Dogs of God

"The holy soul of the Song of Songs, feeling within herself the pain and harsh impediment of this worldly love, and wishing to hasten to God, her friend, pleads with him: 'Draw me to you and we will hasten to your anointing oils' (cf. Song of Songs 1:3-4), meaning your sweetness. And thus God often acts toward his servants, for he sends them a sweetness, an odor, a taste, a sober joy, a brilliance, a peace, an opening of their mind, a sense of bliss, a soundless sound. Briefly, there is an attraction, a process, and a movement that one is unable to describe, but which one does experience. Then the soul is freed from this bond of worldly love, and there is nothing that holds it back, not riches, nor carnal delights, nor enjoyment in drinking, in eating, in playing. Such a process is a source of amazement for worldly people, who are filled with foolish love. They mock and ridicule whatever this holy soul does, which is so drawn by God, for they see it leaving behind everything that they love and consider to be very good. But, in God's name, they do not know the condition of this soul and what it feels within itself.

"We can take an example from nature. We see that among a hundred dogs there are four hunting dogs. These four smell a stag, which none of the dogs can see. Immediately these four dogs who have the scent of the stag will follow its track. Nothing at all will be able to keep them back, neither hedges, nor bushes, streams, rocks, nor food that they might see on their path. The other dogs who have not gotten the scent, or are mongrels without instincts, and perhaps busy devouring carrion, will not run after the stag. Or they might do so only for a moment, because they see the other four dogs running, but they will quickly give up the chase, as if they wonder why those four are tiring themselves out for nothing. The rest will not even leave their carrion. Compare with these four dogs the people who have the good scent of God and of the goodness and the glory of the heavens, while worldly people who sense nothing at all are like the other dogs."

--Jean Gerson, The Mountain of Contemplation, trans. Brian Patrick Maguire (New York: Paulist Press, 1998), pp. 84-85 (hat tip to Laura Leone for this reference).


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