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STANZA XXXVIII

There you will show me

That which my soul desired;

And there You will give at once,

O You, my life,

That which You gave me the other day.

THE reason why the soul longed to enter the caverns was that it might attain to the consummation of the love of God, the object of its continual desires; that is, that it might love God with the pureness and perfection with which He has loved it, so that it might thereby requite His love. Hence in the present stanza the bride says to the Bridegroom that He will there show her what she had always aimed at in all her actions, namely, that He would show her how to love Him perfectly, as He has loved her. And, secondly, that He will give her that essential glory for which He has predestined her from the day of His eternity.

“There You will show me That which my soul desired.”

2. That which the soul aims at is equality in love with God, the object of its natural and supernatural desire. He who loves cannot be satisfied if he does not feel that he loves as much as he is loved. And when the soul sees that in the transformation in God, such as is possible in this life, notwithstanding the immensity of its love, it cannot equal the perfection of that love with which God loves it, it desires the clear transformation of glory in which it shall equal the perfection of love with which it is itself beloved of God; it desires, I say, the clear transformation of glory in which it shall equal His love.

3. For though in this high state, which the soul reaches on earth, there is a real union of the will, yet it cannot reach that perfection and strength of love which it will possess in the union of glory; seeing that then, according to the Apostle, the soul will know God as it is known of Him: “Then I shall know even as I am known.”2982981 Cor. 13:12 That is, “I shall then love God even as I am loved by Him.” For as the understanding of the soul will then be the understanding of God, and its will the will of God, so its love will also be His love. Though in heaven the will of the soul is not destroyed, it is so intimately united with the power of the will of God, Who loves it, that it loves Him as strongly and as perfectly as it is loved of Him; both wills being united in one sole will and one sole love of God.

4. Thus the soul loves God with the will and strength of God Himself, being made one with that very strength of love with which itself is loved of God. This strength is of the Holy Spirit, in Whom the soul is there transformed. He is given to the soul to strengthen its love; ministering to it, and supplying in it, because of its transformation in glory, that which is defective in it. In the perfect transformation, also, of the state of spiritual marriage, such as is possible on earth, in which the soul is all clothed in grace, the soul loves in a certain way in the Holy Spirit, Who is given to it in that transformation.

5. We are to observe here that the bride does not say, “There will You give me Your love,” though that is true — for that means only that God will love her — but that He will there show her how she is to love Him with that perfection at which she aims, because there in giving her His love He will at the same time show her how to love Him as He loves her. For God not only teaches the soul to love Himself purely, with a disinterested love, as He has loved us, but He also enables it to love Him with that strength with which He loves the soul, transforming it in His love, wherein He bestows upon it His own power, so that it may love Him. It is as if He put an instrument in its hand, taught it the use thereof, and played upon it together with the soul. This is showing the soul how it is to love, and at the same time endowing it with the capacity of loving.

6. The soul is not satisfied until it reaches this point, neither would it be satisfied even in heaven, unless it felt, as St. Thomas teaches,299299‘Opusc de Beatitudine,’ ch. 2. that it loved God as much as it is loved of Him. And as I said of the state of spiritual marriage of which I am speaking, there is now at this time, though it cannot be that perfect love in glory, a certain vivid vision and likeness of that perfection, which is wholly indescribable.

“And there You will give me at once, O You my life, that which You gave me the other day.”

7. What He will give is the essential glory which consists in the vision of God. Before proceeding further it is requisite to solve a question which arises here, namely, Why is it, seeing that essential glory consists in the vision of God, and not in loving Him, the soul says that its longing is for His love, and not for the essential glory? Why is it that the soul begins the stanza with referring to His love, and then introduces the subject of the essential glory afterwards, as if it were something of less importance?

8. There are two reasons for this. The first is this: As the whole aim of the soul is love, the seat of which is in the will, the property of which is to give and not to receive — the property of the understanding, the subject of essential glory, being to receive and not to give — to the soul inebriated with love the first consideration is not the essential glory which God will bestow upon it, but the entire surrender of itself to Him in true love, without any regard to its own advantage.

9. The second reason is that the second object is included in the first, and has been taken for granted in the previous stanzas, it being impossible to attain to the perfect love of God without the perfect vision of Him. The question is solved by the first reason, for the soul renders to God by love that which is His due, but with the understanding it receives from Him and does not give.

10. I now resume the explanation of the stanza, and inquire what day is meant by the “other day,” and what is it that God then gave the soul, and what that is which it prays to receive afterwards in glory? By “other day” is meant the day of the eternity of God, which is other than the day of time. In that day of eternity God predestined the soul to glory, and determined the degree of glory which He would give it and freely gave from the beginning before He created it. This now, in a manner, so truly belongs to the soul that no event or accident, high or low, can ever take it away, for the soul will enjoy for ever that for which God had predestined it from all eternity.

11. This is that which He gave it “the other day”; that which the soul longs now to possess visibly in glory. And what is that which He gave it? That what “eye has not seen nor ear has heard, neither has it ascended into the heart of man.”3003001 Cor. 2:9 “The eye has not seen,” says Isaiah, “O God, beside You, what things You have prepared for them that expect You.”301301Isa. 64:4 The soul has no word to describe it, so it says “what.” It is in truth the vision of God, and as there is no expression by which we can explain what it is to see God, the soul says only “that which You gave me.”

12. But that I may not leave the subject without saying something further concerning it, I will repeat what Christ has said of it in the Revelation of St. John, in many terms, phrases, and comparisons, because a single word once uttered cannot describe it, for there is much still unsaid, notwithstanding all that Christ has spoken at seven different times. “To him that overcomes,” says He, “I will give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of My God.”302302Rev. 2:7 But as this does not perfectly describe it, He says again: “Be faithful to death; and I will give you the crown of life.”303303Rev. 2:10

13. This also is insufficient, and so He speaks again more obscurely, but explaining it more: “To him that overcomes I will give the hidden manna, and will give him a white counter, and on the counter a new name written which no man knows but he that receives it.”304304Rev. 2:17 And as even this is still insufficient, the Son of God speaks of great power and joy, saying: “He that shall overcome and keep My works to the end, I will give him power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, and as a vessel of the potter they shall be broken: as I also have received of My Father. And I will give him the morning star.”305305Rev. 2:26-28 Not satisfied with these words, He adds: “He that shall overcome shall thus be vested in white garments, and I will not put his name out of the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father.”306306Rev. 3:5

14. Still, all this falls short. He speaks of it in words of unutterable majesty and grandeur: “He that shall overcome I will make Him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more; and I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem which descends out of heaven from My God, and My new name.”307307Rev. 3:12 The seventh time He says: “He that shall overcome I will give to him to sit with Me in My throne: as I also have overcome, and sat with My Father in His throne. He that has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the Churches.”308308Rev. 3:21,22

15. These are the words of the Son of God; all of which tend to describe that which was given to the soul. The words correspond most accurately with it, but still they do not explain it, because it involves infinite good. The noblest expressions befit it, but none of them reach it, no, not all together.

16. Let us now see whether David has said anything of it. In one of the Psalms he says, “O how great is the multitude of your sweetness, O Lord, which You have hidden for them that fear You.”309309Ps. 30:20 In another place he calls it a “torrent of pleasure,” saying, “You shall make them drink of the torrent of Your pleasure.”310310Ps. 35:9 And as he did not consider this enough, he says again, “You have prevented him with blessings of sweetness.”311311Ps. 20:4 The expression that rightly fits this “that” of the soul, namely, its predestined bliss, cannot be found. Let us, therefore, rest satisfied with what the soul has used in reference to it, and explain the words as follows:

“That which You gave me.”

17. That is, “That weight of glory to which You predestined me, O my Bridegroom, in the day of Your eternity, when it was Your good pleasure to decree my creation, You will then give me in my day of my betrothal and of my nuptials, in my day of the joy of my heart, when, released from the burden of the flesh, led into the deep caverns of Your bridal chamber and gloriously transformed in You, we drink the wine of the sweet pomegranates.”

NOTE

BUT inasmuch as the soul, in the state of spiritual marriage, of which I am now speaking, cannot but know something of this “that,” seeing that because of its transformation in God something of it must be experienced by it, it will not omit to say something on the subject, the pledges and signs of which it is conscious of in itself, as it is written: “Who can withhold the words He has conceived?”312312Job 4:2 Hence in the following stanza the soul says something of the fruition which it shall have in the beatific vision, explaining so far as it is possible the nature and the manner of it.


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