The Letters of St. Paul of the Cross: ‘Think of the Mystical Death’

Think of the mystical death. He who is mystically dead does not think of anything other than to live a deified life….and to await without anxiety all that God arranges for him, cutting off all that is of the outside, so as not to impede the divine work that is realized within the intimate chamber…., where the same powers are attentive to the divine work and to that the divine nativity that is celebrated at every moment and him who has a fortune to be dead mystically. ((The Mysticism of the Passion in St Paul of the Cross,  Ignatius Press, p. 253-254)


 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.  For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does.

John 5:19-20

To die mystically is to die to all that is not Christ in our lives. This process happens as we say no to our natural and fleshly desires and decide to live for Christ and not ourselves. We must be consistent in our NO to ourselves and our YES to Him. But this action of ours cannot fully bring us to this mystical death spoken of by St Paul of the Cross. Only the Lord Himself can bring about this mystical death which is the final blow to our flesh… the work of the Cross in us… and the manifestation of the “mystical birthing” of Christ in us.

We cannot get to this holy place of a “deified life” on our own. We pursue Him, but it is His pursuit of us that will take us to the place in Christ that we cannot get to in and of ourselves.  Our pursuit is what He looks for, our YES, with sacrifice, and when He sees that, He is quick to help us to go further than we ever could go on our own.  For who can truly love his enemy? Only Christ manifesting His life in us and through us can be and do what He has called of us.  Only He can do what He calls us to do.  We must be His empty vessel: emptied completely of ourselves in order that He can fill us completely with Himself.

What is truly astonishing about this is that Jesus Himself emptied Himself to show us the way.

Who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,

he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to death,
even death on a cross.

Philippians 2: 6-8

This interior work of the soul is so special that once the soul realizes the manifestation of Christ on the inside, then the soul desires to be ever attentive to the Hand and Voice that is at work. The soul desires that nothing would impede this holy work on the inside and in order to not miss anything the soul must put aside things that are a distraction. One such thing is idle conversation and also listening to things whether it be music or otherwise.  Even ‘Christian’ sermons or worship can impede the Holy Voice within and therefore, everything must be considered before the Divine Interior One before letting anything in.

Silence becomes the most precious treasure in order to be particularly attentive.

Suffering becomes a grace that is treasured because of the bonding to the Suffering Servant.

Humility becomes the happy place of the soul and the soul wants no notoriety because only One deserves to be noticed.

Worry, stress, anxiety is non-existent to the soul in this place because the soul is always waiting upon God for the next instruction and claims no ownership over itself anymore whatsoever. This soul is a completely dead soul to itself and completely alive in Christ.

This post was originally published on Upper Garden and is reprinted here with permission.

Image courtesy of Unsplash.

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