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257

CHAPTER IX.

HOW THIS SACRED REPOSE IS PRACTISED.

Have you never noted, Theotimus, with what ardour little children sometimes cleave to their mother's breast when hungry? You will see them, with a deep soft murmur, hold and squeeze it with their mouths, sucking so eagerly that they even put their mother to pain; but after the freshness of the milk has in some sort allayed the urgent heat of their little frame, and the agreeable vapours which it sends to the brain begin to lull them to sleep, Theotimus, you will see them softly shut their little eyes, and little by little give way to sleep; yet without letting go the breast, upon which they make no action saving a slow and almost insensible movement of the lips, whereby they continually draw the milk which they swallow imperceptibly. This they do without thinking of it, yet not without pleasure; for if one draw the teat from them before they fall sound asleep, they awake and weep bitterly, testifying by the sorrow which they show in the privation that their content was great in the possession. Now it fares in like manner with the soul who is in rest and quiet before God: for she sucks in a manner insensibly the delights of his presence, without any discourse, operation or motion of any of her faculties, save only the highest part of the will, which she moves softly and almost imperceptibly, as the mouth by which enter the delight and insensible satiety she finds in the fruition of the divine presence. But if one trouble this poor little babe, or offer to take from it its treasure because it seems to sleep, it will plainly show then that though it sleep to all other things yet not to that; for it perceives the trouble of this separation and grieves over it, showing thereby the pleasure which it took, though without thinking of it, in the good which it possessed. The Blessed Mother (S.) Teresa having written that she found this a fit similitude, I have thought good to make use of it.

And tell me, Theotimus, why should the soul recollected in its God be disquieted? Has she not reason to be at peace and to remain in repose? For indeed what should she seek? She 258has found him whom she sought, what remains now for her but to say: I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him and I will not let him go.292292Cant. iii. 4. She has no need to trouble herself with the discourse of the understanding, for she sees her spouse present with so sweet a view that reasonings would be to her unprofitable and superfluous. And even if she do not see him by the understanding she cares not, being content to feel his presence by the delight and satisfaction which the will receives from it. Ah! the mother of God, our Blessed Lady and Mistress, while she did not see her divine child but felt him within her,—Ah! my God! what content had she therein! And did not S. Elizabeth admirably enjoy the fruits of our Saviour's divine presence without seeing him, upon the day of the most holy Visitation? Nor does the soul in this repose stand in need of the memory, for she has her lover present. Nor has she need of the imagination, for why should we represent in an exterior or interior image him whose presence we are possessed of? So that, to conclude, it is the will alone that softly, and as it were tenderly sucking, draws the milk of this sweet presence; all the rest of the soul quietly reposing with her by the sweetness of the pleasure which she takes.

Honied wine is used not only to withdraw and recall bees to their hives, but also to pacify them. For when they stir up sedition and mutiny amongst themselves with mutual slaughter and destruction, their keeper has no better remedy than to throw honied wine amidst this enraged little people; because, when they perceive this sweet and agreeable odour, they are pacified, and giving themselves up to the fruition of this sweetness, they remain quieted and tranquil. O Eternal God! When by thy sweet presence thou dost cast odoriferous perfumes into our hearts, perfumes more pleasing than delicious wine and honey, all the powers of our soul enter into so delightful a repose and so absolute a rest, that there is no movement save of the will, which, as the spiritual sense of smell, remains delightfully engaged in enjoying, without adverting to it, the incomparable good of having its God present.

 


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