(14th century)

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No one can hope to achieve contemplation without the foundation of much meditation on his or her own wretchedness, and on our Lord’s Passion, and the kindness of God, and God’s great goodness and worth.  All the same, the practised hand must leave them, and put them away deep down in the cloud of forgetting if he or she is ever to penetrate the cloud of unknowing between him/her and God.

So when you feel by the grace of God that you are being called to this work, and you intend to respond, lift your heart to God with humble love.  And really mean God who created you and redeemed you and graciously called you to this state of life.  And think no other thought about God.  It all depends on your desire.  A naked intention directed to God, and God alone, is wholly sufficient. 

If you want this intention summed up in a word, to retain it more easily, take a short word, preferably of one syllable, to do so.  The shorter the word the better, being more like the working of the Spirit.  A word like ‘God’ or ‘love’.  Choose which you like, or perhaps some other, so long as it is of one syllable. And fix this word fast to your heart, so that it is always there, come what may.  It will be your shield and spear in peace and war alike.  With this word you will suppress all thought under the cloud of forgetting.  So much so that if ever you are tempted to think what it is that you are seeking, this one word will be sufficient answer.  And if you would go on to think learnedly about the significance and analysis of that same word, tell yourself that you will have it whole, and not in bits and pieces.  If you hold fast, that thought will surely go.  And why?  Because you refuse to let it feed on the helpful meditations we spoke of earlier. 

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In their many different idioms the classical spiritual writers have attempted to throw light on the eternal question of union with God. 
Every month we give you a brief passage from a spiritual classic.