St Albert the Great

Be not afraid

What is more, as is said in the book On the Spirit and the Soul (of St. Augustine), to ascend to God means to enter into oneself. He who entering within and penetrating his inmost nature, goes beyond himself, he is truly ascending to God. So let us withdraw our hearts from the distractions of this world, and recall them to the inner joys, so that we can establish them to some degree in the light of divine contemplation. For this is the life and peace of our hearts—to be established by intent in the love of God, and to be sweetly remade by his comforting. But the reason why we are in so many ways hindered in the practical enjoyment of this matter and are unable to get into it is clearly because the human mind is so distracted by worries that it cannot bring its memory to turn within, is so clouded by its imaginations that it cannot return to itself with its understanding, and is so drawn away by its desires that it is quite unable to come back to itself by desire for inner sweetness and spiritual joy. Thus it is so prostrate among the sense objects presented to it that it cannot enter into itself as the image of God. It is therefore right and necessary for the mind to raise itself above itself and everything created by the abandonment of everything, with humble reverence and great trust, and to say within itself, He whom I seek, love, thirst for and desire from everything and more than anything is not a thing of the senses or the imagination, but is above everything that can be experienced by the senses and the intellect.  St Albert the Great ‘On Cleaving to God’

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Focus within distractions

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Naked understanding

The more you strip yourself of the products of the imagination and involvement in external, worldly things, and the objects of the senses, the more your soul will recover its strength and its inner senses so that it can appreciate the things which are above. So learn to withdraw from imaginations and the images of physical things, since what pleases God above everything is a mind bare of those sorts of forms and objects, for it is His delight to be with the sons of men, that is those who, at peace from such passions, seek Him with a pure and simple mind, empty themselves for Him, and cleave to Him. Otherwise, if your memory, imagination and thought are often involved with such things, you will be filled with the thought of new things or memories of old ones, or identify with other changing objects. As a result, the Holy Spirit withholds, itself from thoughts bereft of understanding. So the true lover of Jesus Christ should be so united through good will in his understanding with the Divine Will and goodness, and be so bare of all imaginations and passions that he does not even notice whether he is being mocked or loved, or something is being done to him. For a good will turns everything to good and is above everything. So if the will is good and is obedient and united to God with pure understanding, he is not hurt even if the flesh and the senses and the outer man is moved to evil, and is slow to good, or even if the inner man is slow to feel devotion, but should simply cleave to God with faith and good will in naked understanding. He is doing this if he is conscious of all his own imperfection and nothingness, recognizes his good to consist in his Creator alone, abandons himself with all his faculties… –St Albert the Great ‘On Cleaving to God’

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Renunciation with an open heart

Certainly, anyone who desires and aims to arrive at and remain in such a state must needs above all have eyes and senses closed and not be inwardly involved or worried about anything, nor concerned or occupied with anything, but should completely reject all such things as irrelevant, harmful and dangerous.  Then he should withdraw himself totally within himself and not pay any attention to any object entering the mind except Jesus Christ, the wounded one, alone, and so he should turn his attention with care and determination through Him into Him that is, through the man into God, through the wounds of His humanity into the inmost reality of His divinity. Here he can commit himself and all that he has, individually and as a whole, promptly, securely and without discussion, to God’s unwearying providence… –St Albert the Great ‘On Cleaving to God’

This statue of saint Albert the Great can be found in the Angelicum, the Dominican University in Rome.

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