(14th century)

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If you are to stand and not fall, never give up your firm intention: beat away at this
cloud of unknowing between you and God with that sharp dart of longing love.  Hate to think about anything else than God, and let nothing whatever distract you from this purpose.   It is only thus that you can destroy the ground and root of sin. 

Were you to fast beyond all measure, or watch at great length, or rise at the crack of dawn, or sleep on boards and wear chains – yes, if it were lawful (and it is not!) for you to pluck out your eyes, cut out your tongue, stop your ears and nose, amputate your limbs, and afflict your body with all the pain you could possibly think of – this would not help you at all.  The urge and impulse of sin would still be with you. 

More: however much you might weep in sorrow for your sins, or for the sufferings of Christ, or however much you might think of the delights of heaven, what good would it do you?  Much good, surely; much help, much profit, much grace.  But compared with this blind outreaching of love… there is very little indeed that it can do without love.   This, in itself, is the ‘best part’ that Mary chose (Lk 10:42).  Without it all the rest is virtually worthless.  Negatively, it destroys the ground and root of sin, and positively it acquires virtue.  For if this love is there in truth, so too will all other virtues truly, perfectly, and knowingly, be included in it.  And the firm intention will be unaffected.  Without it people may have as many virtues as they like; every one of them will be tainted and warped, and to that extent imperfect. 

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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.