Seeing the Value of Divine Things

St Teresa of Avila after Jusepe de Ribera

Father Benson states: “The second step of the Illuminative Way—corresponding to that of the Purgative—consists in light being gained from God as to the reality of interior things—for instance, the truths of religion.”

“For example: A soul in the elementary stage of faith adheres to an enormous number of dogmas of which she has no interior experience at all. She adheres to them, and lives by them, for the simple fact that she receives them from an Authority which she knows to be Divine. . . . She holds the dogmas of faith, but cannot compare them in any sense to natural facts or see those numerous points at which they fit in to other facts of her experience.”

“But when ‘Illumination’ comes, an extraordinary change takes place. It is not that mysteries cease to be mysteries—not that she can express in exhaustive human language, or even conceive in exhaustive images or modes, those facts of Revelation that are beyond reason—but, for all that, there begins to shine to her spiritual sense, lighted by God’s ‘candle’ within her soul, point after point in those jewels of truth which up to now have been opaque and colorless. She can ‘explain’ indulgences, or the justice of Hell, no better than before; and yet there is no longer impenetrable darkness within them. . . . She finds, by a certain inexplicable process of spiritual verification, that those things which she has taken to be true are true to her as well as in themselves; the path where she has walked in darkness, though in security, becomes dimly apparent to her eyes; until, if she, by grace and perseverance, ultimately reaches sanctity itself, she may experience by God’s favour those clear-sighted intuitions—or rather that infusion of knowledge—which is so marked a characteristic in the saints.”

Quotations from Robert Hugh Benson, The Friendship of Christ (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1912).

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