John, Ascent Carmel 3 32
Of two benefits which are derived from the renunciation of rejoicing in thematter of the supernatural graces.
1 BESIDES the benefits which the soul gains by being delivered from the threeevils aforementioned through its renunciation of this joy, it acquires twoexcellent benefits. The first is that it magnifies and exalts God: the secondis that it exalts itself. For God is exalted in the soul after two manners:first, by the withdrawal of the heart and the joy of the will from all thatis not God, in order that they may be set upon Him alone. This David signifiedin the verse which we quoted when we began to speak of the night of thisfaculty; namely: 'Man shall attain to a lofty heart, and God shall beexalted.'(653) For, when the heart is raised above all things, the soul isexalted above them all.
2. And, because in this way the soul centres itselfin God alone, God is exalted and magnified, when He reveals to the soul Hisexcellence and greatness; for, in this elevation of joy, God bears witnessof Who He Himself is. This cannot be done save if the will be voided of joyand consolation with respect to all things, even as David said also, in thesewords: 'Be still and see that I am God.'(654) And again he says: 'In a desertland, dry and pathless, have I appeared before Thee, to see Thy power andThy glory.'(655) And, since it is true that God is exalted by the fixingof the soul's rejoicing upon detachment from all things, He is much morehighly exalted when the soul withdraws itself from the most wondrous of thesethings in order to fix its rejoicing on Him alone. For these, being supernatural,are of a nobler kind; and thus for the soul to cast them aside, in orderto set its rejoicing upon God alone, is for it to attribute greater gloryand excellence to God than to them. For, the more and the greater thingsa man despises for the sake of another, the more does he esteem and exaltthat other.
3. Furthermore, God is exalted after the second manner when thewill is withdrawn from this kind of operation; for, the more God is believedand served without testimonies and signs, the more He is exalted by the soul,for it believes more concerning God than signs and miracles can demonstrate.
4. The second benefit wherein the soul is exalted consists in this, that,withdrawing the will from all desire for apparent signs and testimonies,it is exalted in purest faith, which God increases and infuses within itmuch more intensely. And, together with this, He increases in it the othertwo theological virtues, which are charity and hope, wherein the soul enjoysthe highest Divine knowledge by means of the obscure and detached habit offaith; and it enjoys great delight of love by means of charity, whereby thewill rejoices in naught else than in the living God; and likewise it enjoyssatisfaction in the memory by means of hope. All this is a wondrous benefit,which leads essentially and directly to the perfect union of the soul withGod.
Which begins to treat of the sixth kind of good wherein the soul may rejoice.Describes its nature and makes the first division under this head.
1 SINCE the intention of this work of ours is to lead the spirit through thesegood things of the spirit even to the Divine union of the soul with God,it will not behove both myself and the reader to give our consideration tothis matter with particular care. For, in speaking of this sixth kind ofgood, we have to treat of the good things of the spirit, which are thosethat are of the greatest service to this end. For it is quite certain, andquite an ordinary occurrence,(656) that some persons, because of their lackof knowledge, make use of spiritual things with respect only to sense, andleave the spirit empty. There will scarcely be anyone whose spirit is notto a considerable degree corrupted by sweetness of sense; since, if the waterbe drunk up before it reaches the spirit, the latter becomes dry and barren.
2. Coming to this matter, then, I say that by good things of the spirit Iunderstand all those that influence and aid the soul in Divine things andin its intercourse with God, and the communications of God to the soul.
3. Beginning by making a division between these supreme kinds of good, I saythat good things of the spirit are of two kinds: the one kind is delectableand the other painful. And each of these kinds is likewise of two manners;for the delectable kind consists of clear things that are distinctly understood,and also of things that are not understood clearly or distinctly. The painfulkind, likewise, may be of clear and distinct things, or of things dark andconfused.
4. Between all these we may likewise make distinctions with respectto the faculties of the soul. For some kinds of spiritual good, being ofknowledge, pertain to the understanding; others, being of affection, pertainto the will; and others, inasmuch as they are imaginary, pertain to the memory.
5. We shall leave for later consideration those good things that are painful,since they pertain to the passive night, in treating of which we shall haveto speak of them; and likewise the delectable blessings which we describedas being of things confused and not distinct, of which we shall treat hereafter,since they pertain to that general, confused and loving knowledge whereinis effected the union of the soul with God, and which we passed over in thesecond book, deferring it so that we might treat of it later(657) when weshould make a division between the apprehensions of the understanding. Weshall speak here and now of those delectable blessings which are of thingsclear and distinct.
Of those good things of the spirit which can be distinctly apprehended bythe understanding and the memory. Describes how the will is to behave inthe matter of rejoicing in them.
1 WE might spend much time here upon the multitude of the apprehensions ofthe memory and the understanding, teaching how the will is to conduct itselfwith regard to the joy that it may have in them, had we not treated of thisat length in the second and the third book. But, since we there spoke ofthe manner wherein it behoves these two faculties to act with respect tothem, in order that they may take the road to Divine union, and since itbehoves the will to conduct itself likewise as regards rejoicing in them,it is unnecessary to go over this here; for it suffices to say that wheresoeverwe there said that those faculties should void themselves of this or thatapprehension, it is to be understood also that the will should likewise bevoided of joy in them. And in the way wherein it is said that memory andunderstanding are to conduct themselves with regard to all these apprehensions,the will must conduct itself likewise; for, since the understanding and theother faculties cannot admit or reject anything unless the will intervenetherein, it is clear that the same teaching that serves for the one willserve also for the other.
2. It may there be seen, then, what is requisitein this case, for the soul will fall into all the evils and perils to whichwe there referred if it cannot direct the rejoicing of the will to God inall those apprehensions.
Of the delectable spiritual good things which can be distinctly apprehendedby the will. Describes the kinds of these.
1 WE can reduce all the kinds of good which can distinctly cause joy to thewill to four: namely, motive, provocative, directive and perfective. Of thesewe shall speak in turn, each in its order; and first, of the motive kind-- namely, images and portraits of saints, oratories and ceremonies.
2. As touching images and portraits, there may be much vanity and vain rejoicingin these . For, though they are most important for Divine worship and mostnecessary to move the will to devotion, as is shown by the approval givento them and the use made of them by our Mother Church (for which reason itis always well that we should employ them, in order to awaken our lukewarmness),there are many persons who rejoice rather in the painting and decorationof them than in what they represent.
3. The use of images has been ordainedby the Church for two principal ends -- namely, that we may reverence thesaints in them, and that the will may be moved and devotion to the saintsawakened by them. When they serve this purpose they are beneficial and theuse of them is necessary; and therefore we must choose those that are mosttrue and lifelike, and that most move the will to devotion, and our eyesmust ever be fixed upon this motive rather than upon the value and cunningof their workmanship and decoration. For, as I say, there are some who paymore attention to the cunning with which an image is made, and to its value,than to what it represents; and that interior devotion which they ought todirect spiritually to the saint whom they see not, forgetting the image atonce, since it serves only as a motive, they squander upon the cunning andthe decoration of its outward workmanship. In this way sense is pleased anddelighted, and the love and rejoicing of the will remain there. This is acomplete hindrance to true spirituality, which demands annihilation of theaffections as to all particular things.
4. This will become quite clear from the detestable custom which certain persons observe with regard to imagesin these our days. Holding not in abhorence the vain trappings of the world,they adorn images with the garments which from time to time vain personsinvent in order to satisfy their own pleasures and vanities. So they clotheimages with garments reprehensible even in themselves, a kind of vanity whichwas, and is still, abhorrent to the saints whom the images represent. Herein,with their help, the devil succeeds in canonizing his vanities, by clothingthe saints with them, not without causing them great displeasure. And inthis way the honest and grave devotion of the soul, which rejects and spurnsall vanity and every trace of it, becomes with them little more than a dressingof dolls; some persons use images merely as idols upon which they have settheir rejoicing. And thus you will see certain persons who are never tiredof adding one image to another, and wish them to be of this or that kindand workmanship, and to be placed in this or that manner, so as to be pleasingto sense; and they make little account of the devotion of the heart. Theyare as much attached to them as was Michas to his idols,(658) or as wasLaban;(659) for the one ran out of his house crying aloud because they werebeing taken from him; and the other, having made a long journey and beenvery wroth because of them, disturbed all the household stuff of Jacob, insearching for them.
5. The person who is truly devout sets his devotionprincipally upon that which is invisible; he needs few images and uses few,and chooses those that harmonize with the Divine rather than with the human,clothing them, and with them himself, in the garments of the world to come,and following its fashions rather than those of this world. For not onlydoes an image belonging to this world in no way influence his desire; itdoes not even lead him to think of this world, in spite of his having beforehis eyes something worldly, akin to the world's interests. Nor is his heartattached to the images that he uses; if they are taken from him, he grievesvery little, for he seeks within himself the living image, which is Christcrucified, for Whose sake he even desires that all should be taken from himand he should have nothing. Even when the motives and means which lead himclosest to God are taken from him, he remains in tranquility. For the soulis nearer perfection when it is tranquil and joyous, though it be deprivedof these motives, than if it has possession of them together with desireand attachment. For, although it is good to be pleased to have such imagesas assist the soul to greater devotion (for which reason it is those whichmove it most that must always be chosen), yet it is something far removedfrom perfection to be so greatly attached to them as to possess them withattachment, so that, if they are taken away from the soul, it becomes sad.
6. Let the soul be sure that, the more closely it is attached to an imageor a motive, the less will its devotion and prayer mount to God. For, althoughit is true that, since some are more appropriate than others, and excitedevotion more than others, it is well, for this reason alone, to be moreaffectioned to some than to others, as I have just now said, yet there mustbe none of the attachment and affection which I have described. Otherwise,that which has to sustain the spirit in its flight to God, in totalforgetfulness, will be wholly occupied by sense, and the soul will be completelyimmersed in a delight afforded it by what are but instruments. These instrumentsI have to use, but solely in order to assist me in devotion; and, on accountof my imperfection, they may well serve me as a hindrance, no less so thanmay affection and attachment to anything else.
7.(660) But, though perhaps in this matter of images you may think that there is something to be saidon the other side, if you have not clearly understood how much detachmentand poverty of spirit is required by perfection, at least you cannot excusethe imperfection which is commonly indulged with regard to rosaries; foryou will hardly find anyone who has not some weakness with regard to these,desiring them to be of this workmanship rather than of that, or of this colouror metal rather than of that, or decorated in some one style or in some other.Yet no one style is better than another for the hearing of a prayer by God,for this depends upon the simple and true heart, which looks at no more thanpleasing God, and, apart from the question of indulgences, cares no morefor one rosary than for another.
8. Our vain concupiscence is of such a natureand quality that it tries to establish itself in everything; and it is likethe worm which destroys healthy wood, and works upon things both good andevil. For what else is your desire to have a rosary of cunning workmanship,and your wish that it shall be of one kind rather than of another, but thefixing of your rejoicing upon the instrument? It is like desiring to chooseone image rather than another, and considering, not if it will better awakenDivine love within you, but only if it is more precious and more cunninglymade. If you employed your desire and rejoicing solely in the love of God,you would care nothing for any of these considerations. It is most vexatiousto see certain spiritual persons so greatly attached to the manner andworkmanship of these instruments and motives, and to the curiosity and vainpleasure which they find in them: you will never see them satisfied; theywill be continually leaving one thing for another, and forgetting and forsakingspiritual devotion for these visible things, to which they have affectionand attachment, sometimes of just the same kind as that which a man has totemporal things; and from this they receive no small harm.
Which continues to treat of images, and describes the ignorance which certainpersons have with respect to them.
1 THERE is much that might be said of the stupidity which many persons displaywith regard to images; their foolishness reaches such a point that some ofthem place more confidence in one kind of image than in another, believingthat God will hear them more readily because of these than because of those,even when both represent the same thing, as when there are two of Christor two of Our Lady. And this happens because they have more affection forthe one kind of workmanship than for the other; which implies the crudestideas concerning intercourse with God and the worship and honour that areowed to Him, which has solely to do with the faith and the purity of heartof him that prays. For if God sometimes grants more favours by means of oneimage rather than by another of the same kind, it is not because there ismore virtue to this effect in one than in another (however much differencethere may be in their workmanship), but because some persons better awakentheir own devotion by one than by another. If they had the same devotionfor the one as for the other (or even without the use of either), they wouldreceive the same favours from God.
2. Hence the reason for which God works(661)miracles and grants favours by means of one kind of image rather than byanother is not that these should be esteemed more than those, but to theend that, by means of the wonder that they cause, there may be awakened sleepingdevotion and the affection of the faithful for prayer. And hence it comesthat, as the contemplation of the image at that time enkindles devotion andmakes us to continue in prayer (both these being means whereby God hearsand grants that which is asked of Him), therefore, at that time and by meansof that same image, God continues to work favours and miracles because ofthe prayer and affection which are then shown; for it is certain that Goddoes it not because of the image, which in itself is no more than a paintedthing, but because of the devotion and faith which the person has towardthe saint whom it represents. And so, if you had the same devotion and faithin Our Lady before one image representing her as before another, since theperson represented is the same (and even, as we have said, if you had nosuch image at all), you would receive the same favours. For it is clear fromexperience that, when God grants certain favours and works miracles, He doesso as a rule by means of certain images which are not well carved or cunninglyformed or painted, so that the faithful may attribute nothing to the figureor the painting.
3. Furthermore, Our Lord is frequently wont to grant thesefavours by means of those images that are most remote and solitary. One reasonfor this is that the effort necessary to journey to them causes the affectionsto be increased and makes the act of prayer more earnest. Another reasonis that we may withdraw ourselves from noise and from people when we pray,even as did the Lord. Wherefore he that makes a pilgrimage does well if hemakes it at a time when no others are doing so, even though the time be unusual.I should never advise him to make a pilgrimage when a great multitude isdoing so; for, as a rule, on these occasions, people return in a state ofgreater distraction than when they went. And many set out on these pilgrimagesand make them for recreation rather than for devotion. Where there is devotionand faith, then, any image will suffice; but, if there is none, none willsuffice. Our Saviour was a very living image in the world; and yet thosethat had no faith, even though they went about with Him and saw His wondrousworks, derived no benefit from them. And this was the reason why, as theEvangelist says, He did few mighty works in His own country.(662)
4. I desirealso to speak here of certain supernatural effects which are sometimes producedby certain images upon particular persons. To certain images God gives aparticular spiritual influence upon such persons, so that the figure of theimage and the devotion caused by it remain fixed in the mind, and the personhas them ever present before him; and so, when he suddenly thinks of theimage, the spiritual influence which works upon him is of the same kind aswhen he saw it -- sometimes it is less, but sometimes it is even greater-- yet, from another image, although it be of more perfect workmanship, hewill not obtain the same spiritual effect.
5. Many persons, too, have devotionto one kind of workmanship rather than to another, and to some they willhave no more than a natural inclination and affection, just as we preferseeing one person's face to another's. And they will naturally become moreattracted to a particular image, and will keep it more vividly in theirimagination, even though it be not as beautiful as others, just because theirnature is attracted to that kind of form and figure which it represents.And some persons will think that the affection which they have for such orsuch an image is devotion, whereas it will perhaps be no more than naturalinclination and affection. Again, it may happen that, when they look at animage, they will see it move, or make signs and gestures and indications,or speak. This, and the variety of supernatural effects caused by imagesof which we have here been speaking, are, it is true, quite frequently goodand true effects, produced by God either to increase devotion or so thatthe soul may have some support on which to lean, because it is somewhat weak,and so that it may not be distracted. Yet frequently, again, they are producedby the devil in order to cause deception and harm. We shall therefore giveinstruction concerning this in the chapter following.
Of how the rejoicing of the will must be directed, by way of the images,to God, so that the soul may not go astray because of them or be hinderedby them.
1 JUST as images are of great benefit for remembering God and the saints, andfor moving the will to devotion when they are used in the ordinary way, asis fitting, so they will lead to great error if, when supernatural happeningscome to pass in connection with them, the soul should not be able to conductitself as is fitting for its journey to God. For one of the means by whichthe devil lays hold on incautious souls, with great ease, and obstructs theway of spiritual truth for them, is the use of extraordinary and supernaturalhappenings, of which he gives examples by means of images, both the materialand corporeal images used by the Church, and also those which he is wontto fix in the fancy in relation to such or such a saint, or an image of him,transforming himself into an angel of light that he may deceive. For in thosevery means which we possess for our relief and help the astute devil contrivesto hide himself in order to catch us when we are least prepared. Whereforeit is concerning good things that the soul that is good must ever have thegreatest misgivings, for evil things bear their own testimony with them.
2. Hence, in order to avoid all the evils which may happen to the soul inthis connection, which are its being hindered from soaring upward to God,or its using images in an unworthy and ignorant manner, or its being deceivedby them through natural or supernatural means, all of which are things thatwe have touched upon above; and in order likewise to purify the rejoicingof the will in them and by means of them to lead the soul to God, for whichreason the Church recommends their use, I desire here to set down only onewarning, which will suffice for everything; and this warning is that, sinceimages serve us as a motive for invisible things, we must strive to set themotive and the affection and the rejoicing of our will only upon that whichin fact they represent. Let the faithful soul, then, be careful that, whenhe sees the image, he desire not that his senses should be absorbed by it,whether the image be corporeal or imaginary, whether beautifully made, whetherrichly adorned, whether the devotion that it causes be of sense or of spirit,whether it produce supernatural manifestations or no. The soul must on noaccount set store by these accidents, nor even regard them, but must raiseup its mind from the image to that which it represents, centering the sweetnessand rejoicing of its will, together with the prayer and devotion of its spirit,upon God or upon the saint who is being invoked; for that which belongs tothe living reality and to the spirit should not be usurped by sense and bythe painted object. If the soul do this, it will not be deceived, for itwill set no store by anything that the image may say to it, nor will it occupyits sense or its spirit in such a way that they cannot travel freely to God,nor will it place more confidence in one image than in another. And an imagewhich would cause the soul devotion by supernatural means will now do somore abundantly, since the soul will now go with its affections directlyto God. For, whensoever God grants these and other favours, He does so byinclining the affection of the joy of the will to that which is invisible,and this He wishes us also to do, by annihilating the power and sweetnessof the faculties with respect to these visible things of sense.
Continues to describe motive good. Speaks of oratories and places dedicatedto prayer.
1 I THINK it has now been explained how the spiritual person may find as greatimperfection in the accidents of images, by setting his pleasure and rejoicingupon them, as in other corporeal and temporal things, and perchance imperfectionmore perilous still. And I say perchance more perilous, because, when a personsays that the objects of his rejoicing are holy, he feels more secure, andfears not to cling to them and become attached to them in a natural way.And thus such a person is sometimes greatly deceived, thinking himself tobe full of devotion because he perceives that he takes pleasure in theseholy things, when, perchance, this is due only to his natural desire andtemperament, which lead him to this just as they lead him to other things.
2. Hence it arises (we are now beginning to treat of oratories) that thereare some persons who never tire of adding to their oratories images of onekind and then of another, and take pleasure in the order and array in whichthey set them out, so that these oratories may be well adorned and pleasingto behold. Yet they love God no more when their oratories are ornate thanwhen they are simple -- nay, rather do they love Him less, since, as we havesaid, the pleasure which they set upon their painted adornments is stolenfrom the living reality. It is true that all the adornment and embellishmentand respect that can be lavished upon images amounts to very little, andthat therefore those who have images and treat them with a lack of decencyand reverence are worthy of severe reproof, as are those who have imagesso ill- carved that they take away devotion rather than produce it, for whichreason some image-makers who are very defective and unskilled in this artshould be forbidden to practise it. But what has that to do with the attachmentand affection and desire which you have (663) for these outward adornmentsand decorations, when your senses are absorbed by them in such a way thatyour heart is hindered from journeying to God, and from loving Him and forgettingall things for love of Him? If you fail in the latter aim for the sake ofthe former, not only will God not esteem you for it, but He will even chastenyou for not having sought His pleasure in all things rather than your own.This you may clearly gather from the description of that feast which theymade for His Majesty when He entered Jerusalem. They received Him with songsand with branches, and the Lord wept;(664) for their hearts were very farremoved from Him and they paid Him reverence only with outward adornmentsand signs. We may say of them that they were making a festival for themselvesrather than for God; and this is done nowadays by many, who, when there issome solemn festival in a place, are apt to rejoice because of the pleasurewhich they themselves will find in it -- whether in seeing or in being seen,or whether in eating or in some other selfish thing -- rather than to rejoiceat being acceptable to God. By these inclinations and intentions they aregiving no pleasure to God. Especially is this so when those who celebratefestivals invent ridiculous and undevout things to intersperse in them, sothat they may incite people to laughter, which causes them greater distraction.And other persons invent things which merely please people rather than movethem to devotion.
3. And what shall I say of persons who celebrate festivalsfor reasons connected with their own interests? They alone, and God Who seesthem, know if their regard and desire are set upon such interests ratherthan upon the service of God. Let them realize, when they act in any of theseways, that they are making festivals in their own honour rather than in thatof God. For that which they do for their own pleasure, or for the pleasureof men, God will not account as done for Himself. Yea, many who take partin God's festivals will be enjoying themselves even while God is wroth withthem, as He was with the children of Israel when they made a festival, andsang and danced before their idol, thinking that they were keeping a festivalin honour of God; of whom He slew many thousands.(665) Or again, as He waswith the priests Nabad and Abiu, the sons of Aaron, whom He slew with thecensers in their hands, because they offered strange fire.(666) Or as withthe man that entered the wedding feast ill-adorned and ill-garbed, whom theking commanded to be thrown into outer darkness, bound hand and foot.(667)By this it may be known how ill God suffers these irreverences in assembliesthat are held for His service. For how many festivals, O my God, are madeThee by the sons of men to the devil's advantage rather than to Thine! Thedevil takes a delight in them, because such gatherings bring him business,as they might to a trader. And how often wilt Thou say concerning them: 'Thispeople honoureth Me with their lips alone, but their heart is far from Me,for they serve Me from a wrong cause!'(668) For the sole reason for whichGod must be served is that He is Who He is, and not for any other mediateends. And thus to serve Him for other reasons than solely that He is WhoHe is, is to serve Him without regard for Him as the Ultimate Reason.
4. Returning now to oratories, I say that some persons deck them out for theirown pleasure rather than for the pleasure of God; and some persons set solittle account by the devotion which they arouse that they think no moreof them than of their own secular antechambers; some, indeed, think evenless of them, for they take more pleasure in the profane than in the Divine.
5. But let us cease speaking of this and speak only of those who are moreparticular(669) -- that is to say, of those who consider themselves devoutpersons. Many of these centre their desire and pleasure upon their oratoryand its adornments, to such an extent that they squander on them all thetime that they should be employing in prayer to God and interior recollection.They cannot see that, by not arranging their oratory with a view to the interiorrecollection and peace of the soul, they are as much distracted by it asby anything else, and will find the pleasure which they take in it a continualoccasion of unrest, and more so still if anyone endeavors to deprive themof it.
Of the way in which oratories and churches should be used, in order to directthe spirit to God.
1 WITH regard to the direction of the spirit to God through this kind of good,it is well to point out that it is certainly lawful, and even expedient,for beginners to find some sensible sweetness and pleasure in images, oratoriesand other visible objects of devotion, since they have not yet weaned ordetached their desire(670) from things of the world, so that they can leavethe one pleasure for the other. They are like a child holding something inone of its hands; to make it loosen its hold upon it we give it somethingelse to hold in the other hand lest it should cry because both its handsare empty. But the spiritual person that would make progress must strip himselfof all those pleasures and desires wherein the will can rejoice, for purespirituality is bound very little to any of those objects, but only to interiorrecollection and mental converse with God. So, although he makes use of imagesand oratories, he does so only fleetingly; his spirit at once comes to restin God and he forgets all things of sense.
2. Wherefore, although it is bestto pray where there is most decency, yet notwithstanding one should choosethe place where sense and spirit are least hindered from journeying to God.Here we should consider that answer made by Our Saviour to the Samaritanwoman, when she asked Him which was the more fitting place wherein to pray,the temple or the mountain, and He answered her that true prayer was notconnected with the mountain or with the temple, but that those who adoredthe Father and were pleasing to Him were those that adored Him in spiritand in truth.(671) Wherefore, although churches and pleasant places are setapart and furnished for prayer (for a church must not be used for aught else),yet, for a matter as intimate as converse held with God, one should choosethat place which gives sense the least occupation and the least encouragement.And thus it must not be a place that is pleasant and delectable to sense(like the places that some habitually contrive to find), for otherwise, insteadof the recollection of the spirit in God, naught will be achieved save recreationand pleasure and delight of sense. Wherefore it is good to choose a placethat is solitary, and even wild, so that the spirit may resolutely and directlysoar upward to God, and not be hindered or detained by visible things; for,although these sometimes help to raise up the spirit, it is better to forgetthem at once and to rest in God. For this reason Our Saviour was wont tochoose solitary places for prayer, and such as occupied the senses but little,in order to give us an example. He chose places that lifted up the soul toGod, such as mountains, which are lifted up above the earth, and are ordinarilybare, thus offering no occasion for recreation of the senses.
3. The truly spiritual man, then, is never tied to a place of prayer because of itssuitability in this way or in that, nor does he even consider such a thing,for, if he did so, he would still be tied to sense. But, to the end thathe may attain interior recollection, and forget everything, he chooses theplaces most free from sensible objects and attractions, withdrawing his attentionfrom all these, that he may be able to rejoice in his God and be far removedfrom all things created. But it is a remarkable thing to see some spiritualpersons, who waste all their time in setting up oratories and furnishingplaces which please their temperaments or inclinations, yet make little accountof interior recollection, which is the most important thing, but of whichthey have very little. If they had more of it, they would be incapable oftaking pleasure in those methods and manners of devotion, which would simplyweary them.
John, Ascent Carmel 3 32