Perfect Christians, who are considered worthy to reach a degree of perfection
and to come close to the King, are continually dedicated to the cross of Christ.
Just like the anointing in the times of the prophets was considered absolutely a
most precious thing, since kings and prophets were anointed, so also now
spiritual persons, who are anointed with a heavenly anointing, become Christians
by grace, so that they too become kings and prophets of heavenly mysteries.
Indeed, these are sons and lords and gods, bound and held captive, plunged
deeply, crucified and consecrated. For the anointing with oil, a thing which
came from a material plant, a visible tree, had so great a power that those who
were anointed obtained a dignity beyond questioning (for it was decreed that
they were thus made kings). David was anointed and immediately was exposed to
persecutions and afflictions, and after the seventh year was he made king. How
much more do all who have been anointed in mind and the interior man with the
sanctifying and joy-giving, heavenly and spiritual “oil of gladness”
(Hebrews 1:9), receive the sign of that kingdom of imperishable and eternal
power, namely, “the pledge of the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 5:5), the Holy
Spirit and Paraclete? Understand by Paraclete the one who consoles and pours out
joy upon all who are heavily burdened.
These, having been anointed with the ointment from the tree of life, Jesus
Christ, the heavenly plant, are considered worthy to reach the degree of
perfection of the Kingdom, and of the adoption. Indeed, they are participators
of the secrets of the heavenly King and enjoy the confidence of the Almighty.
They enter into his palace, where the angels and spirits of the saints are, even
while they are in this world. Even though they have not yet entered into the
full inheritance prepared for them in that age, nevertheless, they are most
certain because of the pledge which they have already received, as if already
crowned and reigning. Nor are they surprised, as though it were a strange and
new thing, that they are about to reign with Christ, because of the abundance of
grace and child like abandonment to the Spirit. Why? Because while still in the
flesh, they enjoyed that relish of sweetness and that effective working of
It is the same as one who was a friend of the king, employed in the palace, who
knew the secrets of the king, being around him always. Now should he be made
king and crowned, he would not be frightened by any new happenings, nor fearful
since he had long been trained in the secrets of the palace. In no way does it
usually happen that an uncouth or uneducated person or a stranger to the secrets
can reach the task of running a kingdom, but only those who have been instructed
by training and experience. So also Christians, who are going to reign in that
age, are not surprised at anything new, since they have already long before
known the mysteries of grace.
of the fact that man had violated the command, the devil has covered the soul
completely with a dark veil. But then grace comes and completely removes the
veil so that the soul, now restored to its former and proper purity, created
pure and without blame, continually and without blemish, looks with its pure
eyes on the glory of the true light and the true “sun of righteousness”
(Matthew 4:2), shining brilliantly in the depths of the heart.
As at the end of the world when the firmament will pass away and the just
thereafter will live in the kingdom and the light and the glory, seeing nothing
but how Christ is perpetually in glory at the right hand of the Father, so also
with these who even now are caught up into that other age and are taken captive.
They contemplate there the beautiful and wonderful things that take place.
who are still on earth, have “our citizenship in Heaven” (Philippians 3:20).
We pass our lives in that world, living according to our mind and the inner man.
For just as the visible eye, when it is clear, always sees the sun clearly, so
also the mind, completely restored by purity, always sees the glory of the light
of Christ, and night and day is with the Lord, just as the body of the Lord was
always joined to the Godhead with the Holy Spirit. However, people do not attain
those levels immediately, but only with labor, temptation, and much struggle.
are some persons in whom grace is operative and working in peace. Within,
however, evil is also present hiddenly, and the two ways of existing, namely,
according to the principles of light and darkness, vie for dominance within the
But you will say to me: “What fellowship does light have with darkness?” (2
Corinthians 6:14). Where is divine light darkened and made evil? And where is
that which is undefiled and pure made defiled and dirtied? For it is written:
“The light shines in darkness and the darkness does not comprehend it” (John
1:5). These things must not be understood simply or only one way.
are certain persons who so rest in God’s grace that they become stronger the
more that evil abounds. They are drawn toward God by their deep prayer life and
great repose in God. However, at another time, they are disturbed by evil
thoughts and are done in by sin, even though they still remain in God’s grace.
Simple-minded and foolish persons, when grace begins to some degree to work in
them, believe that they are simply freed from sin. But those who have discretion
and prudence would never dare to deny that, even when we are gifted by divine
grace, we are still tested by wicked and obscene thoughts.
Very often we have found certain ones among the brethren who have received so
much joy and grace that, for five or six years, they asserted, concupiscence had
been burnt up and from that time on they thought themselves freed from passion.
68 Yet the hidden potential for evil rose up in them and they so burned with the
fire of concupiscence that they were amazed and crushed, saying: “After so
long a time where did the evil come from?” Therefore, no one in his sane mind
should dare to say: “Because I am in grace, I am thoroughly freed of sin.”
But the two principles exercise their proper force upon the human mind.
Inexperienced persons in this matter, when grace has begun to operate in them,
think that they have already won the battle and are now perfect Christians.
look at it in this way. It is like the sun in the sky which shines in the clear
air. Clouds come and cover over it, making the air heavier. And in no way (since
the sun hides inside) is the sun robbed either of its light or of its proper
essence. So is it with those who are not yet completely purified. Granted they
are given God’s grace, still they are held deep down by sin. They experience
at the same time natural movements along with strong thoughts toward God, even
though they are not yet totally given to good.
So also, contrariwise, there are those who deep down are guided by the good
principle, namely, by grace and yet they are held in bondage and subjected to
bad thoughts and the evil principle. Therefore, it requires the greatest
discretion for anyone to know from experience this matter. I tell you, even the
Apostles, to whom was given the Paraclete, still were not completely secure.
They entertained at the same time joy and gladness along with fear and
trembling, and this came from the principle of grace itself and not the evil
one. It was, indeed, grace itself that was guarding them so that they might not
swerve, not even a bit. Like one who throws a small stone against a wall, it
hardly injures the wall or moves it at all. Or like a dart hurled against one
wearing a breastplate, it hardly hurts the iron nor the body of the wearer. The
dart hits and is dashed down. So even if a bit of evil came close to the
Apostles, it in no way harmed them, since they were clothed with the perfect
power of Christ. And they, since they were perfect, were able freely to carry on
the works of justification.
Therefore, since certain persons insist that once they have accepted grace, they
need have no further solicitude. But God demands even in those perfect the
soul’s will to cooperate in the service of the Spirit, namely, that they
freely consent. For the Apostle says: “Do not quench the Spirit” (1
Thessalonians 5:19). Some of them do not wish to be a burden to others, while
others carry on for themselves.
receive gifts from those in the world and distribute them to the poor. This
latter is better. Certain persons endowed with grace have only one concern,
about their own affairs. Others seek also to help others. These latter are more
outstanding than the former. Others have the grace to expose themselves to
suffer insults and afflictions for the name of God. These are superior to the
others. Some in pursuing virtue seek glory and honors from others, saying that
they are Christians and participate in the Holy Spirit. In contrast, others
strive to hide themselves, even from encountering other human beings. These
excel by far the first. Do you see how in the matter of perfection, goodwill
toward God (which is developed along with our own cooperating natural will) is
found superior and richer?
Take the example of one who is dressed in ragged clothes. In a dream he sees
himself rich. He wakes up and sees that he is still poor and naked. So also
those who speak on spiritual topics seem to speak with ease, but if they have
not experienced personally that about which they speak what they say comes
across as empty words. Or take a woman, elegantly dressed in silks and pearls.
She offers herself in a brothel. So also the heart of men who discourse about
justice without having experienced what they speak about is like a brothel of
Just as it is impossible for fish to live outside of water, a human being cannot
walk without feet or see light without eyes or speak without a tongue or hear
without ears. So also without the Lord Jesus and the working of divine power, no
one can know the mysteries and the wisdom of God or be rich and be a Christian.
who truly are wise, the brave soldiers and philosophers of God, are those
directed and guided in the interior man by divine power. The philosophers of the
Greeks learn eloquence. Others are simple in their speech (2 Corinthians 11:6),
but they rejoice and are glad in the grace of God that they are, namely, men
addicted to serving God. Let us, therefore, judge who are the superior ones. It
is said: “The Kingdom of God is not in a word, but in deed and in power” (1
It is easy for someone to say that bread is made of wheat. But he should rather
be able to describe how in detail the bread is prepared and baked. To speak
truly about freedom from passions and perfection is given to few. The Gospel
succinctly says: “Thou shalt not be angry, thou shalt not covet. If any man
smites thee on the cheek, turn also the other cheek. If any one drags thee to
court to have your tunic, give him also your cloak” (Matthew 5:39 ff.). The
Apostle, tracing out how the work of purifying the heart must be done with
patience and perseverance, teaches in many ways how first there is feeding with
milk as with babies; then there is a movement or progress to growth and to full
perfection. For the Gospel said that the garment is made of wool. The Apostle,
however, declared in detail just how it is sewn together.
Those who speak about spiritual topics without tasting or experiencing are like
a man who, walking in the desert, has an overwhelming, raging thirst, so he
draws for himself to satisfy his thirst a picture of a fountain flowing with
water, while all the while his lips and tongue burn with thirst. If one were to
lecture on the sweet qualities of honey without ever having tasted honey, he
would be ignorant of the power of that sweetness. In a similar way are those who
talk about perfection, about joy or freedom from passions, yet lack personal
experience and knowledge of them. For sure, not all things are as they tell it.
When a man of this type deigns to wake up from his state and discovers that
things are really different, he will judge himself: “It was not really as I
judged it to be. I was saying one thing while the Spirit was acting in a
The Christian religion is a food and drink. The more one eats of it, the more
strongly his mind is enticed by its sweetness, so much so that he can never be
restrained or satisfied, but insatiably asks for more and continually eats more.
If a man has a great thirst and is given a pleasing drink, then, as he begins to
taste of it, the more he wants to have it, the more eagerly he drinks of it. So
is the taste of the Spirit; it can hardly be stopped or satisfied, just like the
above comparison. And these are not idle words, but the working of the Holy
Spirit, working in a hidden way in the mind.
believe that, since they have given up marriage and other material things, they
are already saints. It is not true in reality. For evil still inhabits the mind,
lives in the heart. He is a saint who is purified and made holy in the interior
man. For where truth begins ever so gradually to show itself, there error
attacks and seeks to conceal and cover over the truth.
When the Jews possessed the priesthood, those of that race surely suffered
persecution; they were grievously afflicted because they persisted in the truth,
namely, Eleazar and the Maccabees. Now, since from the time of the cross and the
rending of the Temple’s veil, the Spirit left them; the truth has now been
revealed here and works in us. For this reason certain people of this nation
suffer persecution. From the Jewish nation some were oppressed by persecution
and affliction, as martyrs, to witness to the truth. For how will the truth
appear unless it encounter adversaries who are liars and attack it?
among the brethren there are also those who suffer great passions and
afflictions. They must show great caution lest they fall. One of the brethren,
praying with another, was swept up by the divine power and carried away where he
saw the heavenly city of Jerusalem and shining persons and a great light. And he
heard a voice saying: “This is the place of rest for the just.” And shortly
after, he became puffed up and thought that what he had seen concerned himself.
After that he fell into committing the most heinous sins, committing innumerable
If a person leading such an interior and sublime life has fallen, how can the
ordinary person say: “Because I fast, practice hospitality and distribute my
wealth, I am already a saint”? Real perfection does not consist in refraining
from evil, but only if, entering into your darkened mind, you put to death the
serpent that lies inside your mind, deep down in your thoughts. That serpent
kills you by digging itself deeply into the secret chambers of your soul, and
there sets up its nest (for the soul is an abyss)—unless, I say, you put it to
death and get rid of all the uncleanness that dirties you.
the philosophers, the Law and the Apostles, even the coming of the Savior, all
were concerned with purity. Indeed, all men, whether Jews or Greeks, eagerly
desire purity, even should they be unable to attain it. We must, therefore,
inquire how and by what means we can obtain purity of heart. There is no other
way than through him who was crucified for us. For he himself is the way, the
life, the truth, the door, the pearl, the living and heavenly bread.
one can know and serve truth without that truth. In regard to the exterior man
and the visible things around us, if you have given up everything and
distributed your wealth, so also in the matter of worldly wisdom. If you have
knowledge of things or an ability to speak, you ought to reject all things in
such areas and consider them as nothing so that you may be built on the
“foolishness of preaching” (1 Corinthians 1:21), which preaching alone is
true wisdom. This wisdom lacks fancy words but is charged with power working
through the holy cross. Glory to the consubstantial Trinity forever. Amen.