1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition
4 Charity is patient, is kind: charity envieth not, dealeth not perversely; is not puffed up;
5 Is not ambitious, seeketh not her own, is not provoked to anger, thinketh no evil;
6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth with the truth;
7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8 Charity never falleth away: whether prophecies shall
be made void, or tongues shall cease, or knowledge shall be destroyed
One may think that St. Paul is merely listing the attributes of caritas. He is doing more than that which reveals he is living in the Illuminative, and most likely, the Contemplative State. Why do I say this?
First, to understand caritas at this level is to not only have encountered Christ in his conversion, but to have the knowledge that Christ lives in his heart. In other words, St. Paul knows that real love only comes with this heart knowledge of the Indwelling of the Trinity.
He is the great saint, along with John the Evangelist, of real love, which is caritas. Let us look at the passage, frequently used at weddings. Why? Because in a good marriage, the highest form of caritas as described may be reached. Have hope, Catholic couples.
Patience may be a character gift as well as a gift of the Holy Spirit. I was not patient by nature until God allowed me to suffer over and over again. Then, patience became a way of life, very quickly. Like the homeless man who stands outside this apartment block only yards away all day, begging and getting pennies, his patience is a result of his intense suffering. That he does not fit into the system is none of my business. That he needs a sandwich and orange juice, yes. But, he is patience in his destitution. This is the giving up of expectations and the total reliance on God. I do not think this homeless man is a Catholic. He is a Romani, but who knows. He and I cannot understand each other in our separate languages. Why is he patient? Because he has been humbled. St. Paul in his list indicates a person who has died to self.
Patience, long-suffering, kindness, humility come with the experience that God is with one in this suffering. The Crucified One comes and joins us in our suffering. Sometimes, He invites us and we have a choice in saying yes or no. This has happened to me. Raging against the invitation is just plain stupid.
Saying yes is the opening of the heart to God. St. Paul knows this in this passage. What is key is that these virtues become easy, very easy when one is in the Illuminative Stage. The life of virtue takes over the striving. Why? Because virtue becomes infused with the awareness of the oneness with Christ.
A person does not become totally perfect at this point, but virtue is much easier, much.
Now, comes the tricky part. When one is aware of Christ with one constantly in suffering, a joy begins to "sit on the heart". St. Therese the Little Flower called it the "unfelt joy" but it is a subtle joy.
That is when one can bear with all things, hope all things, endure all things.
I cannot endure the cold, yet. It is very painful for me to be cold as I have had frostbite and chilblains, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chilblains), and I feel pain in those several places when it is cold. Also, I get hypothermia very easily. I think this is one reason Mother Prioress knew I could not handle the monastic life. I was taking a hot water bottle into the chapel at night for Adoration as I was so cold. The good nuns have very light habits, bless them. And, I know the Nigerian nuns feel the cold. I could not sleep at night because of the cold. But, as some of the Cistercian manuals note, if one dies, does it matter? I am not there yet, to die of hypothermia; it mattered to me. But, perhaps, someday, as I am walking on this journey to perfection, I shall be at that place.
The hoping has to do with complete trust in Divine Providence, which takes away fear and anxiety and replaces it with a quiet trust. One stops asking from the laundry list of things at this point and merely trusts in God. One cannot dictate to the Father what is His Will. One can only follow and trust.
The knowledge St. Paul refers to is head knowledge as opposed to the knowledge of the heart. I hate to make this separation, as all of our faculties, mind, soul, heart, should be together.
But, here is an example. The bride knows her beloved loves her, not because she thinks it is so, but because she has experienced being treasured, honoured, loved.
So, too, St. Paul, who is living in the Love of God when he writes this, which if constant, is the Unitive State.
Do these states mean bad things stop happening and suffering stops? By no means and in fact, things can get worse because, as seen in the life of St. Paul, God asks for more and more. St. Francis said that his God never said "Enough".
To be continued....