This flame of love is the Spirit of its Bridegroom, who is the Holy Spirit. The soul feels him within itself not only as a fire that has consumed and transformed it but as a fire that burns and flares within it, as I mentioned. And that flame, every time it flares up, bathes the soul in glory and refreshes it with the quality of divine life.
Such is the activity of the Holy Spirit in the soul transformed in love: The interior acts he produces shoot up flames, for they are acts of inflamed love, in which the will of the soul united with that flame, made one with it, loves most sublimely.
Thus these acts of love are most precious; one of them is more meritorious and valuable than all the deeds a person may have performed in the whole of life without this transformation, however great they may have been.
The same difference lying between a habit and an act lies between the transformation in love and the flame of love. It is like the difference between the wood on fire and the flame leaping up from it, for the flame is the effect of the fire present there.
Saint John of the Cross
The Living Flame of Love, stanza 1, no. 3
John of the Cross, St. 1991, The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, Revised Edition, translated from the Spanish by Kavanaugh, K and Rodriguez, O with revisions and introductions by Kavanaugh, K, ICS Publications, Washington DC.
Blog featured image: Camp Fire by American artist Winslow Homer (1836–1910) was executed in oil on canvas in 1880 and is on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The gallery label reads as follows:
Homer first visited the Adirondacks, in upstate New York, in September 1870 and returned to the mountains frequently during the succeeding decades to hunt, fish, and gather ideas for paintings. This canvas originated in an 1880 trip to Keene Valley. Two fishermen, identified by their tackle basket and long-handled net, are lost in their thoughts or dozing by the campfire. They have constructed their shelter under a partly uprooted cedar, which provides both a symbol of ravaged nature and a striking compositional element. An artist friend of Homer’s remarked that “a woodsman could tell what kind of logs were burning by the sparks that rose in long curved lines.”
Image credit: Metropolitan Museum of Art (Public Domain)