Continued from previous post

We will now consider only some “steps” of the rich spiritual path of our blessed.

The first, in reality, is an introduction: “It was the knowledge of sin,” as she specifies, “following which the soul has great fear of being damned; in this step she wept bitterly”.

This “fear” of hell responds to the type of faith that Angela had at the time of her “conversion”; a faith still poor in charity, namely, of love of God.

Repentance, fear of hell, and penance opened up to Angela the prospect of the sorrowful “way of the cross” that, from the eighth to the 15th step, would then lead her on the “way of love.”

The friar confessor recounts: “The faithful one now said to me: I had this divine revelation:

“‘After the things that you have written, now write that whoever wants to preserve grace must not take the eyes of his soul off the Cross, whether in joy or in sadness, which I grant him and permit’”.

However, in this phase Angela still “does not feel love”; she affirms: “The soul feels shame and bitterness and does not yet experience love, but sorrow”, and is dissatisfied.

Angela feels she must give God something in reparation for her sins, but understands slowly that she has nothing to give him, in fact, of her “being nothing” before him.

She understands that it will not be her will that will give her love of God, because it can only give her “nothingness,” “non-love.”

As she will say: only “true and pure love, which comes from God, is in the soul and makes one recognizes one’s defects and divine goodness.

“[…] Such love bears the soul in Christ and she understands with certainty that no deceit can be verified or exercised. Together with this love nothing can be mixed that is of the world”.

To open oneself only and totally to the love of God, which has its highest expression in Christ:

“O my God,” she prays, “make me worthy of knowing the most high mystery of your most holy incarnation for us. “[…] O incomprehensible love! Above this love, that made my God become man to make me God, there is no greater love”.

However, Angela’s heart always bore the wound of sin; even after a well made confession, she found herself forgiven and still prostrated by sin, free and conditioned by the past, absolved but in need of penance.

And even the thought of hell accompanied her because the more the soul progresses on the way of Christian perfection, all the more it will be convinced not only of being “unworthy” but of deserving hell.

Benedict XVI (b. 1927): On Medieval Mystic Blessed Angela of Foligno (translation by Zenit).