02 February 2009

Hugh of Balma: The Last Petition

Continuing with Hugh of Balma’s mystical explanation of the Lord’s Prayer, he now offers his reflections on the seventh and final petition: “But deliver us from evil” in which the human spirit “asks to be freed from arousal and inclination toward sin.”

Although we continue “to aspire to a more intimate union” with the Beloved, “nevertheless the human spirit’s earthly body and the hostility of the flesh may sidetrack the spirit from aiming toward the heavens above.”

Stooping to shameful things could make the spirit “contemptible in the Eyes of the Bridegroom.” Thus we ask “to be set free from such things… so as to “not incur the darkening that would render” us “less desirable in” the “Beloved’s Eyes.”

And so, the human spirit “ought to open the eye of understanding inwardly” in order to “cling with all ardor of love to the spiritual Father and aspire to His dwelling-place.” Because of His desire to “share Himself” He created us in “His Image” and marked us “with the Image of the entire Trinity.” He created us to “depend solely on Him in the obedience of ignited love.”

“The efficacy of love will accomplish several things by means of repeated sighings.” When the soul is infused, we gain “by way of the flesh the corruptions” which frequently cause us to “fall back toward lower things.” When “the lower powers… become obedient, the spirit is partly re-formed and” our “original harmony reigns again in the flesh.” This victory which comes from on High, “gives the Bridegroom the praise He deserves, since it is He Who sends “fire into the spirit and dew into the flesh, extinguishing the flesh’s disfiguring punishment of the soul.” Once again “possessing the Bridegroom under the impact of having been set free, walking in the light,” we can pray with the psalmist: “O God, my God, toward You do I watch at the break of day; for You my soul has thirsted” (Psalm 62:2 [63:1]). “Since the soul is now freed from sins… in more ardent affections” we begin “to hold eager vigil at His door, seeking… to quiet the flesh and to make what has always been hostile to the spirit agree to its thoughts and wishes.”

“Noble knowledge is hidden in the Scriptures.” Hugh of Balma then follows that up with these closing thoughts: “Let no one be unsure about how the entire text of the Old and New Testaments can, with love leading the way and light accompanying, be explained according to the anagogic path and applied to the conversations and colloquies of the bride and Bridegroom. For not only Scripture, but indeed all creatures, whatever they may be… can be most strictly applied to this same purpose, since they possess hidden in themselves this very wisdom.”