1st January 1721

The young St. Paul of the Cross concluded his forty day retreat in the Church of St. Charles at Castellazzo on Wednesday, 1st January 1721. It has been a test of endurance not just on account of the cold weather and the confinement, but also because of the experiences of desolation he had to undergo, even on Christmas Day, when he had written, “At holy Communion I was as dry as a stump and I remained so nearly all day”.  

On the last day of the retreat he writes in his diary

“Wednesday, January 1, 1721

Through the infinite love of our dear God, I was raised up in spirit to great recollection and many tears, especially after Holy Communion, during which I felt keenly the sweetness of holy love. It seemed to me that I was melting away in God.

With greatest confidence, without weariness, and with exceeding sweetness I was relating my woes to Jesus. I told him of the scruples I felt with regard to a vow I had made to deprive my body of all unnecessary pleasures. Then I told him what he knows already, that when I am hungry, I feel pleasure in eating even a piece of dry bread. Whereupon, I heard an interior voice say gently: “But this is necessary.” Then I felt as if my heart would break, and I burst into the most loving tears.

I also had knowledge of the soul united in a bond of love to the Sacred Humanity and, at the same time, dissolved and raised to a deep, conscious, and felt knowledge of the Divinity. For since Jesus is both God and Man, the soul cannot be united in love to the Sacred Humanity without being at the same time dissolved and brought to a deep, conscious, felt knowledge of the Divinity.

This wondrous and exalted marvel cannot possibly be set down or explained, even by one who has experienced it. It is impossible because the soul understands that God wills these gentle experiences and exceedingly high marvels because he who is Infinite helps the soul to understand these things. But to describe them afterward is utterly impossible. These are things which are experienced and comprehended in an instant, at least so it seems to the soul. For even if they should last for a full thousand years, it would, in my opinion, seem less than an instant because the soul is in its Infinite Good. It desires nothing else but his glory and his love, and that he be feared and loved by all.”

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