Stanza xxxvi


Let us rejoice, O my Beloved,
Let us go forth to see ourselves in Thy beauty,
To the mountain and the hill,
Where the pure water flows:
Let us enter into the heart of the thicket.

THE perfect union of love between itself and God being now
effected, the soul longs to occupy itself with those things that
belong to love. It is the soul which is now speaking, making three
petitions to the Beloved. In the first place, it asks for the joy
and sweetness of love, saying, ‘Let us rejoice.’ In the second
place, it prays to be made like Him, saying, ‘Let us go forth to
see ourselves in Thy beauty.’ In the third place, it begs to be
admitted to the knowledge of His secrets, saying, ‘Let us enter
into the heart of the thicket.’

‘Let us rejoice, O my Beloved.’

2. That is, in the sweetness of our love; not only in that
sweetness of ordinary union, but also in that which flows from
active and affective love, whether in the will by an act of
affection, or outwardly in good works which tend to the service of
the Beloved. For love, as I have said, where it is firmly rooted,
ever runs after those joys and delights which are the acts of
exterior and interior love. All this the soul does that it may be
made like to the Beloved.

‘Let us go forth to see ourselves in Thy beauty.’

3. ‘Let us so act, that, by the practice of this love, we may come
to see ourselves in Thy beauty in everlasting life.’ That is: ‘Let
me be so transformed in Thy beauty, that, being alike in beauty,
we may see ourselves both in Thy beauty; having Thy beauty, so
that, one beholding the other, each may see his own beauty in the
other, the beauty of both being Thine only, and mine absorbed in
it. And thus I shall see Thee in Thy beauty, and myself in Thy
beauty, and Thou shalt see me in Thy beauty; and I shall see
myself in Thee in Thy beauty, and Thou Thyself in me in Thy
beauty; so shall I seem to be Thyself in Thy beauty, and Thou
myself in Thy beauty; my beauty shall be Thine, Thine shall be
mine, and I shall be Thou in it, and Thou myself in Thine own
beauty; for Thy beauty will be my beauty, and so we shall see,
each the other, in Thy beauty.’

4. This is the adoption of the sons of God, who may truly say what
the Son Himself says to the Eternal Father: ‘All My things are
Thine, and Thine are Mine,’ [281] He by essence, being the Son of
God by nature, we by participation, being sons by adoption. This
He says not for Himself only, Who is the Head, but for the whole
mystical body, which is the Church. For the Church will share in
the very beauty of the Bridegroom in the day of her triumph, when
she shall see God face to face. And this is the vision which the
soul prays that the Bridegroom and itself may go in His beauty to

‘To the mountain and the hill.’

5. That is, to the morning and essential knowledge of God, [282]
which is knowledge in the Divine Word, Who, because He is so high,
is here signified by ‘the mountain.’ Thus Isaias saith, calling
upon men to know the Son of God: ‘Come, and let us go up to the
mountain of our Lord’; [283] and before: ‘In the last days the
mountain of the house of the Lord shall be prepared.’ [284]

‘And to the hill.’

6. That is, to the evening knowledge of God, to the knowledge of
Him in His creatures, in His works, and in His marvellous laws.
This is signified by the expression ‘hill,’ because it is a kind
of knowledge lower than the other. The soul prays for both when it
says ‘to the mountain and the hill.’

7. When the soul says, ‘Let us go forth to see ourselves in Thy
beauty to the mountain,’ its meaning is, ‘Transform me, and make
me like the beauty of the Divine Wisdom, the Word, the Son of
God.’ When it says ‘to the hill,’ the meaning is, ‘Do Thou
instruct me in the beauty of this lower knowledge, which is
manifest in Thy creatures and mysterious works.’ This also is the
beauty of the Son of God, wherewith the soul desires to shine.

8. But the soul cannot see itself in the beauty of God if it be
not transformed in His wisdom, wherein all things are seen and
possessed, whether in heaven or in earth. It was to this mountain
and to this hill the bride longed to come when she said, ‘I will
go to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense.’
[285] The mountain of myrrh is the clear vision of God, and the
hill of frankincense the knowledge of Him in His works, for the
myrrh on the mountain is of a higher order than the incense on the

‘Where the pure water flows.’

9. This is the wisdom and knowledge of God, which cleanse the
understanding, and detach it from all accidents and fancies, and
which clear it of the mist of ignorance. The soul is ever
influenced by this desire of perfectly and clearly understanding
the divine verities, and the more it loves the more it desires to
penetrate them, and hence the third petition which it makes:

‘Let us enter into the heart of the thicket;’

10. Into the depths of God’s marvellous works and profound
judgments. Such is their multitude and variety, that they may be
called a thicket. They are so full of wisdom and mystery, that we
may not only call them a thicket, but we may even apply to them
the words of David: ‘The mountain of God is a rich mountain, a
mountain curdled as cheese, a rich mountain.’ [286] The thicket
of the wisdom and knowledge of God is so deep, and so immense,
that the soul, how much soever it knows of it, can always
penetrate further within it, because it is so immense and so
incomprehensible. ‘O the depth,’ cries out the Apostle, ‘of
the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How
incomprehensible are His judgments, and how unsearchable His
ways!’ [287]

11. But the soul longs to enter this thicket and
incomprehensibility of His judgments, for it is moved by that
longing for a deeper knowledge of them. That knowledge is an
inestimable delight, transcending all understanding. David,
speaking of the sweetness of them, saith: ‘The judgments of our
Lord are true, justified in themselves, to be desired above gold
and many precious stones, and sweeter than honey and the honey-
comb. For Thy servant keepeth them.’ [288] The soul therefore
earnestly longs to be engulfed in His judgments, and to have a
deeper knowledge of them, and for that end would esteem it a joy
and great consolation to endure all sufferings and afflictions in
the world, and whatever else might help it to that end, however
hard and painful it might be; it would gladly pass through the
agonies of death to enter deeper into God.

12. Hence, also, the thicket, which the soul desires to enter, may
be fittingly understood as signifying the great and many trials
and tribulations which the soul longs for, because suffering is
most sweet and most profitable to it, inasmuch as it is the way by
which it enters more and more into the thicket of the delicious
wisdom of God. The most pure suffering leads to the most pure and
the deepest knowledge, and consequently to the purest and highest
joy, for that is the issue of the deepest knowledge. Thus, the
soul, not satisfied with ordinary suffering, says, ‘Let us enter
into the heart of the thicket,’ even the anguish of death, that I
may see God.

13. Job, desiring to suffer that he might see God, thus speaks
‘Who will grant that my request may come, and that God may give me
what I look for? And that He that hath begun may destroy me, that
He may let loose His hand and cut me off? And that this may be my
comfort, that afflicting me with sorrow, He spare not.’ [289] O
that men would understand how impossible it is to enter the
thicket, the manifold riches of the wisdom of God, without
entering into the thicket of manifold suffering making it the
desire and consolation of the soul; and how that the soul which
really longs for the divine wisdom longs first of all for the
sufferings of the Cross, that it may enter in.

14. For this cause it was that St. Paul admonished the Ephesians
not to faint in their tribulations, but to take courage: ‘That
being rooted and founded in charity, you may be able to comprehend
with all the saints what is the breadth, and length, and height,
and depth; to know also the charity of Christ, which surpasseth
all knowledge, that you may be filled unto all the fulness of
God.’ [290] The gate by which we enter into the riches of the
knowledge of God is the Cross; and that gate is narrow. They who
desire to enter in that way are few, while those who desire the
joys that come by it are many.


ONE of the principal reasons why the soul desires to be released
and to be with Christ, is, that it may see Him face to face, and
penetrate to the depths of His waysand the eternal mysteries of
His incarnation, which is not the least part of its blessedness;
for in the Gospel of St. John He, addressing the Father, said:
‘Now this is eternal life: that they may know Thee, the only true
God, and Jesus Christ Whom Thou hast sent.’ [291] As the first act
of a person who has taken a long journey is to see and converse
with him whom he was in search of, so the first thing which the
soul desires, when it has attained to the beatific vision, is to
know and enjoy the deep secrets and mysteries of the incarnation
and the ancient ways of God depending on them. Thus the soul,
having said that it longed to see itself in the beauty of God,
sings as in the following stanza: