(c. 1340 – 1396)

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The human soul comprises three parts: the mind, the understanding and the will.  It reflects the divine Trinity in the following ways.  Through the mind, God the Father has enabled men and women to have a continual awareness of God.  The soul’s understanding mirrors the infinite wisdom of the Son, as it was created perfectly clear and bright, without any error or darkness.  The will and emotions were created pure and clean and were on fire with love for God…. So it is like the Holy Spirit in this respect, because the Holy Spirit is love.  So the human soul, which can be seen as a created trinity, was originally made with its three parts, all of which reflect the uncreated Trinity, who is God. 

This was the dignity and position of the first soul.  But when Adam sinned and chose to delight in himself and in creatures, he lost his dignity and exchanged his godly trinity for a dark and wretched trinity.  He forgot God and deliberately indulged in loving himself….

In this life you will never recover the perfect innocence which humankind first had.  Nor will you ever be able to free yourself totally from the pains and wretchedness of sin.  No matter how much you try, you will continue to embrace false loves and commit sins.  Your life is like water that is drawn from a polluted well.  Nevertheless, you can aim to purify your soul as much as possible.  What our Lord promised to the children of Israel applies to all Christians: “Every place where you set your foot will be yours” (Deut 11:24)….

You must seek what you have lost so that you may find it.  Whoever has experienced just a fraction of the dignity the soul had through creation will hate everything in the world as if it were rotting flesh.  Their single desire, night and day, will be to desire, mourn, seek and pray that they may regain their dignity completely.  So far your spiritual eyes have not been fully opened.  In a word I am going to tell you how you can seek, desire and find your original innocence.  This word is Jesus….

However, you are never close to Jesus until you have found him.  He is in you even though you have lost him.  But you are not in him until you have found him.  In his mercy Jesus is lost in the place where you are able to find him.  You do not have to travel to Rome or Jerusalem to seek him out.  All you have to do is turn your thoughts to your own soul, where he is hidden.  As the prophet has said: “Truly you are a God who lies hidden” (Isa 45:15).  He is hidden in your soul, and that is here you are to seek him…. Jesus sleeps in your soul in the same way that he sometimes did when he was on this earth, as when he went to sleep in the boat with his disciples.  When they were scared of drowning, they woke him up, and Jesus rescued them from the storm.  In the same way you are to stir Jesus up through your prayers.  Wake him up with your cries of desire for him.  Then he will quickly wake up and help you. 

I am sure that you are more often asleep to Jesus than the other way around.  Often he calls to your heart with his delightful secret voice…. Jesus looks for humility and love in a person above everything else.  He spoke about humility in the gospels very clearly: “Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart” (Mt 11:29).  He does not says: Learn from me and go about with bare feet; or, go into the desert and fast there for forty days; or, choose disciples for yourself as I did.  No.  he says: Learn from me and be meek.  I am humble and gentle in heart…. You are not told to perform miracles or cast out demons or preach and teach, but to love one another.  If you want other be like Jesus you must be humble and loving….

You will find that you have a hollow experience of Jesus, and not a genuine one as you would wish.  Then you will discover that you have a dark image in your soul which is not God's light or love.  This dark image is wrapped in layers of sin, such as pride, envy, anger, covetousness, greed and sloth.  This is not the image of Jesus.  It is the image of sin.  St Paul refers to this as “our old self… the body of sin” (Rom 6:6).  You have this black shadow cast on your soul everywhere you go.  Large and small sins flow from this spring.  In the same way, from the image of Jesus, once its spiritual light is in you, spring good desires and wise thoughts….

By now you may be wondering what this [false] image looks like.  As you do not know, I will tell you.  It does not have a body. ‘So what is it like?’ you ask.  In truth it is nothing.  It is not real…. It is because you have not let the light of Jesus flood your soul that you find that when you do withdraw from the world you only discover the emptiness and darkness of your own soul.  You feel that it will be a century before you escape again and delight in your worldly pleasures and vain thoughts.  It is hardly surprising that this is indeed the case.  It is like a person who comes home to a house full of evil smells, smoke and a complaining spouse.  He will be off again in a flash.  In the same way, you find no comfort in your soul.  You are confronted with the black smoke of spiritual blindness or you are accused by a guilty conscience or attacked by worldly desires.  You can find no peace of mind.  You quickly tire of being alone, and you move out again.  This is the darkness of conscience. 

What you should do is work so hard that you perspire, and stay in your dark conscience.  You should withdraw from the world in your mind.  Then you will discover your own emptiness, blindness and darkness.  This will be a painful experience.  But if you want to discover Jesus you must remain for some time in the darkness of your own conscience.  At this point you must take care that you bring Jesus Christ into your thoughts to fight against your own darkened mind….

I have already told you that this [false] image is nothing.  You may not understand this, since nothing can be nothing other than nothing.  I will now go on to explain more simply what I think this image means. 

This image is a false inordinate love of yourself.  Seven sins flow from this source: pride, envy, anger, sloth, covetousness, greed and debauchery…. If one of these sins is a deadly sin it can rob you of your state of Christian love, and if it is a venial sin it can remove your desire for Christian love.  You may now feel that this image is more than nothing.  It is bad because it originates in your self-love with the seven sins, as I have said….

You spend your time trying to dam the seven rivers while you ignore the source they flow from.  You are like a person who had a polluted well which supplied water to other wells.  He stopped the polluted water flowing from his well to the other wells, but he did nothing about the polluted spring and thought that he had solved the problem.  But he found that the water from the spring seeped through the soul and so ruined his whole garden, even though he could not see any water flowing.  It is the same with you if you have succeeded by God's grace in stopping the flow of the seven rivers.  Everything will seem fine, but you must beware of the spring within you.  If you are not able to cure that, you will find that alt the flowers in the garden of your soul are polluted, no matter how beautiful they may appear to be.

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In their many different idioms the classical spiritual writers have attempted to throw light on the eternal question of union with God. 
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