ch 13 Benefits of the rejection of apprehensions of the imagination and the difference between natural and supernatural imaginative apprehensions.
As with natural forms, the benefits from voiding the imagination of supernatural apprehensions are the opposite of the five kinds of harm (lesson 1) caused by the desire to possess these forms interiorly. Other benefits: deep spiritual repose and quietude (with freedom from the care about discernment of the good ones from evil and how one should behave.) Finally one is absolved from the drudgery and waste of time seeking a spiritual master to direct the discernment since they should pay no attention to any of these apprehensions. That time could more profitably be spent on directing the will toward God and in the search after spiritual and sensory nakedness and poverty by striving after detachment for all such forms. They will approach God more closely the more they withdraw from all imaginative forms, images and figures. The good resulting in the soul is produced passively at the very moment these apprehensions are presented to the senses. It is unnecessary for the will to act in any way and the soul must maintain a passive attitude to receive gifts given passively. This passive attitude will preserve the spiritual feelings of God. People extinguish the spirit by wanting to conduct themselves in a way other than the way God is leading them. The substance of the spirit is not united with the faculties of the soul in true understanding and love until the operation of the faculties ceases. A person should abandon them and behave passively and negatively because then God moves the soul to what transcends its power and knowledge.
It is a characteristic of love to assimilate lovers to one another in their spiritual faculties. The soul would become like the bridegroom through actions and movements of love until transformed in him. It matters not if these apprehensions from above are visions, locutions, spiritual feelings, or revelations, the individual should only advert to the love of God that is interiorly caused. Pay no attention to what is represented or known; not to the feelings of delight or sweetness, not to the images, but to the feelings of love that are caused.
Only for the sake of moving the spirit to love should the soul at times recall the apprehensions that produced love. The effect thereby will not be as strong but there is a renewal and an elevation of the mind to God. This is especially true when the soul remembers images or supernatural feelings that are so imprinted on it that they last a long time; some are never erased. These produce, as often as remembered, divine effects of love, sweetness,light, etc. in varying degrees, because God impressed them for this reason. This is a great grace, for those on whom God bestows it possess within themselves a mine of blessings. The figures producing such effects are vividly impressed on the soul, for it has them within itself and it can safely recall them to obtain the effect of love. They will not be a hindrance to the union of love in faith, providing the soul does not desire to be absorbed with them. It must profit from the love by immediately leaving the figure aside.
It is difficult to discern when these images are impressed on the soul and when on the phantasy, for those in the phantasy are quite frequent. They can be discerned through their effects, for those that are of natural or diabolical origin produce no great effect or spiritual renewal in the soul. When the imaginative apprehensions from God are remembered, they produce some good effect by means of that imparted to the soul originally and do so almost every time they are recalled. Those impressed formally on the soul in a lasting way are of rarer occurrence. Whatever may be their kind, it is good for the soul to have no desire to comprehend anything save God alone in hope through faith. Rather than pride, it is prudent humility to benefit by them in the best way and be guided along the safest path of detachment.
ch. 14 Spiritual knowledge in the memory.
Apprehensions of spiritual knowledge do not have a corporeal image but they are the object of spiritual reminiscence and memory. The soul remembers intellectually and spiritually through the form impressed on it or through the effect produced. I classify these as apprehensions of the memory even though they do not belong to the phantasy. As with intellectual apprehensions there are two kinds: one referring to the Creator, and the other to creatures. This knowledge too may be remembered when it produces good effect, not in order to retain it but to awaken the knowledge and love of God. If there is no such effect, the soul should never desire the memory of it.
As for knowledge of the Creator, I declare that a person strive to remember it as often as possible because it will produce a notable effect in the soul. The communications of this knowledge are touches and spiritual feelings of union with God, our goal. The memory does not recall these through any image impressed on the soul, for those touches and feelings of union with the Creator do not have any. It remembers them through the effect of light, love, delight, spiritual renewal, and so on, produced in it and some of this effect is renewed as often as the soul recalls them.
ch 15 A general rule of conduct in the use of the memory.
To conclude the discussion of the memory, a general method summarized. Our aim is union with God in the memory through hope; the object of hope is something unpossessed; the less other objects are possessed, the more capacity and ability there is to hope for this one object and the more hope. The greater the possessions, the less capacity and ability for hoping and so much less of hope. In the measure that individuals dispossess their memory of forms and objects, which are not God, they will fix it on God and preserve it empty, so as to hope for the fullness of the memory from God.
To live in perfect and pure hope in God, souls should, as often as distinct ideas and images occur to them, immediately, without resting in them, turn to God with loving affection, in emptiness of everything rememberable. They should not think or look on these things for longer than is sufficient for the understanding and fulfillment of their obligations and consider them without becoming attached or seeking gratification in them. People are not required to stop recalling and thinking about what they must do and know, for if they are not attached, they will not be harmed. Neither do we assert that there should be no faithful and holy use of images but that their excessive use and attachment to them can be as much an impediment to grace as any other possession. The impediment is even greater in the case of supernatural visions and ideas which are the cause of many delusions and dangers. Souls should allow themselves to soar, when God bestows the favor, from the painted image to the living God in forgetfulness.