Hail and Blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Blessed Mother. Amen
an ancient prayer traditionally prayed daily from St. Andrew’s feast, November 30th, until Christmas
“After arriving at the ninth step in this life the soul departs from the body. Since these souls -few that there be- are already extremely purged through love, they do not enter purgatory” (Dark Night Bk II, chapter 20,5)
This secret ladder, love, assimilated the soul so that it had become like God. It has reached the last step and now has “clear vision at the top of the ladder, where God rests.”
Though few ascend to these heights through the gift of contemplation, we should all desire it. We are all called to this contemplation, to this love. Therefore, let’s remember that, “by means of this secret love the soul departs from itself and all things and ascends to God. For love is like a fire that always rises upward.” (Dark Night Bk II, chapter 20,5)
“The ninth step of love causes the soul to burn gently.” (Dark Night Bk II, chapter 20,4) Filled with the Holy Spirit, these souls burn gently and interiorly with love. The soul has reached perfect union; that is, union that is possible while in this life. The good these soul enjoy are numerous and could never be fully explained. This step is “succeeded by the tenth and final step, which is no longer of this life.”
At the heights of the eighth step, now so near the top, the soul does not want to let God go. The soul has found God, the one it loves; it has reached union, though this union is not yet perfect – “it does not do so continuously”. (Dark Night Bk II, chapter 20,3) This union lasts “only for short periods of time”
– until the next step on the ladder……
God gives souls on this seventh step an “ardent boldness”. Ask these souls to pray for you, for these souls “obtain from God what they ask of Him”. (Dark Night Bk II, chapter 20,2)
While on this step the soul must “always conserve humility” remembering that although given a free hand and boldness from God, these same steps are used to descend.
With nothing but hope, the soul on this sixth step runs swiftly towards God. The charity of these souls increases and is purer. It’s capacity to love has been enlarged by the many touches it has received from God. “And it runs without fainting by reason of its hope. The love that has invigorated it makes it fly swiftly.” (Dark Night Bk II, chapter 20,1) …to the seventh step.
The fifth step “imparts an impatient desire and longing for God”. (Dark Night Bk II, chapter 19,5) It is almost a painful death for the soul on this step. It so longs for and desires God that any delay tires it and annoys it. It experiences a great hunger and feeds this hunger with love for only love satisfies it.
Because of this love for God, souls on this fourth step of the ladder pursue Him “in the spirit of suffering for His sake”. (Dark Night Bk II, chapter 19,4) They do this because love makes “all burdensome and heavy things nearly nothing”.
They have their body under control and take little account of it. They want to give to God and are willing to set aside their own interests. This love for God is so intense; therefore, he will frequently visit the soul with spiritual delights, ennobling them to endure the suffering they experience. The soul is interiorly detached from everything and does not stop to rest in these delights.
The third step. The soul on this step in its ascent to God on this ladder of love thinks that what it does for God amounts to very little. These souls are pained and in sorrow about the little they do for him. They do not believe they are useful or that their lives are of any value. They truly believe themselves worse than others. There is no“vainglory, presumption, or condemning others.” (Dark Night Bk II, chapter 19,3)
|Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta
|James Tissot (French, 1836-1902).
Jesus Looking through a Lattice
The second step consists in the searching. The soul searches for God unceasingly and passes by all that is not Him. All thoughts are about God, all its conversations are about God. “When eating, sleeping, keeping vigil, or doing anything else, it centers all its care on the Beloved.” (Dark Nigh Bk II, chapter 19,2)