Stanza xxxii

When Thou didst regard me,
Thine eyes imprinted in me Thy grace:
For this didst Thou love me again,
And thereby mine eyes did merit
To adore what in Thee they saw.

IT is the nature of perfect love to seek or accept nothing for
itself, to attribute nothing to itself, but to refer all to the
Beloved. If this be true of earthly love, how much more so of the
love of God, the reason of which is so constraining. In the two
foregoing stanzas the bride seemed to attribute something to
herself; for she said that she would make garlands with her
Beloved, and bind them with a hair of her head; that is a great
work, and of no slight importance and worth: afterwards she said
that she exulted in having captivated Him by a hair, and wounded
Him with one of her eyes. All this seems as if she attributed
great merits to herself. Now, however, she explains her meaning,
and removes the wrong impression with great care and fear, lest
any merit should be attributed to herself, and therefore less to
God than His due, and less also than she desired. She now refers
all to Him, and at the same time gives Him thanks, saying that the
cause of His being the captive of the hair of her love, and of His
being wounded by the eye of her faith, was His mercy in looking
lovingly upon her, thereby rendering her lovely and pleasing in
His sight; and that the loveliness and worth she received from Him
merited His love, and made her worthy to adore her Beloved, and to
bring forth good works worthy of His love and favour.

‘When Thou didst regard me.’

2. That is, with loving affection, for I have already said, that
where God regards there He loves.

‘Thine eyes imprinted in me Thy grace.’

3. The eyes of the Bridegroom signify here His merciful divinity,
which, mercifuly inclined to the soul, imprints or infuses in it
the love and grace by which He makes it beautiful, and so elevates
it that He makes it the partaker of His divinity. When the soul
sees to what height of dignity God has raised it, it says:

‘For this didst Thou love me again.’

4. To love again is to love much; it is more than simple love, it
is a twofold love, and for two reasons. Here the soul explains the
two motives of the Bridegroom’s love; He not only loved it because
captivated by the hair, but He loved it again, because He was
wounded with one of its eyes. The reason why He loved it so deeply
is that He would, when He looked upon it, give it the grace to
please Him, endowing it with the hair of love, and animating with
His charity the faith of the eye. And therefore the soul saith:

‘For this didst Thou love me again.’

5. To say that God shows favour to the soul is to say that He
renders it worthy and capable of His love. It is therefore as if
the soul said, ‘Having shown Thy favour to me, worthy pledges of
Thy love, Thou hast therefore loved me again’; that is, ‘Thou hast
given me grace upon grace’; or, in the words of St. John, ‘grace
for grace’; [258] grace for the grace He has given, that is more
grace, for without grace we cannot merit His grace.

6. If we could clearly understand this truth, we must keep in mind
that, as God loves nothing beside Himself, so loves He nothing
more than Himself, because He loves all things with reference to
Himself. Thus love is the final cause, and God loves nothing for
what it is in itself. Consequently, when we say that God loves
such a soul, we say, in effect, that He brings it in a manner to
Himself, making it His equal, and thus it is He loves that soul in
Himself with that very love with which He loves Himself. Every
good work, therefore, of the soul in God is meritorious of God’s
love, because the soul in His favour, thus exalted, merits God
Himself in every act.

‘And thereby mine eyes did merit.’

7. That is, ‘By the grace and favour which the eyes of Thy
compassion have wrought, when Thou didst look upon me, rendering
me pleasing in Thy sight and worthy of Thy regard.’

‘To adore what in Thee they saw.’

8. That is: ‘The powers of my soul, O my Bridegroom, the eyes by
which I can see Thee, although once fallen and miserable in the
vileness of their mean occupations, have merited to look upon
Thee.’ To look upon God is to do good works in His grace. Thus
the powers of the soul merit in adoring because they adore in the
grace of God, in which every act is meritorious. Enlightened and
exalted by grace, they adored what in Him they saw, and what they
saw not before, because of their blindness and meanness. What,
then, have they now seen? The greatness of His power, His
overflowing sweetness, infinite goodness, love, and compassion,
innumerable benefits received at His hands, as well now when so
near Him as before when far away. The eyes of the soul now merit
to adore, and by adoring merit, for they are beautiful and
pleasing to the Bridegroom. Before they were unworthy, not only to
adore or behold Him, but even to look upon Him at all: great
indeed is the stupidity and blindness of a soul without the grace
of God.

9. It is a melancholy thing to see how far a soul departs from its
duty when it is not enlightened by the love of God. For being
bound to acknowledge these and other innumerable favours which it
has every moment received at His hands, temporal as well as
spiritual, and to worship and serve Him unceasingly with all its
faculties, it not only does not do so, but is unworthy even to
think of Him; nor does it make any account of Him whatever. Such
is the misery of those who are living, or rather who are dead, in


FOR the better understanding of this and of what follows, we must
keep in mind that the regard of God benefits the soul in four
ways: it cleanses, adorns, enriches, and enlightens it, as the
sun, when it shines, dries, warms, beautifies, and brightens the
earth. When God has visited the soul in the three latter ways,
whereby He renders it pleasing to Himself, He remembers its former
uncleanness and sin no more: as it is written, ‘All the iniquities
that he hath wrought, I will not remember.’ [259]

God having once done away with our sin and uncleanness, He will
look upon them no more; nor will He withhold His mercy because of
them, for He never punishes twice for the same sin, according to
the words of the prophet: ‘There shall not rise a double
affliction.’ [260]

Still, though God forgets the sin He has once forgiven, we are not
for that reason to forget it ourselves; for the Wise Man saith,
‘Be not without fear about sin forgiven.’ [261] There are three
reasons for this. We should always remember our sin, that we may
not presume, that we may have a subject of perpetual thanksgiving,
and because it serves to give us more confidence that we shall
receive greater favours; for if, when we were in sin, God showed
Himself unto us so merciful and forgiving, how much greater
mercies may we not hope for when we are clean from sin, and in His

The soul, therefore, calling to mind all the mercies it has
received, and seeing itself united to the Bridegroom in such
dignity, rejoices greatly with joy, thanksgiving, and love. In
this it is helped exceedingly by the recollection of its former
condition, which was so mean and filthy that it not only did not
deserve that God should look upon it, but was unworthy that He
should even utter its name, as He saith by the mouth of the
prophet David: ‘Nor will I be mindful of their names by My
lips.’ [262] Thus the soul, seeing that there was, and that there
can be, nothing in itself to attract the eyes of God, but that all
comes from Him of pure grace and goodwill, attributes its misery
to itself, and all the blessings it enjoys to the Beloved; and
seeing further that because of these blessings it can merit now
what it could not merit before, it becomes bold with God, and
prays for the divine spiritual union, wherein its mercies are
multiplied. This is the subject of the following stanza: