Mysticism: The Transformation of a Love Consumed by Desire into a Love without Desire

American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 76 (2):281-294 (2002)
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Abstract

Love, desire, and enjoyment are the best natural candidates for an understanding of mystic love. Grounded in these natural capacities, mystic love bestows a spiritual orientation upon them that they cannot give to themselves. Mystic love has everything in common with a passionate love; that is to say, a love consumed by desire. However, it also consists in a painful transformation of this self-destructive passion into a pure love; that is to say, a love without desire—which is another word for the highest contemplative prayers. The mystic way that brings about this transformation possesses a triadic structure. The first stage begins with the humble forms of meditative prayer and ends with the spectacular prayers of rapture and ecstasy. The suffering of the mystic night is the turning point, preparing the prayer of mystic union with God in which the soul loves all there is as it is

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