Stanza xxxviii

There thou wilt show me
That which my soul desired;
And there Thou wilt give at once,
O Thou, my life,
That which Thou gavest me the other day.

THE reason why the soul longed to enter the caverns was that it
might attain to the consummation of the love of God, the object of
its continual desires; that is, that it might love God with the
pureness and perfection wherewith He has loved it, so that it
might thereby requite His love. Hence in the present stanza the
bride saith to the Bridegroom that He will there show her what she
had always aimed at in all her actions, namely, that He would show
her how to love Him perfectly, as He has loved her. And, secondly,
that He will give her that essential glory for which He has
predestined her from the day of His eternity.

‘There Thou wilt show me
That which my soul desired.’

2. That which the soul aims at is equality in love with God, the
object of its natural and supernatural desire. He who loves cannot
be satisfied if he does not feel that he loves as much as he is
loved. And when the soul sees that in the transformation in God,
such as is possible in this life, notwithstanding the immensity of
its love, it cannot equal the perfection of that love wherewith
God loves it, it desires the clear transformation of glory wherein
it shall equal the perfection of love wherewith it is itself
beloved of God; it desires, I say, the clear transformation of
glory wherein it shall equal His love.

3. For though in this high state, which the soul reaches on earth,
there is a real union of the will, yet it cannot reach that
perfection and strength of love which it will possess in the union
of glory; seeing that then, according to the Apostle, the soul
will know God as it is known of Him: ‘Then I shall know even as I
am known.’ [298] That is, ‘I shall then love God even as I am
loved by Him.’ For as the understanding of the soul will then be
the understanding of God, and its will the will of God, so its
love will also be His love. Though in heaven the will of the soul
is not destroyed, it is so intimately united with the power of the
will of God, Who loves it, that it loves Him as strongly and as
perfectly as it is loved of Him; both wills being united in one
sole will and one sole love of God.

4. Thus the soul loves God with the will and strength of God
Himself, being made one with that very strength of love wherewith
itself is loved of God. This strength is of the Holy Ghost, in
Whom the soul is there transformed. He is given to the soul to
strengthen its love; ministering to it, and supplying in it,
because of its transformation in glory, that which is defective in
it. In the perfect transformation, also, of the state of spiritual
marriage, such as is possible on earth, in which the soul is all
clothed in grace, the soul loves in a certain way in the Holy
Ghost, Who is given to it in that transformation.

5. We are to observe here that the bride does not say, ‘There wilt
Thou give me Thy love,’ though that be true–for that means only
that God will love her–but that He will there show her how she is
to love Him with that perfection at which she aims, because there
in giving her His love He will at the same time show her how to
love Him as He loves her. For God not only teaches the soul to
love Himself purely, with a disinterested love, as He hath loved
us, but He also enables it to love Him with that strength with
which He loves the soul, transforming it in His love, wherein He
bestows upon it His own power, so that it may love Him. It is as
if He put an instrument in its hand, taught it the use thereof,
and played upon it together with the soul. This is showing the
soul how it is to love, and at the same time endowing it with the
capacity of loving.

6. The soul is not satisfied until it reaches this point, neither
would it be satisfied even in heaven, unless it felt, as St.
Thomas teaches, [299] that it loved God as much as it is loved of
Him. And as I said of the state of spiritual marriage of which I
am speaking, there is now at this time, though it cannot be that
perfect love in glory, a certain vivid vision and likeness of that
perfection, which is wholly indescribable.

‘And there Thou wilt give me at once, O Thou my life,
that which Thou gavest me the other day.’

7. What He will give is the essential glory which consists in the
vision of God. Before proceeding further it is requisite to solve
a question which arises here, namely, Why is it, seeing that
essential glory consists in the vision of God, and not in loving
Him, the soul says that its longing is for His love, and not for
the essential glory? Why is it that the soul begins the stanza
with referring to His love, and then introduces the subject of the
essential glory afterwards, as if it were something of less

8. There are two reasons for this. The first is this: As the whole
aim of the soul is love, the seat of which is in the will, the
property of which is to give and not to receive–the property of
the understanding, the subject of essential glory, being to
receive and not to give–to the soul inebriated with love the
first consideration is not the essential glory which God will
bestow upon it, but the entire surrender of itself to Him in true
love, without any regard to its own advantage.

9. The second reason is that the second object is included in the
first, and has been taken for granted in the previous stanzas, it
being impossible to attain to the perfect love of God without the
perfect vision of Him. The question is solved by the first reason,
for the soul renders to God by love that which is His due, but
with the understanding it receives from Him and does not give.

10. I now resume the explanation of the stanza, and inquire what
day is meant by the ‘other day,’ and what is it that God then gave
the soul, and what that is which it prays to receive afterwards in
glory? By ‘other day’ is meant the day of the eternity of God,
which is other than the day of time. In that day of eternity God
predestined the soul unto glory, and determined the degree of
glory which He would give it and freely gave from the beginning
before He created it. This now, in a manner, so truly belongs to
the soul that no event or accident, high or low, can ever take it
away, for the soul will enjoy for ever that for which God had
predestined it from all eternity.

11. This is that which He gave it ‘the other day’; that which the
soul longs now to possess visibly in glory. And what is that which
He gave it? That what ‘eye hath not seen nor ear hath heard,
neither hath it ascended into the heart of man.’ [300] ‘The eye
hath not seen,’ saith Isaias, ‘O God, beside Thee, what things
Thou hast prepared for them that expect Thee.’ [301] The soul has
no word to describe it, so it says ‘what.’ It is in truth the
vision of God, and as there is no expression by which we can
explain what it is to see God, the soul says only ‘that which Thou
gavest me.’

12. But that I may not leave the subject without saying something
further concerning it, I will repeat what Christ hath said of it
in the Apocalypse of St. John, in many terms, phrases, and
comparisons, because a single word once uttered cannot describe
it, for there is much still unsaid, notwithstanding all that
Christ hath spoken at seven different times. ‘To him that
overcometh,’ saith He, ‘I will give to eat of the tree of life,
which is in the paradise of My God.’ [302] But as this does not
perfectly describe it, He says again: ‘Be thou faithful unto
death; and I will give thee the crown of life.’ [303]

13. This also is insufficient, and so He speaks again more
obscurely, but explaining it more: ‘To him that overcometh I will
give the hidden manna, and will give him a white counter, and on
the counter a new name written which no man knoweth but he that
receiveth it.’ [304] And as even this is still insufficient, the
Son of God speaks of great power and joy, saying: ‘He that shall
overcome and keep My works unto the end, I will give him power
over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, and
as a vessel of the potter they shall be broken: as I also have
received of My Father. And I will give him the morning star.’
[305] Not satisfied with these words, He adds: ‘He that shall
overcome shall thus be vested in white garments, and I will not
put his name out of the book of life, and I will confess his name
before My Father.’ [306]

14. Still, all this falls short. He speaks of it in words of
unutterable majesty and grandeur: ‘He that shall overcome I will
make Him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no
more; and I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name
of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem which descendeth out of
heaven from My God, and My new name.’ [307] The seventh time He
says: ‘He that shall overcome I will give unto him to sit with Me
in My throne: as I also have overcome, and sat with My Father in
His throne. He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit saith
to the Churches. [308]

15. These are the words of the Son of God; all of which tend to
describe that which was given to the soul. The words correspond
most accurately with it, but still they do not explain it, because
it involves infinite good. The noblest expressions befit it, but
none of them reach it, no, not all together.

16. Let us now see whether David hath said anything of it. In one
of the Psalms he saith, ‘O how great is the multitude of thy
sweetness, O Lord, which Thou hast hidden for them that fear
Thee.’ [309] In another place he calls it a ‘torrent of pleasure,’
saying, ‘Thou shalt make them drink of the torrent of Thy
pleasure.’ [310] And as he did not consider this enough, he says
again, ‘Thou hast prevented him with blessings of sweetness.’
[311] The expression that rightly fits this ‘that’ of the soul,
namely, its predestined bliss, cannot be found. Let us, therefore,
rest satisfied with what the soul has used in reference to it, and
explain the words as follows:

‘That which Thou gavest me.

17. That is, ‘That weight of glory to which Thou didst predestine
me, O my Bridegroom, in the day of Thy eternity, when it was Thy
good pleasure to decree my creation, Thou wilt then give me in my
day of my betrothal and of my nuptials, in my day of the joy of my
heart, when, released from the burden of the flesh, led into the
deep caverns of Thy bridal chamber and gloriously transformed in
Thee, we drink the wine of the sweet pomegranates.’


BUT inasmuch as the soul, in the state of spiritual marriage, of
which I am now speaking, cannot but know something of this ‘that,’
seeing that because of its transformation in God something of it
must be experienced by it, it will not omit to say something on
the subject, the pledges and signs of which it is conscious of in
itself, as it is written: ‘Who can withhold the words He hath
conceived?’ [312] Hence in the following stanza the soul says
something of the fruition which it shall have in the beatific
vision, explaining so far as it is possible the nature and the
manner of it.