I'm sure there will be great rejoicing and a great heaving of sighs that we have at last made it to the opposite shore of our great journey. It seemed at times perilous and uncertain that it might happen, but we are finally there. And we end with the last advice Rev. Flavel has for us regarding the application of the points previously taught.
from Christ Altogether Lovely
Rev. John Flavel
5. Never be ashamed to be counted as a Christian: he is altogether lovely; he can never be a shame to you; it will be your great sin to be ashamed of him. Some men glory in their shame; do not let yourself be ashamed of your glory. If you will be ashamed of Christ now, he will be ashamed of you when he shall appear in his own glory, and the glory of all his holy angels. Be ashamed of nothing but sin; and among other sins, be ashamed especially for this sin, that you have no more love for him who is altogether lovely.
6. Be willing to leave every thing that is lovely upon earth, in order that you may be with the altogether lovely Lord Jesus Christ in heaven. Lift up your voices with the bride, Rev. 20:20 "Come Lord Jesus, come quickly." It is true, you must pass through the pangs of death into his intimacy and enjoyment; but surely it is worth suffering much more than that to be with this lovely Jesus. "The Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and the patient waiting for Jesus Christ," 2 Thes. 3:5.
7. Let the loveliness of Christ draw all men to him. Is loveliness in the creature so attractive? And can the transcendent loveliness of Christ draw none? O the blindness of man! If you see no beauty in Christ that causes you to desire him, it is because the god of this world has blinded your minds.
And once again Rev. Flavel hits upon ancient themes of Christian teaching. First, be proud to be Christian, because in Christ is the summum bonum, or perhaps, more appropriately He is the summum bonum (as God is simple and cannot consist of parts but is complete unity, if the summum bonum reside within Him, then indeed it is Him, or so it would seem). By our love of Him, let us guide all of humankind to Him, neither being ashamed of our Christianity, nor halting when there are setbacks (scandals in the Church, etc.)
Be willing to let go of everything on Earth that keeps you from completely embracing His loveliness. Be prepared to leave behind prejudices, preferences, and personality. Be prepared to abandon all preconceptions, all restrictions, all modifications, all of our broken notions of God. Be willing to share of our substantial material goods and our wealth of spiritual goods. And be ready to climb out of this world into His embrace, in the next life, if not in this. But better to prepare oneself to this journey here and now. As R. Garrigou-Lagrange points out many times in Christian Perfection and Contemplation--the so called "Mystical life" is in fact the calling of every Christian. Those who obtain it here have a taste of heaven. Those who do not spend some time working it out in the life to come. We have a choice--the bliss of heaven on Earth or the rags of Earth transformed in Eternity.
Finally, we must let the loveliness of Christ speak for itself. We must be exemplars of that loveliness, and by living it, lead all people to it. Through our love, mercy, gentleness, kindness, and true and substantial caring, we should shine out like lamps on a lampstand. We are Christ's body now--His hands, His feet, His capabilities on Earth. We are His instruments, and thus the instruments of salvation to our brothers and sister who still live in darkness. Let us shine light into their lonely and frightening worlds. For once they see light, it is unlikely they will love to remain in the dark.
Thus we complete our cycle with the dear Rev. Flavel. Part of the point is to say simply that much wealth exists in all sorts of sources. We should be willing to mine those veins that yield much worthwhile. Truly there are a great many within the Catholic Church, but sometimes a trumpet from outside is better placed to attract our attention.
So, what to next? The sermons of Johannes Tauler? Van Ruysbroeck's The Sparkling Stone or The Book of Supreme Truth? St. Alphonsus's Uniformity with God's Will or The Necessity and Power of Prayer? I welcome recommendations or requests for any book related to the spiritual life of reasonably short length. I also welcome any conversation that might ensue as we pursue these works. After all, the point is to learn and to practice, we could all do with some reinforcement.