immersion of the soul in wisdom.

 

  •      St John of the Cross.  The Living Flame of Love. Stanza 1

Sea of Love

Burn that is for my healing!
Wound of delight past feeling!

Who can fittingly speak of this intimate point of the wound, which seems to be in the middle of the heart of the spirit, there where the soul experiences the excellence of the delight? The soul feels that the point is like a tiny mustard seed, very much alive and enkindled, sending into its surroundings a living and enkindled fire of love. The fire issuing from the substance and power of that living point is felt to be subtly diffused through all the spiritual and substantial veins of the soul in the measure of the soul’s power and strength. The soul feels its ardour strengthen and increase and its love become so refined in this ardour that seemingly there are seas of loving fire within it, reaching to the heights and depths of the earthly and heavenly spheres, imbuing all with love. It seems to it that the entire universe is a sea of love in which it is engulfed.

St John of the Cross. The Living Flame of Love. 2:10

 

O 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

Beyond All

I went into an unknown land
unknowing, stayed there knowing naught,
beyond the power of human thought.

I know not where I entered in
but when I found that I was there,
not knowing how, not knowing where,
strange things I heard, so deep within,
far greater than I could declare.
So there I stayed still knowing naught,
Far, far beyond all human thought.

Peace and transcendent holiness:
knowledge so perfect came unsought,
in deepest solitude was taught
to me in ways I can’t express
the narrow path to life, no less,
leaving me speechless, good for naught,
beyond all power of human thought.

There I remain absorbed, apart,
lost to myself and borne away
to strange realms- where, I cannot say-
of ecstasy, wherein the heart
of flesh has nothing more to say,
my soul enriched, reduced to naught
by knowledge past all human thought.

He who is taken up so high
cuts free from self, and all he knew
before is gone and lost from view
as worthless now. He knows not why
his knowledge rises constantly
but he remains as knowing naught,
far, far beyond all human thought.

As higher still the soul takes flight
all understanding fades away:
how can the cloud that’s dark as night
make night more radiant than the day?
The one who understands this sight
stops there, his senses brought to naught
by knowledge past all human thought.

To know unknowing is so strange,
so overwhelming. No wise man
by disputation ever can
refute it, for his utmost range
of understanding cannot scan
this unknown knowledge, darkly taught,
beyond the power of human thought.

So lofty is it, so sublime,
no human power of learning may
possess it, none can ever say
‘I have it now’. No-one can climb
so high. But he who comes to say
No to his self-hood, knowing naught,
always transcends all human thought.

You wish to learn its origin?
It is a sudden subtle touch
of God’s own being, deep within
the soul, and understood as such:
his mercy reaching out so much –
this great gift leaves one knowing naught,
and far beyond all human thought.

  • St John Of The Cross  (tr. Marjorie Flowers)