For an adequate exposition of this subject (the knowledge of naked truths), God would have to move my hand and pen. For you should know, beloved reader, that what they in themselves are for the soul is beyond words.
This intellectual vision is not like the vision of corporeal objects, but rather consists of an intellectual understanding and vision of truths about God, or a vision of present, past, or future events that bears great resemblance to the spirit of prophecy […]
This type of knowledge is divided into two kinds: The object of one kind is the Creator; and that of the other is the creature, as we said. Both kinds bring intense delight to the soul. Yet those of God produce an incomparable delight. There are no words or terms to describe them, for they are God’s own knowledge and God’s own delight.
This sublime knowledge can be received only by a person who has arrived at union with God, for it is itself that very union.
It consists in a certain touch of the divinity produced in the soul, and thus it is God himself who is experienced and tasted there. These touches engender such sweetness and intimate delight in the soul that one of them would more than compensate for all the trials suffered in life, even though innumerable.
Through these touches individuals become so courageous and so resolved to suffer many things for Christ that they find it a special suffering to observe that they do not suffer.
God’s means for granting such a grace are humility, suffering for love of him, and resignation as to all recompense. God does not bestow these favors on a possessive soul since he gives them out of a very special love for the recipient.
The individual receiving them is one who loves with great detachment. The Son of God meant this when he stated through St. John: Qui autem diligit me, diligetur a Patre meo, et ego diligam eum et manifestabo ei meipsum (Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and manifest myself to them) [Jn. 14:21].
This manifestation includes the knowledge and touches that God imparts to a person who has reached him and truly loves him.
Saint John of the Cross
The Ascent of Mount Carmel, Book II, chap. 26 (excerpts)
Note: St. Teresa of Avila is but one Carmelite who received these touches from God.
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.
Featured image: St Teresa in ecstasy is an oil on canvas artwork painted by Swedish artist Ernst Josephson (1851–1906) after the painting by Giovanni Battista Piazzetta. Both paintings of this same subject by Josephson and Piazzetta are found in the Swedish National Museum in Stockholm. Image credit: Erik Cornelius / Nationalmuseum (Public domain).
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