There is a joy that brings true happiness, but it is not given to the ungodly. It is only for those who love You for Your own sake.
That joy is to know You as You are. This is the happy life, to rejoice in You, of You, and for You. This is the happy life, and there is no other. They who think there is another, pursue some other. They are not on the track of true joy. Yet they still have that image of it inside that makes them run after what looks like some semblance of the real joy.
It is by no means certain that all wish the happiness that is true joy, for that means finding joy in You, the only hope of a happy life.
Memories are innumerable and innumerably full of innumerable kinds of things. Memories are filled with images and being. The things themselves are present as in a remembered performance of the arts, or being is reduced to some ideas and impressions, in the case of emotions the mind has felt. Even when the mind no longer feels, the memory retains.
What shall I do then, O my true life? I will pass beyond this power of mine which is called memory. I will pass beyond it so that I can approach you, O sweet Light.
But what do I love, when I love You?
Not beauty of bodies, nor the fair harmony of time.
Not the brightness of the light, so welcome to our eyes,
Nor sweet melodies of varied songs,
Nor the fragrant smell of flowers, and ointments and spices.
Not manna and honey, nor the embrace of arms in fleshly pleasure.
None of these I love when I love my God. Yet this love is a kind of light and melody and fragrance and meat and embrace. When I love my God, the light, melody, fragrance, meat, and embrace is experienced by my inner man. Love shines into my soul, where space cannot contain it. Love speaks with sound that does not fade into silence with time. Its smells are not dispersed in breath, and its tastes do not grow stale.
Love clings, and its satisfaction does not break my connection to the experience. This is it which I love, when I love my God.
For You, Lord, do judge me; because, although no man knows the things of a man, but the spirit of a man that is in him, yet there is something of man that not even our own spirit knows. Only You, Lord, know all of man, since You made him.
Although in Your sight I despise myself and account myself dust and ashes, I know something of You that I do not know about myself. Truly we see everything through a glass darkly. We do not yet stand face to face. In this meantime when I am absent from You, I am more present with myself than with You. Yet I know that You are in all things constant; but I am unsure what temptations I can resist and where I will give in. So I hope because You are faithful and will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can stand. You allow the temptation but make a way of escape, so we can bear it.
So I will confess what I know about myself. I will confess also what I do not know. What I can discern is shown because You shine on me. What I do not know will not become clear until my darkness is like the day at noon, illuminated by Your face.
I shall know You, O Lord, who know me. I shall know You as I am known. Power of my soul, enter it, and fit it for You, that You may have and hold it without spot or wrinkle. This is my hope, so I speak. In this hope, I rejoice, when I rejoice in a good way. The things that are not worth tears if they be lost are all the more sorrowed for. What should be more wept for gets less concern. For behold, You love the truth, and he that does the truth comes to the light.
Whereas You have everlastingly joy in Yourself, and You are surrounded forever by rejoicing in You. What is the ultimate purpose of ebb and flow, alternate displeasure and reconciliation? Is this the allotted measure? Is this part of the plan you have established for us? From the highest heavens to the lowest earth, time. You have made good to come from its kind.
Woe is me! How high are You in the highest. How deep are Your deepest reasonings. You never depart, and we scarcely return to You.
Up, Lord, then; stir us up.
Recall us; kindle and draw us.
Inflame and grow sweet to us.
Let us now love. Let us run.
Accept a sacrifice of confession.
You formed my tongue. You stirred it to confess to You.
Now may this service of speech give You glory.
He who confesses to You, does not reveal any personal details You didn’t already know. You know every thought of every life, for the shuttered heart does not lock You out. The hardest heart cannot turn the blade in Your hand. You melt the defences erected against You by a glance from Your will, either in pity or in vengeance. Nothing can escape Your heat.
But let my soul praise You, that it may love You.
Let it confess back Your mercies to You, that it may praise You.
O Lord, our God, under the shadow of Your wings let us hope in Your custody.
Carry us when we are little. Bear us when our hair is white and we cry out in infirmity.
When you grasp us, the grip is firm. When we try to sustain ourselves, the grasp is feeble.
The only good we can know rests in you. When we turn from the good, you push us aside until we return.
Oh, Lord, turn us, lest we be overturned.
Be the good in us that is not corrupted. You are our incorruptible good.
In You we do not fear that there will be no home to return to if we wander off. You preserve our mansion with a patience that stretches into eternity.
If the reasonable soul itself is corrupted; as it was then in me, it will remain dark unless illumined from an outside light. Only worked upon from outside can the soul become a partaker in truth. In itself human nature has no truth.
You light my candle, O Lord my God.
You cast a beam through my darkness.
You gave us of all that You are, and You are the true Light.
You blaze the way before every human that walks the earth.
In You we see no shades of gray.
In You are seen no shadows of change.
If you find physical pleasure in earthly experiences, use the occasion to praise God for these gifts. Turn your love not on the pleasures but toward their Maker. Otherwise, the things that please you will cause you to displease. Love those souls that please you, but love them in God. For people will change and will pass by and will pass away unless they are firmly established forever. Love them in Him, and carry to Him your own soul and whatever souls will come with you. Tell the souls, “Let us love Him! Let us love Him! He made us, and He is near.” He did not make things and then walk away. He remains intimately involved, and all things have their being in Him.
So, whatever else you do, my soul, build your house at this fixed point. You have worn yourself out on worthless things. Now trust yourself to Truth. Know that whatever you take from Truth,
He will not be diminished.
In Truth even what decays shall bloom again.
It will be reformed after all diseases have been healed.
After mortal parts remade.
After their being is bound to Yours.
The final things will not fall away.
They stand fast with You forever.
For God will abide and stand fast forever.
Earthly things begin and appear to be.
Quickly they grow to their full potential.
More quickly they fade and are unmade.
This is the law of earthly things.
You allot a portion of time and being to each thing, because it is not the totality of Your creation. It is just a bit of it. Each thing must cease to exist so that the next thing in Your plan can take its turn. All the things You made do not exist all at once. Each takes its turn, passes away, and is succeeded by the next, until all the pieces will someday complete that universe of which each thing is a part.
Allow me the grace, I pray, to bring to mind the wanderings of passed times. O my God, I would use them to offer to You a thank offering. For what am I without you but a guide who would lead myself to my own downfall. Even at my best, I am only an infant sucking in Your milk and devouring eternal food from your hand.
But is any man different, who is only a man?