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Sixfold Vision of Truth – Part 6: Contemplation (continued)

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The Manner in Which God Communicates with the Soul


Intellectual Vision

Intellectual vision refers to a type of vision that is perceived through the intellect or the rational faculties of the mind. It is often associated with a deep understanding and contemplation of divine truths and spiritual realities. Intellectual vision is not dependent on sensory perception or external apparitions. Instead, it involves a profound spiritual insight and comprehension of God’s truth through intellectual reasoning, illumination, and divine grace.

This type of vision is more abstract and transcendent in nature, focusing on understanding and contemplating the deep mysteries of faith. It is obtained through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. 

Imaginary Vision

On the other hand, imaginary vision obtained by contemplation refers to a type of vision that involves sensory perception and sensory imagination. This type of vision is typically experienced through the use of the imagination, dreams, or actual apparitions. It involves visual images, auditory experiences, or other sensory manifestations that are perceived by the senses or the mind.

Imaginary visions obtained through contemplation may arise during deep states of prayer, meditation, or mystical experiences. These visions often involve vivid imagery, symbols, and narrative sequences that communicate spiritual truths or divine messages. Such visions are seen as a form of divine communication or revelation and are believed to provide insights into the spiritual realm or the divine will.


Apparitions are a different thing. They are external manifestations or apparitions of divine beings, angels, or saints. These appearances may occur to individuals or groups and are often accompanied by a sense of awe, reverence, and religious significance. Apparitions are often considered as a direct and tangible encounter with the divine.

St. Teresa of Avila wrote about both apparitions and visions in her writings. In her autobiography, “The Life of St. Teresa of Avila,” she describes her experiences of receiving visions and apparitions from God. In these experiences, she would see or hear things that others around her could not perceive. She would often have conversations with Jesus, angels, and saints, and receive guidance and instructions from them. These experiences were deeply spiritual and form a significant part of her mystical journey.

It is important to note that the terms “visions” and “apparitions” are sometimes used interchangeably, but there is a distinction between the two. Visions typically refer to experiences where the mystical content is seen in the mind’s eye, while apparitions involve an external presence or manifestation. St. Teresa of Avila had both types of experiences, and she documented them in her writings.

St. Teresa of Avila write extensively about the topics of love and the suspended intellect in her mystical teachings. Her writings explore the stages of prayer and contemplation that lead to a deeper union with God. Let’s delve into some key points from her teachings: 

Love as the Foundation:
St. Teresa emphasized the importance of love as the foundation of spiritual growth. She said that the soul’s ultimate goal is to love and be loved by God. She described love as the driving force behind all spiritual progress and emphasized the need for a sincere and passionate love for God.

The Suspended Intellect:
In her writings, St. Teresa spoke of the “suspended intellect” as a state in which the rational faculties are temporarily set aside in favor of a more intuitive and experiential approach to prayer. She said that in order to reach higher levels of contemplation, one must be willing to let go of the usual efforts of the intellect and surrender to God’s presence.

Prayer of Quiet and Union:
According to St. Teresa, as the soul progresses in prayer, it may experience what she called the “prayer of quiet.” In this state, the intellect is suspended, and the soul is filled with a profound sense of peace and quiet joy in the presence of God. This prayer of quiet is considered a precursor to the higher state of prayer called “union,” where the soul experiences a deep mystical union with God.

Stages of Prayer:
St. Teresa described different stages or grades of prayer, which she referred to as the “Interior Castle.” These stages represent the progressive journey of the soul towards union with God. As the soul advances through the different mansions of the interior castle, the intellectual faculties become increasingly passive, and the soul relies more on the intuitive and experiential knowledge of God’s presence and love.

Integration of Love and Intellect:
St. Teresa did not reject the intellect or rational faculties but stressed the need for an integration of love and intellect in one’s spiritual journey. She said that true spiritual growth is a balanced combination of love, faith, reason, and intellectual understanding.

Music (video below) can be a powerful tool to aid in this process, as it can help create a conducive environment and facilitate a sense of inner peace and spiritual connection.

The Manner in Which God Communicates with the Soul

By Intellectual Vision

Saint and Doctor of the Church Teresa of Avila wrote:

To prove to you more clearly, sisters, the truth of what I have been saying and to show that the more the soul advances, the closer does this good Jesus bear it company, it would be well for me to tell you how, when He so chooses, it cannot withdraw from His presence. This is clearly shown by the manners and ways in which His Majesty communicates Himself to us, manifesting His love by wonderful apparitions and visions which, if He is pleased to aid me, I will describe to you so that you may not be alarmed if any of these favours are granted you. We ought, even if we do not receive them ourselves, to praise Him fervently for thus communing with creatures, seeing how sovereign are His majesty and power.

For example, a person who is in no way expecting such a favour nor has ever imagined herself worthy of receiving it, is conscious that Jesus Christ stands by her side although she sees Him neither with the eyes of the body nor of the soul.  This is called an intellectual vision; I cannot tell why.

I knew a person to whom God granted both this grace and others I shall describe later on. At first it distressed her, for she could not understand it; she could see nothing, yet so convinced did she feel that Jesus Christ was thus in some way manifesting Himself that she could not doubt that it was some kind of vision, whether it came from God or no. Its powerful effects were a strong argument that it was from Him; still she was alarmed, never having heard of an intellectual vision, nor was she aware that such a thing could be. She however felt certain of our Lord’s presence, and He spoke to her several times in the way that I described. Before she had received this favour, she had heard words spoken but had never known who uttered them.

She was frightened by this vision which, unlike an imaginary one, does not pass away quickly but lasts for several days and even sometimes for more than a year. She went, in a state of great anxiety, to her confessor who asked her how, if she saw nothing, she knew that our Lord was near her, and bade her describe His appearance. She said that she was unable to do so, nor could she see His face nor tell more than she had already done, but that she was sure it was the fact that it was He Who spoke to her and it was no trick of her imagination. Although people constantly cautioned her against this vision, as a rule she found it impossible to disbelieve in it, especially when she heard the words: ‘It is I, be not afraid’

The effect of this speech was so powerful that for the time being she could not doubt its truth. She felt much encouraged and rejoiced at being in such good company, seeing that this favour greatly helped her to a constant recollection of God and an extreme care not to displease in any way Him Who seemed ever by her side, watching her. Whenever she desired to speak to His Majesty in prayer, or even at other times, He seemed so close that He could not fail to hear her though He did not speak to her whenever she wished, but unexpectedly, when necessity arose.

She was conscious of His being at her right hand, although not in the way we know an ordinary person to be beside us but in a more subtle manner which cannot be described. Yet this presence is quite as evident and certain, and indeed far more so, than the ordinary presence of other people about which we may be deceived; not so in this, for it brings with it graces and spiritual effects which could not come from melancholia. Nor could the devil thus fill the soul with peace, with a constant desire to please God, and such utter contempt of all that does not lead to Him. As time went on, my friend recognized that this was no work of the evil one, as our Lord showed her more and more clearly.

However, I know that she often felt great alarm and was at times overcome with confusion, being unable to account for so high a favour having been granted her. She and I were so very intimate that I knew all that passed in her soul, hence my account is thoroughly true and reliable. This favour brings with it an overwhelming sense of self-abasement and humility; the reverse would be the case, did it come from Satan. It is evidently divine; no human effort could produce such feelings nor could any one suppose that such profit came from herself, but must needs recognize it as a gift from the hand of God.

Although I believe some of the former favours are more sublime, yet this brings with it a special knowledge of God; a most tender love for Him results from being constantly in His company, while the desires of devoting one’s whole being to His service are more fervent than any hitherto described. The conscience is greatly purified by the knowledge of His perpetual and near presence, for although we know that God sees all we do, yet nature inclines us to grow careless and forgetful of it. This is impossible here since our Lord makes the soul conscious that He is close at hand, thus preparing it to receive the other graces mentioned by constantly making acts of love to Him Whom it sees or feels at its side. In short, the benefits caused by this grace prove how great and how valuable it is. The soul thanks our Lord for bestowing it on one unworthy of it, but who would refuse to exchange it for any earthly riches or delight.

When our Lord chooses to withdraw His presence, the soul in its loneliness makes every possible effort to induce Him to return. This avails but little, for this grace comes at His will and not by our endeavours. At times we may enjoy the company of some saint, which also brings us great profit. You will ask me, if we see no one, how can we know whether it is Christ, or His most glorious Mother, or a saint? Such a person cannot answer this question or know how she distinguishes them, but the fact remains undoubted. It seems easy to recognize our Lord when He speaks, but it is surprising how the soul can, without hearing a word from him, recognize which saint has been sent by God to be its companion and helper.

There are other spiritual matters which cannot be explained. Our inability to grasp them should teach us how incapable is our nature of understanding the sublime mysteries of God. Those on whom these favours are bestowed should marvel at and praise God’s mercy for them. As these particular graces are not granted to everybody, any one who receives them should esteem them highly and strive to serve God more zealously, since He has given her such special aid. Therefore such a person does not rate herself more highly on this account, but rather thinks she serves Him less than any one else in the world; feeling herself to be under greater obligations to Him than others, any fault she commits pierces her to the heart, as indeed it ought under the circumstances.

When the effects described are felt, any of you whom our Lord leads by this way may be certain that it is neither deception nor fancy in her case. I believe it to be impossible for the devil to produce an illusion lasting so long, neither could he benefit the soul so remarkably nor cause such interior peace. It is not his custom, nor, if he would, could such an evil creature bring about so much good; the soul would soon be clouded by self-esteem and the idea that it was better than others. The mind’s continual keeping in the presence of God and the concentration of its thoughts on Him would so enrage the fiend that, although he might try the experiment once, he would not often repeat it. God is too faithful to permit him so much power over one whose sole endeavour is to please His Majesty and to lay down her life for His honour and glory; He would soon unmask the demon’s artifices.

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The Ecstatic Visions of St. Catherine of Siena

I contend, as I always shall, that if the soul reaps the effects described from these divine graces, although God may withdraw these special favours, His Majesty will turn all things to its advantage; even should He permit the devil to deceive it at any time, the evil spirit will only reap his own confusion. Therefore, as I told you, daughters, none of you who are led by this way need feel alarm. Fear is good and we should be cautious and not overconfident, for if such favours made you careless, it would prove they were not from God as they did not leave the results I described.

It would be well at first to tell your case, under the seal of confession, to a thoroughly qualified theologian (for that is the source whence we must obtain light) or to some highly spiritual person. If your confessor is not very spiritual, a good theologian would be preferable; best of all, one who unites both qualities. Do not be disturbed if he calls it mere fancy; if it is, it can neither harm nor benefit your soul much. Recommend yourself to the divine Majesty and beg Him not to allow you to be misled.

It would be worse should he tell you the devil is deceiving you, although no learned man would say so if he sees in you the effects described. Even should your adviser say this, I know that the same Lord Who is beside you will comfort and reassure you and will go to your counsellor and give him light that he may impart it to you. If the director, though given to prayer, has not been led by God in this way, he will at once take fright and condemn it. Therefore I advise you to choose a qualified theologian and, if possible, one who is also spiritual.

The Prioress ought to allow you this, for although she may feel sure that you are safe from delusion because you lead a good life, yet she is bound to permit you to consult some one for your mutual security. When you have conferred with these persons, be at peace; trouble yourself no more about the matter, for sometimes when there is no cause for fear, the demon gives rise to such immoderate scruples that the person cannot be satisfied with consulting her confessor only once on the subject, especially if he is inexperienced and timid or if he bids her consult him again.

Thus that which should have been kept strictly private becomes public; such a person is persecuted and tormented and finds that what she believed to be her own secret has become public property. Hence she suffers many troubles which may even devolve upon the Order in such times as these. Consequently I warn all Prioresses that great caution is required in such matters; also they must not think a nun more virtuous than the rest because such favours are shown her. Our Lord guides every one, in the way He knows to be best.

This grace, if made good use of, prepares one receiving it to become a great servant of God, but sometimes our Lord bestows it on the weakest souls; therefore in itself it is neither to be esteemed nor condemned. We must look to the virtues; she who is most mortified, humble and single-minded in serving God is the most holy. However, we can never feel very certain about such matters until the true Judge rewards each one according to his merits. Then we shall be surprised to find how very different is His judgment from that of this world. May He be for ever praised. Amen.

By Imaginary Visions

Now we come to treat of imaginary visions, whereby it is held that the devil is more liable to deceive people than by the other visions I have already described. This is probably true. Yet when imaginary visions are divine, they seem, in a certain manner, more profitable for us than the others, as being more suited to our nature–with the exception of the visions sent by our Lord in the seventh mansion which far surpass all others. The presence of our Lord described in the last chapter may thus be symbolized.

Let us suppose that we have in our possession a gold locket containing a precious stone of the highest value and powers, which, though we have not seen it, we are certain is in the case, and its virtues benefit us when we wear the pendant. Although we have never gazed on it we value it highly, knowing by experience that it has cured us of maladies for which it is remedial. However, we dare not look at it nor open the locket nor could we do so even if we wished, for the owner of the jewel alone knows the secret of unfastening its casket. Although he lent it us for our use, yet he kept the key for himself; he will open the trinket when he chooses to show us its contents and close it again when he sees fit to do so.

Our Lord treats us here in this way. Now, suppose the owner of this locket suddenly opened it at times for the benefit of the person to whom he has entrusted it; doubtless the latter would value the diamond more highly through remembering its wonderful lustre. This may be compared to what happens when our Lord is pleased to caress the soul. He shows it in vision His most sacred Humanity under whatever form He chooses; either as He was during His life on earth or after His resurrection.

The vision passes as quickly as a flash of lightning, yet this most glorious picture makes an impression on the imagination that I believe can never be effaced until the soul at last sees Christ to enjoy Him for ever. Although I call it a ‘picture,’ you must not imagine that it looks like a painting; Christ appears as a living Person Who sometimes speaks and reveals deep mysteries. You must understand that though the soul sees this for a certain space of time, it is no more possible to continue looking at it than to gaze for a very long time on the sun; therefore this vision passes very quickly, although its brightness does not pain the interior sight in the same way as the sun’s glare injures our bodily eyes.

The image is seen by the interior sight alone; but of bodily apparitions I can say nothing, for the person I know so intimately never having experienced anything of the kind herself could not speak about them with certainty. The splendour of Him Who is revealed in the vision resembles an infused light like that of the sun covered with a veil as transparent as a diamond, if such a texture could be woven, while His raiment looks like fine linen. The soul to whom God grants this vision almost always falls into an ecstasy, nature being too weak to bear so dread a sight. I say ‘dread,’ though this apparition is more lovely and delightful than anything that could be imagined even though any one should live a thousand years and spend all that time in trying to picture it, for it far surpasses our limited imagination and understanding; yet the presence of such surpassing majesty inspires the soul with great fear.

There is no need to ask how the soul knew Who He was or who declared with absolute certainty that He was the Lord of heaven and earth. This is not so with earthly kings; unless we were told their names or saw their attendant courtiers, they would attract little notice. O Lord, how little do we Christians know Thee! What will that day be in which Thou comest as our Judge, since now, when Thou comest as a Friend to Thy spouse, the sight of Thee strikes us with such awe? O daughters! what will it be when He says in wrath: ‘Go, accursed of my Father?’

Let this impression be the result of this favour granted by God to the soul and we shall reap no little benefit from it, since St. Jerome, saint as he was, ever kept the thought of the last judgment before his eyes. Thus we shall care nothing what sufferings we endure from the austerities of our Rule, for long as they may last, the time is but a moment compared to this eternity of pain. I sincerely assure you that, wicked as I am, I have never feared the torments of hell for they have seemed to me as nothing when I remembered that the lost would see the beautiful, meek and pitiful eyes of our Lord turned on them in wrath. I have thought all my life that this would be more than my heart could bear.

How much more must any one fear this to whom our Lord so revealed Himself in vision here as to overcome her feelings and produce unconsciousness! This must be the reason that the soul remains in a rapture: our Lord strengthens its weakness so as to unite it to His greatness in this sublime communion with God. When any one can contemplate this sight of our Lord for a long time, I do not believe it is a vision but rather some overmastering idea which causes the imagination to fancy it sees something; but this illusion is only like a dead image in comparison with the living reality of the other case.

As not only three or four, but a large number of people have spoken to me on the subject, I know by experience that there are souls which, either because they possess vivid imaginations or active minds, or for some other reason of which I am ignorant, are so absorbed in their own ideas as to feel certain they see whatever their fancy imagines. If they had ever beheld a genuine vision, they would recognize the deception unmistakably. They themselves fabricate, piece by piece, what they fancy they see: no after effects are produced on the mind, which is less moved to devotion than by the sight of a sacred picture. It is clear that no attention should be paid to such fancies, which pass more quickly than dreams from the memory.

Don Bosco dreamed about the battles the Church would face in the latter days.

In the favour of which I speak, the case is very different. A person is far from thinking of seeing anything, no idea of which has crossed the mind, when suddenly the vision is revealed in its entirety, causing within the powers and senses of the soul a fright and confusion soon changed into a blissful peace. Thus, after St. Paul was thrown to the ground, a great tempest and noise followed from heaven; so, in the interior world of the soul, there is a violent tumult followed instantly, as I said, by perfect calm. Meanwhile certain sublime truths have been so impressed on the mind that it needs no other master, for with no effort of its own, Wisdom Himself has enlightened its former ignorance.

The soul for some time afterwards possesses such certainty that this grace comes from God that whatever people may say to the contrary it cannot fear delusion. Later on, when her confessor suggests doubts to her, God may allow such a person to waver in her belief for a time and to feel misgivings lest, in punishment for her sins, she may possibly have been left to go astray. However, she does not give way to these apprehensions, but (as I said in speaking of other matters) they only affect her in the same way as the temptations of the devil against faith, which may disturb the mind but do not shake the firmness of belief. In fact, the more severe the assault, the more certain is she that the evil one could never have produced the great benefits she is conscious of having received, because he exercises no such power over the interior of the soul. He may present a false apparition but it does not possess such truth, majesty, and efficacy.

As confessors cannot see these effects, which perhaps the person to whom God has shown the vision is unable to explain, they are afraid of deception, as indeed they have good reason to be. Therefore caution is necessary and time should be allowed to see what effects follow. Day by day, the progress of the soul in humility and in the virtues should be watched: if the devil is concerned in the matter, he will soon show signs of himself and will be detected in a thousand lies. If the confessor is experienced and has received such favours himself, he will not take long in discovering the truth. In fact, he will know immediately, on being told of the vision, whether it is divine or comes from the imagination or the demon: more especially if he has received the gift of discerning spirits–then, if he is learned, he will understand the matter at once even though he has not personally experienced the like.

The great point is, sisters, that you should be perfectly candid and straightforward with your confessor: I do not mean in declaring your sins that is evident enough–but in giving him an account of your prayer. Unless you do this, I cannot assure you of your safety nor that you are led by God. Our Lord desires that we should be as truthful and open with those who stand in His place as we should with Himself; that we should wish them to know not only our thoughts but especially all relating to our actions, however insignificant.

Then you need feel no trouble nor anxiety because even if your vision were not from God, it could do you no harm if you are humble and possess a good conscience, for His Majesty knows how to glean good from evil. What the devil intended to injure you will benefit you instead: believing that God has granted you such signal favours, you will strive to please Him better and will keep His image ever before your memory.

A great theologian once said that he should not trouble himself though the devil, who is a clever painter, should present before his eyes the living image of Christ, which would only kindle his devotion and defeat the evil one with his own weapons. However wicked an artist may be, we should reverence his picture if it represents Him Who is our only good. This great scholar held that it was very wrong to advise any one who saw a vision of our Lord to offer it signs of scorn, because we are bound to show respect to the portrait of our King wherever we see it.

I am sure that he was right, for even in the world any one who was on friendly terms with a person would take it as an offence were his portrait treated with contempt. How much more should we always show respect to a crucifix or a picture of our heavenly Sovereign wherever it meets our gaze! Although I have written about this elsewhere, I am glad of the opportunity of saying it now for I know some one who was deeply pained at being bidden to behave in this way. I know not who can have invented such a torture for one who felt bound to obey the counsel given by her confessor, for she would have thought her soul was at stake had she disobeyed him.

My advice is, if you are given such an order, that humbly alleging the reasons I have set before you to your confessor, you should not carry it out. I am perfectly satisfied with the motives given for doing so by him who counselled me on this subject.

One great advantage gained by the soul from this favour shown by our Lord is that when thinking of Him or of His life and Passion, the remembrance of His most meek and beautiful face brings with it the greatest consolation. In the same way, we feel happier after having seen a benefactor than if we had never known him personally. I can assure you that the remembrance of the joy caused by this vision gives us the greatest comfort and assistance.

Many other advantages result; but as I have written elsewhere at length about the effect these visions produce, and must do so again later on, I will say no more now lest I weary us both. But I most earnestly advise you, when you know or hear of God’s bestowing these graces on others, never to pray nor desire to be led by this way yourself though it may appear to you to be very good; indeed, it ought to be highly esteemed and reverenced, yet no one should seek to go by it for several reasons.

Firstly, as it is a want of humility to desire what you have never deserved, I do not think any one who longs for these graces can be really humble: a common labourer never dreams of wishing to be made a king–the thing seems impossible and he is unfit for it; a lowly mind has the same feeling about these divine favours. I do not believe God will ever bestow these gifts on such a person, as before doing so He always gives thorough self-knowledge. How can that soul, while filled with such lofty aspirations, realize the truth that He has shown it great mercy in not casting it into hell?

The second reason is that such a one is certain to be deceived or at least is in great danger of delusion, for an entrance is thus left open to the devil, who only needs to see the door left ajar to slip in at once and play us a thousand tricks.

Thirdly: when people strongly desire a thing, the imagination makes them fancy they see or hear it, just as when a man’s mind is set upon a subject all day he dreams of it at night.

Fourthly: it would be very presumptuous of me to choose a way for myself without knowing what is good for me. I should leave our Lord, Who knows my soul, to guide me as is best for me so that His will may be done in all things.

Fifthly: do you think people on whom our Lord bestows these favours have little to suffer? No, indeed! their trials are most severe and of many kinds. How can you tell whether you would be able to bear them?

Sixthly: perhaps what you think would be your gain might prove your loss, as happened to Saul when he was made king. In short, sisters, there are other reasons besides these; believe me, it is safer to wish only what God wishes, Who knows us better than we know ourselves and Who loves us. Let us place ourselves entirely in His hands so that His will may be done in us; we can never go astray if our will is ever firmly fixed on this.

Know that for having received many favours of this kind, you will not merit more glory but will be the more stringently obliged to serve, since you have received more. God does not deprive us of anything by which we merit more, for this remains in our own control. There are many saints who never knew what it was to receive one such favour, while others who have received them are not saints at all. Do not imagine that these gifts are continually bestowed; indeed, for one that is granted, the soul bears many a cross, so that instead of longing to receive more favours, it only strives to use them better.

True, such a grace is a most powerful aid towards practising the virtues in their highest perfection, but it is far more meritorious to gain them at the cost of one’s own toil. I was acquainted with some one, indeed with two people (of whom one was a man), on whom our Lord had bestowed some of these gifts. They were both so desirous of serving His Majesty at their own cost without these great consolations and so longed to suffer for His sake, that they remonstrated with Him for giving them these favours, and if it had been possible would have refused to receive them. When I say ‘consolations,’ I do not mean these visions which greatly benefit the soul and are highly to be esteemed, but the delights given by God during contemplation.

I believe that these desires are supernatural and proper to very fervent souls who wish to prove to God that they do not serve Him for pay; so as I said, such people do not urge themselves to work harder for Him by the thought of the glory they will gain, but rather labour to satisfy their love, of which the nature is to toil for the Beloved in a thousand ways. Such souls would fain find a way to consume themselves in Him, and were there need that, for the sake of God’s greater glory, they should be annihilated for ever, they would count it great gain. May He be for ever praised Who, in abasing Himself to hold converse with us miserable creatures, vouchsafes to manifest His greatness! Amen.

Reasons for speaking of these supernatural favours

OUR Lord communicates with the soul by means of these apparitions on many occasions–sometimes when it is afflicted, at other times when it is about to receive some heavy cross, and again for the sake of the mutual delight of Himself and His beloved. There is no need for me to specify each different case nor do I intend to do so. I only wish to teach you (as far as I am acquainted with them myself) what are the different favours God shows a soul in this state so that you may understand their characteristics and the effects they produce.

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The vision of Constantine. Now, his soldiers also saw the divine manifestation.. An apparition seems to be more likely than a vision. According to historical accounts, the soldiers of Constantine also claimed to have seen the cross. The most well-known account comes from the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312 AD. Constantine saw a vision of a cross of light in the sky with the words “In hoc signo vinces” (“In this sign, you will conquer”). This prompted his conversion to Christianity. The vision of the cross is a significant event of Constantine’s conversion and his subsequent support for Christianity.

Thus you will not mistake every idle fancy for a vision and if you really see one, knowing that such a thing is possible, you will not be disturbed nor unhappy. The devil, who gains greatly by it, is delighted to see a soul troubled and distressed, knowing how this hinders it from employing itself wholly in loving and serving God.

His Majesty has far higher ways of communicating Himself to the soul; they are less dangerous for do not think the evil spirit can imitate them. They are more difficult to explain, being more abstruse; therefore imaginary visions are easier to describe. God is sometimes pleased, while a person is engaged in prayer and in perfect possession of her senses, to suspend them and to discover sublime mysteries to her which she appears to see within God Himself.

This is no vision of the most sacred Humanity nor can I rightly say the soul ‘sees,’ for it sees nothing; this is no imaginary vision but a highly intellectual one, wherein is manifested how all things are beheld in God and how He contains them within Himself. It is of great value, for although passing in an instant, it remains deeply engraved in the memory, producing a feeling of great shame in the mind which perceives more clearly the malice of offences against God, since these most heinous sins are committed within His very being since we dwell within Him.

I will try to explain this truth to you by a comparison, for although it is obvious and has been often told us, we either never reflect upon it or do not wish to understand it. If we realized it, we could not possibly behave with such audacity.

Let us compare God to a very spacious and magnificent mansion or palace and remember that this edifice is God Himself. Can the sinner withdraw from it in order to carry out his crimes? No, certainly not, for within this very palace, that is, within God Himself, are perpetrated all the abominations, impurities and evil deeds that sinners commit. Oh awful thought, well worthy to be pondered over! What profit it would bring to us, who know so little and understand these truths but partially or how could we possibly be so reckless in our daring?

Let us, sisters, meditate on the infinite mercy and patience of God in not casting us down to hell at once and let us render Him hearty thanks. Surely we should be ashamed of resenting anything done or said against us–we who are the scum of the earth–when we see what outrages are offered to God our Creator within His very being, by us His creatures; yet we are wounded whenever we hear of an unkind word having been spoken of us in our absence, although perhaps with no evil intention.

Oh misery of mankind! When, daughters, shall we imitate Almighty God in any way? Oh, let us not think we are doing great things if we suffer injuries patiently: rather let us bear them with alacrity; let us love our enemies, since this great God has not ceased to love us in spite of our many sins! This is indeed the chief reason that all should forgive any harm done them. I assure you, daughters, that though this vision passes very quickly, our Lord has bestowed signal grace on her to whom He grants it, if she seeks to profit by keeping it constantly in mind.

Short as the time lasts, yet, in a manner impossible to describe, God also manifests that in Him there is a verity which makes all truth in creatures seem obscure. He convinces the soul that He alone is that Truth which cannot lie, thus demonstrating the meaning of David’s words in the psalm: ‘Every man is a liar,’ which could never be thus realized by any other means, however often we might hear that God is truth infallible. As I recall Pilate and how he besought our Lord in His Passion to answer his question: ‘What is truth?’ I realize how little mortals know of that sublime veracity.

I wish I could explain this better but am unable to do so. Let us learn from it, sisters, that if we would bear any resemblance to our God and our Spouse, we must strive to walk ever in the truth. I do not merely mean that we should not tell falsehoods thank God, I see that in these convents you are most careful never to do so on any account–but I desire that as far as possible we should at with perfect truth before God and man and above all that we should not wish to be thought better than we are; that in all our deeds we should ascribe to God what is His and attribute what is ours to ourselves, and that we should seek for verity in all things.

Thus we shall care little for this world, which is but deception and falsehood, and therefore cannot last. Once, while I was wondering why our Lord so dearly loves the virtue of humility, the thought suddenly struck me, without previous reflection, that it is because God is the supreme Truth and humility is the truth, for it is most true that we have nothing good of ourselves but only misery and nothingness: whoever ignores this, lives a life of falsehood. They that realize this fact most deeply are the most pleasing to God, the supreme Truth, for they walk in the truth. God grant, sisters, that we may have the grace never to lose this self-knowledge! Amen.

Our Lord shows the soul these favours because she is now indeed His bride, resolute to do His will in all things; therefore He wishes to give her some idea how to accomplish it and to manifest to her some of His divine attributes. I need say no more about it, but I believe the two points above mentioned will prove very useful. These favours should cause no fear but lead us to praise God for bestowing these graces. I think neither the devil nor our own imaginations can have much to do with them, therefore the soul may rest in perfect peace.

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