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Fire of Love
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CHAPTER XVI

THE PRAYER OF THE POOR, AND THE LOVING AND DESIRING TO DIE: AND OF THE PRAISING OF GOD’S CHARITY

When the devout poor man is noyed on account of his defaults, he can, if he will, pray and say:

Lord my God, Jesu Christ, have mercy on me and vouchsafe to behold the grievous yoke that is put upon my body, and therefore tarries not to cast down my soul. My flesh truly fails in the griefs of this life; wherefore also ghostly virtue is made weary. For all that I had in this world or of this world is ended, and nought is left but that Thou lead my soul to another world where my treasure is most precious and my substance richest, and unfailingly abides. Wherefore I shall live without default; I shall joy without sorrow; I shall love without irksomeness; and loving Thee, seeing Thee, and joying in Thee, I shall be endlessly fed. Thou truly art my Treasure, and all the Desire of my heart; and because of Thee I shall perfectly see Thee, for them I shall have Thee.

And I spake thus to death:

O Death, where dwellest thou? Why comest thou so late to me, living but yet mortal? Why halsest thou not him that desires thee?

Who is enough to think thy sweetness, that art the end of sighing, the beginning of desire, the gate of unfailing yearning? Thou art the end of heaviness, the mark of labours, the beginning of fruits, the gate of joys. Behold I grow hot and desire after thee: if thou come I shall forthwith be safe. Ravished, truly, because of love, I cannot fully love what I desire after, until I taste the joy that Thou shalt give to me. If it behoves me, mortal—because forsooth it so befalls—to pass through thee as all my fathers have gone, I pray thee tarry not mickle; from me abide not long! Behold, I truly languish for love; I desire to die; for thee I burn; and yet truly not for thee, but for my Saviour Jesu, whom, after I have had thee, I trow to see withouten end.

O Death, how good is thy doom to needy man, whose soul, nevertheless, is made sweet by love; to the man, forsooth, truly loving Christ and contemplating heavenly things, and sweetly burned with the fire of the Holy Ghost. After death he is taken soothly to songs of angels; because now being purged, and profiting, he dwells in the music of the spirit. And in melody full marvellous shall he die, the which when alive thought pithily upon that sweet Name; and with the companies meeting him, with heavenly hymns and honour, he shall be taken into the hall of the Eternal Emperor, being among heavenly dwellers in the seat of the blessed.

To this has charity truly brought him, that he should thus live in inward delight, and should gladly suffer all that happens, and should think on death, not with bitterness but with sweetness. Soothly then he trows himself truly to live, when it is given him to pass from this light.

O sweet Charity, thou art plainly the dearest sweetness; that catchest and takest the mind to thy love; and so clearly thou moistenest it that quickly thou makest it despise all passing things and vain joys, and only to marvellously yearn after thy desires. Thou hast come into me, and behold, all mine inward soul is fulfilled by the sweetness of heavenly mirth, and plenteous in the fervour of ghostly joy.

Therefore, truly I long after love, the fairest of flowers, and I am inwardly burned by the flame of fire. Would God I might go from the dwelling of this exile!

Thus it warms, man thinks not how, save that he feels solace in himself; the heart singing ditties and taken captive with the charge of charity. Soothly this that I thus receive is most merry, and I nearly die while it is thus made steadfast with burning love. Now grant my best Beloved that I may cease; for death, that many dread, shall be to me as heavenly music. Although I am sitting in the wilderness, yet I am now as it were set stable in Paradise, and there sweetly is sounding a loving song in the delights that my Love has given me.

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