the princess of heaven begins to suffer AFFLICTION; GOD ABSENTS HIMSELF FROM MOST HOLY MARY: HER SWEET AND AMOROUS SIGHS.
677.The Most High, who in his infinite wisdom dispenses and regulates the welfare of his beloved ones according to weight and measure, resolved to exercise our heavenly Princess with some afflictions adapted to her age and state of childhood. Though She was always great in grace, He wished by this means to increase her glory.
For entirely filled with grace and wisdom was our Child Mary; nevertheless it was befitting, that She should learn by experience and thus make advancement and understand better the science of suffering, which only experience can bring to its ultimate perfection and thoroughness.
During the brief course of her tender years She had enjoyed the delights of the Most High and his caresses, and of the angels and of her parents, and in the temple, the tender love of her teachers and of the priests, because in the eyes of all of them She was most gracious and amiable.
It was now time that She should commence to know all the good She possessed in another light and by another knowledge; namely, the one which is acquired by the absence and privation of the good, and that She make use of it for the practice of those virtues, which arise from comparison between the state of favors and caresses with the state of dereliction, aridity and tribulation.
678. The first affliction, which our Princess suffered, was that the Lord suspended the continual visions, which He had so far vouchsafed Her.
So much the greater was the sorrow occasioned Her thereby, in proportion as it was a new and unaccustomed experience and in proportion as the treasure thus withdrawn was high and precious.
Also the holy angels concealed themselves from Her, and at the withdrawal from her sight of so many, so excellent and heavenly beings, which took place all at once (although they did not cease to surround Her invisibly for her protection), that most pure Soul seemed to Herself entirely forsaken and left alone in the dark night occasioned by the absence of her Beloved.
679.It was a great surprise to our little Queen; for the Lord, though He had in general prepared Her for the coming of tribulations, had not specified their nature.
And as the innocent heart of the most simple Dove harbored no thoughts, and entertained no practical conclusions except such as were conformable to her humility and incomparable love, She explained all according to this same light.
In her humility She began to think, that She had not merited the further presence and possession of the lost Good on account of her ingratitude; and in her inflamed love She sighed and yearned after It with such great and loving affection and sorrow, that there are no words to express them.
She turned with her whole soul to the Lord in this new state and said to Him:
680.“Highest God and Lord of all creation, infinite in bounty and rich in mercies, I confess, my Lord, that such a vile creature cannot merit thy favors and my soul in utmost sorrow reproaches itself with its own ingratitude and with the loss of thy friendship.
If my ingratitude has eclipsed the Sun, which vivified, animated and illumined me, and if I have been remiss in giving thanks for the great benefits, I acknowledge, my Lord and Shepherd, the sin of my great negligence.
If, like an ignorant and simple little sheep, I did not know how to be thankful and do what is most acceptable in thy eyes, see me prostrate on the earth, adhering to the dust, in order to be raised from my poverty and destitution by Thee, my God, who dwellest on high.
Thy powerful hands have formed me (Job 10, 8), and Thou canst not be ignorant of our composition (Psalm 102, 14) and in what kind of a vase Thou has placed thy treasures.
［经文〈约伯记10: 8〉：你亲手形成了我，创造了我；此后你又转念想消灭我。 经文〈咏 103: 14〉：他原知道我们怎样形成，也记得我们不过是灰尘。]
My soul wastes away in bitterness (Psalm 30, 11) ; and in thy absence, since Thou art its sweetest life, only Thou canst restore its drooping life.
To whom shall I go in thy absence? Whither shall I turn my eyes without having light to direct them? Who shall console me, when all is affliction ? Who shall preserve me from death, when there is no life left?”
681.She also turned toward the angels and continued without ceasing in her loving complaints, saying to them: “Celestial Princes, ambassadors of the great and highest King and most faithful friends of my soul: why have you also left me ?
Why do also you deprive me of your sweet countenances and deny me your intercourse ?
But I do not wonder, my lords, at your displeasure, if through my unthankfulness I have merited to fall into the disgrace of your and my Creator.
Lights of the heavens, enlighten me in my ignorance in this matter, and if I have been at fault, correct me and obtain again for me the pardon of my Lord.
Most noble courtiers of the celestial Jerusalem, have pity on my sorrow and dereliction: tell me where is my Beloved; tell me where He has hidden Himself (Cant. 3, 3).
［经文〈雅歌 3：3〉：城里巡夜的卫兵，遇见了我，我便问道：“你们看见我心爱的吗？ ］
Tell me where I can find Him without wandering about, (Cant. 1, 6) and without going through the gatherings of all the creatures.
［经文〈雅歌 1：6〉：你们不要怪我黑，是太阳晒黑了我。我母亲的儿子向我发怒，派我去看守葡萄园；而我自己的葡萄园，我却没有去看守。 ］
But woe to me, for you do not answer, though you are so courteous and well know the hiding-place of my Spouse, since He never withdraws his face and his beauty from your sight!”
682.Thereupon She turned toward all the rest of creation and in continual anxieties of her love She spoke to them and said: “Without doubt you also, being thankful, and being armed against all the ungrateful, are exasperated against her, who was ungrateful.
But even if by the goodness of the Lord you permit me to remain in your midst, although I am so vile, you cannot thereby satisfy my longings.
Very beautiful and extensive are ye, O heavens; beautiful and refulgent are the planets and all the stars; great and mighty are the elements, the earth is adorned and clothed in the perfumed plants and herbs, innumerable are the fishes of the waters, admirable are the elevations of the sea, (Psalm 92, 4), swift are the birds in their feathery weight, hidden are the minerals, courageous are the animals in their strength, and all of these together serve as a gradual ascent and in a sweet harmony teach the way to my Beloved; yet they are but circuitous paths for one that loves Him, and if I course swiftly over them I find myself at the end absent from my blessedness.
［经文〈咏 93: 4〉：高天的上主，具有大能，压倒滔滔洪水的巨声，冲散汪洋大海的波峰。 ］
For with the measured approach of these creatures to his unmeasurable bounty, my flight is not content, my sorrow is not allayed, my pains are unrelieved, my anguish increases, my desires are augmented, my heart is more inflamed and faints away in the unsatiating love of mere earthly things.
O sweet death in the absence of my life! O sorrowful life in the absence of my very soul and of my Beloved! What shall I do?
Whither shall I turn? How can I live, yet how can I die ? Since my life is wanting, what force sustains me?
O all you creatures, that with your ever renewed existence and perfections give me such tokens of my Lord, attend and see whether there is a sorrow like unto my sorrow!” (Thren. 1, 12.)
［经文〈耶肋米亚哀歌 1: 12〉：一切过路的人啊！请你们细细观察，看看有没有痛苦能像我所受的痛苦？因为上主在他盛怒之日，折磨了我！ ］
683.Our heavenly Lady indulged her sorrow in many other discourses, expressing them in spoken words, such as cannot be conceived by other created understanding; for She alone possessed the wisdom and love properly to estimate the meaning of the absence of God in a soul, since She alone had known and enjoyed his presence in its highest beatitude.
But if even the angels, in a holy and loving emulation, were filled with admiration to see a mere creature and so tender a Child exercising such a variety of acts of the most prudent humility, of faith, of love, of affection, and such flights of a loving heart, who can ever explain the pleasure and delight, which the Lord himself took in the soul of the chosen One and in its aspirations, of which each one wounded the heart of his Majesty and which proceeded from a greater and more loving graciousness than He had given to the seraphim ?
And if they altogether, being in the continual presence of the Divinity could not exercise or imitate the example given by the most holy Mary, nor fulfill the laws of love so perfectly as She in the absence and concealment of her God, what was the complacency of the most holy Trinity in this Creature?
This is a mystery hidden to our littleness; but it is meet, that we worship it in wonder and admire it in all reverence.
684.Our most innocent Dove found no peace for her heart nor any footrest for her affections (Gen. 8, 9) while thus with incessant sighing She took her flight through all the range of creation and beyond.
［经文〈创 8: 9〉：但是，因为全地面上还有水，鸽子找不着落脚的地方，遂飞回方舟；诺厄伸手将它接入方舟内。 ］
Many times She sought to approach the Lord in tears and loving complaints, She turned to the angels of her guard and addressed all the creatures as if they were capable of reason; then She would ascend to that highest habitation by her penetrating intellect and her most ardent affections, where the highest Good had met Her and where She reciprocally with It had enjoyed ineffable delights.
But the most high Lord, her beloved Spouse, who allowed Her to possess and yet not enjoy Him as before, inflamed by this possession of Him only more and more her most pure heart, increasing her merits and showering upon Her continually new, though hidden gifts, in order that, in possessing Him the more, She might love the better, and being more loved and possessed, She seek Him with ever greater anxiousness and contrivances of her fiery love.
“I seek Him,” said the heavenly Princess, “and I do not find Him (Cant. 3, 2) ; again I was awakened and, running through the streets and squares of the city of God, I renewed my anxieties.
［经文〈雅歌3: 2〉：我遂起来，环城巡行，在街上，在广场，寻觅我心爱的；我寻觅，却没有找着。 ］
But alas for me! that my hands distilled the myrrh (Cant. 5, 5) ; my diligence is of no avail, my exertions serve only to increase my sorrow.
［经文〈雅歌 5: 5〉：我起来给我的爱人开门，一摸门闩，我的手就滴下没药，手指滴下纯正的没药。 ］
My Beloved absents Himself: I call Him and He does not answer me, I turn my eyes to seek Him, but the guards and the sentinels of the city, and all creatures were an annoyance to me and offended my sight. Daughters of Jerusalem, holy and just souls, you I beseech, you I supplicate, if you meet my Beloved, tell Him that I am faint and that I am dying with love.”
685.In these sweet and loving lamentations our Queen continued for several days, like the humble spikenard giving forth most fragrant odors of sweetness.
But the Lord remained unmoved by her anxieties and secreted Himself in the hidden recesses of her most faithful heart.
The divine Providence, for its greater glory and for the superabundant merit of his Spouse, protracted this conflict in such a manner, that it continued for some time, though not very long; in the meanwhile our heavenly Lady suffered more spiritual torments and anxieties than all the saints together.
For She gradually began to be alarmed by the fear of having lost God and fallen into disgrace on account of her own faults; and no one can estimate or know, except the Lord himself, what and how great was the grief of that burning heart, which had known how to love so much.
To weigh this grief belongs to God alone, and in order that She might feel it in its fullest extent, She was left by God to the overwhelming anxiety and fear of having lost Him.
instruction which my lady and queen gave me.
686.My daughter, all goods are estimated according to the appreciation in which creatures hold them: in so far they value them, as they know them to be good.
But since there is only one true Good, and all the others merely fictitious and apparent, it follows, that only the highest Good is to be appreciated and recognized.
Then only shalt thou give Him true appreciation and love, when thou shalt enjoy and esteem Him above all created things.
By this appreciation and love will also be measured the sorrow of losing Him and from this thou canst understand somewhat my sentiments, at the time when the eternal God absented Himself from me, leaving me in my fears lest perhaps I had lost Him through my own fault.
There is no doubt, that many times the sorrows of this anxiety and the force of love would have deprived me of life, if the Lord himself had not preserved it.
687.Imagine then, what ought to be the grief of losing God really by sin, if, without the bad effects of sin, the absence of our true Good could cause such terrible suffering to the soul, knowing at the same time, that it has not lost Him, but still possesses Him, though hidden and disguised to its present consciousness.
But this wisdom seems far from the mind of carnal men: with a most perverse blindness they continue to make much of the visible and fictitious good, and they torment themselves and are disconsolate, whenever it fails them.
Because they never taste or recognize the highest and truest Good,they take no thought or reckoning of It.
And although my most holy Son has brought a remedy for this dreadful ignorance contracted by the first sin, by meriting for men faith and charity, thereby affording them the possibility of knowing and experiencing to a certain extent the Good, which they never have experienced; yet, O sorrow, how easily charity is wasted and set aside for any kind of pleasure, and how often faith remains without any fruit and is involved in death!
The sons of darkness live as if they had only a counterfeit or doubtful connection with eternity.
688.Fear, my soul, this so slightly accounted danger; rouse thyself and live always in watchfulness and preparation for the attacks of the enemies, who never sleep.
Let thy meditation day and night be, how thou canst provide against losing the highest Good, which thou lovest. It is not befitting that thou sleep or slumber in the midst of invisible enemies.
If sometimes thy Beloved hides Himself from thee, hope in patience and seek Him solicitously without ceasing, since thou knowest not his secret judgments.
For the time of his absence and temptation provide thyself with the oil of charity and good intention, so that it fail thee not in time of necessity and that thou mayest not be rejected with the foolish and negligent virgins.