John - Scent Carmel 1 11


Wherein it is proved necessary that the soul that would attain to Divineunion should be free from desires, however slight they be.

1 I EXPECT that for a long time the reader has been wishing to ask whetherit be necessary, in order to attain to this high estate of perfection, toundergo first of all total mortification in all the desires, great and small,or if it will suffice to mortify some of them and to leave others, thoseat least which seem of little moment. For it appears to be a severe and mostdifficult thing for the soul to be able to attain to such purity and detachmentthat it has no will and affection for anything.

2. To this I reply: first, that it is true that all the desires are not equally hurtful, nor do they all equally embarrass the soul. I am speaking of those that are voluntary, for the natural desires hinder the soul little, if at all, from attaining to union, when they are not consented to nor pass beyond the first movements (I mean,(177) all those wherein the rational will has had no part, whether at first or afterward); and to take away these -- that is, to mortify them wholly in this life -- is impossible. And these hinder not the soul in such a way as to prevent its attainment to Divine union, even though they be not, as I say, wholly mortified; for the natural man may well have them, and yet the soul may be quite free from them according to the rational spirit. For it will sometimes come to pass that the soul will be in the full(178) unionof the prayer of quiet in the will at the very time when these desires aredwelling in the sensual part of the soul, and yet the higher part, whichis in prayer, will have nothing to do with them. But all the other voluntarydesires, whether they be of mortal sin, which are the gravest, or of venialsin, which are less grave, or whether they be only of imperfections, whichare the least grave of all, must be driven away every one, and the soul mustbe free from them all, howsoever slight they be, if it is to come to thiscomplete union; and the reason is that the state of this Divine union consistsin the soul's total transformation, according to the will, in the will ofGod, so that, there may be naught in the soul that is contrary to the willof God, but that, in all and through all, its movement may be that of thewill of God alone.

3. It is for this reason that we say of this state thatit is the making of two wills into one -- namely, into the will of God, whichwill of God is likewise the will of the soul. For if this soul desired anyimperfection that God wills not, there would not be made one will of God,since the soul would have a will for that which God has not. It is clear,then, that for the soul to come to unite itself perfectly with God throughlove and will, it must first be free from all desire of the will, howsoeverslight. That is, that it must not intentionally and knowingly consent withthe will to imperfections, and it must have power and liberty to be ablenot so to consent intentionally. I say knowingly, because, unintentionallyand unknowingly, or without having the power to do otherwise, it may wellfall into imperfections and venial sins, and into the natural desires whereofwe have spoken; for of such sins as these which are not voluntary andsurreptitious it is written that the just man shall fall seven times in theday and shall rise up again.(179) But of the voluntary desires, which, thoughthey be for very small things, are, as I have said, intentional venial sins,any one that is not conquered suffices to impede union.(180) I mean, if thishabit be not mortified; for sometimes certain acts of different desires havenot as much power when the habits are mortified. Still, the soul will attainto the stage of not having even these, for they likewise proceed from a habitof imperfection. But some habits of voluntary imperfections, which are nevercompletely conquered, prevent not only the attainment of Divine union, butalso progress in perfection.

4. These habitual imperfections are, for example,a common custom of much speaking, or some slight attachment which we neverquite wish to conquer -- such as that to a person, a garment, a book, a cell,a particular kind of food, tittle-tattle, fancies for tasting, knowing orhearing certain things, and suchlike. Any one of these imperfections, ifthe soul has become attached and habituated to it, is of as great harm toits growth and progress in virtue as though it were to fall daily into manyother imperfections and usual venial sins which proceed not from a habitualindulgence in any habitual and harmful attachment, and will not hinder itso much as when it has attachment to anything. For as long as it has thisthere is no possibility that it will make progress in perfection, even thoughthe imperfection be extremely slight. For it comes to the same thing whethera bird be held by a slender cord or by a stout one; since, even if it beslender, the bird will be well held as though it were stout, for so longas it breaks it not and flies not away. It is true that the slender one isthe easier to break; still, easy though it be, the bird will not fly awayif it be not broken. And thus the soul that has attachment to anything, howevermuch virtue it possess, will not attain to the liberty of Divine union. Forthe desire and the attachment of the soul have that power which the sucking-fish(181) is said to have when it clings to a ship; for, though but a verysmall fish, if it succeed in clinging to the ship, it makes it incapableof reaching the port, or of sailing on at all. It is sad to see certain soulsin this plight; like rich vessels, they are laden with wealth and good worksand spiritual exercises, and with the virtues and the favours that God grantsthem; and yet, because they have not the resolution to break with some whimor attachment or affection (which all come to the same thing), they nevermake progress or reach the port of perfection, though they would need todo no more than make one good flight and thus to snap that cord of desireright off, or to rid themselves of that sucking-fish of desire which clingsto them.

5. It is greatly to be lamented that, when God has granted themstrength to break other and stouter cords(182) -- namely, affections forsins and vanities -- they should fail to attain to such blessing becausethey have not shaken off some childish thing which God had bidden them conquerfor love of Him, and which is nothing more than a thread or a hair.(183)And, what is worse, not only do they make no progress, but because of thisattachment they fall back, lose that which they have gained, and retracethat part of the road along which they have travelled at the cost of so muchtime and labour; for it is well known that, on this road, not to go forwardis to turn back, and not to be gaining is to be losing. This Our Lord desiredto teach us when He said: 'He that is not with Me is against Me; and he thatgathereth not with Me scattereth.'(184) He that takes not the trouble torepair the vessel, however slight be the crack in it, is likely to spillall the liquid that is within it. The Preacher taught us this clearly whenhe said: He that contemneth small things shall fall by little and little.(185)
For, as he himself says, a great fire cometh from a single spark.(186) Andthus one imperfection is sufficient to lead to another; and these lead toyet more; wherefore you will hardly ever see a soul that is negligent inconquering one desire, and that has not many more arising from the same weaknessand imperfection that this desire causes. In this way they are continuallyfilling; we have seen many persons to whom God has been granting the favourof leading them a long way, into a state of great detachment and liberty,yet who, merely through beginning to indulge some slight attachment, underthe pretext of doing good, or in the guise of conversation and friendship,often lose their spirituality and desire for God and holy solitude, fallfrom the joy and wholehearted devotion which they had in their spiritualexercises, and cease not until they have lost everything; and this becausethey broke not with that beginning of sensual desire and pleasure and keptnot themselves in solitude for God.

(1) The footnotes are P. Silverio's except where they are enclosed in squarebrackets. (2) Cf. Translator's Preface to the First Edition, Sect. II. (3)(H., III, ii.) (4) M. Magdalena is a very reliable witness, for she was notonly a most discreet and able woman, but was also one of those who were verynear to the saint and gained most from his spiritual direction. The quotationis from MS. 12,944. (5) MS. 12,738, fol. 835. Ft. Jeronimo de S. Jose, too,says that the nuns of Toledo also copied certain poems from the Saint'sdictation. M. Ana de S. Alberto heard him say of his imprisonment: 'God soughtto try me, but His mercy forsook me not. I made some stanzas there whichbegin: "Whither hast vanished, Beloved"; and also those other verses, beginning"Far above the many rivers That in Babylon abound." All these verses I sentto Fray Jose de Jesus Maria, who told me that he was interested in them andwas keeping them in his memory in order to write them out.' (6) (H., III,ii.) (7) MS. 12,944. 'He also occasionally wrote spiritual things that wereof great benefit. There, too, he composed the Mount and drew a copy withhis own hand for each of our breviaries; later, he added to these copiesand made some changes.' (8) (See, on this term, S.S.M., II, 282, and CatholicEncyclopedia, sub. 'Carmelites.') (9) Fray Martin de San Jose in MS. 12,738,fol. 125. (10) (H., IV, i.) (11) MS. 12,738, fol. 1,431. The letter is undatedas to the year. (12) MS. 12,738, fol. 1,435. (13) MS. 12,738, fol. 3. Cf.a letter of April 28, 1614, by the same friar (ibid., fol. 865), which describesthe Saint's knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, and skill in expounding them,as 'inspired' and 'Divine.' (14) Ibid., fol. 18. (15) Jeronimo de la Cruz(ibid., fol. 639) describes the Saint on his journeys as 'frequently readingthe Bible' as he went along on his 'beast.' (16) MS. 12,738, fol. 559. P.Alonso writes similarly in a letter to Fray Jeronimo de San Jose: 'And inthis matter of speaking of God and expounding passages from Scripture hemade everyone marvel, for they never asked him about a passage which he couldnot explain in great detail, and sometimes at recreation the whole hour andmuch more went by in the explanation of passages about which they asked him'(fol. 1,431). (17) Ibid., fol. 847. (18) (Cf. S.S.M., II, 123-48.) (19) Vida,Bk. IV, Chap. xiv, Sect. 1. (20) (On this subject cf. P. Crisogono de JesusSacramentado: San Juan de la Cruz, Madrid, 1929, Vol. II, pp. 17-34 et passim.)(21) On Flemish influences on Spanish mysticism, see P. Groult: Les Mystiquesdes Pays-Bas et la litterature espagnole du seizieme siecle, Louvain, 1927(, and Joaquin Sanchis Alventosa, O.F.M.: La Escuela mistica alemana y susrelaciones con nuestros misticos del Siglo de Oro, Madrid, 1946). (22) (Cf.S.S.M., I (1927), 33-76, 291-405; (1951), 25-61, 235-328; II (1930), 309-43.)(23) One well-known example will be found in the commentary on the 'SpiritualCanticle,' Chap. xii (cf. Sect. V below). (24) MS. 12,738, fol. 639. (25)To these we shall refer in the third volume of this edition. (26) If anysingle person could have spoken from knowledge of this matter it would beP. Alonso de la Madre de Dios, as all papers connected with St. John of theCross passed through his hands and he took hundreds of depositions in connectionwith the Beatification process. His statements, however (MS. 19,404, fol.176 (P. Silverio, I, 179)), are as vague as any others. Rather more reliableare the Saint's two early biographers, P. Jose de Jesus Maria (Quiroga) andP. Jeronimo de San Jose. The former states in one place that he is usingan autograph on the Ascent of Mount Carmel, but again it seems likely thathe was mistaken, since the archives of the Reform were still intact in thenext century and no genuine autograph of any length was found in them. (27)(The commentary on the third stanza is begun in ii, xxv of Dark Night. Ifthis be not counted, the number of stanzas left uncommented is six.) (28)This is not so unlikely as it may seem, for the early manuscripts were alleither unbound, or very roughly stitched together, and sever al of the extantcopies have leaves missing. It was not till the time of the BeatificationProcess that greater care began to be taken of the Saint's writings, andthey were bound strongly and even luxuriously. (29) I.e., the three booksof the Ascent and the two of the Night. (30) MS. 3,180, Adicion B. (31) Itwould be natural enough, of course, for Fray Agustin Antolinez to have notedthis fact, but, as he makes no mention of St. John of the Cross at all, nothingcan be safely inferred from his silence. It may be added that Fray Agustin'scommentary is to be published by the Spanish Augustinians (and that P. Silverio(I, 190-3 ) gives a specimen of it which shows how well it deserves publication).(32) As we shall later see, the Living Flame was written after the firstredaction of the Spiritual Canticle, but before the second redaction, whichmentions the Living Flame in the exposition of Stanza XXXI, thus misleadingP. Andres as to its date. There is no doubt, in our mind, that the referencein the preface to the Living Flame is to the Canticle: the description fitsit exactly. (33) (P. Silverio's words are: 'For my own part, I think it veryprobable that he never composed them.' I myself give a little less weightto the negative evidence brought forward, and, though I too am inclined tothe negative solution, I should hold the scales between the two rather moreevenly.) (34) If this were so, we might even hazard a guess that the titlewas that given in the Living Flame (I, 21) and not exactly applicable toany of the existing treatises, viz. The Dark Night of the Ascent of MountCarmel. (35) Memorias Historiales, C. 1 3. (36) Saint Jean de la Croix, pp.1 3-15. (37) Cf. Ascent, I, i, below. (38) Some manuscripts do in fact dividethe treatise in this way; but apart from the fact that we have the authorityof St. John of the Cross himself, in the passage just quoted (confirmed inAscent, I, xiii), for a different division, the Alcaudete MS., which we believeto be the most reliable, follows the division laid down by the Saint. Wemay add that St. John of the Cross is not always a safe guide in these matters,no doubt because he trusted too much to his memory; in Ascent, II, xi, forexample, he calls the fourth book the third. (39) (H., V, iii.) (40) SpiritualCanticle, Stanza XII, Sect. 6 (Second Redaction, XIII, Sect. 7). (41) Inthe same passage as that referred to in the last note he declares his intentionof not repeating what she has said (cf. General Introduction, III, above). (42) Our authority for this statement is P. Andres de la Encarnacion (MemoriasHistoriales, B. 32), who found the Chapter Book in the General Archives ofthe Reform at Madrid. (43) Op. cit. (B. 33). (44) (For a study of Tomas deJesus, see S.S.M., II, 281-306.) (45) Memorias Historiales, B. 35. (46) Cf.General Introduction, I, above. (47) (Cf. S.S.M., I (1927), 291-344; (1951),235-79. An abridged English edition of the Names of Christ, translated bya Benedictine of Stanbrook, was published by Messrs. Burns Oates and Washbournein 1926.) (48) (Cf. S.S.M., I (1927), 295-6; (1951), 240.) (49) (Cf. S.S.M.,II, 41-76.) (50) Historia critica de la Inquisicion de Espana, Vol. V,, and elsewhere. (The original of this work is in French: Histoire critiquede l'Incluisition d'Espagne, 1817-18.) (51) Here we have a curious parallelismwith the works of St. Teresa, first published at Salamanca in 1588 and alsoreprinted in Barcelona in the year following. (52) He also supplies the Latintext of Scriptural quotations which St. John of the Cross gives in thevernacular, corrects the punctuation and spelling of the princeps and substituteshis 'Sketch' of the Saint's life for the biographical notes of that edition.The treatise in which he corrects most of the defects of the princeps isthe Ascent of Mount Carmel. (53) Phrasium mysticae Theologiae V.P. Fr. Joannisa Cruce, Carmelitarum excalceatorum Parentis primi elucidatio. Compluti,1631. (54) Subida del Alma a Dios; Apologia mistica en defensa de lacontemplacion divina; Don que tuvo San Juan de la Cruz para guiar las almas,etc. (55) This phrase, no doubt, was inserted in order to save the reputationof P. Jose's earlier supporters, and out of respect to his uncle, who hadbeen a Cardinal and Inquisitor-General. (56) Quoted by P. Andres de laEncarnacion (MS. 3,653, Previo 1). (57) MS. 3,653, Previo 1. (58) (The lasttwo paragraphs form P. Silverio's description of his own edition. The linesfollowed in the present translation have been described in the Translator'sPreface.) (59) Ascent, Bk. III, Chap. ii. (60) Ascent, Bk. III, Chap. iii,Sect. 1. (61) Cf. Ascent, Bk. III, Chap. xvi, Sect.Sect. 1-2. (62) (On thequestion of the curtailment of the Ascent, see Sobrino, pp. 159-66.) (63)(On MSS. not described by P. Silverio, see Ephemerides Carmeliticae, Florence,1950, IV, 95-148, and in particular p. 103, n. 9. As the variants and annotationsin these MSS. will be of interest only to specialists, and few of them canbe reproduced in a translation, those who wish to study them are referredto that article.) (64) (H, sub Juan Evangelista (2)) (65) (Lit.: 'It says,then, thus.') (66) For a verse translation in the metre of the original,see Vol. II. (67) (The adjectives are feminine throughout.) (68) (The wordtranslated 'at rest' is a past participle: more literally, +stilled.') (69)(Lit.: 'I remained and forgot.') (70) (Lit. 'and wideawake guides.') (71)(Lit., 'a low manner.') (72) Needless to say, the Saint does not here meanthat he will not write in conformity with moral standards -- no writer ismore particular in this respect -- nor that he will deal with no delectablematters at all, but rather that he will go to the very roots of spiritualteaching and expound the 'solid and substantial instruction,' which not onlyforms its basis but also leads the soul toward the most intimate union withGod in love. (73) The Codices give neither title nor sub-title: both wereinserted in e.p. ('Desire' is to be taken as the direct object of 'describes';'these' refers to 'sense' and 'desire,' not to the dark night.) (74) (Lit.,'appetites,' but this word is uniformly translated 'desires,' as the Spanishcontext frequently will not admit the use of the stronger word in English.)(75) (The word translated 'sensual' is sometimes sensual, and sometimes,as here, sensitivo. The meaning in either case is simply 'of sense.') (76)So Alc. The other authorities read: 'and of this we shall treat likewise,in the second part with respect to the activity (of the soul) (these lastthree words are not contained in the Spanish of any authority), and in thethird and the fourth part with respect to its passivity.' E.p. follows thisdivision. Alc., however, seems to correspond more closely with the Saint'sintentions; for he did not divide each of his 'books' into 'parts' and appearstherefore to indicate by 'part' what we know as 'book.' Now Book I is infact devoted to the active purgation of sense, as are Books II and III tothe active purgation of the spirit. For the 'fourth book,' see GeneralIntroduction, IV above. (77) (The word translated 'at rest' is a past participle:more literally, +stilled.')
(78) (Lit., 'and it in them.' This 'it' means the soul; the preceding 'it,' the house.)
(79) I.e., in the 'Argument.'
(80)(More exactly, this 'passage' or 'transition' (transito).)
(81) (Lit., 'innegation of them.')
(82) (By 'the mean' is meant the middle, or main part,of the journey.)
(83) (Lit., 'without anything (sc. to do).')
(84) ('Blankboard': Sp., tabla rasa; Lat., tabula rasa.)
(85) Ps 87,16 (A.V.lxxxviii, 15).
(86) Jn 1,5.
(87) 2Co 6,14.
(88) Ps 114,9 (A.V. cxv, 8). (89) Jr 4,23. (90) (The words often translated 'deformity,' 'deformed,' or 'vileness,' 'vile,' are the ordinary contraries of 'beauty,' 'beautiful,' and might be rendered, more literally but less elegantly, 'ugliness,' 'ugly.') (91) Pr 31,30. (92) (For 'grace . . . misery' the Spanish has gracia . . . desgracia. The latter word, however, does not, as might be supposed, correspond to English 'disgrace.') (93) E.p. omits supreme'; the Spanish word (having a more literally superlative force than the English) can hardly be applied, save in a restricted sense, to what is finite. (94) Lc 18,19. (95) 1Co 3,19. (96) Rm 1,22. (97) 1Co 3,18-19. (98) (Lit., 'is supreme.') (99) (The word is applicable to any kind of preferential position.)

(100) Gn 21,10. (101) Pr 8,4-6 Pr 8,18-21.
(102) Soliloq., chap. ii (Migne: Patr. lat., Vol. XL, p. 866).
(103) So Alc. The other authorities have merely: 'which may pertain to it,' and e.p. adds to this: 'through self-love.' Even when softened by Diego de Pesus this phrase of the Saint did not escape denunciation, and it was the first of the 'propositions' condemned in his writings (cf. General Introduction, VI, above). It was defended by P. Basilio Ponce de Leon in his Reply (p. lx), and more extensively by P. Nicolas de Jesus Maria (Elucidatio, Pt. II, Chap i, pp. 125-40). In reality, little defence is needed other than that contained in the last chapters of the Ascent of Mount Carmel, which clearly show the harm caused by supernatural favours, when these are abused, to the memory, the understanding and the will. Who, after all, can doubt that we may abuse 'things supernatural' and by such abuse hinder the soul from attaining union with God?
(104) Lc 14,33.
(105) E.p. alters this to: 'in the same Scripture.' (It does not, in fact, occur in the same book.)
(106) Nb 11,4.
(107) (Lit., 'so high.')(108) (Sg 16,20)
(109) Ps 72,31 (A.V. lxxviii, 31). (110)(Ex 34,2-3) E.p.: 'within sight of the Mount.' A, B: 'near the Mount.'(111) Gn 35,2 (112) Ex 27,8.
(113) Lv 10,1-2.
(114)1 Kings (A.V., I Samuel) v, 3-5.
(115) Dt 32,26.
(116) Nb 17,10. (More properly, 'the ro d of Aaron.')
(117) Jr 2,13.
(118) (Lit.,'the greater the bulk that that desire has in the soul.') (119) Mt 15,26. (120) Mt 7,6. (121) (Lit., 'he that goes feeding upon.')(122) Ps 58,15-16 (A.V., lix, 14-15).
(123) (Lit., 'how much moreGod does.') (124) Is 29,8. The editions supply the translation ofthe first part of the Latin text, which the Saint and the Codices omitted:'After being wearied and fatigued, he yet thirsteth,' etc. (125) Jb 20,22. (126) Is 57,20. (127) Jr 2,24.
(128) Jr 2,25.(129) Is 9,20. (130) Thus Alc. (with 'run' for 'eat'). A, B, e.p. read:'. . . when they turn from the way of God (which is the right hand) are justlyhungered, for they merit not the fullness of the sweetness of spirit. Andjustly, too, when they eat on the left hand,' etc. (While agreeing with P.Silverio that Alc. gives the better reading, I prefer 'eat' to 'run': itis nearer the Scriptural passage and the two Spanish words, comen and corren,could easily be confused in MS.) (131) Ps 118,61 (A.V., cxix, 61).(132) Ps 117,12 (A.V., cxviii, 12). (133) Jg 16,16. (Actuallyit was Samson, not Dalila, who was 'wearied even until death.') (134) Ap 18,7. (135) (Lit., 'bound him to grind in a mill.') (136) Jg 16,21. (137) Is 55,1-2. (138) Mt 11,28-9. (139) Ps 38,5 (A.V., xxxviii, 4). (140) (Lit., 'gives no occasion either for,' etc.)(141) Ps 34,13 (A.V., xl, 12.) (142) Ps 6,4 (A.V., vi, 3). (143)(Lit., 'the present visage.') (144) Mt 15,14. (145) (hoguera. Moreexactly: 'fire,' 'bonfire,' 'blaze.') (146) Ps 57,9 (cf. A.V., lviii,8). (147) Ps 57,10 (A.V., lviii, 9). (148) (Lit., 'before it can understandGod.')
(149) 3 Kings (A.V., 1 Kings) xi, 4.
(150) Qo 2,10. (151)(Lit., 'we ... know not what there is between.') (152) Jon 4,11. (153)(Lit., +is added desire.+) (154) Is 59,10.
(155) Qo 13,1. (156) (More literally: 'and all the best that is of the creatures.' 'Best'is neuter and refers to qualities, appurtenances, etc.) (157) (Lit., 'brightdiamond.')
(158) Lm 4,7-8. (159) (Lit., mas resplandecientes,'more brilliant,' 'more luminous.') (160) (Lit., plazas (derived from theLatin plateas), which now, however, has the meaning of 'squares,' '(market)places.')
(161) ('Clearer' here is mas claros; the adjective is rendered'bright' elsewhere.)
(162) (The words translated 'unruly,' 'disordered,'here and elsewhere, and occasionally 'unrestrained,' are the same in theoriginal: desordenado.)
(163) (The Spanish of the text reads literally: 'in a union.')
(164) (The verb is pintar, 'paint': perhaps 'corrupt' is intended. The same verb occurs in the following sentence.)
(165) Ez 8,10.
(166) (Ez 8,12) (167) Ez 8,14. (168) Ez 8,16.
(169) (Lit., 'revolves'--'turns over in its mind' in our common idiom.)
(170) Gn 49,4. (171) Ps 58,10 (A.V., lix, 9).
(172) Mt 29,19.
(173) Lc 12,25.
(174) Pr 30,15. (175) Qo 23,6. (In the original the last two sentences are transposed.)
(176) (Lit., +not pure on (or +in+) God.+) (177) (The original has no such explanatory phrase.)
(178) (That is, will be enjoying all the union that the prayer of quiet gives.) (179) Pr 24,16.
(180) (The original omits +union.+)
(181) (Or +remora.+) (182) (cordeles: a stronger word than that used above (hilo), which, if the context would permit, might better be translated 'string' -- its equivalent in modern speech. Below, hilo is translated 'thread.')
(183) (Hilo, rendered 'thread,' as explained in n. 4 above, can also be taken in the stronger sense of 'cord.')
(184) Mt 12,30.
(185) Qo 19,1.
(186) (Lit., 'the fire is increased by a single spark.') Si 11,34 (A.V., xi, 32).

6. Upon this road we must ever journeyin order to attain our goal; which means that we must ever be mortifyingour desires and not indulging them; and if they are not all completely mortifiedwe shall not completely attain. For even as a log of wood may fail to betransformed in the fire because a single degree of heat is wanting to it,even so the soul will not be transformed in God if it have but one imperfection,although it be something less than voluntary desire; for, as we shall sayhereafter concerning the night of faith, the soul has only one will, andthat will, if it be embarrassed by aught and set upon by aught, is not free,solitary, and pure, as is necessary for Divine transformation.

7. Of this that has been said we have a figure in the Book of the Judges, where it isrelated that the angel came to the children of Israel and said to them that,because they had not destroyed that forward people, but had made a leaguewith some of them, they would therefore be left among them as enemies, thatthey might be to them an occasion of stumbling and perdition.(187) And justso does God deal with certain souls: though He has taken them out of theworld, and slain the giants, their sins, and destroyed the multitude of theirenemies, which are the occasions of sin that they encountered in the world,solely that they may enter this Promised Land of Divine union with greaterliberty, yet they harbour friendship and make alliance with the insignificantpeoples(188) -- that is, with imperfections -- and mortify them not completely;therefore Our Lord is angry, and allows them to fall into their desires andgo from bad to worse.

8. In the Book of Josue, again, we have a figure ofwhat has just been said -- where we read that God commanded Josue, at thetime that he had to enter into possession of the Promised Land, to destroyall things that were in the city of Jericho, in such wise as to leave thereinnothing alive, man or woman, young or old, and to slay all the beasts, andto take naught, neither to covet aught, of all the spoils.(189) This He saidthat we may understand how, if a man is to enter this Divine union, all thatlives in his soul must die, both little and much, small and great, and thatthe soul must be without desire for all this, and detached from it, evenas though it existed not for the soul, neither the soul for it. This SaintPaul teaches us clearly in his epistle ad Corinthios, saying: 'This I sayto you, brethren, that the time is short; it remains, and it behoves you,that they that have wives should be as if they had none; and they that weepfor the things of this world, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice,as if they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not;and they that use this world, as if they used it not.'(190) This the Apostlesays to us in order to teach us how complete must be the detachment of oursoul from all things if it is to journey to God.


Which treats of the answer to another question, explaining what the desiresare that suffice to cause the evils aforementioned in the soul.

1 WE might write at greater length upon this matter of the night of sense,saying all that there is to say concerning the harm which is caused by thedesires, not only in the ways aforementioned, but in many others. But forour purpose that which has been said suffices; for we believe we have madeit clear in what way the mortification of these desires is called night,and how it behoves us to enter this night in order to journey to God. Theonly thing that remains, before we treat of the manner of entrance therein,in order to bring this part to a close, is a question concerning what hasbeen said which might occur to the reader.

2. It may first be asked if anydesire can be sufficient to work and produce in the soul the two evilsaforementioned -- namely, the privative, which consists in depriving thesoul of the grace of God, and the positive, which consists in producing withinit the five serious evils whereof we have spoken. Secondly, it may be askedif any desire, however slight it be and of whatever kind, suffices to produceall these together, or if some desires produce some and others produce others.If, for example, some produce torment; others, weariness; others, darkness,etc.

3. Answering this question, I say, first of all, that with respect tothe privative evil -- which consists in the soul's being deprived of God-- this is wrought wholly, and can only be wrought, by the voluntary desires,which are of the matter of mortal sin; for they deprive the soul of gracein this life, and of glory, which is the possession of God, in the next.In the second place, I say that both those desires which are of the matterof mortal sin, and the voluntary desires, which are of the matter of venialsin, and those that are of the matter of imperfection, are each sufficientto produce in the soul all these positive evils together; the which evils,although in a certain way they are privative, we here call positive, sincethey correspond to a turning towards the creature, even as the privativeevils correspond to a turning away from God. But there is this difference,that the desires which are of mortal sin produce total blindness, torment,impurity, weakness, etc. Those others, however, which are of the matter ofvenial sin or imperfection, produce not these evils in a complete and supremedegree, since they deprive not the soul of grace, upon the loss of whichdepends the possession of them, since the death of the soul is their life;but they produce them in the soul remissly, proportionately to the remissionof grace which these desires produce in the soul.(191) So that desire whichmost weakens grace will produce the most abundant torment, blindness anddefilement.

4. It should be noted, however, that, although each desire producesall these evils, which we here term positive, there are some which, principallyand directly, produce some of them, and others which produce others, andthe remainder are produced consequently upon these. For, although it is truethat one sensual desire produces all these evils, yet its principal and propereffect is the defilement of soul and body. And, although one avaricious desireproduces them all, its principal and direct result is to produce misery.And, although similarly one vainglorious desire produces them all, its principaland direct result is to produce darkness and blindness. And, although onegluttonous desire produces them all, its principal result is to producelukewarmness in virtue. And even so is it with the rest.

5. And the reason why any act of voluntary desire produces in the soul allthese effects together lies in the direct contrariety which exists betweenthem and all the acts of virtue which produce the contrary effects in thesoul. For, even as an act of virtue produces and begets in the soul sweetness,peace, consolation, light, cleanness and fortitude altogether, even so anunruly desire causes torment, fatigue, weariness, blindness and weakness.All the virtues grow through the practice of any one of them, and all thevices grow through the practice of any one of them likewise, and theremnants(192) of each grow in the soul. And although all these evils arenot evident at the moment when the desire is indulged, since the resultingpleasure gives no occasion for them, yet the evil remnants which they leaveare clearly perceived, whether before or afterwards. This is very wellillustrated by that book which the angel commanded Saint John to eat, inthe Apocalypse, the which book was sweetness to his mouth, and in his bellybitterness.(193) For the desire, when it is carried into effect, is sweetand appears to be good, but its bitter taste is felt afterwards; the truthof this can be clearly proved by anyone who allows himself to be led awayby it. Yet I am not ignorant that there are some men so blind and insensibleas not to feel this, for, as they do not walk in God, they are unable toperceive that which hinders them from approaching Him.

6. I am not writinghere of the other natural desires which are not voluntary, and of thoughtsthat go not beyond the first movements, and other temptations to which thesoul is not consenting; for these produce in the soul none of the evilsaforementioned. For, although a person who suffers from them may think thatthe passion and disturbance which they then produce in him are defiling andblinding him, this is not the case; rather they are bringing him the oppositeadvantages. For, in so far as he resists them, he gains fortitude, purity,light and consolation, and many blessings, even as Our Lord said to SaintPaul: That virtue was made perfect in weakness.(194) But the voluntary desireswork all the evils aforementioned, and more. Wherefore the principal careof spiritual masters is to mortify their disciples immediately with respectto any desire soever, by causing them to remain without the objects of theirdesires, in order to free them from such great misery.

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