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    a man kneeling and praying in a forest

    The Seven Manners of Holy Love

    Love has tugged the soul and led it, and the soul longs to attain the fatherland for the sake of Love.

    By Beatrice of Nazareth

    February 4, 2024
    • Elsa Coetzee

      What a JEWEL! Thank you! Elsa

    There are seven manners of loving which come down from the highest place and which return again to the summit from which they came.

    The first manner is an active longing which proceeds from love. It must rule a long time in the heart before it can thoroughly expel all opposition and it should act strongly and skillfully, and progress eagerly in this.

    This manner is surely a longing arising from love: that is, the pious soul desiring to serve our Lord faithfully, to follow him vigorously and to love him truly, is actively drawn into the zeal to attain and to remain in that purity, liberty and nobility in which it was made by its Creator according to his image and likeness; something which the soul must intensely love and preserve….

    The second manner of loving. Sometimes the soul has also another manner, that it sets itself the task to serve our Lord freely out of love alone, without any other motive and without any reward of grace or glory. As a noble maiden serves her lord out of great love and without remuneration, so to her it is enough that she serves him and that the lord allows her to serve lovingly, without measure, beyond measure and beyond human sense and reason, faithfully performing every service.

    When the soul attains this state, it becomes so ardent in desire, so ready to serve, so nimble in work, so meek in annoyance, so joyful in trouble! With its whole being it desires to please the Lord, and it is pleasant for it to find something to do or to suffer for the service and honor of love.

    a man kneeling and praying in a forest

    László Mednyánszky, Prayer 

    The third manner of loving. Sometimes the good soul has another manner of loving, which has many sorrows connected with it, namely when it desires to satisfy and yield to love in all service and all obedience and all loving submission. Sometimes this desire so greatly agitates the soul that it strives vigorously to undertake everything, to follow after every virtue, to suffer and endure everything, to fulfill all its work in love, withholding nothing and without measure.

    The fourth manner of loving. Our Lord is also accustomed to give other manners of loving, at one time with great pleasure, but at another with great sorrow. I wish to speak of this now. Sometimes it happens that love is sweetly awakened in the soul, rising up with joy, and flows in the heart without any human collaboration….

    When the soul feels itself in the superabundance of delights and in this great fullness of heart, its mind is wholly immersed in love and its body is withdrawn from itself; the heart melts away and all its power is consumed. So conquered is it by love that it can scarcely sustain itself, and loses its power over its members and senses.

    The fifth manner of loving. Sometimes it also happens that love is vehemently excited in the soul and it rises like a storm with a great uproar and a great frenzy, as though it would draw the soul outside itself into the exercise of love and into the exhaustion of love….

    The more the soul is given from above, the more it demands, and the greater the things shown to it, by greater desire is it drawn up to approach closer to the light of truth and purity and nobility and the fruition of love. The soul is always more and more stirred up and drawn along but it is not satisfied or satiated. What most afflicts and wounds it, also heals and soothes it; what wounds it most deeply is the only thing that gives it health.

    The sixth love. When the Lord’s bride has proceeded further and mounted higher with greater strength, she experiences another manner of loving loftier in hearing and higher in understanding. She feels that love has conquered all her adversaries within her, has corrected her defects and subdued her senses, has adorned her nature, has amplified and exalted her state of soul and gained dominion over herself without contradiction that she, the bride, possesses her heart in security, can delight in it in peace and must have the free exercise of it.

    When the soul is in this state, all things seem small, and everything which pertains to love’s dignity seems easy to do and to refrain from doing to tolerate and to bear, and so it is pleasing for the soul to exercise itself in love….

    The seventh manner of love. The blessed soul has also a higher manner of loving which gives it no little labor within, namely when it is drawn into a love beyond what is human, beyond human sense and reason, and beyond all the works of our heart. It is drawn through eternal Love alone into the eternity of Love, and into the incomprehensibility and vastness and inaccessible sublimity and deep abyss of the Godhead, which is totally present in all things and remains incomprehensibly beyond all things, which is immutable, perfect Being, all-powerful, all-intelligent, almightily operating….

    Therefore earth is a great exile, a stout prison and a grave annoyance to the soul. It despises the world; earth wearies it and what belongs to earth cannot calm or satisfy it. The soul’s great sadness is to have to be so far away and to seem so alien. It cannot forget its exile; its desire cannot be calmed; what the soul longs for wretchedly vexes it and thus afflicts and torments it beyond measure and without respite.

    For this reason the soul greatly longs and strongly desires to be freed from this exile and loosed from the body. With afflicted heart it then says with the apostle: “I long to be dissolved and to be with Christ.” (Phil. 1:23) Similarly, the soul has a vehement desire and a grievous impatience to be freed and to live with Christ. Not for sadness about the present time, not for fear of future trouble, but only for holy and eternal love does the soul ardently and impetuously long and languish to arrive at the eternal land and its glorious fruition.

    Love has tugged [the soul] and led it; love has taught the soul to travel love’s paths, and the soul has followed them faithfully, often in great labor and with many kinds of work, in much longing and vehement desire, in many kinds of impatience and great sadness, in weal and woe and in much pain, in seeking and in asking, in lacking and possessing, in climbing and remaining suspended, in following and striving, in need and distress, in fear and in cares, in languor and in ruin, in great faithfulness and much unfaithfulness, in joys and in sorrows, and thus the soul is prepared to suffer. It wills to love both in life and in death; it suffers many pains in its heart, and it longs to attain the fatherland for the sake of Love.

    This article is an excerpt from Beatrice of Nazareth, The Life of Beatrice of Nazareth, translated and annotated by Roger DeGanck, (Cistercian Publications, 1991) 289–331.

    Contributed By BeatriceOfNazareth Beatrice of Nazareth

    Beatrice of Nazareth (ca. 1200–1268) was a Dutch mystic and Cistercian nun.

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