It is early Sunday evening-existence goes by-a quiet Sabbath sleeping and reading St. John of the Cross mystical treatise "The Ascent of Mount Carmel"-I also watched on C-Span American Writer's II Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation-a two hour program devoted to the great American writer Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation-it was an interesting 2 hours-then I sat and talked to my wife and kids about existence on the Road of death-soon it will be time to eat dinner and then watch Game 3 of the NBA Championship-if the Laker's win tonight the Nets are sunk-well I will close to wait for supper.
"6. It is this, too, that was denoted by the command of God to Moses that he should ascend the Mount to speak with Him: He commanded him not only to ascend it alone, leaving the children of Israel below, but not even to allow the beasts to feed over against the Mount. By this He signified that the soul that is to ascend this mount of perfection, to commune with God, must not only renounce all things and leave them below, but must not even allow the desires, which are the beasts, to pasture over against this mount -- that is, upon other things which are not purely God, in Whom -- that is, in the state of perfection -- every desire ceases. So he that journeys on the road and makes the ascent to God must needs be habitually careful to quell and mortify the desires; and the greater the speed wherewith a soul does this, the sooner will it reach the end of its journey. Until these be quelled, it cannot reach the end, however much it practise the virtues, since it is unable to attain to perfection in them; for this perfection consists in voiding and stripping and purifying the soul of every desire. Of this we have another very striking figure in Genesis, where we read that, when the patriarch Jacob desired to ascend Mount Bethel, in order to build an altar there to God whereon he should offer Him sacrifice, he first commanded all his people to do three things: one was that they should cast away from them all strange gods; the second, that they should purify themselves; the third, that they should change their garments.
7. By these three things it is signified that any soul that will ascend this mount in order to make of itself an altar whereon it may offer to God the sacrifice of pure love and praise and pure reverence, must, before ascending to the summit of the mount, have done these three things aforementioned perfectly. First, it must cast away all strange gods -- namely, all strange affections and attachments; secondly, it must purify itself of the remnants which the desires aforementioned have left in the soul, by means of the dark night of sense whereof we are speaking, habitually denying them and repenting itself of them; and thirdly, in order to reach the summit of this high mount, it must have changed its garments, which, through its observance of the first two things, God will change for it, from old to new, by giving it a new understanding of God in God, the old human understanding being cast aside; and a new love of God in God, the will being now stripped of all its old desires and human pleasures, and the soul being brought into a new state of knowledge and profound delight, all other old images and forms of knowledge having been cast away, and all that belongs to the old man, which is the aptitude of the natural self, quelled, and the soul clothed with a new supernatural aptitude with respect to all its faculties. So that its operation, which before was human, has become Divine, which is that that is attained in the state of union, wherein the soul becomes naught else than an altar whereon God is adored in praise and love, and God alone is upon it. For this cause God commanded that the altar whereon the Ark of the Covenant was to be laid should be hollow within; so that the soul may understand how completely empty of all things God desires it to be, that it may be an altar worthy of the presence of His Majesty. On this altar it was likewise forbidden that there should be any strange fire, or that its own fire should ever fail; and so essential was this that, because Nadab and Abiu, who were the sons of the High Priest Aaron, offered strange fire upon His Altar, Our Lord was wroth and slew them there before the altar. By this we are to understand that the love of God must never fail in the soul, so that the soul may be a worthy altar, and so that no other love must be mingled with it." St. John of the Cross "The Ascent of Mount Carmel"
7:16 p.m. - 2002-06-09