Balzac, Honoré de - Seraphita - 09 The final stages of the spiritual path
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
SERAPHITA By Honore De Balzac Translated by Katharine Prescott Wormeley
When you have once felt the delights of the divine intoxication which comes of this internal travail, then all is yours! once take the lute on which we sing to God within your hands, and you will never part with it.
Hence the solitude in which Angelic Spirits live; hence their disdain of human joys.
They are withdrawn from those who must die to live; they hear the language of such beings, but they no longer understand their ideas; they wonder at their movements, at what the world terms policies, material laws, societies. For them all mysteries are over; truth, and truth alone, is theirs.
They who have reached the point where their eyes discern the Sacred Portals, who, not looking back, not uttering one regret, contemplate worlds and comprehend their destinies, such as they keep silence, wait, and bear their final struggles. The worst of all those struggles is the last; at the zenith of all virtue is Resignation,—to be an exile and not lament, no longer to delight in earthly things and yet to smile, to belong to God and yet to stay with men!
You hear the voice that cries to you, ‘Advance!’
Often celestial visions of descending Angels compass you about with songs of praise; then, tearless, uncomplaining, must you watch them as they reascend the skies! To murmur is to forfeit all.
Resignation is a fruit that ripens at the gates of heaven. How powerful, how glorious the calm smile, the pure brow of the resigned human creature. Radiant is the light of that brow. They who live in its atmosphere grow purer. That calm glance penetrates and softens. More eloquent by silence than the prophet by speech, such beings triumph by their simple presence.
Their ears are quick to hear as a faithful dog listening for his master. Brighter than hope, stronger than love, higher than faith, that creature of resignation is the virgin standing on the earth, who holds for a moment the conquered palm, then, rising heavenward, leaves behind her the imprint of her white, pure feet. When she has passed away men flock around and cry, ‘See! See!’ Sometimes God holds her still in sight,—a figure to whose feet creep Forms and Species of Animality to be shown their way.
She wafts the light exhaling from her hair, and they see; she speaks, and they hear.
‘A miracle!’ they cry.
Often she triumphs in the name of God; frightened men deny her and put her to death; smiling, she lays down her sword and goes to the stake, having saved the Peoples.
How many a pardoned Angel has passed from martyrdom to heaven! Sinai, Golgotha are not in this place nor in that; Angels are crucified in every place, in every sphere. Sighs pierce to God from the whole universe.
Soul of all things, oh my God, thou whom I love for Thyself! Thou, Judge and Father, receive a love which has no limit.
Give me of thine essence and thy faculties that I be wholly thine!
Take me, that I no longer be myself!
Am I not purified? then cast me back into the furnace!
If I be not yet proved in the fire, make me some nurturing ploughshare, or the Sword of victory!
Grant me a glorious martyrdom in which to proclaim thy Word!
Rejected, I will bless thy justice.
But if excess of love may win in a moment that which hard and patient labor cannot attain, then bear me upward in thy chariot of fire!
Grant me triumph, or further trial, still will I bless thee!
To suffer for thee, is not that to triumph?
Take me, seize me, bear me away! nay, if thou wilt, reject me! Thou art He who can do no evil.
Ah!” he cried, after a pause, “the bonds are breaking..........................
“Spirits of the pure, ye sacred flock, come forth from the hidden places, come on the surface of the luminous waves! The hour now is; come, assemble! Let us sing at the gates of the Sanctuary; our songs shall drive away the final clouds. With one accord let us hail the Dawn of the Eternal Day. Behold the rising of the one True Light! Ah, why may I not take with me these my friends! Farewell, poor earth, Farewell!”