The Yes of Perfect Consent
Presence of God – Lord, grant that I may give You the free and full consent of my will.
St. John of the Cross very aptly says that the characteristic of union of wills is the yes of the soul’s “free consent” (Living Flame of Love 3,24) by which it gives itself entirely to God, surrendering itself completely to Him by the full and total gift of its will. In other words, the soul is henceforth so determined not to will anything but God and His good pleasure, that in every circumstance it only repeats its yes, by accepting with love all that He wills and does for it. This yes is effective, and not simply a desire; it is a yes by which the soul truly gives itself with all the generosity of which it is capable.
From the beginning of the spiritual life, the fervent soul should desire to give itself to God without reserve, always saying yes to Him. But in practice, being still hampered by the bonds of passions and attachment to creatures, it often happens that the soul’s gift is not a complete one. Frequently, in the concrete instances of life, when faced with the bitterness of renunciation and interior conflict, its ideal yes is changed into a virtual no. In the state of union, however, this is no longer true. Here the soul is so surrendered to the holy will of God that it does not take back anything of its gift; its yes is so definitive and efficacious that it offers and unites the soul to God as a bride to her Bridegroom; that is why the mystics call this state “spiritual espousals.”
It is important to realize, that, on the part of the soul, the intensity of its union with God depends on the perfection of its yes; it should be a consent that is perfect in breadth and in depth: in breadth, because it should extend not only to what God commands, but even to all that He desires, to all that would give Him greater pleasure. Love must keep the soul so vigilant and attentive that it can discern in various circumstances what pleases God most, and this same love should make the soul generous enough to accomplish all without the least hesitation. The yes must be equally perfect in depth, because the soul should adhere to the divine good pleasure, not with negligence, [stinginess], nor even with the slightest bad grace, but with all the ardor of its will, happy to be able to give itself to God, whatever sacrifice this might entail.
“O infinite God, I wish to offer and consecrate myself unceasingly to You on the altar of my heart. First of all, I offer You my soul, Your spouse, ransomed with Your precious Blood. I offer it as a place of repose for Your Majesty, that it may be transformed in You, no longer living of itself, but only with Your life.
“O divine Wisdom, I offer You my intellect avid for knowledge, that You may quench its thirst by enabling it to comprehend Your grandeurs! Enlighten my darkness, and let me taste You in that very sweet knowledge which inflames my heart with love.
“Next, O most beautiful Spouse of my soul, I offer You my will which seeks You above all else, to love You with an eternal ardor, and be united to You forever. Deign, O Lord, that my will may detach itself from all creatures and, soaring aloft, elevate itself to You; then, in the slumber of pure love, let it repose in the cavern of Your Heart. O delightful cavern, when shall I hide within You, and hear the pulsations of that Heart which gives me life and salvation?
“But why, O my God, do I offer You my soul with its faculties, when I am already all Yours by creation and, even more, by Redemption? Is there some advantage for You, O most lovable Life, in this gift and offering which I would make to Your majesty and greatness? No, certainly it is not for Your interest, but for mine, O immortal Life, that I offer and give myself to You, since I know with certainty that my happiness consists in uniting myself to You” (Ven. John of Jesus Mary).
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Art for this post on the yes of perfect consent: Mirror of El Venerable Padre Juan de Jesús María (The Venerable Father John of Jesus Mary), artist unknown, date unknown, from non-copyrighted open source material, PD-old. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.