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The Difference Between Union and Rapture. What Rapture Is. The Blessing It Is to the Soul. The Effects of It.
1. I wish I could explain, with the help of God, wherein union differs from rapture, or from transport, or from flight of the spirit, as they speak, or from a trance, which are all one.266266 See Inner Fortress, vi. ch. v.; Philippus a SS. Trinitate, Theolog. Mystic. par. iii. tr. i, disp. iii., art. 3; "Hæc oratio raptus superior est præcedentibus orationis gradibus, etiam oratione unionis ordinariæ, et habet effectus multoexcellentiores et multas alias operationes." I mean, that all these are only different names for that one and the same thing, which is also called ecstasy.267267 "She says that rapture is more excellent than union; that is, that the soul in a rapture has a greater fruition of God, and that God takes it then more into His own hands. That is evidently so; because in a rapture the soul loses the use of its exterior and interior faculties. When she says that union is the beginning, middle, and end, she means that pure union is almost always uniform; but that there are degrees in rapture, of which some are, as it were, the beginning, some the middle, others the end. That is the reason why it is called by different names; some of which denote the least, others the most, perfect form of it, as it will appear hereafter."—Note in the Spanish edition of Lopez (De la Fuente). It is more excellent than union, 154 the fruits of it are much greater, and its other operations more manifold; for union is uniform in the beginning, the middle, and the end, and is so also interiorly. But as raptures have ends of a much higher kind, they produce effects both within and without.268268 Anton. a Spirit. Sancto, Direct. Mystic. tr. 4, d. i. n. 95: "Licet oratio raptus idem sit apud mysticos ac oratio volatus, seu elevationis spiritus seu extasis; reipsa tamen raptus aliquid addit super extasim; nam extasis importat simplicem excessum mentis in seipso secundum quem aliquis extra suam cognitionem ponitur. Raptus vero super hoc addit violentiam quandam ab aliquo extrinseco." As our Lord has explained the other matters, so also may He explain this; for certainly, if He had not shown me in what way and by what means this explanation was in some measure possible, I should never have been able to do it.
2. Consider we now that this last water, of which I am speaking, is so abundant that, were it not that the ground refuses to receive it, we might suppose that the cloud of His great Majesty is here raining down upon us on earth. And when we are giving Him thanks for this great mercy, drawing near to Him in earnest, with all our might, then it is our Lord draws up the soul, as the clouds, so to speak, gather the mists from the face of the earth, and carries it away out of itself,—I have heard it said that the clouds, or the sun, draw the mists together,269269 The words between the dashes are in the handwriting of the Saint—not however, in the text, but on the margin (De la Fuente).—and as a cloud, rising up to heaven, takes the soul with Him, and begins to show it the treasures of the kingdom which He has prepared for it. I know not whether the comparison be accurate or not; but the fact is, that is the way in which it is brought about. During rapture, the soul does not seem to animate the body, the natural heat of which is perceptibly lessened; the coldness increases, though accompanied with exceeding joy and sweetness.270270 See Inner Fortress, vi. ch. v. "Primus effectus orationis ecstaticæ est in corpore, quod ita remanet, ac si per animam non informaretur, infrigidatur enim calore naturali deficiente, clauduntur suaviter oculi, et alii sensus amittuntur: contingit tamen quod corpus infirmum in hac oratione sanitatem recuperat." Anton. a Spirit. Sancto, Direct. Mystic. tr. iv. d. 2, § 4, n. 150.155
3. A rapture is absolutely irresistible; whilst union, inasmuch as we are then on our own ground, may be hindered, though that resistance be painful and violent; it is, however, almost always impossible. But rapture, for the most part, is irresistible. It comes, in general, as a shock, quick and sharp, before you can collect your thoughts, or help yourself in any way, and you see and feel it as a cloud, or a strong eagle rising upwards, and carrying you away on its wings.
4. I repeat it: you feel and see yourself carried away, you know not whither. For though we feel how delicious it is, yet the weakness of our nature makes us afraid at first, and we require a much more resolute and courageous spirit than in the previous states, in order to risk everything, come what may, and to abandon ourselves into the hands of God, and go willingly whither we are carried, seeing that we must be carried away, however painful it may be; and so trying is it, that I would very often resist, and exert all my strength, particularly at those times when the rapture was coming on me in public. I did so, too, very often when I was alone, because I was afraid of delusions. Occasionally I was able, by great efforts, to make a slight resistance; but afterwards I was worn out, like a person who had been contending with a strong giant; at other times it was impossible to resist at all: my soul was carried away, and almost always my head with it,—I had no power over it,—and now and then the whole body as well, so that it was lifted up from the ground.
5. This has not happened to me often: once, however, it took place when we were all together in choir, and I, on my knees, on the point of communicating. It was a very sore distress to me; for I thought it a most extraordinary thing, and was afraid it would occasion much talk; so I commanded the nuns—for it happened after I was made Prioress—never to speak of it. But at other times, the moment 156 I felt that our Lord was about to repeat the act, and once, in particular, during a sermon,—it was the feast of our house, some great ladies being present,—I threw myself on the ground; then the nuns came around me to hold me; but still the rapture was observed.
6. I made many supplications to our Lord, that He would be pleased to give me no more of those graces which were outwardly visible; for I was weary of living under such great restraint, and because His Majesty could not bestow such graces on me without their becoming known. It seems that, of His goodness, He has been pleased to hear my prayer; for I have never been enraptured since. It is true that it was not long ago.271271 This passage could not have been in the first Life; for that was written before she had ever been Prioress.
7. It seemed to me, when I tried to make some resistance, as if a great force beneath my feet lifted me up. I know of nothing with which to compare it; but it was much more violent than the other spiritual visitations, and I was therefore as one ground to pieces; for it is a great struggle, and, in short, of little use, whenever our Lord so wills it. There is no power against His power.
8. At other times He is pleased to be satisfied when He makes us see that He is ready to give us this grace, and that it is not He that withholds it. Then, when we resist it out of humility, He produces those very effects which would have resulted if we had fully consented to it.
9. The effects of rapture are great: one is that the mighty power of our Lord is manifested; and as we are not strong enough, when His Majesty wills it, to control either soul or body, so neither have we any power over it; but, whether we like it or not, we see that there is one mightier than we are, that these graces are His gifts, and that of ourselves we can do nothing whatever; and humility is deeply imprinted in us. And 157 further, I confess that it threw me into great fear, very great indeed at first; for when I saw my body thus lifted up from the earth, how could I help it? Though the spirit draws it upwards after itself, and that with great sweetness, if unresisted, the senses are not lost; at least, I was so much myself as to be able to see that I was being lifted up. The majesty of Him who can effect this so manifests itself, that the hairs of my head stand upright,272272 Job. iv. 15: "Inhorruerunt pili carnis meæ." (See St. John of the Cross. Spiritual Canticle, sts. 14, 15, vol. ii p. 83, Engl. trans.) and a great fear comes upon me of offending God, who is so mighty. This fear is bound up in exceedingly great love, which is acquired anew, and directed to Him, who, we see, bears so great a love to a worm so vile, and who seems not to be satisfied with attracting the soul to Himself in so real a way, but who will have the body also, though it be mortal and of earth so foul, such as it is through our sins, which are so great.
10. Rapture leaves behind a certain strange detachment also, which I shall never be able to describe; I think I can say that it is in some respects different from—yea, higher than—the other graces, which are simply spiritual; for though these effect a complete detachment in spirit from all things, it seems that in this of rapture our Lord would have the body itself to be detached also: and thus a certain singular estrangement from the things of earth is wrought, which makes life much more distressing. Afterwards it causes a pain, which we can never inflict of ourselves, nor remove when once it has come.
11. I should like very much to explain this great pain, and I believe I shall not be able; however, I will say something if I can. And it is to be observed that this is my present state, and one to which I have been brought very lately, after all the visions and revelations of which I shall speak, and after that time, wherein I gave myself to prayer, in which our Lord gave me so 158 much sweetness and delight.273273 See ch. xxix. Even now I have that sweetness occasionally; but it is the pain of which I speak that is the most frequent and the most common. It varies in its intensity. I will now speak of it when it is sharpest; for I shall speak later on274274 See ch. xx. § 21. of the great shocks I used to feel when our Lord would throw me into those trances, and which are, in my opinion, as different from this pain as the most corporeal thing is from the most spiritual; and I believe that I am not exaggerating much. For though the soul feels that pain, it is in company with the body;275275 § 9, supra. both soul and body apparently share it, and it is not attended with that extremity of abandonment which belongs to this.
12. As I said before,276276 § 10. we have no part in causing this pain; but very often there springs up a desire unexpectedly,—I know not how it comes,—and because of this desire, which pierces the soul in a moment, the soul begins to be wearied, so much so that it rises upwards above itself, and above all created things. God then so strips it of everything, that, do what it may, there is nothing on earth that can be its companion. Neither, indeed, would it wish to have any; it would rather die in that loneliness. If people spoke to it, and if itself made every effort possible to speak, it would be of little use: the spirit, notwithstanding all it may do, cannot be withdrawn from that loneliness; and though God seems, as it were, far away from the soul at that moment, yet He reveals His grandeurs at times in the strangest way conceivable. That way is indescribable; I do not think any one can believe or comprehend it who has not previously had experience of it. It is a communication made, not to console, but to show the reason why the soul must be weary; because it is far away from the Good which in itself comprehends all good.
13. In this communication the desire grows, so also 159 does the bitterness of that loneliness wherein the soul beholds itself, suffering a pain so sharp and piercing that, in that very loneliness in which it dwells, it may literally say of itself,—and perhaps the royal prophet said so, being in that very loneliness himself, except that our Lord may have granted to him, being a saint, to feel it more deeply,—"Vigilavi, et factus sum sicut passer solitarius in tecto."277277 Psalm ci. 8: "I have watched, and become as a sparrow alone on the house-top." These words presented themselves to me in such a way that I thought I saw them fulfilled in myself. It was a comfort to know that others had felt this extreme loneliness; how much greater my comfort, when these persons were such as David was! The soul is then—so I think—not in itself, but on the house-top, or on the roof, above itself, and above all created things; for it seems to me to have its dwelling higher than even in the highest part of itself.
14. On other occasions, the soul seems to be, as it were, in the utmost extremity of need, asking itself, and saying, "Where is Thy God?"278278 Psalm xli. 4: "Ubi est Deus tuus?" And it is to be remembered, that I did not know how to express in Spanish the meaning of those words. Afterwards, when I understood what it was, I used to console myself with the thought, that our Lord, without any effort of mine, had made me remember them. At other times, I used to recollect a saying of St. Paul's, to the effect that he was crucified to the world.279279 Galat. vi. 14: "In cruce Jesu Christi: per quem mihi mundus crucifixus est, et ego mundo." I do not mean that this is true of me: I know it is not; but I think it is the state of the enraptured soul. No consolation reaches it from heaven, and it is not there itself; it wishes for none from earth, and it is not there either; but it is, as it were, crucified between heaven and earth, enduring its passion: receiving no succour from either.160
15. Now, the succour it receives from heaven—which, as I have said,280280 §§ 9 and 12. is a most marvellous knowledge of God, above all that we can desire—brings with it greater pain; for the desire then so grows, that, in my opinion, its intense painfulness now and then robs the soul of all sensation; only, it lasts but for a short time after the senses are suspended. It seems as if it were the point of death; only, the agony carries with it so great a joy, that I know of nothing wherewith to compare it. It is a sharp martyrdom, full of sweetness; for if any earthly thing be then offered to the soul, even though it may be that which it habitually found most sweet, the soul will have none of it; yea, it seems to throw it away at once. The soul sees distinctly that it seeks nothing but God; yet its love dwells not on any attribute of Him in particular; it seeks Him as He is, and knows not what it seeks. I say that it knows not, because the imagination forms no representation whatever; and, indeed, as I think, during much of that time the faculties are at rest. Pain suspends them then, as joy suspends them in union and in a trance.
16. O Jesus! oh, that some one would clearly explain this to you, my father, were it only that you may tell me what it means, because this is the habitual state of my soul! Generally, when I am not particularly occupied, I fall into these agonies of death, and I tremble when I feel them coming on, because they are not unto death. But when I am in them, I then wish to spend therein all the rest of my life, though the pain be so very great, that I can scarcely endure it. Sometimes my pulse ceases, as it were, to beat at all,—so the sisters say, who sometimes approach me, and who now understand the matter better,—my bones are racked, and my hands become so rigid, that I cannot always join them. Even on the following day I have a pain in my wrists, and over my whole body, as if my 161 bones were out of joint.281281 Daniel x. 16: "In visione tua dissolutæ sunt compages meæ." See St. John of the Cross, Spiritual Canticle, st. 14, vol. ii. p. 84, Engl. trans.; and also Relation, viii. § 13, where this is repeated. Well, I think sometimes, if it continues as at present, that it will end, in the good pleasure of our Lord, by putting an end to my life; for the pain seems to me sharp enough to cause death; only, I do not deserve it.
17. All my anxiety at these times is that I should die: I do not think of purgatory, nor of the great sins I have committed, and by which I have deserved hell. I forget everything in my eagerness to see God; and this abandonment and loneliness seem preferable to any company in the world. If anything can be a consolation in this state, it is to speak to one who has passed through this trial, seeing that, though the soul may complain of it, no one seems disposed to believe in it.
18. The soul is tormented also because the pain has increased so much, that it seeks solitude no longer, as it did before, nor companionship, unless it be that of those to whom it may make its complaint. It is now like a person, who, having a rope around his neck, and being strangled, tries to breathe. This desire of companionship seems to me to proceed from our weakness; for, as pain brings with it the risk of death,—which it certainly does; for I have been occasionally in danger of death, in my great sickness and infirmities, as I have said before,282282 Ch. v. § 18. and I think I may say that this pain is as great as any,—so the desire not to be parted, which possesses soul and body, is that which raises the cry for succour in order to breathe, and by speaking of it, by complaining, and distracting itself, causes the soul to seek means of living very much against the will of the spirit, or the higher part of the soul, which would not wish to be delivered from this pain.
19. I am not sure that I am correct in what I say, nor do I know how to express myself, but to the best 162 of my knowledge it comes to pass in this way. See, my father, what rest I can have in this life, now that what I once had in prayer and loneliness—therein our Lord used to comfort me—has become in general a torment of this kind; while, at the same time, it is so full of sweetness, that the soul, discerning its inestimable worth, prefers it to all those consolations which it formerly had. It seems also to be a safer state, because it is the way of the cross; and involves, in my opinion, a joy of exceeding worth, because the state of the body in it is only pain. It is the soul that suffers and exults alone in that joy and contentment which suffering supplies.
20. I know not how this can be, but so it is; it comes from the hand of our Lord, and, as I said before,283283 § 12. is not anything that I have acquired myself, because it is exceedingly supernatural, and I think I would not barter it for all the graces of which I shall speak further on: I do not say for all of them together, but for any one of them separately. And it must not be forgotten that, as I have just said, these impetuosities came upon me after I had received those graces from our Lord284284 The words from "I have just said" to "our Lord" are in the margin of the text, but in the handwriting of the Saint (De la Fuente). which I am speaking of now, and all those described in this book, and it is in this state our Lord keeps me at this moment.285285 See § 11.
21. In the beginning I was afraid—it happens to me to be almost always so when our Lord leads me by a new way, until His Majesty reassures me as I proceed—and so our Lord bade me not to fear, but to esteem this grace more than all the others He had given me; for the soul was purified by this pain—burnished, or refined as gold in the crucible, so that it might be the better enamelled with His gifts, and the dross burnt away in this life, which would have to be burnt away in purgatory.163
22. I understood perfectly that this pain was a great grace; but I was much more certain of it now and my confessor tells me I did well. And though I was afraid, because I was so wicked, I never could believe it was anything wrong: on the other hand, the exceeding greatness of the blessing made me afraid, when I called to mind how little I had deserved it. Blessed be our Lord, who is so good! Amen.
23. I have, it seems, wandered from my subject; for I began by speaking of raptures, and that of which I have been speaking is even more than a rapture, and the effects of it are what I have described. Now let us return to raptures, and speak of their ordinary characteristics. I have to say that, when the rapture was over, my body seemed frequently to be buoyant, as if all weight had departed from it; so much so, that now and then I scarcely knew that my feet touched the ground. But during the rapture itself the body is very often as if it were dead, perfectly powerless. It continues in the position it was in when the rapture came upon it—if sitting, sitting; if the hands were open, or if they were shut, they will remain open or shut.286286 See Relation, viii. § 8. For though the senses fail but rarely, it has happened to me occasionally to lose them wholly—seldom, however, and then only for a short time. But in general they are in disorder; and though they have no power whatever to deal with outward things, there remains the power of hearing and seeing; but it is as if the things heard and seen were at a great distance, far away.
24. I do not say that the soul sees and hears when the rapture is at the highest,—I mean by at the highest, when the faculties are lost, because profoundly united with God,—for then it neither sees, nor hears, nor perceives, as I believe; but, as I said of the previous prayer of union,287287 Ch. xviii. § 16. this utter transformation of the soul in God continues only for an instant; yet while it continues no faculty of the soul is aware of it, 164 or knows what is passing there. Nor can it be understood while we are living on the earth—at least, God will not have us understand it, because we must be incapable of understanding it. I know it by experience.
25. You, my father, will ask me: How comes it, then, that a rapture occasionally lasts so many hours? What has often happened to me is this,—I spoke of it before, when writing of the previous state of prayer,288288 Ch. xviii. § 17.—the rapture is not continuous, the soul is frequently absorbed, or, to speak more correctly, our Lord absorbs it in Himself; and when He has held it thus for a moment, the will alone remains in union with Him. The movements of the two other faculties seem to me to be like those of the needle of sun-dials, which is never at rest; yet when the Sun of Justice will have it so, He can hold it still.
26. This I speak of lasts but a moment; yet, as the impulse and the upraising of the spirit were vehement, and though the other faculties bestir themselves again, the will continues absorbed, and causes this operation in the body, as if it were the absolute mistress; for now that the two other faculties are restless, and attempt to disturb it, it takes care—for if it is to have enemies, the fewer the better—that the senses also shall not trouble it: and thus it comes to pass that the senses are suspended; for so our Lord wills it. And for the most part the eyes are closed, though we may not wish to close them; and if occasionally they remain open, as I said just now, the soul neither discerns nor considers what it sees.
27. What the body then can do here is still less in order that, when the faculties come together again, there may not be so much to do. Let him, therefore, to whom our Lord has granted this grace, be not discouraged when he finds himself in this state—the body under constraint for many hours, the understanding 165 and the memory occasionally astray. The truth is that, in general, they are inebriated with the praises of God, or with searching to comprehend or understand that which has passed over them. And yet even for this they are not thoroughly awake, but are rather like one who has slept long, and dreamed, and is hardly yet awake.
28. I dwell so long on this point because I know that there are persons now, even in this place,289289 Avila. to whom our Lord is granting these graces; and if their directors have had no experience in the matter, they will think, perhaps, that they must be as dead persons during the trance— and they will think so the more if they have no learning. It is piteous to see what those confessors who do not understand this make people suffer. I shall speak of it by and by.290290 Ch. xxv. § 18. Perhaps I do not know what I am saying. You, my father, will understand it, if I am at all correct; for our Lord has admitted you to the experience of it: yet, because that experience is not very great, it may be, perhaps, that you have not considered the matter so much as I have done.
29. So then, though I do all I can, my body has no strength to move for some time; the soul took it all away. Very often, too, he who was before sickly and full of pain remains healthy, and even stronger; for it is something great that is given to the soul in rapture; and sometimes, as I have said already,291291 § 9. our Lord will have the body rejoice, because it is obedient in that which the soul requires of it. When we recover our consciousness, the faculties may remain, if the rapture has been deep, for a day or two, and even for three days, so absorbed, or as if stunned,—so much so, as to be in appearance no longer themselves.
30. Here comes the pain of returning to this life; here it is the wings of the soul grew, to enable it to fly so high: the weak feathers are fallen off. Now the 166 standard of Christ is raised up aloft, which seems to be nothing else but the going up, or the carrying up, of the Captain of the fort to the highest tower of it, there to raise up the standard of God. The soul, as in a place of safety, looks down on those below; it fears no dangers now—yea, rather, it courts them, as one assured beforehand of victory. It sees most clearly how lightly are the things of this world to be esteemed, and the nothingness thereof. The soul now seeks not, and possesses not, any other will but that of doing our Lord's will,292292 "Other will . . . Lord's will." These words—in Spanish, "Otra voluntad, sino hacer la de nuestro Señor"—are not in the handwriting of the Saint; perhaps it was Father Bañes who wrote them. The MS. is blurred, and the original text seems to have been, "libre alvedrio ni guerra" (De la Fuente). and so it prays Him to let it be so; it gives to Him the keys of its own will. Lo, the gardener is now become the commander of a fortress! The soul will do nothing but the will of our Lord; it will not act as the owner even of itself, nor of anything, not even of a single apple in the orchard; only, if there be any good thing in the garden, it is at His Majesty's disposal; for from henceforth the soul will have nothing of its own,—all it seeks is to do everything for His glory, and according to His will.
31. This is really the way in which these things come to pass; if the raptures be true raptures, the fruits and advantages spoken of abide in the soul; but if they did not, I should have great doubts about their being from God—yea, rather, I should be afraid they were those frenzies of which St. Vincent speaks.293293 St. Vincent. Ferrer, Instruct. de Vit. Spirit. c. xiv. p. 14: "Si dicerent tibi aliquid quod sit contra fidem, et contra Scripturam Sacram, aut contra bonos mores, ahhorreas earum visionem et judicia, tanquam stultas dementias, et earum raptus, sicut rabiamenta"—which word the Saint translates by "rabiamientos." I have seen it myself, and I know it by experience, that the soul in rapture is mistress of everything, and acquires such freedom in one hour, and even in less, as to be unable to recognize itself. It sees distinctly that all this does not belong to it, neither knows it how it 167 came to possess so great a good; but it clearly perceives the very great blessing which every one of these raptures always brings. No one will believe this who has not had experience of it, and so they do not believe the poor soul: they saw it lately so wicked, and now they see it pretend to things of so high an order; for it is not satisfied with serving our Lord in the common way,—it must do so forthwith in the highest way it can. They consider this a temptation and a folly; yet they would not be astonished, if they knew that it comes not from the soul, but from our Lord, to whom it has given up the keys of its will.
32. For my part, I believe that a soul which has reached this state neither speaks nor acts of itself, but rather that the supreme King takes care of all it has to do. O my God, how clear is the meaning of those words, and what good reason the Psalmist had, and all the world will ever have, to pray for the wings of a dove!294294 Psalm liv. 7: "Quis dabit mihi pennas sicut columbæ?" It is plain that this is the flight of the spirit rising upwards above all created things, and chiefly above itself: but it is a sweet flight, a delicious flight—a flight without noise.
33. Oh, what power that soul possesses which our Lord raises to this state! how it looks down upon everything, entangled by nothing! how ashamed it is of the time when it was entangled! how it is amazed at its own blindness! how it pities those who are still in darkness, especially if they are men of prayer, and have received consolations from God! It would like to cry out to them, that they might be made to see the delusions they are in: and, indeed, it does so now and then; and then a thousand persecutions fall upon it as a shower. People consider it wanting in humility, and think it means to teach those from whom it should learn, particularly if it be a woman. Hence its condemnation; and not without reason; because they know not how strong the influence is that moves it.168
The soul at times cannot help itself; nor can it refrain from undeceiving those it loves, and whom it longs to see delivered out of the prison of this life; for that state in which the soul itself had been before neither is, nor seems to be, anything else but a prison.
34. The soul is weary of the days during which it respected points of honour, and the delusion which led it to believe that to be honour which the world calls by that name; now it sees it to be the greatest lie, and that we are all walking therein. It understands that true honour is not delusive, but real, esteeming that which is worthy of esteem, and despising that which is despicable; for everything is nothing, and less than nothing, whatever passeth away, and is not pleasing unto God. The soul laughs at itself when it thinks of the time in which it regarded money, and desired to possess it,—though, as to this, I verily believe that I never had to confess such a fault; it was fault enough to have regarded money at all. If I could purchase with money the blessings which I possess, I should make much of it; but it is plain that these blessings are gained by abandoning all things.
35. What is there that is procurable by this money which we desire? Is it anything of worth, and anything lasting? Why, then, do we desire it? A dismal resting place it provides, which costs so dear! Very often it obtains for us hell itself, fire everlasting, and torments without end. Oh, if all men would but regard it as profitless dross, how peaceful the world would be! how free from bargaining! How friendly all men would be one with another, if no regard were paid to honour and money! I believe it would be a remedy for everything.
36. The soul sees how blind men are to the nature of pleasure—how by means of it they provide for themselves trouble and disquietude even in this life. What restlessness! how little satisfaction! what labour in vain! It sees, too, not only the cobwebs that cover it, and its great faults, but also the specks of dirt, however 169 slight they may be; for the sun shines most clearly; and thus, however much the soul may have laboured at its own perfection, it sees itself to be very unclean, if the rays of the sun fall really upon it. The soul is like water in a vessel, which appears pellucid when the sun does not shine through it; but if it does, the water then is found to be full of motes.
37. This comparison is literally correct. Before the soul fell into the trance, it thought itself to be careful about not offending God, and that it did what it could in proportion to its strength; but now that it has attained to this state, in which the Sun of Justice shines upon it, and makes it open its eyes, it beholds so many motes, that it would gladly close them again. It is not so truly the child of the noble eagle, that it can gaze upon the sun; but, for the few instants it can keep them open, it beholds itself wholly unclean. It remembers the words: "Who shall be just in Thy presence?"295295 Job iv. 17: "Numquid homo Dei comparatione justificabitur?" When it looks on this Divine Sun, the brightness thereof dazzles it,—when it looks on itself, its eyes are blinded by the dust: the little dove is blind. So it happens very often: the soul is utterly blinded, absorbed, amazed, dizzy at the vision of so much grandeur.
38. It is in rapture that true humility is acquired—humility that will never say any good of self, nor suffer others to do so. The Lord of the garden, not the soul, distributes the fruit thereof, and so none remains in its hands; all the good it has, it refers to God; if it says anything about itself, it is for His glory. It knows that it possesses nothing here; and even if it wished, it cannot continue ignorant of that. It sees this, as it were, with the naked eye; for, whether it will or not, its eyes are shut against the things of this world, and open to see the truth.
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