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On Seven Ways of Holy Love

  Wim van den Dungen
Antwerp, 2014.


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Folio 35r of the Brussel Codex (N3067-73)
Sixth Way - Littera Rotunda, ca.1350 CE.


ON SEVEN WAYS OF HOLY LOVE (1236)

By Beatrix of Nazareth (1200 - 1268).

Translated by Wim van den Dungen from Medieval Dutch to Modern Dutch (1993).
Translated by Wim van den Dungen from Medieval & Modern Dutch to English (1997, 1998, 2006)

(*) these paragraphs were added to serve the comment.

-------

From the highest come seven ways of love which work back to the highest.

The first is a desire actively originating from love. Long has this desire to rule in the heart before she can dispel every resistance thoroughly, and she cannot but work with strenght and intelligence, and courageously grow in this.

1 (*)

This first way is a desire that most certainly originates from love, for the good soul that wants to follow faithfully and wants to love durably is being drawn on by the craving for this desire -to be loved and to be guarded most strongly- in order to exist in purity and freedom and nobility in which she is made by her creator, after His image and to His resemblance.

In this way she desires to pass her whole life, and to work on this and to grow in this and to rise to ever higher excellence in love, more connected through knowledge of God, untill the completion for which she is equipped and is called by God.

Sooner or later this is her aim, and that is why she is fully engaged. This explains her questions and her desire for knowledge and her prayer to God. And her thoughts about how she can reach this and how she can receive the nearness to the equality with love, in the full glory of the virtues, and in the complete purity of the nobility of love, which has been recovered in her.

2

This soul often seriously examines what she only is, and what she should be, what she had, and what her desire nevertheless lacks. With all her seriousness, and with an always bigger desire, and with all the intelligence she has, she exerts to guard against and to shun what can hinder and prevent her from making progress in love. So she exerts to draw towards her and to keep everything which can help her and can bring her to love. And never rests the heart or does it subside from searching, demanding and learning.

This is the highest concern of the soul placed in this situation. A soul that has to work in it and has to drudge in it, untill the moment that through her seriousness and through her loyality she obtains from God that from now on she can serve love for ever without impediment from the past, with a free consciousness and with pure spirit and a clear mind.

3

For certain, such a way of desire of such a great purity and nobility originates from love and not out of fear. Because fear makes one suffer, to do and to let for fear of the anger of our Lord and the judgement of the righteous judge, or for fear of eternal revenge, or for fear of transitory calamity.

But in her work however love only strives for purity and excellence, and the highest nobility, which are all part of her own being.

And to them who dedicate themselves to her, she teaches to live like this.

The other way of love.

Now and then the soul has another way of love. Then she serves the Lord for nothing, only from love, without any why and without any reward of mercy or of bliss.

1

And exactly as a noble lady serves her Lord out of great love and without reward, and who takes please in being allowed to serve Him, and that He permits her to serve Him, in this way she desires to serve love with love, without measure and beyond measure and surpassing beyond every human idea and reason, with all the servitude inherent to loyalty.

2

In here, she is so burning in her desire, so prepared to service, so light in drudging, so soft in misfortune, so happy in sadness ; and with all she is, she desires to give Him great pleasure.

And so she finds pleasure in being able to do something, and to be of help and to be of use to love and to honour Him.

The third way of love.

Sometimes the good soul has another way of love connected to much pain and misery. It comes to this that she desires to answer love fully, and to follow her in all homage and in all service, obedience and subservience.

1

This desire is sometimes being brought about violently in the soul, and then she has the firm intention to literally do all the work with strong desire and set off with suffering, to permit and to bear everything, and to advance without sparing herself and without measure with all her work in love. In this way she is prepared to every service, and ready and fearless to drudge and to suffer pain ; nevertheless she stays unsatisfied in everything she does. But above all it is for her the heaviest pain, that in relation to her great desire she cannot do enough for love, and that in love so much is being kept from her.

She knows all right that this is superhuman work, and that is goes beyond all her power to do this, because what she desires -that which is impossible and unreal for every being- is that she alone would like to do as much as all human beings from the earth together, and as much as all spirits of the kingdom of heaven and as much as all the beings above and below and countless many more, to serve love, to love her, and to honour her according to her dignity.

And no matter how much she is failing in her work, she still wants to realize it with all her dedication and with strong desire. But all this cannot satify her.

She knows all right that this desire is only to fulfil far above her power and above human reason and above every notion ; yet she cannot moderate this desire, or conquer, or quiet.

She does everthing she can ; she thanks and praises love, she works and drudges because of love, she sighing desires love, she gives herself completely to love. And all that does not give her peace.

2

It is for her a heavy pain that she has to desire that what she cannot obtain and so she has to stay in the misery of her heart and remain in her dissatisfaction.

Thus it is for her as if she dies though living, and dying feels the heavy pain of hell, and her whole life is hellish and merciless and displeasure because of the fright of the terryfying desire that she cannot satisfy or put to silence or quiet down.

In heavy pain she has to stay, untill the moment that our Lord consoles her and places her in another way of love and of desire, in an ever bigger knowledge of Him. Then she has to work according to what is been given to her by our Lord.

The fourth way of love.

Our Lord is used to give us yet another way of love, sometimes in great delight, sometimes in great pains, and about these we want to speak now.

1

It happens that love is sweetly been awakened in the soul and happily raises, and that she moves in the heart, without any help of human effort.

And so the heart is been tenderly touched by love, and so full of strong desire been pulled inside love, and so hearty seized by love, and so strongly dominated by love, and so lovely contained by love, that she is completely conquered by love.

In this she experiences a strong bond with God, a spiritual clearness, a wonderful salvation, a noble freedom, a delightful sweetness, a great superior power of strong love, and an abundant fullness of great joy. Then she experiences that all her senses are one in the grip of love and that her will has become love, and that she is so deeply plunged and absorbed in the abyss of love, and that she has become love completely.

The beauty of love has eaten her. The power of love has consumed her. The sweetness of love has plunged her into nothingness. The greatness of love has absorbed her.

The nobility of love has embraced her. The purity of love has let her reach the highest development. The sumblimity of love has pulled her up and has oned her one in such a way, that she has to be completely of love, and that she cannot but live with love.

2

If she experiences herself in this way in this abundance of salvation, and in this complete and great fullness of heart, then her mind plunges completely in love, and her body escapes, and her heart melts away and all her power becomes useless.

She is so much conquered by love that she hardly can control herself, and that often she has no power anymore of her limbs and senses.

And like a barrel full to the brim overflows and floods immediately when one stirs in it, she is suddenly violently been stirred and completely conquered by the great fullness of her heart and even so that in spite of herself she has to break out often.

At the same time it also happens, as the fifth way of love, that love is being awakened strongly, and raises overpowering with great impetuosity and with great passion, as if she wanted to break the heart of the soul by force, and tear the soul out and above herself in the purging of and the failing in love.

3

She is also strongly been moved to bring about the great tasks of the work of love or to realize the different orders of love.

Or she desires to rest in the sweet embraces of love, in the desirable beatitude and in the satisfaction of what she has from Him. Her heart and her senses seriously look for it and ardently desire for it. In this state she is so powerfull of mind, very undertaking of heart and strong of body, so fast in working and busy inside and outside, that it seems to her as if everything that has to do with her works and is busy, even if she is so calm from the outside.

With this she feels a strong sadness inside and a great tensed expectation about love and many vicissitudes in desire, and manifold misery of deep dissatisfaction. Or she experiences the anguish of the soul by the great feeling of love itself, without any why or because she is extremely demanding in the light of the desire for love, or because she is dissatisfied about the absence of love.

With all this, love becomes so immoderate and -like she burns there so strong and so furious in the heart- she breaks out in the soul in such a way, that it seems to her that her heart is repeatedly being painfully wounded, and that these wounds are being daily renewed and being made more painful by even more painful misery and new emotional pains. It seems to her as if her veins break open, and her blood is being heated, and her marrow pines away, and her legs weaken and her chest scorches, and her throat dries up so that her face and all her limbs take part in the heat inside, take part in this primal rage of love. Then she feels an arrow going through her heart untill her throat, and on o the brain, as if she would lose her senses.

And like a devouring fire that draws everything towards itself and consumes what it can destroy, thus she feels that love ardently rages in her, without saving her and without measure, and that she takes and consumes everything. By this she is being hurt heavily and her heart is weakened very much and all her strenght is nullified.

4

But strictly speaking her soul is strenghtened, and her love is cherished and her mind is kept in suspense. For love is so much elevated above apprehensiveness, that the soul by her own power cannot acquire unity with her.

Sometimes she wants to break with all the misery of the soul and tear loose from the unity with love. But the alliance with love has her so much in its grip and she is completely overcome by the excess of love that she cannot hold a reasonable measure anymore or render an account in a rational way, or restrain herself moderately, or to be able to stay herself wisely.

The more she is been given from above, the more she asks, and the more is being told to her, the more the desire grows to approach with desire the light of truth and purity, of nobility and the pleasure of love. Always again she is being pulled and more and more excited and nothing contents or satisfies her. What heals her most and cures her wounds, only that gives her health.

The sixth love :

When the bride of our Lord has made progress and has climbed up to greater salvation, she experiences yet another way of love, closely connected and with higher knowledge.

1

She feels that love has conquered all resistance in her, and that she has recovered all shortcomings and has brought her into her power. Without resistance she has mastered herself, so that she knows her heart is safe and she can use it in peace and she can freely lay herself out.

In this situation all things seem small to her, easy to do or to leave, to allow and to bear light, like it belongs to the dignity of love.

Then it is pleasant for her to practice in love. Then she also experiences a Divine power and a clear purity and a spiritual sweetness and a desirable freedom and a distinct wisdom and a calm accessibility towards God.

2

And then she is like a housewife who has well taken care of her house. Who has furnished it in a clever way and who has put it in order nicely. Who protects it wisely, who guards it cleverly, and who works according to plan. She brings inside and outside. She does and leaves everything according to her will.

With the soul it is likewise : love rules enormously in her, works powerfully and rests in her, does and leaves, internally and externally, and all that according to her will. Just like a fish swims in the wideness of the sea, and rests in the depth, or a bird that flies in the space of the height of the air, so she feels her mind go about unrestrained in the depth, space and height of love.

3

This superior power of love has drawn the soul and has accompanied, guarded and protected it. She has given her the intellect and the wisdom, the sweetness and the strenght of love. Yet she has hidden her violence for the soul untill she has climbed up to a greater highness and has become completely free of herself, and untill love rules with more strenght in her.

Then love makes her so strong and so free that she does not consider human or devil, no angel or saint, not God Himself in her doings, in her work or her rest.

She knows very well that love is in her, completely awake and as strongly working in the rest of the body as in the abundance of work. She knows very well and notices that love is not situated in the drudging and sweating of those in whom she reigns sovereignly.

4

But all who want to come to love, have to look for her with awe, have to follow her loyally and have to practice her with strong desire. They do not succeed if they save themselves much labour and effort and undergoing inconveniences. And all small things they have to esteem highly untill the moment that they are ready that love is going to rule inside them, through which loves becomes sovereign with superior power and makes all things small and softens all drudging, and makes every effort sweet, and pays all debts.

This is freedom from conscience and sweetness of heart, and purity of morals and heart, and nobility of the soul, and sublimity of the mind and principle of eternal life.

The soul already lives as an angel on earth, and after that follows eternal life, that God in His goodness may give to us all ...

<Amen>

(Did this text at first end here ? The seventh way was probably composed much later.)

The seventy way of love :

The blessed soul still has a more sublime way of love that gives her not little to do inside. She is being pulled above the human measure of love, above senses and reason, higher than everything of which our heart is capable of on its own.

1

Only with love of eternity itself she is pulled into the eternity of love, into the insusceptible wisdom and the silent highness, into the deep abyss of the Deity, who is everything in everything that exists, insusceptible, elevated above everything, imperishable, almighty, all-embracing, and who acts all-ruling in everything that exists.

So profound is she here sunk in love and so strong is she pulled by her desire, that her heart is moved strongly and is restless inside, so that her soul flows out and melts of love, and her mind is ardently connected to a strong desire.

All her senses set themselves to the fact that she may live in the pleasure of love. Persevering she desires this from God and with her entire heart she requests God for this.

This she must desire a lot, because love does not let her calm down or recuperate. No quiet life ! Love elevates her and depresses her, puts her suddely to the test and again torments her. She brings death and gives life, she makes healthy and hurts again. She makes insane and then again wise.

2

Thus she lifts her up to a higher being. In this way she has climbed up spiritually, above temporality and to the eternity of love, which is timeless. Above the human forms of love and above her own nature she is lifted by the desire to live above.

There is her being and her will, her desire and love of the certain truth, the pure clarity, the noble highness, the luxurious beauty and the sweet company of the highest spirits who are all filled with abundant love, and who in clear aknowledgment are in the possession and the pleasure of their love.

Then she desires to stay there among the spirits and most among the blazing seraphs. In the sublime Deity and Trinity she finds her lovely resting-place and her joyful house.

She looks for Him into His majesty. She follows Him there and sees Him with her heart and her mind. She knows Him and loves Him and desires Him so much, that she can respect no saints, no human beings, no angels or creatures, unless with the same love by which she love everything through Him. Him alone she has chosen in love, above and under and in all the rest.

With everything of desire her heart could bring in, and with the whole strenght of her mind, she longs to see Him, and to possess and to enjoy.

3

Therefore the earth is a great misery for her, and a tough prison and a heavy sorrow. She disdains the world. The earth has become a burder to her and what belongs to the earth cannot satify or content her. It is a great pain for her that she has to be so distant and well seems a stranger.

Her misery she cannot forget, her desire cannot be stilled, her longing harasses her miserably, and by this she is exceedingly and without mercy harassed and tormented. Therefore she lives in a great longing and in a strong desire to be freed from this misery and to be dissolved from this body. Then she says with a sad heart, like the apostles : "Cupio dissolvi et esse sum Christo", i.e. "I long to be dissolved and to be united with Christ."

Not out of sadness for today or out of pain for future grief but only out of holy and eternal love she desires eagerly, languorous and full of desire to go to the landscape of eternity, in the glory of pleasure.

This desire is great and strong in her, and her unbearable situation is heavy and tough, and the pain that she had because of desire is infinitely great.

Nevertheless, she has to live in hope, and it is precisely this which makes her yearn for and languish.

Oh, holy desire of love, how strong is your power in the loving soul ! It is a heavenly passion, a sharp torture, a long sorrow, a treacherous death, a dying life !

Up there she still cannot come and here below she has neither rest or duration. The thought of Him she cannot bear anymore because of desire, and to lack Him is a torture because of her desire. Thus she has to live with great discomfort.

Therefore she cannot and does not want to be consoled, like the prophet says : "Renuit consolare animam meam", i.e. "My soul does not want to be consoled."

In that way she rejects each consolation by God Himself or by His creatures. For the pleasure that this can give her, gives love new strenght. It thrusts her desire to new heights and renews her desire to devote herself to love, to enjoy love and to bear her exile without any pleasure.

Thus she remains unsatiated and unsatisfied, despite all gifts, because she still has to miss the presence of her love.

This is a very heavy life, because she does not want to be consoled if she has not acquired what she seeks so restless.

4

Love has dragged her on and has led her and taught her to go her way. This she has followed faithfully, often with a lot of trouble and effort, in great spiritual powerlessness, with strong desire, with a lot of impatience, in great unrest, in weal and woe, with much grief, in searching and asking, in miss and possession, in growing and falling certainty, in imitation and desire, in worries and fear, in languishing and depraving. With much faithfulness and unfaithfulness she is ready for everything in joys and sorrows. Dead or alive she wants to belong to love. And in her earnest heart she suffers.

Because of love she wants to deserve the kingdom of heaven. If she is tested here in all misery, then her refuge is there in all glory. Because that is precisely where the work of love lies, that she desires the nearby creature, and that she pursues that nearness the most in which she can love the most. Therefore she always wants to follow love, experience love and enjoy love, and this cannot happen to her in this misery.

To go to her own country, where she has founded her house and in which she rests with love and with desire ! All hinder taken away, she is lovely received by love ! There, she will at last behold what she has so tenderly loved, and she shall possess for eternity the One she has served so loyally. She shall enjoy with happiness the One she has so often embraced with love in her soul.

There, she shall enter happily, like St.Augustine says it : "Qui in Te intrat in gaudium Domini sui ...", i.e. "O Lord, who enters in You, he enters in the joy of his Lord." There, fear has no place. For there, she shall possess Him in the best way in the best of all.

There, the soul is with her Groom and she becomes totally one spirit with Him, in inseparable loyalty and in mutual love for ever. The soul that, in times of mercy, wanted to do everything for Him shall enjoy Him in eternal glory, where one shall do nothing else but praise and love. May God bring us all to that.

Amen.


                 


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