Love and Virtue (for MadPriest)

(I’ve been having a conversation with MadPriest here.)

Love: once a soul has reached this state [of abolishing self-will], she can say to the virtues: ‘I have no further need of you, now I have served you all this time’.

The Soul: I agree, dear Love. I was their servant, but your kind courtesy has set me free from enslavement to them. Virtues, I leave you behind forever! My heart is now freer and more at peace than it has ever been. It was hard work being your servant, that I know well. For a time I put my heart inseparably into your service and you knew it: I was completely given over to you, therefore then I was your slave, but now I am released, and I wonder how I was able to escape.

Love: This soul knows no care, has neither shame nor honour, neither poverty nor riches, neither joy nor sorrow, neither love nor hate, neither hell nor heaven.

Reason: For God’s sake, Love, what are you saying?

Love: What I mean can only be understood by those to whom God has given understanding and by none other; it is not taught by scripture, nor can human reason work it out… It is a gift received from the Most High, in whom all knowing leads to a loss of understanding…So this soul that has become nothing possesses all and possesses nothing, knows all and knows nothing, wills everything and wills nothing.

Reason: Lady Love, how can this be, you said before that this soul has no will? How, then, can she will everything and will nothing?

Love: Because, dear Reason, it is not the soul’s will that wills, but God’s will willing in her; the soul does not rest in love as if led to it by any desires of her own. Rather, love rests in her, takes over her will, and has her will of her. So now love can work in the soul without the soul’s will, and the soul will be freed from all cares.”
(Taken from ‘How to be a Heretic’, Denys Turner)

One irony: Marguerite Porete’s major writing was ‘A mirror of simple souls’, which was condemned as heretical in 1306. It was circulated anonymously after that time, and over time the authorship was forgotten whilst the text remained. In 1926 it was granted an official Catholic ‘imprimatur’ (ie approval) because it was seen as being written by ‘an unknown male of the fourteenth century’. Porete’s gender and language were more objectionable to the hierarchy than her theology.