Monday, June 29, 2009

Cleaving To God: Part 10 of 16

That one should not be concerned about feeling tangible devotion so much as
about cleaving to God with one's will

Furthermore you should not be much concerned about tangible devotion,
the experience of sweetness or tears, but rather that you should be
mentally united with God within yourself by a good will in your
intellect. For what pleases God above everything is a mind free from
imaginations, that is images, ideas and the representations of created
things. It befits a monk to be indifferent to everything created so
that he can turn easily and barely to God alone within himself, be
empty for him and cleave to him. For this reason deny yourself so that
you can follow Christ, the Lord your God, in nakedness, who was himself
poor, obedient, chaste, humble and suffering, and in whose life and
death many were scandalised, as is clear from the Gospel accounts.
After all, a soul which is separated from the body pays no attention to
what is done to its abandoned body - whether it is burned, hanged, or
reviled, and is in no way saddened by the afflictions imposed on the
body, but thinks only of the Now of eternity and the One Thing which
the Lord calls necessary in the Gospel. So you too should treat your
body as if you were no longer in the body, but think always of the
eternity of your soul in God, and direct your thoughts carefully to
that One Thing of which Christ said, For one thing is necessary. (Luke
10.42) You will experience because of it great grace, helping you
towards the acquisition of nakedness of mind and simplicity of heart.
Indeed this One Thing is very much present with you if you have made
yourself bare of imaginations and all other entanglements, and you will
soon experience that this is so - namely when you can be empty and
cleave to God with a naked and resolute mind. In this way you will
remain unconquered in whatever may be inflicted on you, like the holy
martyrs, fathers, the elect, and indeed all the saints who despised
everything and only thought of their souls' security and eternity in
God. Armed in this way within, and united to God through a good will,
they spurned everything of the world as if their souls were already
separated from their bodies. Consider from this how much a good will
united with God is capable of, when by means of its pressing towards
God the soul is effectively separated from the body in spirit and looks
on its outward man as it were from a distance, and as not belonging to
it. In this way it despises everything that is inflicted on itself or
on its flesh as if they were happening to someone else, or not to a
human being at all. For He that is united with the Lord is one Spirit,
(1 Corinthians 6.17) that is with him. So you should never dare to
think or imagine anything before the Lord your God that you would blush
to be heard or seen in before men, since your respect for God should be
even greater than for them. It is a matter of justice in fact that all
your thoughts and thinking should be raised to God alone, and the
highest point of your mind should only be directed to him as if nothing
existed but him, and holding to him may enjoy the perfect beginning of
the life to come.

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