With this 8th diagram, we start a totally new part of the journey, the second and final part: the descent.
The descent, at the imitation of Christ.
Once we reach the “union with God”, once we reach the top of the mountain, we are not meant to loose that state, but we are meant to imitate Jesus, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!” (Phil 2:6-8) Having reached the Union with Jesus, He is our Master, our example, we are not higher than Him, we are just invited to become like him. “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.” (Luke 6:40) Like him, we have to start our descent.
When Jesus is humbling himself, He never stops from being God. Something similar happens to the person that reaches “Union with Jesus”. When we reach the Union with Jesus-God, we do not stop from being united with Him, deep deep in us, but we do strive to imitate Him, in order to continue the application of the Salvation to our brothers and sisters. We are lead by the Holy Spirit toward this descent.
Paradoxically, after the Union with God, it is not death that is awaiting for us (as many manuals of Spiritual Theologyseem to say), but the second part of our journey: continuing Jesus’ Journey on earth.
Instead of aiming “higher”, toward a death that will give us God, we are invited to look down, to go down, following Jesus, the Logic of Redemption. We are invited to start a new journey of great achievements. Note that the frame remains Christological.
So from a Greek (Greek Philosophers) vision of the climbing journey toward the One, we switch to a christian, christological, vision. This point is fundamental in order to have the right global vision of the whole journey, in its entirety.
What has been achieved until now (the Union with Jesus), allows us, allows Him in us, to perform “great works”, “completing in our flesh” the work of Salvation, or better said: the application of the Salvation obtained by Christ on the Cross on our brothers and sisters.
It is only “being rooted in Jesus” that something so high could be achieved, with total synergy between Christ and us.
Let us now read carefully this 8th Diagram, it deserves all our attention:
Seeing the diagram, first of all one has to notice the curve. Once one reached the top of the mountain, there is curve, a descending curve. If part of our being remains “on top of the Mountain” (the spirit (and therefore the whole being) remains united to Jesus), the rest of our being (soul and body) has to come down, be mystically united to our fellow brothers and sister (by the Holy Spirit), in order to help them, helping Jesus’ apply his Redemption to them. Of course all our being is now rooted in Jesus.
Secondly, one has to notice that this descending journey of the soul, after “the Union with Jesus-God” is following Jesus’ journey. There is nothing “new”, there is no new journey. The Disciple now is much more at the resemblance of his Master. The Master is alive in him. The disciple is not inventing another journey, the Truth is that he has flesh, like the Son of Man, and the latter is in fact his role-model, showing the way for him.
The second part of the journey has the following main stages:
1- Acquisition of the Holy Spirit
2- Turning toward the depth of Charity (the curve)
3- Enrolled in participating into Christ’s Passion
4- Death, out of love, giving our life to our brothers (martyrdom or equivalent)
This is a rapid outline. A lot should be said about each stage, and all what is happening inside.
The “mystical dimension” in the disciple’s life is constant. It has been inaugurated by the Union with Jesus. Of course it started to exist and grow much before, with the Growth of Charity in us, during the purification time.
It would be good to see the diagram, to contemplate it and meditate on the various quotes and thoughts that are on it, in order to engage in this “turning point”: from the ascent to the descent.
Again: the “descent” is not about loosing Jesus, it is about letting Charity (the Power of Love of the Holy Spirit in us) guiding us toward “greater things”. “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12) The works we do in the descending curve are much “greater” than the ones done in the ascending curve. Why? The reason is simple: the Union with Jesus makes all the difference. The Merit of any act after the union is different. This is why it is very urgent to grow in love and in the quality of love, then to make ourselves busy, noisily busy, with a thousands of things, thinking that we serve the Lord, forgetting that the One Who gives efficiency to our acts is the Holy Spirit.
Let us read what saint John of the Cross says:
“Observe, however, that if the soul has not reached the state of unitive love, it is necessary for it to make acts of love, as well in the active as in the contemplative life. But when it has reached it, it is not requisite it should occupy itself in other and exterior duties—unless they are matters of obligation— which might hinder, were it but for a moment, the life of love in God, though they may minister greatly to His service; because an instant of pure love is more precious in the eyes of God and the soul, and more profitable to the Church, than all other good works together, though it may seem as if nothing were done. Thus, Mary Magdalene, though her preaching was most edifying, and might have been still more so afterwards, out of the great desire she had to please God and benefit the Church, hid herself, nevertheless, in the desert thirty years, that she might surrender herself entirely to love; for she considered that she would gain more in that way, because an instant of pure love is so much more profitable and important to the Church.
When the soul, then, in any degree possesses the spirit of solitary love, we must not interfere with it. We should inflict a grievous wrong upon it, and upon the Church also, if we were to occupy it, were it only for a moment, in exterior or active duties, however important they might be. When God Himself adjures all not to waken it from its love, who shall venture to do so, and be blameless? In a word, it is for this love that we are all created. Let those men of zeal, who think by their preaching and exterior works to convert the world, consider that they would be much more edifying to the Church, and more pleasing to God—setting aside the good example they would give—if they would spend at least one half their time in prayer, even though they may have not attained to the state of unitive love. Certainly they would do more, and with less trouble, by one single good work than by a thousand: because of the merit of their prayer, and the spiritual strength it supplies. To act otherwise is to beat the air, to do little more than nothing, sometimes nothing and occasionally even mischief; for God may give up such persons to vanity, so that they may seem to have done something, when in reality their outward occupations bear no fruit; for it is quite certain that good works cannot be done but in the power of God.
O how much might be written on this subject! this, however, is not the place for it.” (Spiritual Canticle B, 29:2-3)