Vigils Reading

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Vigils Reading

March 16, 2023

If You are to Stand and Not Fall5

A Reading from “The Cloud of Unknowing”

Should any thought arise… asking what you are seeking, and what you are wanting, answer that it is God you want: ‘Him I covet, him I seek, and nothing but him.’ Should the thought ask, ‘What is this God?’ answer that it is the God who made you and redeemed you, and who has, through his grace, called you tohis love. ‘And’, tell <the thought>… ‘Get down’, and proceed to trample on him out of love for God; yes, even when such thoughts seem to be holy, and calculated to help you find God…

Make up your mind, therefore, to put down all such reflections, holy and attractive though they be… Be quite sure that you will never have the unclouded vision of God here in this life. But you may have the awareness of him, if he is willing by his grace to give it you. So lift up your love… or, more accurately let God draw your love up… and strive by his grace to forget all else.

But if you allow houseroom to this thing that you naturally like or grouse about, and make no attempt to rebuke it, ultimately it will take root in your inmost being, in your will, and with the consent of your will… If it is a thing that grieves or has grieved you, then you rage and want revenge – and that is Wrath. Or you will despise and loathe it, and think spitefully and harshly of it – and that is Envy. Or you will get weary and bored with being good in spirit and body – and that is Sloth. And if it is a pleasant thing, present or past, you experience a passing delight when you think about it, whatever it may be. So that you dwell on it, and in the end fix your heart and will on it, and turn to it for nourishment…

Now, if this thought that you deliberately conjure up, or harbour, and dwell lovingly upon, is natural worth or knowledge, charm or station, favour or beauty – then it is Pride. If it is a matter of worldly good, riches, or possessions, ownership or lordship, then it is Avarice. If it is a matter of choice food and drink, or any other delight of the palate, then it is Gluttony. If it is love or pleasure, or flirting, fawning, and flattering, for another or for yourself – then it is Lust…

So if you are to stand and not fall, never give up your firm intention: beat away at this cloud…between you and God with that sharp dart of longing love. Hate to think about anything less than God, and let nothing whatever distract you from this purpose. It is only thus that you can destroy the ground and root of sin.

Were you to fast beyond all measure, or watch at great length, or rise at the crack of dawn, or sleep on boards and wear chains… this would not help you at all. The urge of sin would still be with you… However much you might weep in sorrow for your sins, or for the sufferings of Christ, or however much you might think of the delights of heaven… compared with this blind outreaching of love… there is very little indeed that it can do without love. This, in itself, is the ‘best part’ that Mary chose… For if this love is there in truth, so too will all other virtues truly, perfectly, and knowingly, be included in it

5 The Cloud of Unknowing. Trans. Clifton Wolters. Middlesex, England: Penguin Books, 1973. 60-69.




March 16, 2023
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