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CHAPTER XXIV

Concerning the three ways which God takes to purify the creature.

This holy Soul said: “I see three ways which God takes when he wishes to purify the creature.

“The first is when he gives it a love so stripped of all things that, even if it desired, it could neither see nor wish for anything but this love, which by reason of its poverty and simplicity, is able to detect every vestige of self-love; and, seeing the truth it can never be self-deceived, but is reduced to such despair of itself that it is unable to say or do anything which could afford it either corporal or spiritual consolation. And thus, by degrees, its self-love is destroyed, since it is certain that he who eats not, dies. Notwithstanding this, however, so great is the evil of self-love that it clings to man almost to the end of his life. I have seen this in myself, for, from time to time I have found many natural desires destroyed within me which had previously seemed to me very good and perfect; but when they were thus removed I saw that they had been depraved and faulty, and in accordance with those spiritual and bodily infirmities which, being hidden from me, I had not supposed myself to possess. And this is why it is necessary to attain such a subtlety of spiritual vision, in order that all which at first appears to us perfection may in the end be known as imperfections, robberies, and woes; all this is clearly revealed in that mirror of truth, pure love, in which all things appears distorted which to us had seemed upright.

“The second mode which I beheld, and which pleased me more than the first, is that in which God gives man a mind occupied with great suffering; for that makes him know himself, and how abject and vile he is. This vision of his own misery keeps him in great poverty, and deprives him of all things which could afford him any savor of good; thus his self-love is not able to nourish itself, and from lack of nourishment it wastes away until at last man understands that if God did not hold his hand, giving him his being, and removing from him this hateful vision, he could never issue from this hell. And when God is pleased to take away this vision of his utter hopelessness in himself, afterwards he remains in great peace and consolation.

“The third mode, which is still more excellent than either of these, is when God gives his creature a mind so occupied in him, that neither interiorly nor exteriorly is it able to think of anything but God, and those things which are his. Even the works which it performs it does not think of or hold in any esteem, except in so far as they are necessary to the love of God; and hence it seems like one dead to the world, for it is unable to delight itself in anything or to understand anything, even if it wished to do so, either in heaven or on earth; there is given to it also such a poverty of spirit that it knows neither what it has nor what it does, nor does it make any provision for what it should do, either with regard to God or to the world, for itself or for its neighbor, because it is not shown how it may do so, but is always held by God in union with him and in sweet confusion.

“In this way the soul remains rich, yet poor, unable to appropriate anything, or to nourish itself, because it is necessary that it should be lost and annihilated in itself, and thus find itself in God, in whom, in truth, it was from the beginning although it knew not how it was so.

“There is also the religious life, of which I will say nothing further, because all must pass through one of these three ways of which I have been speaking, and also because it has been sufficiently treated of by others.”

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