First Notebook – Paragraphs 101-110
101. Jesus, You alone know how the soul, engulfed in darkness, moans in the midst of these torments and, despite all this, thirsts for God as burning lips thirst for water. It dies and withers; it dies a death without death; that is to say, it cannot die. All its efforts come to nothing; it is under a powerful hand. Now the soul comes under the power of the Just One. Al exterior temptations cease; all that surrounds it becomes silent, like a dying person who loses contact with everything around it; the person’s entire soul is in the hand of the Just God, the Thrice-Holy God, – rejected for all eternity! This is the culminating moment, and God alone can test a soul in this way, because He alone knows that the soul can endure.
When the soul has been saturated through and through by this infernal fire, it is, as it were, cast headlong into great despair. My soul experienced this moment when I was all alone in my cell. When my soul began to sink into this despair, I felt that the end was near. But I seized my little crucifix and clutched it tightly in my hand. And now I felt my body separate itself from my soul; and though I wanted to go to my Superiors, I no longer had the physical strength. I uttered my last words: “I trust in Your Mercy!” – and it seemed to me that I provoked God to an even greater anger. And now I was drowned in despair, and all that was left me was a moan of unadulterated pain which, from time to time, tore itself from my soul. The soul is in agony – and it seemed to me that I would remain in this state, because by my own strength I could not emerge from it. Every recollection of God opened up an unspeakable ocean of suffering, and yet despite this there is something within the soul which is drawn to Him, through it seems to her for this only – that she suffers more. The memory of the love with which God formerly surrounded it is still another kind of suffering. His gaze pierces it, and everything within the soul is burned by this gaze.
102. After some time, one of the sisters came into the cell and found me almost dead. She was frightened and went to find the Directress of Novices who, in the name of holy obedience ordered me to get up from the ground. My strength returned immediately, and I got up, trembling. The Directress recognized immediately the state of my soul and spoke to me about the inscrutable mercy of God, saying, “Do not be distressed about anything, Sister. I command this of you in virtue of obedience.” Then she said to me, “I see now, Sister, that God is calling you to a high degree of holiness; the Lord wants to draw you very close to Himself since He has allowed these things to happen to you so soon. Be faithful to God, Sister, because this is a sign that He wants you to have a high place in heaven.” However, I did not understand anything of these words. When I went into the chapel, I felt as though my soul had been set free from everything, as though I had just come forth from the hand of God. I perceived the inviolability of my soul; I felt that I was a tiny child.
103. Suddenly I saw the Lord interiorly, and He said to me, Fear not, My daughter; I am with you. In that single moment, all the darkness and torments vanished, my senses were inundated with unspeakable joy, [and] the faculties of my soul filled with light.
104. I want to add that, although my soul was already in the rays of His love, traces of my past tortures remained on my body for two days: a deathly pale face and bloodshot eyes. Jesus alone knows what I suffered. What I have written is very poor compared to the reality. I cannot put it in words; it seemed to me that I had come back from the other world. I feel an aversion for everything that is created; I snuggle to the heart of God like a baby to its mother’s breast. I see everything differently now. I am conscious of what the Lord, by one single word, has done in my soul, and I live by it. I shudder at the recollection of this past torture. I would not have believed that one could suffer so, if I had not gone through it myself. This is a completely spiritual suffering.
105. However, in all these sufferings and struggles, I was not omitting Holy Communion. When it seemed to me that I should not communicate, I went, before Holy Communion, to the Directress and told her that I could not approach the Sacrament, because it seemed to me that I should not do so. But she would not permit me to omit Holy Communion, so I went, and I understand now that it was only obedience that saved me.
The Directress herself told me later that my trials had passed quickly, “and this solely because you were obedient, Sister; and it was through the power of obedience that you struggled through this so bravely.” It is true that it was the Lord Himself who brought me out of this torment, but my fidelity to obedience did please Him.
106. Though these are frightening things, the soul should not be too fearful, because God will never test us beyond what we are able to bear. On the other hand, He may never send us such sufferings, but I write this because, if it pleases the Lord to let a soul pass through such sufferings, it should not be afraid but, insofar as this depends on the soul itself, it should remain faithful to God. God will do a soul no harm, because He is Love itself, and in this unfathomable love has called it into being. However, when I was so tormented, I myself did not understand this.
107. O my God, I have come to know that I am not of this earth ; You, O Lord, have poured this profound awareness into my soul. My communion is more with heaven than with earth, though I in no way neglect my duties.
108. During those times, I had no spiritual director; I was without any kind of guidance whatever. I begged the Lord, but He did not give me a director. Jesus Himself has been my Master from the days of my infancy up to the present moment. He accompanied me across all the deserts and through all dangers. I see clearly that God alone could have led me through such great perils unharmed, with my soul untarnished and passing victoriously through all difficulties, immense though they were. Going out [….] Later on, the Lord did give me a director.
109. After such sufferings the soul finds itself in a state of great purity of spirit and very close to God. But I should add that during these spiritual torments it is close to God, but it is blind. The soul’s vision is plunged into darkness, and though God is nearer than ever to the soul which is suffering, the whole secret consists in the fact that it knows nothing of this. The soul in fact declares that, not only has God abandoned it, but it is the object of His hatred. How grave is the malady of the eyes of the soul which, struck by divine light, claims that there is no light, whereas, it is so intense that it blinds her. Yet despite all, I learned later that God is closer to a soul at such moments than at others, because it would not be able to endure these trials with the help of ordinary grace alone. God’s omnipotence and an extraordinary grace must be active here, for otherwise the soul would succumb at the first blow.
110. O Divine Master, what happens in my soul is Your work alone! You, O Lord, are not afraid to place the soul on the edge of a terrible precipice where it stands, alarmed and filled with fright, and then You call it back again to Yourself. These are Your imponderable mysteries.