Then the most pure motive of this love of charity appears in all its elevation: namely, that God is sovereignly lovable in Himself, infinitely more so than all the gifts which He has given us and which we expect from Him. Here the acts of faith, hope, and charity fuse, so to speak, in an act of perfect abandonment to the divine will, while the soul repeats the words of Christ on the cross: "Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit." (32)
This abandonment is what we have seen in Jean Pierre de Caussade and his Abandonment to Divine Providence. We also see this in the little book, The Practice of the Presence of God. The important action here for the soul is the complete reliance on Divine Providence, and not the self. The ego has been surpassed.
Then the soul understands what St. John of the Cross says: "For this is a certain fire of love in the spirit whereby the soul, amidst these dark trials, feels itself wounded to the quick by this strong love divine. . . . And inasmuch as this love is infused in a special way, the soul corresponds only passively with it, and thus a strong passion of love is begotten within it. . . . The soul is itself touched, wounded, and set on fire with love. . . . The soul, however, amidst these gloomy and loving pains, is conscious of a certain companionship and inward strength which attends upon it and invigorates it." (33)
This movement of love does not have to be passionately felt. This can be "felt" or "sensed" as a quiet trust in sorrow, a soft peace in trials, a strength in difficulties.
St. Teresa speaks in like manner of this last purification which precedes the transforming union: "She sees herself still far away from God, yet with her increased knowledge of His attributes, her longing and her love for Him grow ever stronger as she learns more fully how this great God and Sovereign deserves to be loved. . . . She is like one suspended in mid-air, who can neither touch the earth nor mount to heaven; she is unable to reach the water while parched with thirst, and this is not a thirst that can be borne, but one which nothing will quench." (34)
For the one who is being purified, nothing is satisfactory but an perfect act of faith. As love is purified, it grows stronger, with no outward consolations or even understandings.
At the end of this trial, charity toward God and one's neighbor is purified of all alloy, as gold in the crucible is freed from its dross. And not only is the love of charity thus purified, but notably increased. The soul now makes intense and heroic acts of charity, which obtain immediately the increase of grace which they merit, and with sanctifying grace increase greatly at the same time all the infused virtues and the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost, which are connected with charity.
This last section of this last paragraph is so important, I cannot emphasize this enough. Love does increase, and one is able to love those who hate one, who are those who set themselves up as enemies.
As one acts on this love over and over, it becomes a habit of grace. And, therefore, grace and merit increase. Sanctifying grace abounds. And, here is when the virtues, received in baptism and formed through the other sacraments and through trials, burst out like fireworks, allowing one to, finally, after all this time, work for, and in the Lord. The ego is dead, all love is focused on Christ, and the virtues are free to flourish, in a person who is, at least, able to do God's work in building the Kingdom and not one's own.
Only after purgation, does one enter into the Illuminative State of great works. Such saints as St Benedict, Dominic, Francis, and other founders of orders, reveal the lasting goodness, the lasting effect of the purification of love.
St. Bernard of Clairvaux notes that at this stage, "reason is no longer preoccupied with itself and the will is no longer concerned with other men; for this blessed soul is lost in one delight: 'The King has led me into His chamber.'"
The soul has become a worthy bride of the Bridegroom in this purified love. The Illuminative State is the age of the interior life of excellent works, of the building of the Church, of the lives of the saints.
To be continued...