It is sad to see many souls to whom God gives both aptitude and favor with which to make progress (and who, if they would take courage, could attain to this high state) remaining in an elementary stage of communion with God, for want of will or knowledge, or because there is no one who will lead them in the right path or teach them how to get beyond these beginnings. . . . For there are souls who, instead of committing themselves to God and making use of his help, rather hinder God by the indiscretion of their actions or by their resistance; like children who, when their mothers desire to carry them in their arms, start stamping and crying, and insist on being allowed to walk, with the result that they can make no progress; and, if they advance at all, it is only at the pace of a child.
The reason is that two contraries (even as philosophy teaches us) cannot coexist in one person; and that darkness, which is affection set upon the creatures, and light, which is God, are contrary to each other, and have no likeness or accord between one another. . . . In order that we may the better prove what has been said, it must be known that the affection and attachment which the soul has for creatures renders the soul like to these creatures; and the greater is its affection, the closer is the equality and likeness between them; for love creates a likeness between that which loves and that which is loved.. . . . Love not only makes the lover equal to the object of his love, but even subjects him to it (Ascent, Bk. I, chap. 4).
I expect that for a long time the reader has been wanting to ask whether it is necessary, in order to attain this high estate of perfection, to undergo first of all mortification in all the desires, great and small, or whether it will suffice to mortify some of them and to leave others, those at least which seem of little moment. For it seems to be a severe and most difficult thing for the soul to be able to attain to such purity and detachment that it has no will and affection for anything.To this I reply: first, that it is true that all the desires are not equally harmful, nor do they all equally embarrass the soul. I am speaking of those that are voluntary, for the natural desires hinder the soul little, if at all, from attaining to union, when they are not consented to or do not pass beyond the first movements. . . ; and to take away these---that is, to mortify them completely in this life---is impossible. . . .But all the other voluntary desires, whether they be of mortal sin. . .or of venial sin, . . .must be driven away every one. . .; and the reason is that the state of this divine union consists in the soul's total transformation, according to the will, in the will of God so that there may be nothing in the soul that is contrary to the will of God, but that, in all and through all, its movement may be that of the will of God alone (Ascent, Bk. I, chap. 11).
First, let him have an habitual desire to imitate Christ in everything that he does, conforming himself to his life, upon which life he must meditate so that he may know how to imitate it, and to behave in all things as Christ would behave (chap. 13).
- From creatures now my soul is free,
- Detached from all created things;
- Now she at last has taken wings
- And lives her life delectably.
- To God, and God alone, she clings.