Stanza’s xiv and xv

Stanza’s xiv and xv

THE BRIDE

My Beloved is the mountains,
The solitary wooded valleys,
The strange islands,
The roaring torrents,
The whisper of the amorous gales;

The tranquil night
At the approaches of the dawn,
The silent music,
The murmuring solitude,
The supper which revives, and enkindles love.

BEFORE I begin to explain these stanzas, I must observe, in order
that they and those which follow may be better understood, that
this spiritual flight signifies a certain high estate and union of
love, whereunto, after many spiritual exercises, God is wont to
elevate the soul: it is called the spiritual betrothal of the
Word, the Son of God. In the beginning, when this occurs the first
time, God reveals to it great things of Himself, makes it
beautiful in majesty and grandeur, adorns it with graces and
gifts, and endows it with honour, and with the knowledge of
Himself, as a bride is adorned on the day of her betrothal. On
this happy day the soul not only ceases from its anxieties and
loving complaints, but is, moreover, adorned with all grace,
entering into a state of peace and delight, and of the sweetness
of love, as it appears from these stanzas, in which it does
nothing else but recount and praise the magnificence of the
Beloved, which it recognises in Him, and enjoys in the union of
the betrothal.

2. In the stanzas that follow, the soul speaks no more of its
anxieties and sufferings, as before, but of the sweet and peaceful
intercourse of love with the Beloved; for now all its troubles are
over. These two stanzas, which I am about to explain, contain all
that God is wont at this time to bestow upon the soul; but we are
not to suppose that all souls, thus far advanced, receive all that
is here described, either in the same way or in the same degree of
knowledge and of consciousness. Some souls receive more, others
less; some in one way, some in another; and yet all may be in the
state of spiritual betrothal. But in this stanza the highest
possible is spoken of, because that embraces all.

EXPLANATION

3. As in the ark of Noe there were many chambers for the different
kinds of animals, as the Sacred Writings tell us, and ‘all food
that may be eaten,’ [133] so the soul, in its flight to the divine
ark of the bosom of God, sees therein not only the many mansions
of which our Lord speaks, but also all the food, that is, all the
magnificence in which the soul may rejoice, and which are here
referred to by the common terms of these stanzas. These are
substantially as follows:

4. In this divine union the soul has a vision and foretaste of
abundant and inestimable riches, and finds there all the repose
and refreshment it desired; it attains to the secrets of God, and
to a strange knowledge of Him, which is the food of those who know
Him most; it is conscious of the awful power of God beyond all
other power and might, tastes of the wonderful sweetness and
delight of the Spirit, finds its true rest and divine light,
drinks deeply of the wisdom of God, which shines forth in the
harmony of the creatures and works of God; it feels itself filled
with all good, emptied, and delivered from all evil, and, above
all, rejoices consciously in the inestimable banquet of love which
confirms it in love. This is the substance of these two stanzas.

5. The bride here says that her Beloved in Himself and to her is
all the objects she enumerates; for in the ecstatic communications
of God the soul feels and understands the truth of the saying of
St. Francis: ‘God is mine and all things are mine.’ And because
God is all, and the soul, and the good of all, the communication
in this ecstasy is explained by the consideration that the
goodness of the creatures referred to in these stanzas is a
reflection of His goodness, as will appear from every line
thereof. All that is here set forth is in God eminently in an
infinite way, or rather, every one of these grandeurs is God, and
all of them together are God. Inasmuch as the soul is one with
God, it feels all things to be God according to the words of St.
John: ‘What was made, in Him was life.’ [134]

6. But we are not to understand this consciousness of the soul as
if it saw the creatures in God as we see material objects in the
light, but that it feels all things to be God in this fruition of
Him; neither are we to imagine that the soul sees God essentially
and clearly because it has so deep a sense of Him; for this is
only a strong and abundant communication from Him, a glimmering
light of what He is in Himself, by which the soul discerns this
goodness of all things, as I proceed to explain.

‘My Beloved is the mountains.’

7. Mountains are high fertile, extensive, beautiful, lovely,
flowery, and odorous. These mountains my Beloved is to me.

‘The solitary wooded valleys.’

8. Solitary valleys are tranquil, pleasant, cooling, shady,
abounding in sweet waters, and by the variety of trees growing in
them, and by the melody of the birds that frequent them, enliven
and delight the senses; their solitude and silence procure us a
refreshing rest. These valleys my Beloved is to me.

‘The strange islands.’

9. Strange islands are girt by the sea; they are also, because of
the sea, distant and unknown to the commerce of men. They produce
things very different from those with which we are conversant, in
strange ways, and with qualities hitherto unknown, so as to
surprise those who behold them, and fill them with wonder. Thus,
then, by reason of the great and marvellous wonders, and the
strange things that come to our knowledge, far beyond the common
notions of men, which the soul beholds in God, it calls Him the
strange islands. We say of a man that he is strange for one of two
reasons: either because he withdraws himself from the society of
his fellows, or because he is singular or distinguished in his
life and conduct. For these two reasons together God is called
strange by the soul. He is not only all that is strange in
undiscovered islands, but His ways, judgments, and works are also
strange, new, and marvellous to men.

10. It is nothing wonderful that God should be strange to men who
have never seen Him, seeing that He is also strange to the holy
angels and the souls who see Him; for they neither can nor shall
ever see Him perfectly. Yea, even to the day of the last judgment
they will see in Him so much that is new in His deep judgments, in
His acts of mercy and justice, as to excite their wonder more and
more. Thus God is the strange islands not to men only, but to the
angels also; only to Himself is He neither strange nor new.

‘The roaring torrents.’

11. Torrents have three properties. 1. They overflow all that is
in their course. 2. They fill all hollows. 3. They overpower all
other sounds by their own. And hence the soul, feeling most
sweetly that these three properties belong to God, says, ‘My
Beloved is the roaring torrents.’

12. As to the first property of which the soul is conscious, it
feels itself to be so overwhelmed with the torrent of the Spirit
of God, and so violently overpowered by it, that all the waters in
the world seem to it to have surrounded it, and to have drowned
all its former actions and passions. Though all this be violent,
yet there is nothing painful in it, for these rivers are rivers of
peace, as it is written, God, speaking through Isaias, saying, ‘I
will decline upon her, as it were, a flood of peace, and as a
torrent overflowing glory.’ [135] That is, ‘I will bring upon the
soul, as it were, a river of peace, and a torrent overflowing with
glory.’ Thus this divine overflowing, like roaring torrents, fills
the soul with peace and glory. The second property the soul feels
is that this divine water is now filling the vessels of its
humility and the emptiness of its desires, as it is written: ‘He
hath exalted the humble, and filled the hungry with good.’ [136]
The third property of which the soul is now conscious in the
roaring torrents of the Beloved is a spiritual sound and voice
overpowering all other sounds and voices in the world. The
explanation of this will take a little time.

13. This voice, or this murmuring sound of the waters, is an
overflowing so abundant as to fill the soul with good, and a power
so mighty seizing upon it as to seem not only the sound of many
waters, but a most loud roaring of thunder. But the voice is a
spiritual voice, unattended by material sounds or the pain and
torment of them, but rather with majesty, power, might, delight,
and glory: it is, as it were, a voice, an infinite interior sound
which endows the soul with power and might. The Apostles heard in
spirit this voice when the Holy Ghost descended upon them in the
sound ‘as of a mighty wind,’ [137] as we read in the Acts of the
Apostles. In order to manifest this spiritual voice, interiorly
spoken, the sound was heard exteriorly, as of a rushing wind, by
all those who were in Jerusalem. This exterior manifestation
reveals what the Apostles interiorly received, namely, fulness of
power and might.

14. So also when our Lord Jesus prayed to the Father because of
His distress and the rage of His enemies, He heard an interior
voice from heaven, comforting Him in His Sacred Humanity. The
sound, solemn and grave, was heard exteriorly by the Jews, some of
whom said that it thundered: others said, ‘An angel hath spoken to
Him.’ [138] The voice outwardly heard was the outward sign and
expression of that strength and power which Christ then inwardly
received in His human nature. We are not to suppose that the soul
does not hear in spirit the spiritual voice because it is also
outwardly heard. The spiritual voice is the effect on the soul of
the audible voice, as material sounds strike the ear, and impress
the meaning of it on the mind. This we learn from David when he
said, ‘He will give to His voice the voice of strength;’ [139]
this strength is the interior voice. He will give to His voice–
that is, the outward voice, audibly heard–the voice of strength
which is felt within. God is an infinite voice, and communicating
Himself thus to the soul produces the effect of an infinite voice.

15. This voice was heard by St. John, saying in the Apocalypse, ‘I
heard a voice from heaven as the voice of many waters, and as the
voice of great thunder.’ And, lest it should be supposed that a
voice so strong was distressing and harsh, he adds immediately,
‘The voice which I heard was as the voice of harpers harping on
their harps.’ [140] Ezechiel says that this sound as of many
waters was ‘as it were the sound of the High God,’ [141]
profoundly and sweetly communicated in it. This voice is infinite,
because, as I have said, it is God Who communicates Himself,
speaking in the soul; but He adapts Himself to each soul, uttering
the voice of strength according to its capacity, in majesty and
joy. And so the bride sings in the Canticle: ‘Let Thy voice sound
in my ears, for Thy voice is sweet.’ [142]

‘The whisper of the amorous gales.’

16. Two things are to be considered here–gales and whisper. The
amorous gales are the virtues and graces of the Beloved, which,
because of its union with the Bridegroom, play around the soul,
and, most lovingly sent forth, touch it in their own substance.
The whisper of the gales is a most sublime and sweet knowledge of
God and of His attributes, which overflows into the understanding
from the contact of the attributes of God with the substance of
the soul. This is the highest delight of which the soul is capable
in this life.

17. That we may understand this the better, we must keep in mind
that as in a gale two things are observable–the touch of it, and
the whisper or sound–so there are two things observable also in
the communications of the Bridegroom–the sense of delight, and
the understanding of it. As the touch of the air is felt in the
sense of touch, and the whisper of it heard in the ear, so also
the contact of the perfections of the Beloved is felt and enjoyed
in the touch of the soul–that is, in the substance thereof,
through the instrumentality of the will; and the knowledge of the
attributes of God felt in the hearing of the soul–that is, in the
understanding.

18. The gale is said to blow amorously when it strikes
deliciously, satisfying his desire who is longing for the
refreshing which it ministers; for it then revives and soothes the
sense of touch, and while the sense of touch is thus soothed, that
of hearing also rejoices and delights in the sound and whisper of
the gale more than the touch in the contact of the air, because
the sense of hearing is more spiritual, or, to speak with greater
correctness, is more nearly connected with the spiritual than is
that of touch, and the delight thereof is more spiritual than is
that of the touch. So also, inasmuch as this touch of God greatly
satisfies and comforts the substance of the soul, sweetly
fulfilling its longing to be received into union; this union, or
touch, is called amorous gales, because, as I said before, the
perfections of the Beloved are by it communicated to the soul
lovingly and sweetly, and through it the whisper of knowledge to
the understanding. It is called whisper, because, as the whisper
of the air penetrates subtiley into the organ of hearing, so this
most subtile and delicate knowledge enters with marvellous
sweetness and delight into the inmost substance of the soul, which
is the highest of all delights.

19. The reason is that substantial knowledge is now communicated
intelligibly, and stripped of all accidents and images, to the
understanding, which philosophers call passive or passible,
because inactive without any natural efforts of its own during
this communication. This is the highest delight of the soul,
because it is in the understanding, which is the seat of fruition,
as theologians teach, and fruition is the vision of God. Some
theologians think, inasmuch as this whisper signifies the
substantial intelligence, that our father Elias had a vision of
God in the delicate whisper of the air, which he heard on the
mount at the mouth of the cave. The Holy Scripture calls it ‘the
whistling of a gentle wind,’ [143] because knowledge is begotten
in the understanding by the subtile and delicate communication of
the Spirit. The soul calls it here the whisper of the amorous
gales, because it flows into the understanding from the loving
communication of the perfections of the Beloved. This is why it
is called the whisper of the amorous gales.

20. This divine whisper which enters in by the ear of the soul is
not only substantial knowledge, but a manifestation also of the
truths of the Divinity, and a revelation of the secret mysteries
thereof. For in general, in the Holy Scriptures, every
communication of God said to enter in by the ear is a
manifestation of pure truths to the understanding, or a revelation
of the secrets of God. These are revelations on purely spiritual
visions, and are communicated directly to the soul without the
intervention of the senses, and thus, what God communicates
through the spiritual ear is most profound and most certain. When
St. Paul would express the greatness of the revelations made to
him, he did not say, ‘I saw or I perceived secret words,’ but ‘I
heard secret words which it is not granted to man to utter.’ [144]
It is thought that St. Paul also saw God, as our father Elias, in
the whisper of a gentle air. For as ‘faith cometh by hearing’–so
the Apostle teaches–that is, by the hearing of the material ear,
so also that which the faith teaches, the intelligible truth,
cometh by spiritual hearing.

21. The prophet Job, speaking to God, when He revealed Himself
unto him, teaches the same doctrine, saying, ‘With the hearing of
the ear I have heard Thee, but now my eye seeth Thee.’ [145] It is
clear, from this, that to hear with the ear of the soul is to see
with the eye of the passive understanding. He does not say, ‘I
heard with the hearing of my ears,’ but ‘with the hearing of my
ear’; nor, ‘with the seeing of my eyes,’ but ‘with the eye of my
understanding’; the hearing of the soul is, therefore, the vision
of the understanding.

22. Still, we are not to think that what the soul perceives,
though pure truth, can be the perfect and clear fruition of
Heaven. For though it be free from accidents, as I said before,
[146] it is dim and not clear, because it is contemplation, which
in this life, as St. Dionysius saith, ‘is a ray of darkness,’
[147] and thus we may say that it is a ray and an image of
fruition, because it is in the understanding, which is the seat of
fruition. This substantial truth, called here a whisper, is the
‘eyes desired’ which the Beloved showed to the bride, who, unable
to bear the vision, cried, ‘Turn them away, O my Beloved.’ [148]

23. There is a passage in the book of Job which greatly confirms
what I have said of rapture and betrothal, and, because I consider
it to be much to the purpose, I will give it here, though it may
delay us a little, and explain those portions of it which belong
to my subject. The explanation shall be short, and when I shall
have made it, I shall go on to explain the other stanza. The
passage is as follows: ‘To me there was spoken a secret word,’
said Eliphaz the Themanite, ‘and, as it were, my ear by stealth
received the veins of its whisper. In the horror of a vision by
night, when deep sleep is wont to hold men, fear held me and
trembling, and all my bones were made sore afraid: and when the
spirit passed before me the hair of my flesh stood upright. There
stood one whose countenance I knew not, an image before mine eyes,
and I heard the voice, as it were, of a gentle wind.’ [149]

24. This passage contains almost all I said about rapture in the
thirteenth stanza, where the bride says: ‘Turn them away, O my
Beloved.’ The ‘word spoken in secret’ to Eliphaz is that secret
communication which by reason of its greatness the soul was not
able to endure, and, therefore, cried out: ‘Turn them away, O my
Beloved.’ Eliphaz says that his ‘ear as it were by stealth
received the veins of its whisper.’ By that is meant the pure
substance which the understanding receives, for the ‘veins’ here
denote the interior substance. The whisper is that communication
and touch of the virtues whereby the said substance is
communicated to the understanding. It is called a whisper because
of its great gentleness. And the soul calls it the amorous gales
because it is lovingly communicated. It is said to be received as
it were by stealth, for as that which is stolen is alienated, so
this secret is alien to man, speaking in the order of nature,
because that which he received does not appertain to him
naturally, and thus it was not lawful for him to receive it;
neither was it lawful for St. Paul to repeat what he heard. For
this reason the prophet saith twice, ‘My secret to myself, my
secret to myself.’ [150]

25. When Eliphaz speaks of the horror of the vision by night, and
of the fear and trembling that seized upon him, he refers to the
awe and dread that comes upon the soul naturally in rapture,
because in its natural strength it is unable, as I said before,
[151] to endure the communication of the Spirit of God. The
prophet gives us to understand that, as when sleep is about to
fall upon men, a certain vision which they call a nightmare is
wont to oppress and terrify them in the interval between sleeping
and waking, which is the moment of the approach of sleep, so in
the spiritual passage between the sleep of natural ignorance and
the waking of the supernatural understanding, which is the
beginning of an ecstasy or rapture, the spiritual vision then
revealed makes the soul fear and tremble.

26. ‘All my bones were affrighted’; that is, were shaken and
disturbed. By this he meant a certain dislocation of the bones
which takes place when the soul falls into an ecstasy. This is
clearly expressed by Daniel when he saw the angel, saying, ‘O my
lord, at the sight of thee my joints are loosed.’ [152] ‘When the
spirit passed before me’–that is, ‘When my spirit was made to
transcend the ways and limitations of nature in ecstasies and
raptures’–’the hair of my flesh stood upright’; that is, Ômy body
was chilled, and the flesh contracted, like that of a dead man.’

27. ‘There stood One’–that is God, Who reveals Himself after this
manner–’Whose countenance knew not’: in these communications or
visions, however high they may be, the soul neither knows nor
beholds the face and being of God. ‘An image before my eyes’; that
is, the knowledge of the secret words was most deep, as it were
the image and face of God; but still this is not the essential
vision of God. ‘I heard the voice, as it were, of a gentle wind’;
this is the whisper of the amorous gales–that is, of the Beloved
of the soul.

28. But it is not to be supposed that these visits of God are
always attended by such terrors and distress of nature: that
happens to them only who are entering the state of illumination
and perfection, and in this kind of communication; for in others
they come with great sweetness.

STANZA XV

‘THE tranquil night.’ In this spiritual sleep in the bosom of the
Beloved the soul is in possession and fruition of all the calm,
repose, and quiet of a peaceful night, and receives at the same
time in God a certain dim, unfathomable divine intelligence. This
is the reason why it says that the Beloved is to it the tranquil
night.

2. ‘At the approaches of the dawn.’ This tranquil night is not
like a night of darkness, but rather like the night when the
sunrise is drawing nigh. This tranquillity and repose in God is
not all darkness to the soul, as the dark night is, but rather
tranquillity and repose in the divine light and in a new knowledge
of God, whereby the mind, most sweetly tranquil, is raised to a
divine light.

3. This divine light is here very appropriately called the
approaches of the dawn, that is, the twilight; for as the twilight
of the morn disperses the darkness of the night and reveals the
light of day, so the mind, tranquil and reposing in God, is raised
up from the darkness of natural knowledge to the morning light of
the supernatural knowledge of God; not clear, indeed, as I have
said, but dim, like the night at the approaches of the dawn. For
as it is then neither wholly night nor wholly day, but, as they
say, twilight, so this solitude and divine repose is neither
perfectly illumined by the divine light nor yet perfectly alien
from it.

4. In this tranquillity the understanding is lifted up in a
strange way above its natural comprehension to the divine light:
it is like a man who, after a profound sleep, opens his eyes to
unexpected light. This knowledge is referred to by David when he
says, ‘I have watched, and am become as the lonely sparrow on the
housetop’; [153] that is, ‘I opened the eyes of my understanding
and was raised up above all natural comprehension, lonely, without
them, on the housetop, lifted up above all earthly
considerations.’ He says that he was ‘become as the lonely
sparrow,’ because in this kind of contemplation, the spirit has
the properties of the sparrow. These are five in number:
i. It frequents in general high places; and the spirit, in
this state, rises to the highest contemplation.
ii. It is ever turning its face in the direction of the wind,
and the spirit turns its affections thither whence comes the
spirit of love, which is God.
iii. It is in general solitary, abstaining from the
companionship of others, and flying away when any approach it: so
the spirit, in contemplation, is far away from all worldly
thoughts, lonely in its avoidance of them; neither does it consent
to anything except to this solitude in God.
iv. It sings most sweetly, and so also does the spirit at
this time sing unto God; for the praises which it offers up
proceed from the sweetest love, most pleasing to itself, and most
precious in the sight of God.
v. It is of no definite colour; so also is the perfect
spirit, which in this ecstasy is not only without any tinge of
sensual affection or self-love, but also without any particular
consideration of the things of heaven or earth; neither can it
give any account whatever of them, because it has entered into the
abyss of the knowledge of God.

‘The silent music.’

5. In this silence and tranquillity of the night, and in this
knowledge of the divine light, the soul discerns a marvellous
arrangement and disposition of God’s wisdom in the diversities of
His creatures and operations. All these, and each one of them,
have a certain correspondence with God, whereby each, by a voice
peculiar to itself, proclaims what there is in itself of God, so
as to form a concert of sublimest melody, transcending all the
harmonies of the world. This is the silent music, because it is
knowledge tranquil and calm, without audible voice; and thus the
sweetness of music and the repose of silence are enjoyed in it.
The soul says that the Beloved is silent music, because this
harmony of spiritual music is in Him understood and felt. He is
not this only, He is also–

‘The murmuring solitude.’

6. This is almost the same as the silent music. For though the
music is inaudible to the senses and the natural powers, it is a
solitude most full of sound to the spiritual powers. These powers
being in solitude, emptied of all forms and natural apprehensions,
may well receive in spirit, like a resounding voice, the spiritual
impression of the majesty of God in Himself and in His creatures;
as it happened to St. John, who heard in spirit as it were ‘the
voice of harpers harping on their harps.’ [154] St. John heard
this in spirit: it was not material harps that he heard, but a
certain knowledge that he had of the praises of the blessed, which
every one of them, each in his own degree of glory, is continually
singing before God. It is as it were music. For as every one of
the saints had the gifts of God in a different way, so every one
of them sings His praises in a different way, and yet all
harmonise in one concert of love, as in music.

7. In the same way, in this tranquil contemplation, the soul
beholds all creatures, not only the highest, but the lowest also,
each one according to the gift of God to it, sending forth the
voice of its witness to what God is. It beholds each one
magnifying Him in its own way, and possessing Him according to its
particular capacity; and thus all these voices together unite in
one strain in praise of God’s greatness, wisdom, and marvellous
knowledge. This is the meaning of those words of the Holy Ghost in
the Book of Wisdom: ‘The Spirit of our Lord hath replenished the
whole world, and that which containeth all things hath the
knowledge of the voice.’ [155] ‘The voice’ is the murmuring
solitude, which the soul is said to know, namely, the witness
which all things bear to God. Inasmuch as the soul hears this
music only in solitude and in estrangement from all outward
things, it calls it silent music and murmuring solitude. These are
the Beloved.

‘The supper which revives, and enkindles love.’

8. Lovers find recreation, satisfaction, and love in feasts.
And because the Beloved in this sweet communication produces these
three effects in the soul, He is here said to be the supper that
revives, and enkindles love. In Holy Scripture supper signifies
the divine vision, for as supper is the conclusion of the day’s
labours, and the beginning of the night’s repose, so the soul in
this tranquil knowledge is made to feel that its trials are over,
the possession of good begun, and its love of God increased.
Hence, then, the Beloved is to the soul the supper that revives,
in being the end of its trials, and that enkindles love, in being
the beginning of the fruition of all good.

9. That we may see more clearly how the Bridegroom is the supper
of the soul, we must refer to those words of the Beloved in the
Apocalypse: ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any man
shall hear My voice, and open to Me the gate, I will enter in to
him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.’ [156] It is evident
from these words that He brings the supper with Him, which is
nothing else but His own sweetness and delights, wherein He
rejoiceth Himself, and which He, uniting Himself to the soul,
communicates to it, making it a partaker of His joy: for this is
the meaning of ‘I will sup with him, and he with Me.’ These words
describe the effect of the divine union of the soul with God,
wherein it shares the very goods of God Himself, Who communicates
them graciously and abundantly to it. Thus the Beloved is Himself
the supper which revives, and enkindles love, refreshing the soul
with His abundance, and enkindling its love in His graciousness.

10. But before I proceed to explain the stanzas which follow, I
must observe that, in the state of betrothal, wherein the soul
enjoys this tranquillity, and wherein it receives all that it can
receive in this life, we are not to suppose its tranquillity to be
perfect, but that the higher part of it is tranquil; for the
sensual part, except in the state of spiritual marriage, never
loses all its imperfect habits, and its powers are never wholly
subdued, as I shall show hereafter. [157] What the soul receives
now is all that it can receive in the state of betrothal, for in
that of the marriage the blessings are greater. Though the bride-
soul has great joy in these visits of the Beloved in the state of
betrothal, still it has to suffer from His absence, to endure
trouble and afflictions in the lower part, and at the hands of the
devil. But all this ceases in the state of spiritual marriage.

NOTE

THE bride now in possession of the virtues in their perfection,
whereby she is ordinarily rejoicing in peace when the Beloved
visits her, is now and then in the fruition of the fragrance and
sweetness of those virtues in the highest degree, because the
Beloved touches them within her, just as the sweetness and beauty
of the lilies and other flowers when in their bloom are perceived
when we handle them. For in many of these visits the soul discerns
within itself all its virtues which God has given it; He shedding
light upon them. The soul now, with marvellous joy and sweetness
of love, binds them together and presents them to the Beloved as a
nosegay of beautiful flowers, and the Beloved in accepting them–
for He truly accepts them then–accepts thereby a great service.
All this takes place within the soul, feeling that the Beloved is
within it as on His own couch, for the soul presents itself with
the virtues which is the greatest service it can render Him, and
thus this is one of the greatest joys which in its interior
converse with God the soul is wont to receive in presents of this
kind made to the Beloved.

2. The devil, beholding this prosperity of the soul, and in his
great malice envying all the good he sees in it, now uses all his
power, and has recourse to all his devices, in order to thwart it,
if possible, even in the slightest degree. He thinks it of more
consequence to keep back the soul, even for an instant, from this
abundance, bliss, and delight, than to make others fall into many
and mortal sins. Other souls have little or nothing to lose, while
this soul has much, having gained many and great treasures; for
the loss of one grain of refined gold is greater than the loss of
many of the baser metals.

3. The devil here has recourse to the sensual appetites, though
now they can give him generally but little or no help because they
are mortified, and because he cannot turn them to any great
account in distracting the imagination. Sometimes he stirs up many
movements in the sensitive part of the soul, and causes other
vexations, spiritual as well as sensual, from which the soul is
unable to deliver itself until our Lord shall send His angel, as
it is written, ‘The angel of the Lord shall put in himself about
them that fear Him, and shall deliver them;’ [158] and so
establish peace, both in the spiritual and sensitive parts of the
soul. With a view to show forth this truth, and to ask this
favour, the soul, apprehensive by experience of the craft which
the devil makes use of to thwart this good, addressing itself to
the angels, whose function it is to succour it at this time by
putting the evil spirits to flight, speaks as in the following
stanza: