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CHAPTER XVIII

How she did not desire love for God or in God, nor to have any medium between herself and God.—She could not see how love could be increased in her.—Of the peace of the soul transformed in God.

This holy Soul said that she never spoke of these great things to others without its appearing to her afterwards that she had told a lie—so weak were her words in comparison with that which she experienced through her pure and upright love. She said, therefore: “I do not wish a love which may be described as for God, or in God. I cannot see those words, for and in, without their suggesting to me that something may intervene between God and me; and that is what pure and simple love, by reason of its purity and simplicity, is unable to endure. This purity and simplicity is as great as God is, for it is his own.” At another time she said that she never felt like speaking of this simplicity and purity of love, as if she had a sensible experience of it, because it is entirely ineffable and above the capacity of man; yet she had it in such abundance that, whatever might be alleged or even proved to the contrary, she could not understand how it could increase within her. This must be understood to mean that, being always replenished with love, she could neither see nor desire more than that which at any moment held her satisfied; this, however, did not prevent love from continually purifying and cleansing this precious and elect vessel, and from ever increasing and more abundantly filling her.

And to prove this, she said: “Every day I felt myself lifted above those trifles which this pure love, ever harassing itself with those penetrating eyes that behold even those smallest imperfections which to other love appear perfection, was striving to cast out. This work is done by God, and man himself is not aware of it, nor does he see these imperfections; on the contrary, because such a sight would be insupportable to him, God shows him the perfected work as if it were without a flaw. Yet God does not cease continually to purify him, although he does it in a way not comprehensible to any intellect. It is written that even the heavens are not pure in the sight of God, by which it must be understood that such purity is not known, except by the help of a supernatural light which, without any assistance from man, works in him after its own pleasure, and ever cleanses him more fully until he is entirely pure. And this work God does secretly, because, when man yields himself wholly into the hands of God (which without divine grace he is unable even to wish to do), he can then see the enormity of even one trifling imperfection in the sight of God; and afterward, if he could see all those defects in himself which God is daily removing from him, he would be overpowered by his despair. Hence it is that these obstacles are gradually removed without man’s cognizance, and God continually operates in us by his sweet goodness so long as we remain in this present life.”

When the good God calls us in this world, he finds us full of vices and sins, and his first work is to give us the instinct to practice virtue; then he incites us to desire perfection, and afterwards, by infused grace, he conducts us to the true annihilation, and finally to the true transformation. This is the extraordinary road along which God conducts the soul. But when the soul is thus annihilated and transformed, it no longer works, or speaks, or wills, or feels, or understands, nor has it in itself any knowledge, either of that which is internal or external, which could possibly affect it; and, in all these things God is its director and guide without the help of any creature.

In this state, the soul is in such peace and tranquility that it seems to her that both soul and body are immersed in a sea of the profoundest peace, from which she would not issue for anything that could happen in this life. She remains immovable, imperturbable, and neither her humanity nor her spirit feels anything except the sweetest peace, of which she is so full, that if her flesh, her bones, her nerves were pressed, nothing would issue from them but peace. And all day long she sings softly to herself for joy, saying: “Shall I show thee what God is? No one finds peace apart from him.”

And as this process goes on, she is every day more profoundly plunged, immersed, and transformed in this peace, so that her humanity is every day more alienated from the world and from all things earthly and natural; and this in such wise that even the body no longer lives upon corporal food, and yet neither wastes away nor dies; on the contrary, this creature remains in health without using the means which are the cause of health, because it is no longer supported by nature but by an incomprehensible satiety which overflows into the body. And this is doubtless the reason why such a creature becomes so marvelous in her aspect, and especially in her purified eyes, which are like two ardent stars, enkindled in heaven, so that she appears truly like an angel upon earth.

This love is of so generous and excellent a spirit that it disdains to lose its time in anything, however beautiful and precious, except its own purity and splendor, from which issue translucent rays of ardent and inflamed virtue. Thus is she ever occupied, and all things else she esteems as no longer appertaining to her.

This work is constantly progressing, and every day the soul understands more clearly that the end for which man was created was truly for love, and to delight himself in this pure and holy love. And therefore when man has, by the assistance of divine grace, arrived at this desired port of pure love, he can afterwards do nothing (even if he wished or tried to force himself to do otherwise) but love and enjoy himself: this grace God gives to man in a manner so admirable and above every human desire or comprehension that without doubt, being still in this present life, he feels himself to have been made a partaker of the beatific glory.

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