50. The soul thus possessed of God, finds that He is so perfectly Lord over it, that it can no longer do anything but what He pleases and as He pleases; and this state goes on increasing. Its powerlessness is no longer painful but pleasant, because it is full of the life and power of the Divine Will.
51. The dead soul is in union, but it does not enjoy the fruits of it until the moment of its resurrection, when God, causing it to pass into Him, gives it such pledges and assurances of the consummation of its divine marriage, that it can no longer doubt: for this immediate union is so spiritual, so refined, so divine, so intimate, that it is equally impossible for the soul to conceive or to doubt it. For we may observe that the whole way whereof we speak, is infinitely removed from any imagination; these souls are not in the least imaginative, having nothing in the intellect, and are perfectly protected from deceptions and illusions, as everything takes place within.
52. During their passage through the way of faith, they had nothing distinct, far distinctness is entirely opposed to faith, and they could not enjoy anything of that sort, having only a certain generality as a foundation upon which everything was communicated to them. But it is far otherwise when the life becomes advanced in God; for though they have nothing distinct for themselves, they have for others, and their illumination for the use of others, though not always received by those for whom it was intended, is the more certain as it is more immediate, and as it were natural.
53. When God raises a soul, that is to say, receives it into Himself, and the living germ, which is no other than the Life and Spirit of the Word, begins to appear, it constitutes the revelation in it of Jesus Christ, (Gal. i. 16,) who lives in us by the loss of the life of Adam subsisting in self.
54. The soul is thus received into God, and is there gradually changed and transformed into Him, as food is transformed into the one who has partaken of it. All this takes place without any loss of its own individual existence, as has been elsewhere explained.
55. When transformation begins, it is called annihilation, since in changing our form, we become annihilated as to our own, in order to take on His. This operation goes on constantly during life, changing the soul more and more into God, and conferring upon it a continually increasing participation in the divine qualities, making it unchangeable, immovable, etc. But He also renders it fruitful in, and not out of, Himself.
56. This fruitfulness extends to certain persons whom God gives and attaches to the soul, communicating to it his Love, full of Charity. For the love of these divine souls for the persons thus bestowed upon them, while it is far removed from the natural feelings, is infinitely stronger than the love of parents for their children, and though it appears eager and precipitate, it is not so, because he, who exhibits it, merely follows the movement impressed upon him.
57. To make this intelligible, we must know that God did not deprive the senses and faculties of their life, to leave them dead; for though there might be life in the centre of the soul, they would remain dead if that life were not also communicated to them. It increases by degrees, animates all the powers and senses which, until then, had remained barren and unfruitful, enlarges them in proportion to its communication, and renders them active, but with an activity derived and regulated from God, according to his own designs. Persons in a dying or dead condition, must not condemn the activity of such souls, for they could never have been put in divine motion if they had not passed through the most wonderful death. During the whole period of faith, the soul remains motionless; but after God has infused into it the divine activity, its sphere is vastly extended; but, great as it may be, it cannot execute a self-originated movement.
THE LIFE IN GOD.
58. There is no more to be said here of degrees; that of glory being all that remains, every means being left behind, and the future consisting in our enjoying an infinite stretch of life, and that more and more abundantly. (John x. 10.) As God transforms the soul into Himself, his life is communicated to it more plentifully. The love of God for the creature is incomprehensible, and his assiduity inexplicable; some souls He pursues without intermission, prevents them, seats Himself at their door, and delights Himself in being with them and in loading them with the marks of his love. He impresses this chaste, pure, and tender love upon the heart. St. Paul and St. John the Evangelist, felt the most of this maternal affection. But to be as I have described it, it must be bestowed upon the soul in the state of grace of which I have just spoken; otherwise, such emotions are purely natural.
59. The prayer of the state of faith is an absolute silence of all the powers of the soul, and a cessation of every working, however delicate, especially toward its termination. The soul in that state, perceiving no more prayer, and not being able to set apart fixed seasons for it, since all such exercises are taken away, is led to think that it has absolutely lost all kind of devotion. But when life returns, prayer returns with it, and accompanied by a marvellous facility; and as God takes possession of the senses and faculties, its devotion becomes sweet, gentle, and very spiritual, but always to God. Its former devotion caused it to sink within itself, that it might enjoy God, but that which it now has, draws it out of self, that it may be more and more lost and changed in God.
60. This difference is quite remarkable, and can only be accomplished by experience. The soul is silent in the state of death, but its stillness is barren, and accompanied by a frantic rambling, which leaves no mark of silence save the impossibility of addressing God, either with the lips or the heart. But after the resurrection, its silence is fruitful and attended by an exceedingly pure and refined unction, which is deliciously diffused over the senses, but with such a purity, that it occasions no stay and contracts no taint.
61. It is now impossible for the soul to take what it has not, or to put off what it has. It receives with passive willingness whatever impressions are made upon it. Its state, however overwhelming, would be free from suffering, if God, who moves it towards certain free things, gave them the necessary correspondence. But as their state will not bear it, it becomes necessary that what God wills they should have, should be communicated by means of suffering for them.
62. It would be wrong for such persons to say that they do not wish these means; that they desire God only. He is anxious that they should die to a certain interior support of self, which causes them to say that they desire God only, and if they were to reject these means, they would withdraw themselves from the order of God, and arrest their progress. But, being given simply as means, though fruitful in grace and virtue, however secret and concealed, they finally disappear when the soul finds itself united with the means in God, and He communicates Himself directly. Then God withdraws the means, upon which he no longer impresses any movement in the direction of the person to whom they are attached; because it might then serve as a stay, its utility being at least recognized. The soul can then no longer have what it had, and remains in its first death in respect to them, though still very closely united.
63. In this state of resurrection comes that ineffable silence, by which we not only subsist in God, but commune with Him, and which, in a soul thus dead to its own working, and general and fundamental self-appropriation, becomes a flux and reflux of divine communion, with nothing to sully its purity; for there is nothing to hinder it.
64. The soul then becomes a partaker of the ineffable communion of the Trinity, where the Father of spirits imparts his spiritual fecundity, and makes it one spirit with Himself. Here it is that it communes with other souls, if they are sufficiently pure to receive its communications in silence, according to their degree and state; here, that the ineffable secrets are revealed, not by a momentary illumination, but in God himself, where they are all hid, the soul not possessing them for itself, nor being ignorant of them.
65. Although I have said that the soul then has something distinct, yet it is not distinct in reference to itself, but to those with whom it communes; for what it says is said naturally and without attention, but seems extraordinary to the hearers, who, not finding the thing in themselves, notwithstanding it may be there, consider it as something distinct and wonderful, or perhaps fanatical. Souls that are still dwelling among the gifts, have distinct and momentary illuminations, but these latter have only a general illumination, without defined beams, which is God himself; whence they draw whatever they need, which is distinct whenever it is required by those with whom they are conversing, and without any of it remaining with themselves afterwards.
66. There are a thousand things that might be said about the inward and celestial life of the soul thus full of life in God, which He dearly cherishes for Himself, and which He covers externally with abasement, because He is a jealous God. But it would require a volume, and I have only to fulfill your request. God is the life and soul of this soul, which thus uninterruptedly lives in God, as a fish in the sea, in inexpressible happiness, though loaded with the sufferings which God lays upon it for others.
67. It has become so simple, especially when its transformation is for advanced, that it goes its way perpetually without a thought for any creature or for itself. It has but one object, to do the will of God. But as it has to do with many of the creatures who cannot attain to this state, some of them cause it suffering by endeavoring to compel it to have a care for self, to take precautions, and so on, which it cannot do; and others by their want of correspondence to the Will of God.
68. The crosses of such souls are the most severe, and God keeps them under the most abject humiliations and a very common and feeble exterior, though they are his delight. Then Jesus Christ communicates Himself in all his states, and the soul is clothed upon both with his inclinations and sufferings. It understands what man has cost Him, what his faithlessness has made Him suffer, what is the redemption of Jesus Christ, and how He has borne his children.
69. The transformation is recognized by the want of distinction between God and the soul, it not being able any longer to separate itself from God; everything is equally God, because it has passed into its Original Source, is reunited to its ALL, and changed into Him. But it is enough for me to sketch the general outlines of what you desire to know; experience will teach you the rest, and having shown you what I ought to be to you, you may judge of what I am in our Lord.
70. In proportion as its transformation is perfected, the soul finds a more extended quality in itself. Everything is expanded and dilated, God making it a partaker of his infinity; so that it often finds itself immense, and the whole earth appears but as a point in comparison with this wonderful breadth and extension. Whatever is in the order and will of God, expands it; everything else contracts it; and this contraction restrains it from passing out. As the will is the means of effecting the transformation, and the center is nothing else but all the faculties united in the will, the more the soul is transformed, the more its will is changed and passed into that of God, and the more God himself wills for the soul. The soul acts and works in this divine will, which is thus substituted for its own, so naturally, that it cannot tell whether the will of the soul is become the will of God, or the will of God become the will of the soul.
71. God frequently exacts strange sacrifices from souls thus transformed in Him; but it costs them nothing, for they will sacrifice everything to Him without repugnance. The smaller sacrifices cost the most, and the greater ones the least, for they are not required until the soul is in a state to grant them without difficulty, to which it has a natural tendency. This is what is said of Jesus Christ on his coming into the world; "Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me; I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy love is within my heart." (Psalm xi. 7,8.) As soon as Christ comes into any soul to become its living principle, He says the same thing of it; He becomes the eternal Priest who unceasingly fulfills within the soul his sacerdotal office. This is sublime indeed, and continues until the victim is carried to glory.
72. God destines these souls for the assistance of others in the most tangled paths; for, having no longer any anxiety in regard to themselves, nor anything to lose, God can use them to bring others into the way of his pure, naked and assured will. Those who are still self-possessed, could not be used for this purpose; for, not having yet entered into a state where they follow the will of God blindly for themselves, but always mingling it with their own reasonings, and false wisdom, they are not by any means in a condition to withhold nothing in following it blindly for others. When I say withhold nothing, I mean of that which God desires in the present moment; for He frequently does not permit us to point out to a person all that hinders him, and what we see must come to pass in respect to him, except in general terms, because he cannot bear it. And though we may sometimes say hard things, as Christ did to the Capernaites, He nevertheless bestows a secret strength to bear it; at least He does so to the souls whom He has chosen solely for Himself; and this is the touchstone.