Thursday, July 20, 2006

“I will fear no wild beasts and I will go over the mighty and the frontiers.”

Here we have the three enemies of the soul which make war against it, and make its way full of difficulties. The wild beasts are the world; the mighty, the devil; and the frontiers are the flesh.

9. The world is the wild beasts, because in the beginning of the heavenly journey the imagination pictures the world to the soul as wild beasts, threatening and fierce, principally in three ways. The first is, we must forfeit the world’s favor, lose friends, credit, reputation, and property; the second is not less cruel: we must suffer the perpetual deprivation of all the comforts and pleasures of the world; and the third is still worse: evil tongues will rise against us, mock us, and speak of us with contempt. This strikes some persons so vividly that it becomes most difficult for them, I do not say to persevere, but even to enter on this road at all.

10. But there are generous souls who have to encounter wild beasts of a more interior and spiritual nature—trials, temptations, tribulations, and afflictions of diverse kinds, through which they must pass. This is what God sends to those whom He is raising upwards to high perfection, proving them and trying them as gold in the fire; as David says: “Many are the tribulations of the just; and out of all these our Lord will deliver them.” But the truly enamored soul, preferring the Beloved above all things, and relying on His love and favor, finds no difficulty in saying: “I will fear no wild beats and pass over the mighty and the frontiers.”

affter "Dark night of the soul" by St. John of the Cross