John, Ascent Carmel 3 15
Which sets down the general method whereby the spiritual person must governhimself with respect to this sense.
1 IN order to conclude this discussion on the memory, it will be well at thispoint to give the spiritual reader an account of the method which he mustobserve, and which is of universal application, in order that he may be unitedwith God according to this sense. For, although what has been said makesthe subject quite clear, it will nevertheless be more easily apprehendedif we summarize it here. To this end it must be remembered that, since ouraim is the union of the soul with God in hope, according to the memory, andsince that which is hoped for is that which is not possessed, and since,the less we possess of other things, the greater scope and the greater capacityhave we for hoping, and consequently the greater hope, therefore, the morethings we possess, the less scope and capacity is there for hoping, andconsequently the less hope have we. Hence, the more the soul dispossessesthe memory of forms and things which may be recalled by it, which are notGod, the more will it set its memory upon God, and the emptier will its memorybecome, so that it may hope for Him Who shall fill it. What must be done,then, that the soul may live in the perfect and pure hope of God is that,whensoever these distinct images, forms and ideas come to it, it must notrest in them, but must turn immediately to God, voiding the memory of thementirely, with loving affection. It must neither think of these things norconsider them beyond the degree which is necessary for the understandingand performing of its obligations, if they have any concern with these. Andthis it must do without setting any affection or inclination upon them, sothat they may produce no effects in the soul. And thus a man must not failto think and recall that which he ought to know and do, for, provided hepreserves no affection or attachments, this will do him no harm. For thismatter the lines of the Mount, which are in the thirteenth chapter of thefirst book, will be of profit.
2. But here it must be borne in mind thatthis doctrine ours does not agree, nor do we desire that it should agree,with the doctrine of those pestilent men, who, inspired by Satanic prideand envy, have desired to remove from the eyes of the faithful the holy andnecessary use, and the worthy(526) adoration, of images of God and of thesaints. This teaching of ours is very different from that; for we say nothere, as they do, that images should not exist, and should not be adored;we simply explain the difference between images and God. We exhort men topass beyond that which is superficial(527) that they may not be hinderedfrom attaining to the living truth beneath it, and to make no more accountof the former than suffices for attainment to the spiritual. For means aregood and necessary to an end; and images are means which serve to remindus of God and of the saints. But when we consider and attend to the meansmore than is necessary for treating them as such, they disturb and hinderus as much, in their own way, as any different thing; the more so, when wetreat of supernatural visions and images, to which I am specially referring,and with respect to which arise many deceptions and perils. For, with respectto the remembrance and adoration and esteem of images, which the CatholicChurch sets before us, there can be no deception or peril, because naughtis esteemed therein other than that which is represented; nor does theremembrance of them fail to profit the soul, since they are not preservedin the memory save with love for that which they represent; and, providedthe soul pays no more heed to them than is necessary for this purpose, theywill ever assist it to union with God, allowing the soul to soar upwards(when God grants it that favour) from the superficial image(528) to the livingGod, forgetting every creature and everything that belongs to creatures.
Which begins to treat of the dark night of the will. Makes a division betweenthe affections of the will.
1 WE should have accomplished nothing by the purgation of the understandingin order to ground it in the virtue of faith, and by the purgation of thememory in order to ground it in hope, if we purged not the will also accordingto the third virtue, which is charity, whereby the works that are done infaith live and have great merit, and without it are of no worth. For, asSaint James says: 'Without works of charity, faith is dead.'(529) And, nowthat we have to treat of the active detachment and night of this faculty,in order to form it and make it perfect in this virtue of the charity ofGod, I find no more fitting authority than that which is written in the sixthchapter of Deuteronomy, where Moses says: 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy Godwith thy whole heart and with thy whole soul and with thy whole strength.'(530)Herein is contained all that the spiritual man ought to do, and all thatI have here to teach him, so that he may truly attain to God, through unionof the will, by means of charity. For herein man is commanded to employ allthe faculties and desires and operations and affections of his soul in God,so that all the ability and strength of his soul may serve for no more thanthis, according to that which David says, in these words: Fortitudinem meamad te custodiam.(531)
2. The strength of the soul consists in its faculties,passions and desires, all of which are governed by the will. Now when thesefaculties, passions and desires are directed by the will toward God, andturned away from all that is not God, then the strength of the soul is keptfor God, and thus the soul is able to love God with all its strength. And,to the end that the soul may do this, we shall here treat of the purgationfrom the will of all its unruly affections, whence arise unruly operations,affections and desires, and whence also arises its failure to keep all itsstrength for God. These affections and passions are four, namely: Joy, hope,grief and fear. These passions, when they are controlled by reason accordingto the way of God, so that the soul rejoices only in that which is purelythe honour and glory of God, and hopes for naught else, neither grieves savefor things that concern this, neither fears aught save God alone, it is clearthat the strength and ability of the soul are being directed toward God andkept for Him. For, the more the soul rejoices in any other thing than God,the less completely will it centre its rejoicing in God;(532) and the moreit hopes in aught else, the less will it hope in God; and so with the otherpassions.
3. And in order to give fuller instructions concerning this, weshall treat, in turn and in detail, as is our custom, of each of these fourpassions and of the desires of the will. For the whole business of attainingto union with God consists in purging the will from its affections and desires;so that thus it may no longer be a base, human will, but may become a Divinewill, being made one(533) with the will of God.
4. These four passions have the greater dominion in the soul, and assail it the more vehemently, whenthe will is less strongly attached to God and more dependent on the creatures.For then it rejoices very readily at things that merit not rejoicing, hopesin that which brings no profit, grieves over that in which perchance it oughtto rejoice, and fears where there is no reason for fearing.
5. From theseaffections, when they are unbridled, arise in the soul all the vices andimperfections which it possesses, and likewise, when they are ordered andcomposed, all its virtues. And it must be known that, if one of them shouldbecome ordered and controlled by reason, the rest will become so likewise;for these four passions of the soul are so closely and intimately unitedto one another that the actual direction of one is the virtual directionof the others; and if one be actually recollected the other three will virtuallyand proportionately be recollected likewise. For, if the will rejoice inanything it will as a result hope for the same thing to the extent of itsrejoicing, and herein are virtually included grief and fear with regard tothe same thing; and, in proportion as desire for these is taken away, fearand grief concerning them are likewise gradually lost, and hope for themis removed. For the will, with these four passions, is denoted by that figurewhich was seen by Ezechiel, of four beasts with one body, which had fourfaces; and the wings of the one were joined to those of the other, and eachone went straight before his face, and when they went forward they turnednot back.(534) And thus in the same manner the wings of each one of theseaffections are joined to those of each of the others, so that, in whicheverdirection one of them turns -- that is, in its operation -- the others ofnecessity go with it virtually also; and, when one of them descends, as isthere said, they must all descend, and, when one is lifted up, they willall be lifted up. Where thy hope is, thither will go thy joy and fear andgrief; and, if thy hope returns, the others will return, and so of the rest.
6. Wherefore thou must take note that, wheresoever one of these passionsis, thither will go likewise the whole soul and the will and the other faculties,and they will all live as captives to this passion, and the other three passionswill be living in it also, to afflict the soul with their captivity, andnot to allow it to fly upward to the liberty and rest of sweet contemplationand union. For this cause Boetius told thee that, if thou shouldst desireto understand truth with clear light, thou must cast from thee joys, hope,fear and grief.(535) For, as long as these passions reign, they allow notthe soul to remain in the tranquillity and peace which are necessary forthe wisdom which, by natural or supernatural means, it is capable of receiving.
Which begins to treat of the first affections of the will. Describes thenature of joy and makes a distinction between the things in which the willcan rejoice.
1 THE first of the passions of the soul and affections of the will is joy,which, in so far as concerns that which we propose to say about it, is naughtelse than a satisfaction of the will together with esteem for something whichit considers desirable; for the will never rejoices save when an object affordsit appreciation and satisfaction. This has reference to active joy, whicharises when the soul clearly and distinctly understands the reason for itsrejoicing, and when it is in its own power to rejoice or not. There is anotherand a passive joy, a condition in which the will may find itself rejoicingwithout understanding clearly and distinctly the reason for its rejoicing,and which also occurs at times when it does understand this; but it is notin the soul's power to rejoice or not. Of this condition we shall speakhereafter. For the present we shall speak of joy when it is active and voluntaryand arises from things that are distinct and clear.
2. Joy may arise from six kinds of good things or blessings,(536) namely: temporal, natural, sensual,moral, supernatural and spiritual. Of these we shall speak in their order,controlling the will with regard to them so that it may not be encumberedby them and fail to place the strength of its joy in God. To this end itis well to presuppose one fundamental truth, which will be as a staff whereonwe should ever lean as we progress; and it will be well to have understoodit, because it is the light whereby we should be guided and whereby we mayunderstand this doctrine, and direct our rejoicing in all these blessingsto God. This truth is that the will must never rejoice save only in thatwhich is to the honour and glory of God; and that the greatest honour wecan show to Him is that of serving Him according to evangelical perfection;and anything that has naught to do with this is of no value and profit toman.
(480) It will be seen from what follows that in practice the Saint preserves the strictly tripartite division given in the text above, supernatural knowledge being found in each of the sections.
(481) (St. Matthew vi, 24.) (482) 1 Corinthians vi, 17. (483) P. Jose de Jesus Maria, in his Vida y excelencias de la Santisima Virgen Maria (I, xl), quotes this and part of the last paragraph from what he claims to be an original MS. of St. John of the Cross, but his text varies considerably from that of any MS. now known. (P. Silverio considers that this and other similar citations are quite untrustworthy.)
(484) The reference is to the drawing of the Mount of Perfection. Cf. The General Introduction, I, above.
(485) Wisdom vii, 21. (486) (Lit., 'which cannot be' (que no puede ser), but this is a well-known Spanish hyperbole describing what is extremely difficult.)
(487) E.p. omits all the rest of this paragraph, substituting the following passage, which it introduces in order (says P. Silverio) to describe the scope of the Saint's teaching, and which is copied in the edition of 1630: In (treating of) this purgation of the memory, I speak here only of the necessary means whereby the memory may place itself actively in this night and purgation, as far as lies in its power. And these means are that the spiritual man must habitually exercise caution, after this manner. Of all the things that he sees, hears, smells, tastes or touches he must make no particular store in the memory, or pay heed to them, or dwell upon them, but must allow themto pass and must remain in holy oblivion without reflecting upon them, save when necessary for some good reflection or meditation. And this care to forget and forsake knowledge and images is never applicable to Christ and His Humanity.
For, although occasionally, at the height of contemplation and simple regard of the Divinity, the soul may not remember this most sacred Humanity, because God, with His own hand, has raised the soul to this, as it were, confusedand most supernatural knowledge, yet it is in no wise seemly to study to forget it, since looking and meditating lovingly upon it will aid the soul to (attain) all that is good, and it is by its means that the soul will mostreadily rise to the most lofty state of union. And it is clear that, although other bodily and visible things are a hindrance and ought to be forgotten, we must not include among these Him Who became man for our salvation, andWho is the truth, the door, the way and the guide to all good things. This being assumed, let the soul strive after complete abstraction and oblivion, so that, in so far as is possible, there may remain in its memory no moreknowledge or image of created things than though they existed not in the world; and let it leave the memory free and disencumbered for God, and, as it were, lost in holy oblivion.
(488) Romans viii, 14.
(489) (Lit., 'good.')
(490) Osee ii, 14.
(491) (Lit., 'whence that may come.')
(492) 1 Kings (A.V., 1 Samuel) iii, 10.
(493) Ct 4,12.
(494) (Jn 20,19).
(495) Is 45,18.
(496) (Lit., 'to leave things.')
(497) (Lit., 'he finds nothing to seize upon, and with nothing he can do nothing.')
(498) Ps 73,8 (A.V., lxxiii, 8).
(499) Sg 1,5.
(500) (Lit., 'for the peace and calm of the same things and happenings.')
(501) Ps 37,7 (A.V. xxxix, 6). (502) Qo 3,12. (503) Lm 3,20. (504) He 1,1. (505) Lc 14,33. (506) Is 5,20. (507) Lc 18,11-12. (508) (Lit., 'in the heart.')(509) (The two verbs, in the original, have very definite and concrete meanings, 'sweetened with honey' and 'dazzled by a lamp' respectively.) (510) Ps 138,11 (A.V., cxxxix, 11). (511) Ps 73,8 (A.V., lxxxvi, 8).(512) Jn 1,18. (513) Is 64,4. (514) Ex 33,20. (515) 1Th 5,19. (516) Ct 8,6. (517) More correctly, in Chaps. xvi and xvii. (518) (Lit., 'the supernatural.') (519) (Lit., 'had given it spirit' (or 'spirituality').) (520) (Or 'spirituality.') (521) (Or 'the spirit.') (522) Habacuc ii, 1. (The original has 'munition' for 'tower' and 'contemplate' for 'watch and see.') (523) Canticles viii, 6. (524) (Lit., 'because in the arm is.') (525) Really the chapter is the twenty-sixth. (526) (The Spanish word, inclita, is stronger than this, meaning 'distinguished,' 'illustrious.') (527) (Lit., 'which is painted.') (528) (Lit., 'the painted image.') (529) Jc 2,20. (530) Dt 6,5 (531) Ps 63,10 (A.V., lix, 9).
(532) (Lit., 'the less strongly will its rejoicing be employed in God.') (533) (The original is stronger: 'one same thing.') (534) Ez 1,5-9.
(535) Cf. Bk. III, ch. XVI, above. (536) (Lit., 'things or blessings.' The word here translated 'blessings' is bienes, often rendered 'goods.' I use 'blessings' or 'good things' in the following chapters, according as best suits the context.)
Which treats of joy with respect to temporal blessings. Describes how joy in them must be directed to God.
1 THE first kind of blessing of which we have spoken is temporal. And by temporal blessings we here understand riches, rank, office and other things that men desire; and children, relatives, marriages, etc.: all of which are thingswherein the will may rejoice. But it is clear how vain a thing it is for men to rejoice in riches, titles, rank, office and other such things which they are wont to desire; for, if a man were the better servant of God forbeing rich, he ought to rejoice in riches; but in fact they are rather a cause for his giving offence to God, even as the Wise Man teaches, saying: 'Son, if thou be rich, thou shalt not be free from sin.'(537) Although itis true that temporal blessings do not necessarily of themselves cause sin, yet, through the frailty of its affections, the heart of man habitually clings to them and fails God (which is a sin, for to fail God is sin); it is forthis cause that the Wise Man says: 'Thou shalt not be free from sin.' For this reason the Lord described riches, in the Gospel, as thorns,(538) in order to show that he who touches them(539) with the will shall be woundedby some sin. And that exclamation which He makes in the Gospel, saying: 'How hardly shall they that have riches enter the Kingdom of the heavens' -- that is to say, they that have joy in riches -- clearly shows that man must notrejoice in riches, since he exposes himself thereby to such great peril.(540) And David, in order to withdraw us from this peril, said likewise: 'If riches abound, set not your heart on them.'(541) And I will not here quote furthertestimony on so clear a matter.
(537) Qo 11,10.
(538) Mt 13,22 Lc 8,14. (539) (Lit., 'handles them.') (540) Mt 19,23 Lc 18,24. (541) Ps 61,11 (A.V., lxii, 10).
2. For in that case I should never ceasequoting Scripture, nor should I cease describing the evils which Solomonimputes to riches in Ecclesiastes. Solomon was a man who had possessed greatriches, and, knowing well what they were, said: 'All things that are underthe sun are vanity of vanities, vexation of spirit and vain solicitude ofthe mind.'(542) And he that loves riches, he said , shall reap no fruit fromthem.(543) And he adds that riches are kept to the hurt of their owner,(544)as we see in the Gospel, where it was said from Heaven to the man that rejoicedbecause he had kept many fruits for many years: 'Fool, this night shall thysoul be required of thee to give account thereof, and whose shall be thatwhich thou has provided?'(545) And finally, David teaches us the same, saying:'Let us have no envy when our neighbour becomes rich, for it will profithim nothing in the life to come;'(546) meaning thereby that we might ratherhave pity on him.
3. It follows, then, that a man must neither rejoice inriches when he has them, nor when his brother has them, unless they helpthem to serve God. For if ever it is allowable to rejoice in them, it willbe when they are spent and employed in the service of God, for otherwiseno profit will be derived from them. And the same is to be understood ofother blessings (titles, offices, etc.), in all of which it is vain to rejoiceif a man feel not that God is the better served because of them and the wayto eternal life is made more secure. And as it cannot be clearly known ifthis is so (if God is better served, etc.), it would be a vain thing to rejoicein these things deliberately, since such a joy cannot be reasonable. For,as the Lord says: 'If a man gain all the world, he may yet lose his soul.'(547)There is naught, then, wherein to rejoice save in the fact that God is betterserved.
4. Neither is there cause for rejoicing in children because theyare many, or rich, or endowed with natural graces and talents and the goodthings of fortune, but only if they serve God. For Absalom, the son of David,found neither his beauty nor his riches nor his lineage of any service tohim because he served not God.(548) Hence it was a vain thing to have rejoicedin such a son. For this reason it is also a vain thing for men to desireto have children, as do some who trouble and disturb everyone with theirdesire for them, since they know not if such children will be good and serveGod. Nor do they know if their satisfaction in them will be turned into pain;nor if the comfort and consolation which they should have from them willchange to disquiet and trial; and the honour which they should bring them,into dishonour; nor if they will cause them to give greater offence to God,as happens to many. Of these Christ says that they go round about the seaand the land to enrich them and to make them doubly the children of perditionwhich they are themselves.(549)
5. Wherefore, though all things smile upona man and all that he does turns out prosperously, he ought to have misgivingsrather than to rejoice; for these things increase the occasion and perilof his forgetting God. For this cause Solomon says, in Ecclesiastes, thathe was cautious: 'Laughter I counted error and to rejoicing I said, "Whyart thou vainly deceived?"'(550) Which is as though he had said: When thingssmiled upon me I counted it error and deception to rejoice in them; for withoutdoubt it is a great error and folly on the part of a man if he rejoice whenthings are bright and pleasant for him, knowing not of a certainty that therewill come to him thence some eternal good. The heart of the fool, says theWise Man, is where there is mirth, but that of the wise man is where thereis sorrow.(551) For mirth blinds the heart and allows it not to considerthings and ponder them; but sadness makes a man open his eyes and look atthe profit and the harm of them. And hence it is that, as he himself says,anger is better than laughter.(552) Wherefore it is better to go to the houseof mourning than to the house of feasting; for in the former is figured theend of all men,(553) as the Wise Man says likewise.
6. It would thereforebe vanity for a woman or her husband to rejoice in their marriage when theyknow not clearly that they are serving God better thereby. They ought ratherto feel confounded, since matrimony is a cause, as Saint Paul says, wherebyeach one sets his heart upon the other and keeps it not wholly with God.Wherefore he says: 'If thou shouldst find thyself free from a wife, desirenot to seek a wife; while he that has one already should walk with such freedomof heart as though he had her not.'(554) This, together with what we havesaid concerning temporal blessings, he teaches us himself, in these words:'This is certain; as I say to you, brethren, the time is short; it remaineththat they also who have wives be as if they had none; and they that weep,as them that weep not; and they that rejoice, as them that rejoice not; andthey that buy, as them that possess not; and they that use this world, asthem that use it not.'(555) All this he says to show us that we must notset our rejoicings upon any other thing than that which tends to the serviceof God, since the rest is vanity and a thing which profits not; for joy thatis not according to God can bring the soul no profit.(556)
Of the evils that may befall the soul when it sets its rejoicing upon temporalblessings.
1 IF we had to describe the evils which encompass the soul when it sets theaffections of its will upon temporal blessings, neither ink nor paper wouldsuffice us and our time would be too short. For from very small beginningsa man may attain to great evils and destroy great blessings; even as froma spark of fire, if it be not quenched, may be enkindled great fires whichset the world ablaze. All these evils have their root and origin in one importantevil of a privative kind that is contained in this joy -- namely, withdrawalfrom God. For even as, in the soul that is united with Him by the affectionof its will, there are born all blessings, even so, when it withdraws itselffrom Him because of this creature affection, there beset it all evils anddisasters proportionately to the joy and affection wherewith it is unitedwith the creature; for this is inherent in(557) withdrawal from God. Whereforea soul may expect the evils which assail it to be greater or less accordingto the greater or lesser degree of its withdrawal from God. These evils maybe extensive or intensive; for the most part they are both together.
2. This privative evil, whence, we say, arise other privative and positive evils,has four degrees, each one worse than the other. And, when the soul compassesthe fourth degree, it will have compassed all the evils and depravities thatarise in this connection.(558) These four degrees are well indicated by Mosesin Deuteronomy in these words, where he says: 'The beloved grew fat and kicked.He grew fat and became swollen and gross. He forsook God his Maker and departedfrom God his Salvation.'(559)
3. This growing fat of the soul, which wasloved before it grew fat, indicates absorption in this joy of creatures.And hence arises the first degree of this evil, namely the going backward;which is a certain blunting of the mind with regard to God, an obscuringof the blessings of God like the obscuring of the air by mist, so that itcannot be clearly illumined by the light of the sun. For, precisely whenthe spiritual person sets his rejoicing upon anything, and gives rein tohis desire for foolish things, he becomes blind as to God, and the simpleintelligence of his judgment becomes clouded, even as the Divine Spirit teachesin the Book of Wisdom, saying: 'the use and association of vanity and scornobscureth good things, and inconstancy of desire overturneth and perverteththe sense and judgment that are without malice.'(560) Here the Holy Spiritshows that, although there be no malice conceived in the understanding ofthe soul, concupiscence and rejoicing in creatures suffice of themselvesto create in the soul the first degree of this evil, which is the bluntingof the mind and the darkening of the judgment, by which the truth is understoodand each thing honestly judged as it is.
4. Holiness and good judgment sufficenot to save a man from falling into this evil, if he gives way to concupiscenceor rejoicing in temporal things. For this reason God warned us by utteringthese words through Moses: 'Thou shalt take no gifts, which blind even theprudent.'(561) And this was addressed particularly to those who were to bejudges; for these have need to keep their judgment clear and alert, whichthey will be unable to do if they covet and rejoice in gifts. And for thiscause likewise God commanded Moses to appoint judges from those who abhorredavarice, so that their judgment should not be blunted with the lust of thepassions.(562) And thus he says not only that they should not desire it,but that they should abhor it. For, if a man is to be perfectly defendedfrom the affection of love, he must preserve an abhorrence of it, defendinghimself by means of the one thing against its contrary. The reason why theprophet Samuel, for example, was always so upright and enlightened a judgeis that (as he said in the Book of the Kings) he had never received a giftfrom any man.(563)
5. The second degree of this privative evil arises fromthe first, which is indicated in the words following the passage alreadyquoted, namely: 'He grew fat and became swollen and gross.'(564) And thusthis second degree is dilation of the will through the acquisition of greaterliberty in temporal things; which consists in no longer attaching so muchimportance to them, nor troubling oneself about them, nor esteeming so highlythe joy and pleasure that come from created blessings. And this will havearisen in the soul from its having in the first place given rein to rejoicing;for, through giving way to it, the soul has become swollen with it, as issaid in that passage, and that fatness of rejoicing and desire has musedit to dilate and extend its will more freely toward the creatures. And thisbrings with it great evils. For this second degree causes the soul to withdrawitself from the things of God, and from holy practices, and to take no pleasurein them, because it takes pleasure in other things and devotes itself continuallyto many imperfections and follies and to joys and vain pleasures.
6. And when this second degree is consummated, it withdraws a man wholly from thepractices which he followed continually and makes his whole mind and covetousnessto be given to secular things. And those who are affected by this seconddegree not only have their judgment and understanding darkened so that theycannot recognize truth and justice, like those who are in the first degree,but they are also very weak and lukewarm and careless in acquiring knowledgeof, and in practising, truth and justice, even as Isaias says of them inthese words: 'They all love gifts and allow themselves to be carried awayby rewards, and they judge not the orphan, neither doth the cause of thewidow come unto them that they may give heed to it.'(565) This comes notto pass in them without sin, especially when to do these things is incumbentupon them because of their office. For those who are affected by this degreeare not free from malice as are those of the first degree. And thus theywithdraw themselves more and more from justice and virtues, since their willreaches out more and more in affection for creatures. Wherefore, thecharacteristics of those who are in this second degree are great lukewarmnessin spiritual things and failure to do their duty by them; they practise themfrom formality or from compulsion or from the habit which they have formedof practising them, rather than because they love them.
7. The third degree of this privative evil is a complete falling away from God, neglect to fulfilHis law in order not to lose worldly things and blessings, and relapse intomortal sin through covetousness. And this third degree is described in thewords following the passage quoted above, which says: 'He forsook God hisMaker.'(566) In this degree are included all who have the faculties of thesoul absorbed in things of the world and in riches and commerce, in sucha way that they care nothing for fulfilling the obligations of the law ofGod. And they are very forgetful and dull with respect to that which touchestheir salvation, and have a correspondingly greater ardour and shrewdnesswith respect to things of the world. So much so that in the Gospel Christcalls them children of this world, and says of them that they are more prudentand acute in their affairs than are the children of light in their own.(567)And thus they are as nothing in God's business, whereas in the world's businessthey are everything. And these are the truly avaricious, who have extendedand dispersed their desire and joy on things created, and this with suchaffection that they cannot be satisfied; on the contrary, their desire andtheir thirst grow all the more because they are farther withdrawn from theonly source that could satisfy them, which is God. For it is of these thatGod Himself speaks through Jeremias, saying: 'They have forsaken Me, Whoam the fountain of living water, and they have digged to themselves brokencisterns that can hold no water.'(568) And this is the reason why the covetousman finds naught among the creatures wherewith he can quench his thirst,but only that which increases it. These persons are they that fall into countlesskinds of sin through love of temporal blessings and the evils which afflictthem are innumerable. And of these David says: Transierunt in affectumcordis.(569)
8. The fourth degree of this privative evil is indicated inthe last words of our passage, which says: 'And he departed from God hisSalvation.'(570) To this degree come those of the third degree whereof wehave just spoken. For, through his not giving heed to setting his heart uponthe law of God because of temporal blessings, the soul of the covetous mandeparts far from God according to his memory, understanding and will, forgettingHim as though He were not his God, which comes to pass because he has madefor himself a god of money and of temporal blessings, as Saint Paul sayswhen he describes avarice as slavery to idols.(571) For this fourth degreeleads a man as far as to forget God, and to set his heart, which he shouldhave set formally upon God, formally upon money, as though he had no godbeside.
9. To this fourth degree belong those who hesitate not to subjectDivine and supernatural things to temporal things, as to their God, whenthey ought to do the contrary, and subject temporal things to God, if theyconsidered Him as their God, as would be in accordance with reason. To thesebelonged the iniquitous Balaam, who sold the grace that God had given tohim.(572) And also Simon Magus, who thought to value the grace of God interms of money, and desired to buy it.(573) In doing this he showed a greateresteem for money; and he thought there were those who similarly esteemedit, and would give grace for money. There are many nowadays who in many otherways belong to this fourth degree; their reason is darkened to spiritualthings by covetousness; they serve money and not God, and are influencedby money and not by God, putting first the cost of a thing and not its Divineworth and reward, and in many ways making money their principal god and end,and setting it before the final end, which is God.
10. To this last degree belong also those miserable souls who are so greatly in love with their owngoods that they take them for their god, so much so that they scruple notto sacrifice their lives for them, when they see that this god of theirsis suffering some temporal harm. They abandon themselves to despair and taketheir own lives for their miserable ends, showing by their own acts how wretchedis the reward which such a god as theirs bestows. For when they can no longerhope for aught from him he gives them despair and death; and those whom hepursues not to this last evil of death he condemns to a dying life in thegriefs of anxiety and in many other miseries, allowing no mirth to entertheir heart, and naught that is of earth to bring them satisfaction. Theycontinually pay the tribute of their heart to money by their yearning forit and hoarding of it for the final calamity of their just perdition, asthe Wise Man warns them, saying: 'Riches are kept to the hurt of theirowner.'(574)
11. And to this fourth degree belong those of whom Saint Paul says: Tradidit illos in reprobum sensum.(575) For joy, when it strives afterpossessions as its final goal, drags man down to these evils. But those onwhom it inflicts lesser evils are also to be sorely pitied, since, as wehave said, their souls are driven far backward upon the way of God. Wherefore,as David says: Be not thou afraid when a man shall be made rich: that is,envy him not, thinking that he outstrips thee, for, when he dieth, he shallcarry nothing away, neither shall his glory nor his joy descend with him.(576)
John, Ascent Carmel 3 15