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The Adornment of the Spiritual Marriage, by Jan van Ruysbroeck, [1916], at





As I will specially praise and glorify this state of being in common, so I find another special treasure which Christ has left in Holy Church to all good men; in His supper upon the high feast of the Passover when Christ knew that He would pass from this exile to His father, after He had eaten of the Paschal Lamb with His disciples, and the ancient law had been fulfilled. At the end of the meal and of the feast, He desired to give to them a dish of singular excellence which He had long wished to do. And herewith He willed to make an end of the ancient law and begin the new. And He took bread in His holy and venerable hands, and consecrated His sacred Body, and after that His sacred Blood; and He gave them both to all His disciples, and left them to all good men in common for their eternal profit. This gift and this excellent dish rejoice and adorn all high festivals and all banquets, in heaven and on earth. In this gift Christ gives Himself to us in three ways. He gives us His Flesh and His Blood and His bodily life, glorified and full of joy and sweetness; He gives us His spirit with its highest powers, full of glory and gifts, truth and righteousness; and He gives us His personality through that Divine Light which raises His spirit and all enlightened spirits into the most high and fruitive unity.

Now Christ desires that we shall remember Him so often as we consecrate, offer, and receive His Body. Consider now how we shall remember Him. We shall mark and behold how Christ inclines Himself towards us with loving affection, with great desire, and with yearning delight, and with a warm and tender outpouring of Himself into our bodily nature. For He gives us that which He has in common with our manhood, that is, His Flesh and His Blood, and His bodily nature. We shall also mark and behold that precious body martyred, pierced and wounded for our sake, because of His love and His faithfulness towards us. Herewith we are adorned and nourished in the lower part of our manhood. In this most high gift of the Sacrament He also gives us His spirit, full of glory and rich gifts of virtue, and unspeakable marvels of charity and nobleness. And herewith we are nourished and adorned and enlightened in the unity of our spirit and in the higher powers, through the indwelling of Christ with all His riches. Moreover He gives us in the Sacrament of the Altar His most high personality in incomprehensible splendour. And through this we are lifted up to and united with the Father, and the Father receives His adopted sons together with His natural Son, and thus we enter into our inheritance of the Godhead in eternal blessedness.

When a man has worthily recollected and considered these things, then he shall go out to meet Christ in the same way in which Christ comes to him. He shall lift himself up to receive Christ with his heart, with his desire, with sensible love, with all his powers, and with a joyful craving. For even thus does Christ receive Himself. And this craving cannot be too great; for then our nature receives its own nature, that is, the glorified manhood of Christ, full of joy and worth. Therefore I would that a man, in thus receiving, should melt and flow forth in desire, in joy, and in delight: for he embraces and is united with Him who is the fairest, the most gracious and most lovable of all the children of men. In this yearning devotion, and in these delights, many a great benefit has been bestowed upon men, and many a secret and hidden wonder of the rich treasures of God has been revealed and disclosed to them. When a man, in thus receiving, bethinks himself of the martyrdom and the sufferings of this precious Body of Christ, which he receives, then he may sometimes rise into such loving devotion and such sensible compassion that he desires to be nailed with Christ to the cross, and longs to shed his heart's blood for the glory of Christ. And he presses into the wounds and into the open heart of Christ, his Saviour. In this exercise many a revelation and many a benefit have often been bestowed upon men.

This sensible love and compassion, and the power of the imagination united with the inward contemplation of the wounds of Christ, may be so great, that the man thinks that he feels the wounds and the bruises of Christ in his own heart and in all his limbs. And if any man could indeed in any way receive the stigmata of our Lord, it would be such a man as this. And herewith we satisfy Christ as regards the lower part of His manhood.

We shall also dwell in the unity of our spirit and should flow forth with an ample love in heaven and on earth, with clear discernment. And by this we bear some resemblance to Christ as regards the spirit, and give Him satisfaction.

We shall also, through the personality of Christ, with simplicity of intention and with fruitive love, transcend ourselves, and also the created being of Christ, and rest in our inheritance, that is, in the Divine Being in eternity. This Christ always desires to give us in ghostly wise, whenever we so exercise ourselves and make ourselves in readiness for Him. And He desires that we shall receive Him both in a sacramental and a spiritual way, as is meet and right and as reason demands. Though a man may not always have such feelings and such desires, if he intend the praise of God and His glory, and the increase of his own being and blessedness, he may go freely to the table of the Lord, if his conscience be clean from mortal sin.

Next: Chapter XLVIII. Of The Unity of the Divine Nature in the Trinity of the Persons