Up and down its burning cage the many-facultied and mightily intelligenced spirit wastes its excruciating immortality in varying and ever varying still, always beginning and monotonously completing, like a caged beast upon its iron tether, a threefold movement, which is not three movements successively, but one triple movement all at once. In rage it would fain get at God to seize Him, dethrone Him, murder Him, and destroy Him; in agony it would fain suffocate its own interior thirst for God, which parches and burns it with all the frantic horrors of a perfectly self-possessed frenzy; and in fury it would fain break its tight fetters of gnawing fire which pin down its radical love of the beautiful Sovereign Good, and drag it ever back with cruel wrench from its desperate propension to its uncreated Centre. In the mingling of these three efforts it lives its life of endless horrors. Portentous as is the vehemence with which it shoots forth its imprecations against God, they fall faint and harmless, far short of His tranquil, song-surrounded throne.
Pour views of its own hideous state revolve around the lost soul, like the pictures of some ghastly show. One while it sees the million times ten million genera and species of pains of sense which meet and form a loathsome union with this vast central pain of loss. Another while all the multitude of graces, the countless kind providences, which it has wasted pass before it, and generate that undying worm of remorse of which Our Saviour speaks. Then comes a keen but joyless view, a calculation, but only a bankrupt’s calculation, of the possibility of gains for ever forfeited, of all the grandeur and ocean-like vastness of the bliss which it has lost. Last of all comes before it the immensity of God, to it so unconsoling and so unprofitable; it is not a picture, it is only a formless shadow, yet it knows instinctively that it is God. With a cry that should be heard creation through, it rushes upon Him, and it knocks itself, spirit as it is, against material terrors. It clasps the shadow of God, and, lo! it embraces keen flames. It runs up to Him but it has encountered only fearful demons. It leaps the length of its chain after Him, but it has only dashed into an affrighting crowd of lost and cursed souls. Thus is it ever writhing under the sense of being its own executioner. Thus there is not an hour of our summer sunshine, not a moment of our sweet starlight, not a vibration of our moonlit groves, not an undulation of odorous air from our flowerbeds, not a pulse of delicious sound from music or song to us, but that hapless unpitiable soul is ever falling sick afresh of the overwhelming sense that all around it is eternal.
EXTRACT FROM “THE CREATOR AND THE CREATURE.”
BY FATHER FABER.