John Ruusbroec: By Gentleness and Kindness, Charity is Kept Quick and Fruitful Monday, Nov 26 2012 

From the renunciation of self-will springs patience.

[…] Patience is a peaceful endurance of all things that may befall a man either from God or from the creatures.

Nothing can trouble the patient man; neither the loss of earthly goods, of friends and kinsmen, nor sickness, nor disgrace, nor life, nor death, nor purgatory, nor devil, nor hell.

For he has abandoned himself in perfect charity to the will of God, and…everything that God imposes on him, in time and in eternity, is light to him.

By this patience a man is also adorned and armed against peevishness and sudden wrath, and impatience in suffering which often stir a man from within and from without, and lay him open to many temptations.

From this patience there spring meekness and kindliness, for none can be meek in adversity save the patient man.

Meekness gives a man peace and rest in all things.

For the meek man can bear provoking words and ways…and every kind of injustice towards himself and his friends, and yet in all things remain in peace; for meekness is peaceful endurance.

By meekness the irascible…power remains unmoved, in quietude; the desirous power is uplifted toward virtue; the rational power, perceiving this, rejoices.

And the conscience, tasting it, rests in peace; for the second mortal sin – anger, fury, or wrath – has been cast out.

For the Spirit of God dwells in the humble and the meek; and Christ says: Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth – that is, their own nature and all earthly things…, and after that the Country of Life in Eternity.

Out of the same source wherein meekness takes its rise springs kindliness, for none can be kind save the meek man.

This kindness makes a man show a friendly face, and give a cordial response, and do compassionate deeds, to those who are quarrelsome, when he hopes that they will come to know themselves and mend their ways.

By gentleness and kindness, charity is kept quick and fruitful in man, for a heart full of kindness is like a lamp full of precious oil,

For the oil of mercy enlightens the erring sinner with good example, and with words and works of comfort it anoints and heals those whose hearts are wounded or grieved or perplexed.

And it is a fire and a light for those who dwell in the virtues, in the fire of charity; and neither jealousy nor envy can perturb it.

John Ruusbroec (1293-1381): The Spiritual Espousals, 1, 15-17.

John Ruusbroec: When Christ That Bright Sun Has Risen In Our Hearts Above All Things Tuesday, Apr 17 2012 

When Christ that bright Sun has risen in our hearts above all things;

when the demands of our bodily nature which are opposed to the spirit have been curbed and discreetly set in order;

when we have achieved the virtues in the way of which you have heard in the first degree;

when, lastly, through the ardour of our charity, all the pleasure, and all the peace, which we experience in these virtues, have been offered up and devoted to God, with thanksgiving and praise:

—then, of all this there may come down a sweet rain of new inward consolation and the heavenly dew of the sweetness of God.

This makes the virtues grow, and multiplies them twofold if we hinder it not.

This is a new and special working, and a new coming, of Christ into the loving heart.

And by it a man is lifted up into a higher state than that in which he was before.

On this height Christ says: Go ye out according to the way of this coming.

From this sweetness there springs a well-being of the heart and of all the bodily powers, so that a man thinks himself to be inwardly enfolded in the divine embrace of love.

This delight and this consolation are greater and more pleasant to the soul and the body than all the satisfactions of the earth, even though one man should enjoy them all together.

In this well-being God sinks into the heart by means of His gifts; with so much savoury solace and joy that the heart overflows from within.

This makes a man comprehend the misery of those who live outside love.

This well-being melts the heart to such a degree, that the man cannot contain himself through the fulness of inward joy.

From this rapturous delight springs spiritual inebriation.

Spiritual inebriation is this: that a man receives more sensible joy and sweetness than his heart can either contain or desire.

[…]  This is the most rapturous life (as regards our bodily feelings) which man may attain upon earth.

Sometimes the excess of joy becomes so great that the man thinks that his heart must break.

And for all these manifold gifts and miraculous works, he shall, with a humble heart, thank and praise and honour and reverence the Lord, Who can do all this; and thank Him with fervent devotion because it is His will to do all this.

And the man shall always keep in his heart and speak through his mouth with sincere intention: “Lord, I am not worthy of this; yet I have need of Thy boundless goodness and of Thy support.”

In such humility he may grow and rise into higher virtues.

John Ruusbroec (1293-1381): The Spiritual Espousals, 2,17-19.

John Ruusbroec: The Holy Spirit Stirs the Heart and All the Powers of the Soul until they Boil Friday, May 13 2011 

From inward gratitude and praise there arises a twofold grief of the heart and torment of desire.

The first grief is that we feel ourselves to lag behind in thanking, praising, glorifying and serving God.

The second is, that we do not grow in charity, in virtue, in faith, and in perfect behaviour as much as we desire, that we may become worthy to thank and praise and serve God as it is proper to do.

This is the second grief. These two are root and fruit, beginning and end, of all inward virtues.

Inward grief and pain for our shortcomings in virtue and the praise of God, is the highest effect of this first degree of the inward exercise; and by it this degree is perfectly achieved.

Now consider in a similitude, how this inward exercise should be performed.

When the natural fire has by its heat and power stirred water, or some other liquid, until it bubbles up; then this is its highest achievement.

Then the water boils up and falls down to the bottom, and is then stirred again to the same activity by the power of the fire: so that the water is incessantly bubbling up, and the fire incessantly stirring it.

And so likewise works the inward fire of the Holy Spirit.

It stirs and goads and drives the heart and all the powers of the soul until they boil; that is, until they thank and praise God in the way of which I have told you.

And then one falls down to that very ground, where the Spirit of God is burning.

So that the fire of love ever burns, and the man’s heart ever thanks and praises God with words and with works and yet always abides in lowliness; esteeming that which he should do and would do to be great, and that which he is able to do to be small.

When summer draws near and the sun rises higher, it draws the moisture out of the earth through the roots, and through the trunks of the trees, into the twigs; and hence come foliage, flower, and fruit.

So likewise, when Christ the Eternal Sun rises and ascends in our hearts, so that it is summer in the adornment of our virtues, He gives His light and His heat to our desires.

He draws the heart from all the multiplicity of earthly things, and brings about unity and inwardness.

He makes the heart grow and bring forth the leaves of inward love, the flowers of ardent devotion, and the fruits of thanksgiving and praise.

He makes these fruits to endure eternally, in humble grief, because of our shortcomings.

John Ruusbroec (1293-1381): The Spiritual Espousals, 2,14-16.

John Ruusbroec: We Should Thank God Here on Earth that Hereafter We may Thank Him in Eternity Monday, Mar 14 2011 

Inward devotion often brings forth gratitude; for none can thank and praise God so well as the inward and devout man.

And it is just that we should thank and praise God, because He has created us as reasonable creatures, and has ordained and destined heaven and earth and the angels to our service;

and because He became man for our sins, and taught us, and lived for our sake, and showed us the way;

and because He has ministered to us in humble raiment, and suffered an ignominous death for the love of us, and promised us His eternal kingdom and Himself also for our reward and for our wage.

And He has spared us in our sins, and has forgiven us or will forgive us;

and has poured His grace and His love into our souls, and will dwell and remain with us, and in us, throughout eternity.

And He has visited us and will visit us all the days of our lives with His noble sacraments, according to the need of each;

and has left us His Flesh and His Blood for food and drink, according to the desire and the hunger of each;

and has set before us nature and the Scriptures and all creatures, as examples, and as a mirror, that therein we may look and learn how we may turn all our deeds to works of virtue;

and has given us health and strength and power, and sometimes for our own good has sent us sickness;

and in outward need has established inward peace and happiness in us;

[…] For all these things we should thank God here on earth, that hereafter we may thank Him in eternity.

We should also praise God by means of everything that we can offer to Him.

To praise God, means that all his life long a man glorifies, reverences and venerates the Divine Omnipotence.

The praise of God is the meet and proper work of the angels and the saints in heaven, and of loving men on earth.

God should be praised by desire, by the lifting up of all our powers, by words, by works, with body and with soul, and faith whatsoever one possesses; in humble service, from without and from within.

He who does not praise God while here on earth shall in eternity be dumb.

To praise God is the dearest and most joyous work of every loving heart; and the heart which is full of praise desires that every creature should praise God.

The praise of God has no end, for it is our bliss; and most justly shall we praise Him in eternity.

John Ruusbroec (1293-1381): The Spiritual Espousals, 2,13.

John Ruusbroec: A Sensible Fire of Love, which the Spirit of God has Blown to a Flame Friday, Feb 25 2011 

Christ…by His inward coming and by the power of His Spirit, enlightens and brightens and enkindles the free heart and all the powers of the soul.

[…] Of this ardour there springs unity of heart; for we cannot achieve true unity unless the Spirit of God blows to a flame His fire in our hearts.

For this fire makes one with itself and like to itself all that it can master and re-shape.

Unity is this: that a man feel himself to be gathered together with all his powers in the unity of his heart.

Unity brings inward peace and restfulness of heart.

Unity of heart is a bond which draws together body and soul, heart and senses, and all the outward and inward powers and encloses them in the union of love.

From this unity springs inwardness; for none can be inward save him who is gathered together in unity within himself.

Inwardness means that a man is turned within, into his own heart, that thereby he may understand and feel the interior workings, and the interior words of God.

Inwardness is a sensible fire of love, which the Spirit of God has blown to a flame, and which urges a man from within; and he knows not whence it comes nor what has befallen him.

From inwardness there springs a sensible love, which fulfills the man’s heart and the desirous power of the soul.

This yearning love, and this sensible fruition of the heart, none can have save he who is inward of heart.

Sensible love is a yearning and savouring delight which we feel in God as the eternal Good, wherein are all other goods.

Sensible love forsakes all creatures as regards pleasure, not as regards need.

Inward love feels itself moved from within by the Eternal Love; and this it must ever cherish.

Inward love easily foregoes and despises all things that it may obtain that which it loves.

Of this sensible love is born devotion to God and to His glory.

For none can have within his heart the hunger of devotion save him who bears within himself a sensible love of God.

Where the fire of love sends up the flames of its desire to heaven, there is devotion.

Devotion moves and draws a man, both from without and from within, towards the service of God.

Devotion makes body and soul to blossom in nobility and worth before God and before all men.

Devotion is demanded of us by God in every service which we ought to do to Him.

Devotion purifies the body and the soul of everything that can stop and hinder us.

Devotion shows and bestows the right way at blessedness.

John Ruusbroec (1293-1381): The Spiritual Espousals, 2,8-12.


John Ruusbroec: Christ, by His Inward Coming and the Power of His Spirit, Enkindles the Free Heart Thursday, Dec 16 2010 

The first coming of Christ in the exercise of desire is, as we have said, an inward and sensible thrust of the Holy Ghost, urging and driving us towards all virtues.

This coming may be likened to the splendour and the power of the sun, which, from the moment when it rises, enlightens and brightens and warms the whole world. .

So likewise Christ, the eternal Sun, beams and shines, dwelling above the summit of the spirit; and enlightens and enkindles the lowest part of man, namely, the fleshly heart and the sensible powers.

And this happens in a moment of time, shorter than the twinkling of an eye; for God’s work is swift.

But that man in whom this should take place must be inwardly seeing, with the eyes of the understanding.

In the higher lands, in the middle region of the world, the sun shines upon the mountains, bringing an early summer there, with good fruits and strong wine, and filling that land with joy.

The same sun gives its splendour to the lower lands, at the utmost part of the earth. There the country is colder, and the power of the heat less; nevertheless, there too it produces many good fruits, though little wine.

The men who dwell in the lower parts of themselves, in their outward senses, yet with a good intention, in moral virtues, in outward work, and in the grace of God: they too produce the good fruits of virtue, in great numbers and in many ways; but of the wine of inward joy and ghostly consolation they taste little.

Now the man who wishes to feel within himself the glow of the Eternal Sun, which is Christ Himself, he should be seeing, and should dwell on the mountains in the higher lands, by a gathering together of all his powers, and lifting up his heart towards God, free and careless of joy and grief, and of all created things.

There Christ, the Sun of righteousness, shines upon the free and uplifted heart: and these are the mountains that I mean.

Christ, the glorious Sun, the Divine Brightness, by His inward coming and by the power of His Spirit, enlightens and brightens and enkindles the free heart and all the powers of the soul. And this is the first work of the inward coming in the exercise of desire.

Like as the power and the nature of fire enkindles everything which is offered to the flames, so Christ, by the fiery ardour of His inward coming, enkindles every ready, free and uplifted heart; and in this coming He says: “Go ye out by exercises according to the way of this coming”.

John Ruusbroec (1293-1381): The Spiritual Espousals, 2,8.

John Ruusbroec: God Is More Inward To Us Than We Are To Ourselves Wednesday, Mar 3 2010 

From this unity, wherein the spirit is united with God without intermediary, grace and all gifts flow forth.

And out of this same unity, where the spirit rests above itself in God, Christ the Eternal Truth says: Behold, The Bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet Him.

Christ, who is the light of Eternal Truth, says: Behold: for through Him we become seeing; for He is the light of the Father, and without Him there were no light, neither in heaven nor on earth.

This speaking of Christ within us is nothing else than an inrush of His light and His grace.

This grace pours into us in the unity of our higher powers and of our spirit; wherefrom, through the power of the grace received, the higher powers flow out to become active in all virtues, and whereto, because of the bond of love, they ever return again.

[…] Now the grace of God, pouring forth from God, is an inward thrust and urge of the Holy Ghost, driving forth our spirit from within and exciting it towards all virtues.

This grace flows from within, and not from without; for God is more inward to us than we are to ourselves, and His inward thrust or working within us, be it natural or supernatural, is nearer to us and more intimate to us, than our own working is.

And therefore God works in us from within outwards; but all creatures work from without inwards.

And thus it is that grace, and all the gifts of God, and the Voice of God, come from within, in the unity of our spirit; and not from without, into the imagination, by means of sensible images.

John Ruusbroec (1293-1381): The Spiritual Espousals, 2.

John Ruusbroec: Whoever Wishes to See in a Supernatural Way… Saturday, Jan 16 2010 

Whosoever wishes to see in a supernatural way in his inward exercises must have three things.

The first is the light of Divine grace, and this in a more lofty degree than that which we can experience in the outward and active life without earnest inward diligence.

The second thing is the casting out of all distracting images and attachments from the heart; so that the man may be free and imageless, released from all attachments, and empty of all creatures.

The third thing is a free turning of the will, with a gathering together of all our powers, both bodily and ghostly, cleansed from every inordinate love.

Thereby the will flows forth into the unity of God and into the unity of the mind; and thus the rational creature may obtain and possess the most high unity of God in a supernatural manner.

For this God has created heaven and earth and everything; and for this reason He became man, and taught us, and lived for our sake, and has Himself become the Way to the unity.

And He died in the bonds of love, and has ascended and has opened to us that very unity, in which we may possess eternal bliss.

John Ruusbroec (1293-1381): The Spiritual Espousals, 2.

John Ruusbroec: The Inward Coming of Christ Friday, Jan 1 2010 

The wise virgin, that is the pure soul, having abandoned earthly things, and living according to the virtues for God, has taken in the vessel of her heart the oil of charity and of godly deeds, with the lamp of an unsullied conscience.

But when Christ the Bridegroom tarries with His consolations, and the renewed inpouring of His gifts, the soul becomes drowsy, sleepy, and inert.

Then, at midnight, when it is least expected, a ghostly cry is made within the soul: Behold, the Bridegroom, cometh, go ye out to meet Him.

Of this beholding, and of the inward coming of Christ, and of a man’s ghostly going out, and of his meeting with Christ – of these four points we will now speak, and we will explain and apply them according to an inward, lofty, God-desiring life, which all cannot reach, but which many men attain through the moral virtues and inward zeal.

By these words Christ teaches us four things. First, that He wills that our understanding should be enlightened by supernatural light; this we learn from the word which He speaks: Behold.

Secondly, He shows us what we ought to see: namely, the inward coming of our Bridegroom, the Eternal Truth; this we understand from His saying: The Bridegroom cometh.

Thirdly, He commands us to go out through inward exercises according to righteousness; for this reason He says: Go ye out.

And, by the fourth point, He shows us the end and the aim of the whole; that is, the meeting with our Bridegroom Christ, in the fruitive unity of the Godhead.

John Ruusbroec (1293 – 1381): The Spiritual Espousals, 2, Prologue.

John Ruusbroec: Zaccheus (2) Tuesday, Nov 10 2009 

[Continued from previous post…]

Here comes Jesus, and sees the man, and shows to him, in the light of faith, that He is according to His Godhead immeasurable and incomprehensible and inaccessible and abysmal, transcending every created light and every finite conception.

And this is the highest knowledge of God which any man may have in the active life: that he should confess in this light of faith that God is incomprehensible and unknowable.

And in this light Christ says to man’s desire: Make haste and come down, for to-day I must abide at thy house.

This hasty descent, to which he is summoned by God, is nothing else than a descent through desire and through love into the abyss of the Godhead, which no intelligence can reach in the created light.

But where intelligence remains without, desire and love go in. When the soul is thus stretched towards God, by intention and by love, above everything that it can understand, then it rests and dwells in God, and God in it.

When the soul climbs with desire above the multiplicity of creatures, and above the works of the senses, and above the light of nature, then it meets Christ in the light of faith, and becomes enlightened, and confesses that God is unknowable and incomprehensible.

When it stretches itself with longing towards this incomprehensible God, then it meets Christ, and is filled with His gifts. And when it loves and rests above all gifts, and above itself, and above all creatures, then it dwells in God, and God dwells in it.

John Ruusbroec (1293 – 1381): The Spiritual Espousals, 1,26.

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