“TO KNOW ONESELF IS THE KNOWLEDGE OF ALL KNOWLEDGE”
÷ HIGHER SPIRITUALITY ÷
÷ THE KEY TO INTERIOR PEACE ÷
÷ THE KNOWLEDGE OF ALL KNOWLEDGE ÷
“To know oneself is the knowledge of all knowledge and there are two cognitions which help the soul to know itself: the first is active, the second is passive. That which is active is the consideration of one’s nothingness before creation: one is to consider that they are worse than nothing due to their past and present sins. That which is passive is inspired by divine illustrations from the Lord, and this is the awareness of His divine Being, which absorbs into Itself our being.
O HOLY AND SACROSANCT HUMILITY!
O holy and sacrosanct humility! Blessed, and a thousand times blessed, that soul, which is adorned with this virtue: she is a true delight of God. But, O God! How rare is this humility and in how few does she dwell, because when we say true humility, we say also true ‘stripping’ of self love, destruction of pride and – in its stead – love of sufferings, scorn, injuries and disgrace; there is no scorn nor suffering which the humble soul does not desire, if she is truly humble.
WE ARE NOTHING
Basing our foundations on this great truth, revealed to us by our holy faith, that is, that we are nothing, that we are worthless, that we can do nothing and that at every moment we can be reduced to nothing if God sustains us not; and if, by chance, there is something good in us, it is not ours, but God’s, which in His goodness He grants to us.
THE KEY TO INTERIOR PEACE
Upon this truth understood well and practised on every occasion, we will live continuously in a great interior peace: because nothingness never resents, nor responds; rather it permits itself to be trampled upon, pushed around, insulted all the time, on every occasion, in every place, by all and by each one individually, not only by those who are superior to us but by those who are inferior, according to their inclination and when they please.
ALL THE SANCTITY OF A SOUL
Upon this truth well understood and better still practised, God bases all the sanctity of a soul. Solitude, silence, recollection help us to know ourselves and our wretchedness very well: we will therefore never spend time uselessly, so that we will be able diligently to attain such a great treasure, loving all the occasions of contempt, both interior and exterior.
ENTERING IMMEDIATELY INTO THE MOST BLESSED KINGDOM
By interior I mean: when the Lord leaves the soul so arid and desolate, that it knows not where to turn, full of wearisomeness and of regrets, surrounded by diabolical temptations, which it generously resists, but it fears within itself that it will not do what it must and is obliged to do; it experiences such a general nausea of all things, that it is necessary to do violence to itself in order to fulfil them, and this is followed by many other sufferings and afflictions, that only he who suffers in this way would know their number and measure. These are the obscure ways in which divine Wisdom places predilect souls in order to purify them as the purest of gold in the crucible of the fire of many sufferings, so that purified, they may be able, at the point of death, to enter immediately into the most blessed kingdom; indeed, they will not wait for the Lord until their death, because after having purged them in His own way, He unites them to Himself in such an intimate manner that they experience an anticipation of Paradise on earth.
The exterior occasions are abandonment by creatures, in being despised by them, bodily pains and infirmities and every misery that the human life obliges us to suffer. Even these things help us to know the stuff of which we are made and for this reason we love them and value their great worth.
GROUND YOURSELF IN YOUR NOTHINGNESS AND NOTHING ELSE
I would like, then, for you to consider yourself to be useless at all things, being amazed at being asked to fulfil some obedience, because in reality, you are good for nothing. Believe this and understand very well this truth: ground yourself in your nothingness and nothing else. Desire nothing in religion except to be forgotten and left in a corner. Present yourself to the Lord thus annihilated and He will welcome you as His dearest daughter and will present you to His divine Father, saying these most sweet words: ‘Volo, Pater, ut ubi ego sum sint et ancillae meae,’ that is: ‘I want, O Father, that where I am, there will be also these my servants, who here upon earth have been hidden from all creatures, almost as if they were nothing; here in Heaven, I want them to be loved and known.’ And turning to the blessed spirits it seems as if He says to them: ‘You see there, in that small corner of the earth, these my faithful servants sequestered and buried in the most humble estimation of themselves; they are very dear to me, however, because they are imitators of the hidden life which I lived upon earth. Love them, therefore, because they love Me and set them here amongst us on a noble throne.’ Thus says the Lord and it seems that the humble soul hears it and in a certain way can doubt it not; and therefore it desires to hide itself still more, finding in this hiddenness, its Paradise.”
– Bl. Mary Magdalene Martinengo. This article was published under the title “The knowledge of all knowledge” in “De Vita Contemplativa” (Monthly magazine for monasteries), Year VII – Number 6, June 2013.