The reason these trials are necessary in order to reach this state is that this highest union cannot be wrought in a soul that is not fortified by trials and temptations, and purified by tribulations, darknesses, and distress, just as a superior quality liqueur is poured only into a sturdy flask that is prepared and purified. God shows his graces there, manifests his riches and the glory of his grandeur that in this soul might be fulfilled what he asserted in Proverbs: I was delighted every day, playing before him all the time, playing in the world. His absorption is not in some undetermined absolute, but in communion with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Everything not included in this estrangement becomes distasteful, for, as they say, once the spirit has tasted, all flesh becomes bitter. Our age has known times of anguish which have made us understand this expression better and which have furthermore given it a kind of collective character.
Since every living being lives by its operations, as the philosophers say, and the soul's operations are in God though its union with him, it lives the life of God. In killing you changed death to life. He has set me in dark places as those who are dead forever. First of all it should be known that lamps possess two properties: They transmit light and give off warmth. Thus the delight and joy of the soul is so much more intense because God is the doer of all without the soul's doing anything.
It is through the painful process of detachment, that man is liberated and made capable of true and authentic love of God, and, with that love of God, all the delights that come with it. In the very manner they receive it, they return it to the one who gave it, and with the same exquisite beauty; just as the window when the sun shines on it, for it then too reflects the splendors. In this preparatory purgation the flame is not bright for a person but dark. The movements and splendors of the flame are not from the air alone or from the fire of which the flame is composed, but from both air and fire. And God, who could not be considered paid with anything less, is considered paid with that gift of the soul; and he accepts it gratefully as something it gives him of its own.
And in that immersion of the soul in wisdom, the Holy Spirit sets in motion the glorious flickerings of his flame. So the soul may understand how this happens, we will briefly discuss each of these blind guides. Since they deal with matters so interior and spiritual, for which words are usually lacking - in that the spiritual surpasses sense - I find it difficult to say something of their content; also, one speaks badly of the intimate depths of the spirit if one does not do so with a deeply recollected soul. When this light does not illumine it, the soul dwells in obscurity even though it may have very excellent vision. The will does not feel the love and tenderness of the flame since, because of its contrary hardness and dryness, it is unprepared for this until the love and tenderness of God expel the dryness and hardness and reign within it. A person should not bear attachment to anything, neither to the practice of meditation nor to any savor, whether sensory or spiritual, nor to any other apprehensions.
The only thing that made him hesitate to respond to her pleadings was his difficulty in speaking of what pertained to the intimate depths of one's being. For its own well-being, the intellect should be doing what you condemn; that is, it should avoid busying itself with particular knowledge, for it cannot reach God through this knowledge, which would rather hinder it in its advance toward him. The original texts still have much to offer but their diction and idiom, chosen for another era and audience, pose an obstacle to many contemporary readers. Not everyone knows all the happenings and stages of the spiritual journey, nor is everyone spiritually so perfect as to know every state of the interior life in which a person must be conducted and guided. Thus they are not merely paid, but even the Judeans, their enemies, the inordinate appetites, are dead, for these were eliminating the spiritual life in which it now lives through its faculties and appetites. For the secrets of love in the interior castle are truly the very crystallization of Spirit in Matter whereby, through the weight of your devotion, you anchor upon earth such an intense love for God.
When it has not reached this point as happens in this mortal life, in which the soul cannot reach God with all its strength, even though in its center - which is God through grace and his self-communication to it , it still has movement and strength for advancing further and is not satisfied. Submitting it to the judgment and better opinion of our Holy Mother the Roman Catholic Church, by whose rule no one errs, finding my support in Sacred Scripture, and knowing the reader understands that everything I say is as far from the reality as is a painting from the living object represented, I will venture to declare what I know. O living flame of love That tenderly wounds my soul In its deepest center! But those the soul makes of itself can better be referred to as dispositive acts by means of successive desires and affections, which only become perfect acts of love or contemplation, as I say, when God sometimes forms and perfects them very quickly in the spirit. Before the divine fire is introduced into the substance of the soul and united with it through perfect and complete purgation and purity, its flame, which is the Holy Spirit, wounds the soul by destroying and consuming the imperfections of its bad habits. But it will give to you joy unspeakable, joy so intense that only perfect silence can contain it! Thus these movements of both God and the soul are not only splendors, but also glorifications of the soul. Although the foundation for guiding a soul to spirit is knowledge and discretion, directors will not succeed in leading the soul onward in it when God bestows it, nor will they even understand it if they have no experience of what true and pure spirit is. Yet one can be in obscurity without being in sin, and this doubly: regarding the natural, by not having light or knowledge about certain natural things; and regarding the supernatural, by not having light or knowledge of supernatural things.
Since in a cautery the fire is more intense and fierce and produces a more singular effect than it does in other combustibles, the soul calls the act of this union a cautery in comparison with other acts of union, for it is the outcome of a fire so much more aflame than all other fires. In today's world the search for spirituality can take many forms, and often one finds sources devoid of real meaning. Neither should there be any fear because the memory is void of forms and figures. And that flame, every time it flares up, bathes the soul in glory and refreshes it with the quality of divine life. Not everyone capable of hewing the wood knows how to carve the statue, nor does everyone able to carve know how to perfect and polish the work, nor do all who know how to polish it know how to paint it, nor do all who can paint it know how to put the finishing touches on it and bring the work to completion.
The deep caverns of feeling, These caverns are the soul's faculties: memory, intellect, and will. There is no reason to fear idleness of the will in this situation. He is almighty, wise, and good; and he is merciful, just, powerful, loving, and so on; and he is the other infinite attributes and powers of which we have no knowledge. Abandon your activity, for if this helped you to deny the world and yourselves when you were beginners, it is a serious obstacle now that God favors you by being himself the agent. In order to explain this we will have to delay somewhat. Those who are in this state obtain everything they desire. If it does shed some light, the only reason is so the soul may see its miseries and defects.
People, then, should live with great patience and constancy in all the tribulations and trials God places on them, whether they be exterior or interior, spiritual or bodily, great or small, and they should accept them all as from God's hand as a good remedy and not flee from them, for they bring health. Teresa's experience and thought of sanctity as a pursuit more suited to monks and friars, it is surprising that John wrote this loftiest of his works for a laywoman. Although, as we said, the soul has not attained such great perfection as is present in this vision of peace, yet, in comparison with the other common union, this union resembles a blazing furnace in which there is a vision much more peaceful and glorious and tender, just as the flame is clearer and more resplendent than the burning coal. The body experiences so much glory in that of the soul that in its own way it magnifies God, feeling in its bones something similar to what David declares: All my bones shall say: God, who is like to you? Insofar as the soul receives the knowledge of these attributes in only one act of this union, God himself is for it many lamps together. Who can relate the magnificence and rareness of your delight and majesty in the admirable splendor and love of your lamps? It is true that the soul cannot give God again to himself, since in himself he is ever himself. Who can fittingly speak of this intimate point of the wound, which seems to make its mark in the middle of the heart of the spirit, there where the soul experiences the excellence of the delight? Whether a soul is wounded by other wounds of miseries and sins or whether it is healthy, this cautery of love immediately effects a wound of love in the one it touches, and those wounds deriving from other causes become wounds of love.