Tuesday, June 4, 2013


From the "Living Flame of Love"

St. John explains how the soul called to union with God is purified through His love. John of the Cross uses the symbol of a flame to speak of God's love for the soul. Although this flame of purgation is painful, resembling the pain of the suffering souls in purgatory, at times, this pain is mixed with spiritual delight. St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila) teaches us in the sixth and seventh mansions of her Interior Castle that the devil is not capable of combining pain and spiritual delight.  He may give the soul a sense of delight, but in no way can he combine the two. This is a point of discernment for the soul experiencing this high level of purgation.

The soul, feeling that this living flame of love is vividly communicating to it every good, since this divine love carries all things with it, exclaims: "O living flame of love that tenderly wounds my soul." 

This flame of itself is extremely loving, and the will of itself is excessively dry and hard. When the flame tenderly and lovingly assails the will, hardness is felt beside the tenderness, and dryness beside the love...Because this flame is immense and far-reaching, and the will is narrow and restricted, the will feels its confinement and narrowness in the measure that the flame attacks it. It feels this until the flame, penetrating within it, enlarges, widen, and makes it capable of receiving the flame itself.

This flame previously oppressed the soul in an indescribable way, since contraries were battling contraries: God, who is all perfect, against all their imperfections of the soul. God does this so, by transforming the soul into himself, he might soften, pacify, and illumine it, as does fire when it penetrates the log of wood.

Not many people undergo so strong a purgation, only those whom God wishes to elevate to the highest degree of union. For he prepares individuals by a purification more or less severe in accordance with the degree to which he wishes to raise them, and also according to their impurity and imperfections.

This suffering resembles that of purgatory. Just as the spirits suffer purgation there so as to be able to see God through clear vision in the next life, souls in their own way suffer purgation here on earth so as to be able  to be transformed in him through love in this life.
The Living Flame of Love, Stanza I, No.17, 23-24. The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, Translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

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