The Love of Eternal Wisdom by Saint Louis De Montfort
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 Part One:

by Saint Louis De Montfort
Preliminary Remarks
Chapter 1

1. Prayer to eternal Wisdom

1. O divine Wisdom, Lord of heaven and earth, I humbly beg pardon for my audacity in attempting to speak of your
perfections, ignorant and sinful as I am. I beg you not to consider the darkness of my mind or the uncleanness of my lips
unless it be to take them away with a glance of your eyes and a breath of your mouth.

There is in you so much beauty and delight; you have shielded me from so many evils and showered on me so many
favours, and you are moreover so little known and so much slighted. How can I remain silent? Not only justice and gratitude,
but my own interests urge me to speak about you, even though it be so imperfectly. It is true, I can only lisp like a child, but
then I am only a child, anxious to learn how to speak properly through my lisping, once I have attained the fullness of your
age (cf. Eph. 4:13).

2. I know there seems to be neither order nor sense in what I write, but because I long so dearly to possess you, I am
looking for you everywhere, like Solomon, wandering in all directions (Wisd. 8:18). If I am striving to make you known in this
world, it is because you yourself have promised that all who explain you and make you known will have eternal life (cf. Sir.
8:18).

Accept, then, my loving Lord, these humble words of mine as though they were a masterly discourse. Look upon the strokes
of my pen as so many steps to find you and from your throne above bestow your blessings and your enlightenment on what I
mean to say about you, so that those who read it may be filled with a fresh desire to love you and possess you, on earth as
well as in heaven.

2. Admonitions of divine Wisdom to the rulers of this world given in the sixth chapter of the "Book of Wisdom"

3. 1. Wisdom is better than strength and prudence is better than courage. 2. Listen, therefore, kings, and understand. Learn,
you judges of the nations. 3. Hear this, you who rule the people and boast of the large number of nations subject to you. 4.
Remember you have received your power from the Lord and your authority from the Most High, who will examine your works
and scrutinise your thoughts. 5. For, though ministers of his kingdom, you have not judged fairly, nor observed the law of
justice, nor walked according to his will. 6. He will appear to you terribly and swiftly, because those who rule others will be
judged severely. 7. For God has more compassion for the lowly and they are forgiven more easily, but the mighty will be
punished mightily. 8. God shows no partiality; he does not stand in awe of anyone's greatness, because he himself made
both the lowly and the great and he is concerned for all alike. 9. But the great are threatened with greater punishment. 10.
To you then, rulers, my words are directed so that you may learn wisdom and may not go astray. 11. For they who perform
just deeds will be considered just and those who have understood what I teach will have a valid defence. 12. Therefore,
desire ardently to know my words, love them and you will find instruction in them.

4. 13. Wisdom is resplendent and her beauty never fades. Those who love her will have no trouble in recognising her; and
those who seek her will find her. 14. She anticipates those who desire her and makes herself known first to them. 15. He
who rises early to look for her will not be disappointed, for she will be found sitting at his gate. 16. To reflect on Wisdom is
the highest prudence and he who foregoes sleep to possess her will soon be given repose. 17. For she goes around
seeking those worthy of her, graciously shows her ways to them, guides them and provides for them with loving care. 18.
The first step, then, towards acquiring Wisdom is a sincere desire for instruction; the desire for instruction is love; and love is
the keeping of her laws. 19. Assiduous obedience to her laws assures a perfect purity of soul. 20. And perfect purity brings
one close to God. 21. Thus the desire for Wisdom leads to the everlasting kingdom. 22. If then, rulers of nations, you delight
in thrones and sceptres, love Wisdom and you will reign eternally. 23. All you who rule over the peoples of the world, love
the insight given by Wisdom. 24. I will tell you now what Wisdom is and how she came to be. I will not hide the secrets of
God from you but I will trace her right from the beginning. I will throw light upon her and make her known and not hide the
truth. 25. I will not imitate the man consumed with envy, for the envious have nothing in common with Wisdom. 26.
Multitudes of wise men will bring salvation to the world, and a prudent king is a strong support for his people. 27. Accept,
then, instruction from my words and you will draw profit from them.

[3. Preliminary observations]

5. I did not want, my dear reader, to mingle my poor words with the inspired words of the Holy Spirit. Yet I make bold to offer
a few comments: 1. How gentle, attractive and approachable is eternal Wisdom who possesses such splendour, excellence
and grandeur. He invites men to come to him because he wants to teach them the way to happiness. He is for ever
searching for them and always greets them with a smile. He bestows blessings on them many times over and forestalls their
needs in a thousand different ways, and even goes as far as to wait at their very doorstep to give them proofs of his
friendship. Who could be so heartless as to refuse to love this gentle conqueror?

6. 2. How unfortunate are the rich and powerful if they do not love eternal Wisdom. How terrifying are the warnings he gives
them, so terrifying that they cannot be expressed in human terms: "He will appear to you terribly and swiftly ... those who
rule will be judged severely ... the mighty will be punished mightily ... the great are threatened with greater punishment"
(Wisd. 6:6,7,9).

To these words can be added those he uttered after he became man: "Woe to you who are rich (Lk. 6:24) ... it is easier for a
camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven" (Mat. 19; Mk. 10; Lk. 18).

So often were these last words repeated by divine Wisdom while on earth that the three evangelists handed them down
without the least variation. They ought to make the rich weep and lament: "And now, you rich people, weep and wail over
the miseries that are coming upon you" (Jas. 5:1).

But alas! they find their consolation (Lk. 6:24) here on earth; they are as though captivated by the riches and pleasures they
enjoy and are blind to the evils that hang over their heads.

7. 3. Solomon promises that he will give a faithful and exact description of divine Wisdom and that neither envy nor pride -
both contrary to love - can prevent him from making known thiis heaven-sent knowledge, and he has not the least fear that
anyone will surpass him or equal him in knowledge (cf. Wisd. 6:24-26).

Following the example of this great man, I am going, in my simple way, to portray eternal Wisdom before, during and after his
incarnation and show by what means we can possess and keep him.

But as I do not have Solomon's profound learning or his insights I have less to fear from pride and envy than from my
incompetence and ignorance, which I trust, in your kindness, you will overlook.


CHAPTER ONE

TO LOVE AND SEEK DIVINE WISDOM WE NEED TO KNOW HIM

[1. Our need to acquire knowledge of divine Wisdom]

8. Can we love someone we do not even know? Can we love deeply someone we know only vaguely? Why is Jesus, the
adorable, eternal and incarnate Wisdom loved so little if not because he is either too little known or not known at all?

Hardly anyone studies the supreme science of Jesus, as did St. Paul (Eph. 3:19). And yet this is the most noble, the most
consoling, the most useful and the most vital of all sciences and subjects in heaven and on earth.

9. 1. First, it is the most noble of all sciences because its subject is the most noble and the most sublime: Wisdom uncreated
and incarnate. He possesses in himself the fulness of divinity and humanity alike and all that is great in heaven and on
earth, namely, all creatures visible and invisible, spiritual and corporal.

St. John Chrysostom says that our Lord is the summary of all God's works, the epitome of all the perfections to be found in
God and in his creatures (cf. Col. 1:16; 2:9).

"Jesus Christ is everything that you can and should wish for. Long for him, seek for him, because he is that unique and
precious pearl for which you should be ready to sell everything you possess."

"Let the wise man boast no more of his wisdom nor the strong man of his strength, nor the rich man of his wealth. But if
anyone wants to boast, let him boast only of understanding and knowing me and nothing else (Jer. 9:23-24)."

10. 2. Nothing is more consoling than to know divine Wisdom. Happy are those who listen to him; happier still are those who
desire him and seek him; but happiest of all are those who keep his laws. Their hearts will be filled with that infinite
consolation which is the joy and happiness of the eternal Father and the glory of the angels (cf. Prov. 2:1-9).

If only we knew the joy of a soul that perceives the beauty of divine Wisdom and is nourished with the milk of divine
kindness, we would cry out with the bride in the Song of Songs: "Your love is better than wine" (Song 1:3) better by far than
all created delights. This is especially true when divine Wisdom says to those who contemplate him, "Taste and see" (Ps.
33:9) eat and drink, be filled with my eternal sweetness (Song 5:1), for you will discover that conversing with me is in no way
distasteful, that my companionship is never tedious and in me only will you find joy and contentment (Wisd. 8:16).

11. 3. This knowledge of eternal Wisdom is not only the most noble and the most consoling of all, it is also the most useful
and the most necessary since eternal life consists in knowing God and Jesus Christ, his Son (Jn. 17:3).

Speaking to eternal Wisdom, the Wise man exclaims, "To know you is perfect righteousness and to know your justice and
your power is the root of immortality" (Wisd. 15:3). If we really want to have eternal life let us learn all there is to know about
eternal Wisdom.

If we wish to have roots of immortality deeply embedded in our heart we must have in our mind knowledge of eternal
Wisdom. To know Jesus Christ incarnate Wisdom, is to know all we need. To presume to know everything and not know him
is to know nothing at all.

12. Of what use is it for an archer to hit the outer part of a target if he cannot hit the centre? What good will it do us to know
all the other branches of knowledge necessary for salvation if we do not learn the only essential one, the knowledge of our
Lord Jesus Christ, the centre towards which all the other branches of knowledge must tend? Although the great Apostle St.
Paul was a man of such extensive knowledge and so well versed in human learning, still he said that he did not know
anything except Jesus Christ and him nailed to a cross (1 Cor. 2:2).

Let us then say with him, "I count as loss all the knowledge I have prized so highly until now when I compare it to the
knowledge of Jesus Christ, my Saviour" (Phil. 3:7-8). Now I see and understand that this knowledge is so excellent, so
captivating, so profitable, so admirable that I no longer take any interest in other branches of knowledge that I used to like so
much. Everything else is so meaningless, so absurd and a foolish waste of time. "I say this to make sure that no one
deceives you with beguiling words. Make sure that no one ensnares you with empty, rational philosophy" (Col. 2:4,8). I state
that Jesus is the abyss of all knowledge so that you do not let yourself be deceived by the fine, glowing words of orators or
by the specious subtleties of philosophers. "Grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" (2 Pet.
3:18).

That we may all grow in the knowledge and grace of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, incarnate Wisdom, we are going to
speak of him in the following chapters. But first, let us consider the different kinds of wisdom.

[2. Definition and division of the subject]

13. In the general sense of the term wisdom means a delectable knowledge, a taste for God and his truth.

There are several kinds of wisdom.

First, true and false wisdom. True wisdom is a taste for truth without falsehood or deception. False wisdom is a taste for
falsehood disguised as truth.

This false wisdom is the wisdom or the prudence of the world, which the Holy Spirit divides into three classes: earthly,
sensual, and diabolical.

True wisdom may be divided into natural and supernatural wisdom.

Natural wisdom is the knowledge, in an outstanding degree, of natural things in their principles. Supernatural wisdom is
knowledge of supernatural and divine things in their origin.

This supernatural wisdom is divided into substantial or uncreated Wisdom, and accidental or created wisdom. Accidental or
created wisdom is the communication that uncreated Wisdom makes of himself to mankind. In other words, it is the gift of
wisdom. Substantial or uncreated Wisdom is the Son of God, the second person of the most Blessed Trinity. In other words,
it is eternal Wisdom in eternity or Jesus Christ in time.

It is precisely about this eternal Wisdom that we are going to speak.

14. Starting with his very origin, we shall consider Wisdom in eternity, dwelling in his Father's bosom and object of his
Father's love.

Next, we shall see him in time, shining forth in the creation of the universe.

Then we shall consider him in the deep abasement of his incarnation and his mortal life; and then we shall see him glorious
and triumphant in heaven.

Finally we shall propose the means to acquire and keep him.

I leave to philosophers their useless philosophical arguments and to scientists the secrets of their worldly wisdom.

Let us now speak to chosen souls seeking perfection (1 Cor. 2:6) of true wisdom, eternal Wisdom, Wisdom uncreated and
incarnate.

Back To The Love Of Eternal Wisdom


Preliminary Remarks
Chapter 1
1. Prayer to eternal Wisdom

1. O divine Wisdom, Lord of heaven and earth, I humbly beg pardon for my audacity in attempting to speak of your
perfections, ignorant and sinful as I am. I beg you not to consider the darkness of my mind or the uncleanness of my lips
unless it be to take them away with a glance of your eyes and a breath of your mouth.

There is in you so much beauty and delight; you have shielded me from so many evils and showered on me so many
favours, and you are moreover so little known and so much slighted. How can I remain silent? Not only justice and gratitude,
but my own interests urge me to speak about you, even though it be so imperfectly. It is true, I can only lisp like a child, but
then I am only a child, anxious to learn how to speak properly through my lisping, once I have attained the fullness of your
age (cf. Eph. 4:13).

2. I know there seems to be neither order nor sense in what I write, but because I long so dearly to possess you, I am
looking for you everywhere, like Solomon, wandering in all directions (Wisd. 8:18). If I am striving to make you known in this
world, it is because you yourself have promised that all who explain you and make you known will have eternal life (cf. Sir.
8:18).

Accept, then, my loving Lord, these humble words of mine as though they were a masterly discourse. Look upon the strokes
of my pen as so many steps to find you and from your throne above bestow your blessings and your enlightenment on what I
mean to say about you, so that those who read it may be filled with a fresh desire to love you and possess you, on earth as
well as in heaven.

2. Admonitions of divine Wisdom to the rulers of this world given in the sixth chapter of the "Book of Wisdom"

3. 1. Wisdom is better than strength and prudence is better than courage. 2. Listen, therefore, kings, and understand. Learn,
you judges of the nations. 3. Hear this, you who rule the people and boast of the large number of nations subject to you. 4.
Remember you have received your power from the Lord and your authority from the Most High, who will examine your works
and scrutinise your thoughts. 5. For, though ministers of his kingdom, you have not judged fairly, nor observed the law of
justice, nor walked according to his will. 6. He will appear to you terribly and swiftly, because those who rule others will be
judged severely. 7. For God has more compassion for the lowly and they are forgiven more easily, but the mighty will be
punished mightily. 8. God shows no partiality; he does not stand in awe of anyone's greatness, because he himself made
both the lowly and the great and he is concerned for all alike. 9. But the great are threatened with greater punishment. 10.
To you then, rulers, my words are directed so that you may learn wisdom and may not go astray. 11. For they who perform
just deeds will be considered just and those who have understood what I teach will have a valid defence. 12. Therefore,
desire ardently to know my words, love them and you will find instruction in them.

4. 13. Wisdom is resplendent and her beauty never fades. Those who love her will have no trouble in recognising her; and
those who seek her will find her. 14. She anticipates those who desire her and makes herself known first to them. 15. He
who rises early to look for her will not be disappointed, for she will be found sitting at his gate. 16. To reflect on Wisdom is
the highest prudence and he who foregoes sleep to possess her will soon be given repose. 17. For she goes around
seeking those worthy of her, graciously shows her ways to them, guides them and provides for them with loving care. 18.
The first step, then, towards acquiring Wisdom is a sincere desire for instruction; the desire for instruction is love; and love is
the keeping of her laws. 19. Assiduous obedience to her laws assures a perfect purity of soul. 20. And perfect purity brings
one close to God. 21. Thus the desire for Wisdom leads to the everlasting kingdom. 22. If then, rulers of nations, you delight
in thrones and sceptres, love Wisdom and you will reign eternally. 23. All you who rule over the peoples of the world, love
the insight given by Wisdom. 24. I will tell you now what Wisdom is and how she came to be. I will not hide the secrets of
God from you but I will trace her right from the beginning. I will throw light upon her and make her known and not hide the
truth. 25. I will not imitate the man consumed with envy, for the envious have nothing in common with Wisdom. 26.
Multitudes of wise men will bring salvation to the world, and a prudent king is a strong support for his people. 27. Accept,
then, instruction from my words and you will draw profit from them.

[3. Preliminary observations]

5. I did not want, my dear reader, to mingle my poor words with the inspired words of the Holy Spirit. Yet I make bold to offer
a few comments: 1. How gentle, attractive and approachable is eternal Wisdom who possesses such splendour, excellence
and grandeur. He invites men to come to him because he wants to teach them the way to happiness. He is for ever
searching for them and always greets them with a smile. He bestows blessings on them many times over and forestalls their
needs in a thousand different ways, and even goes as far as to wait at their very doorstep to give them proofs of his
friendship. Who could be so heartless as to refuse to love this gentle conqueror?

6. 2. How unfortunate are the rich and powerful if they do not love eternal Wisdom. How terrifying are the warnings he gives
them, so terrifying that they cannot be expressed in human terms: "He will appear to you terribly and swiftly ... those who
rule will be judged severely ... the mighty will be punished mightily ... the great are threatened with greater punishment"
(Wisd. 6:6,7,9).

To these words can be added those he uttered after he became man: "Woe to you who are rich (Lk. 6:24) ... it is easier for a
camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven" (Mat. 19; Mk. 10; Lk. 18).

So often were these last words repeated by divine Wisdom while on earth that the three evangelists handed them down
without the least variation. They ought to make the rich weep and lament: "And now, you rich people, weep and wail over
the miseries that are coming upon you" (Jas. 5:1).

But alas! they find their consolation (Lk. 6:24) here on earth; they are as though captivated by the riches and pleasures they
enjoy and are blind to the evils that hang over their heads.

7. 3. Solomon promises that he will give a faithful and exact description of divine Wisdom and that neither envy nor pride -
both contrary to love - can prevent him from making known thiis heaven-sent knowledge, and he has not the least fear that
anyone will surpass him or equal him in knowledge (cf. Wisd. 6:24-26).

Following the example of this great man, I am going, in my simple way, to portray eternal Wisdom before, during and after his
incarnation and show by what means we can possess and keep him.

But as I do not have Solomon's profound learning or his insights I have less to fear from pride and envy than from my
incompetence and ignorance, which I trust, in your kindness, you will overlook.


CHAPTER ONE

TO LOVE AND SEEK DIVINE WISDOM WE NEED TO KNOW HIM

[1. Our need to acquire knowledge of divine Wisdom]

8. Can we love someone we do not even know? Can we love deeply someone we know only vaguely? Why is Jesus, the
adorable, eternal and incarnate Wisdom loved so little if not because he is either too little known or not known at all?

Hardly anyone studies the supreme science of Jesus, as did St. Paul (Eph. 3:19). And yet this is the most noble, the most
consoling, the most useful and the most vital of all sciences and subjects in heaven and on earth.

9. 1. First, it is the most noble of all sciences because its subject is the most noble and the most sublime: Wisdom uncreated
and incarnate. He possesses in himself the fulness of divinity and humanity alike and all that is great in heaven and on
earth, namely, all creatures visible and invisible, spiritual and corporal.

St. John Chrysostom says that our Lord is the summary of all God's works, the epitome of all the perfections to be found in
God and in his creatures (cf. Col. 1:16; 2:9).

"Jesus Christ is everything that you can and should wish for. Long for him, seek for him, because he is that unique and
precious pearl for which you should be ready to sell everything you possess."

"Let the wise man boast no more of his wisdom nor the strong man of his strength, nor the rich man of his wealth. But if
anyone wants to boast, let him boast only of understanding and knowing me and nothing else (Jer. 9:23-24)."

10. 2. Nothing is more consoling than to know divine Wisdom. Happy are those who listen to him; happier still are those who
desire him and seek him; but happiest of all are those who keep his laws. Their hearts will be filled with that infinite
consolation which is the joy and happiness of the eternal Father and the glory of the angels (cf. Prov. 2:1-9).

If only we knew the joy of a soul that perceives the beauty of divine Wisdom and is nourished with the milk of divine
kindness, we would cry out with the bride in the Song of Songs: "Your love is better than wine" (Song 1:3) better by far than
all created delights. This is especially true when divine Wisdom says to those who contemplate him, "Taste and see" (Ps.
33:9) eat and drink, be filled with my eternal sweetness (Song 5:1), for you will discover that conversing with me is in no way
distasteful, that my companionship is never tedious and in me only will you find joy and contentment (Wisd. 8:16).

11. 3. This knowledge of eternal Wisdom is not only the most noble and the most consoling of all, it is also the most useful
and the most necessary since eternal life consists in knowing God and Jesus Christ, his Son (Jn. 17:3).

Speaking to eternal Wisdom, the Wise man exclaims, "To know you is perfect righteousness and to know your justice and
your power is the root of immortality" (Wisd. 15:3). If we really want to have eternal life let us learn all there is to know about
eternal Wisdom.

If we wish to have roots of immortality deeply embedded in our heart we must have in our mind knowledge of eternal
Wisdom. To know Jesus Christ incarnate Wisdom, is to know all we need. To presume to know everything and not know him
is to know nothing at all.

12. Of what use is it for an archer to hit the outer part of a target if he cannot hit the centre? What good will it do us to know
all the other branches of knowledge necessary for salvation if we do not learn the only essential one, the knowledge of our
Lord Jesus Christ, the centre towards which all the other branches of knowledge must tend? Although the great Apostle St.
Paul was a man of such extensive knowledge and so well versed in human learning, still he said that he did not know
anything except Jesus Christ and him nailed to a cross (1 Cor. 2:2).

Let us then say with him, "I count as loss all the knowledge I have prized so highly until now when I compare it to the
knowledge of Jesus Christ, my Saviour" (Phil. 3:7-8). Now I see and understand that this knowledge is so excellent, so
captivating, so profitable, so admirable that I no longer take any interest in other branches of knowledge that I used to like so
much. Everything else is so meaningless, so absurd and a foolish waste of time. "I say this to make sure that no one
deceives you with beguiling words. Make sure that no one ensnares you with empty, rational philosophy" (Col. 2:4,8). I state
that Jesus is the abyss of all knowledge so that you do not let yourself be deceived by the fine, glowing words of orators or
by the specious subtleties of philosophers. "Grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" (2 Pet.
3:18).

That we may all grow in the knowledge and grace of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, incarnate Wisdom, we are going to
speak of him in the following chapters. But first, let us consider the different kinds of wisdom.

[2. Definition and division of the subject]

13. In the general sense of the term wisdom means a delectable knowledge, a taste for God and his truth.

There are several kinds of wisdom.

First, true and false wisdom. True wisdom is a taste for truth without falsehood or deception. False wisdom is a taste for
falsehood disguised as truth.

This false wisdom is the wisdom or the prudence of the world, which the Holy Spirit divides into three classes: earthly,
sensual, and diabolical.

True wisdom may be divided into natural and supernatural wisdom.

Natural wisdom is the knowledge, in an outstanding degree, of natural things in their principles. Supernatural wisdom is
knowledge of supernatural and divine things in their origin.

This supernatural wisdom is divided into substantial or uncreated Wisdom, and accidental or created wisdom. Accidental or
created wisdom is the communication that uncreated Wisdom makes of himself to mankind. In other words, it is the gift of
wisdom. Substantial or uncreated Wisdom is the Son of God, the second person of the most Blessed Trinity. In other words,
it is eternal Wisdom in eternity or Jesus Christ in time.

It is precisely about this eternal Wisdom that we are going to speak.

14. Starting with his very origin, we shall consider Wisdom in eternity, dwelling in his Father's bosom and object of his
Father's love.

Next, we shall see him in time, shining forth in the creation of the universe.

Then we shall consider him in the deep abasement of his incarnation and his mortal life; and then we shall see him glorious
and triumphant in heaven.

Finally we shall propose the means to acquire and keep him.

I leave to philosophers their useless philosophical arguments and to scientists the secrets of their worldly wisdom.

Let us now speak to chosen souls seeking perfection (1 Cor. 2:6) of true wisdom, eternal Wisdom, Wisdom uncreated and
incarnate.

ORIGIN AND EXCELLENCE OF ETERNAL WISDOM

15. Here, with St. Paul, we must declare, "O the depth, the immensity and the incomprehensibility of the Wisdom of God" (Rom.
11:33) : Generationem ejus quis enarrabit? (Is. 53:8; Acts 8:33). Who is the angel so enlightened, who is the man rash enough as to
attempt to give us an adequate explanation of the origin of eternal Wisdom? For here all human beings must close their eyes so as
not to be blinded by the vivid brightness of his light.

All should be silent for fear of tarnishing his perfect beauty by attempting to portray him.

Every mind should realise its inadequacy and adore, lest in striving to fathom him, it be crushed by the tremendous weight of his
glory.

[1. Wisdom in reference to the Father]

16. Adapting himself to our weakness, the Holy Spirit offers this description of eternal Wisdom in the Book of Wisdom which he
composed just for us.

"Eternal Wisdom is a breath of the power of God, a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty. Hence nothing defiled gains
entrance into him. He is the reflection of eternal light, the spotless mirror of God's majesty, the image of his goodness" (Wisd.
7:25,26).

17. He is the substantial and eternal idea of divine beauty which was shown to St. John the Evangelist in his ecstatic vision on the
island of Patmos, when he exclaimed, "In the beginning was the Word - the Son of God, or eternal Wisdom - and the Word was in
God and the Word was God" (Jn. 1:1).

18. This is the eternal Wisdom of which Solomon often speaks in his book (cf. Sir. 1:4,8; 24:14) when he says that Wisdom was
created - that is, produced - from the very beginning before anything was made or even before the beginning of time.

Speaking of himself, Wisdom says, "I was begotten from eternity, before the creation of the world. The depths did not exist as yet
and I was already conceived" (Prov. 8:23,24).

19. God the Father was well pleased with the sovereign beauty of eternal Wisdom, his Son, throughout time and eternity, as he
himself explicitly testified on the day of his Son's baptism and his transfiguration, "This is my beloved Son with whom I am well
pleased" (Mt. 17:5; cf. Mt. 3:17. Cf. Nos. 55, 98).

This splendour of dazzling and incomprehensible light of which the apostles caught a glimpse in the Transfiguration, filled them with
delight and lifted them to the heights of ecstasy:

Illustre quiddam (cernimus) Sublime, celsum, interminum, Antiquius caelo et chao: This eternal Wisdom is - Something resplendent,
Sublime, immense, and infinite, More ancient than the universe.

My words fail to give even the faintest idea of his beauty and supreme gentleness, and fall infinitely short of his excellence: for who
can ever form an adequate idea of him? Who could ever portray him faithfully? You alone, great God, know who he is and can
reveal him to all you wish (cf. Mt. 11:27; Lk. 10:22).

[2. The activity of eternal Wisdom in souls]

20. This is how divine Wisdom himself describes in the twenty-fourth chapter of Ecclesiasticus the effects of his activity in souls. I
shall not mingle my poor words with his for fear of diminishing their clarity and sublime meaning. 1. Wisdom will sing her own
praises. She will be honoured in the Lord and will proclaim his glory before his own people. 2. In the assembly of the Most High she
will open her mouth; she will glorify herself in the armies of the Lord. 3. She will be raised up in the midst of her own people and will
be admired in the assembly of all the saints. 4. In the multitude of the elect she will be praised and will be blessed by those who are
blessed by God. She will say:

21. 5. I came forth from the mouth of the Most High; I was born before all creatures. 6. I made an unquenchable light appear in the
sky and I covered the whole earth like a mist. 7. I had my dwelling in the heights and my throne was in a pillar of cloud. 8. Alone I
compassed the vault of heaven; I penetrated into the depths of the abyss; I walked on the waves of the sea, 9. and travelled all over
the earth.

22. 10. I held sway over every people and every nation. 11. By my power I have trodden underfoot the hearts of all men, great and
small; and among all these things I searched for a resting-place and a dwelling in the heritage of the Lord.

23. 12. Then the Creator of the universe commanded me and spoke to me: he who created me rested in my tent. 13. And he said to
me: "Dwell in Jacob, let Israel be your heritage, and take root in my elect."

24. 14. In the beginning, before all ages, he created me and through the ages I shall never cease to be, and in the holy tabernacle I
ministered before him. 15. I fixed my abode in Sion; I found rest in the holy City, and Jerusalem became my domain.

25. 16. I took root in the people whom the Lord had honoured, whose heritage is the portion of the Lord. I fixed my abode in the
assembly of all the saints. 17. Like a cedar on Lebanon and like a cypress on Mount Sion I have grown tall. 18. I raised my branches
high like a palm-tree in Engedi and like the rose-bushes of Jericho. 19. I grew tall like a beautiful olive-tree in the field,like a
plane-tree planted along the road near the water. 20. I gave forth fragrance like cinnamon or the most precious balm; I gave forth
perfume like the most exquisite myrrh. 21. I have filled my house with sweet fragrance as of galbanum, onycha, myrrh and with the
sweet smell of incense; I exude the scent of the purest balm. 22. I spread out my branches like a terebinth and my branches are
glorious and graceful. 23. I have grown sweet-smelling flowers like the vine; my blossoms are the fruits of glory and wealth.

26. 24. I am the mother of pure love, of fear, of knowledge and of holy hope. 25. In me is all grace of the way and of the truth; in me
is all hope of life and strength.

27. 26. Come to me, all you who desire for me, and be filled with my fruits. 27. For my spirit is sweeter than honey and my
inheritance more delightful than the sweetest honeycomb. 28. My renown will endure down through the ages.

28. 29. Those who eat of me will hunger for more; those who drink of me will thirst for more. 30. Those who listen to me will not be
put to shame; those who work with me will not sin. 31. Those who make me known will possess eternal life. 32. All this is the book of
life, the covenant of the Most High, and the knowledge of the truth."

29. Eternal Wisdom compares himself to all these trees and plants, characterised by their varied fruits and qualities which illustrate
the great variety of states, functions and virtues of privileged souls. These resemble cedars by the loftiness of their hearts raised up
towards heaven, or cypress trees by their constant meditation on death. They resemble palm-trees by their humble endurance of
labour, or rose-bushes by martyrdom and the shedding of their blood. They resemble plane-trees planted along river banks, or
terebinths with their branches spread out wide, signifying their great love for their fellow-men. They resemble all the other less
noticeable but fragrant plants like balm, myrrh and others which symbolise all those retiring souls who prefer to be known by God
more than by man.

30. Divine Wisdom shows himself to be the mother and source of all good and he exhorts all men to give up everything and desire
him alone. Because, as St Augustine says, "he gives himself only to those who desire him and seek him with all the zeal such a lofty
aim deserves."

In verses 30 and 31 divine Wisdom lists three degrees in holy living, the last of which constitutes perfection: (1) Listen to God with
humble submission; (2) Act in him and through him with persevering fidelity; (3) Seek to acquire the light and unction you need to
inspire others with that love for Wisdom which will lead them to eternal life.

THE MARVELLOUS POWER OF DIVINE WISDOM SHOWN IN THE CREATION OF THE WORLD AND MAN

[1. In the creation of the world]

31. Eternal Wisdom began to manifest himself outside the bosom of God the Father when, after a whole eternity, he made light,
heaven and earth. St John tells us that everything was made through the Word, that is eternal Wisdom: "All things were made by him"
(Jn. 1:3; cf. Heb. 1:2; Col. 1:16-17).

Solomon says that eternal Wisdom is the mother and maker of all things. Notice that Solomon does not call him simply the maker of
the universe but also its mother because the maker does not love and care for the work of his hands like a mother does for her child
(Wisd. 7: 12,21).

32. After creating all things, eternal Wisdom abides in them to contain, maintain and renew them (Wisd. 1:7; 7:27). It was this
supremely perfect beauty who, after creating the universe, established the magnificent order we find there. He it was who separated,
arranged, evaluated, augmented and calculated everything.

He spread out the skies; he set the sun, the moon, the stars and the planets in perfect order. He laid the foundations of the earth and
assigned limits and laws to the sea and depths to the ocean. He raised mountains and gave moderation to all things even to the
springs of water. Finally, he says, "I was with God and I disposed everything with such perfect precision and such pleasing variety
that it was like playing a game to entertain my Father and myself" (Prov. 8:30-31).

33. This mysterious game of divine Wisdom is clearly seen in the great variety of all he created. Apart from considering the different
species of angels whose number is well-nigh infinite, and the varied brightness of the stars and the different temperaments of men,
we are filled with wonderment at the changes we see in the seasons and the weather, at the variety of instincts in animals, at the
different species of plants, at the diversified beauty of the flowers and the different tastes of the fruits. "Let him who is wise
understand these things" (Hos. 14:10; cf. Jer. 9:12; Ps. 106:43). Who is the one to whom eternal Wisdom has communicated his
wisdom? That person alone will understand these mysteries of nature.

34. Eternal Wisdom has revealed these things to the saints, as we learn from their biographies. At times they were so astonished at
the beauty, the harmony and the order that God has put into the smallest things, such as a bee, an ant, an ear of corn, a flower, a
worm, that they were carried away in rapture and ecstasy.

[2. In the creation of man]

35. If the power and gentleness of eternal Wisdom were so luminously evident in the creation, the beauty and order of the universe,
they shone forth far more brilliantly in the creation of man. For man is his supreme masterpiece, the living image of his beauty and his
perfection, the great vessel of his graces, the wonderful treasury of his wealth and in a unique way his representative on earth. "By
your wisdom you appointed man to have dominion over every creature you made" (Wisd. 9:2).

36. For the glory of this magnificent and powerful Worker I must describe the original beauty and excellence of man as created by
divine Wisdom. But the state of man's grievous sin has fallen upon me, poor miserable child of Eve, dulling my understanding to the
point that I can describe only very imperfectly the work of man's creation.

37. We might say that eternal Wisdom made copies, that is, shining likenesses of his own intelligence, memory, and will, and infused
them into the soul of man so that he might become the living image of the Godhead. In man's heart he enkindled the fire of the pure
love of God. He gave him a radiant body and virtually enshrined within him a compendium of all the various perfections of angels,
animals, and other created things.

38. Man's entire being was bright without shadow, beautiful without blemish, pure without stain, perfectly proportioned without
deformity, flaw, or imperfection. His mind, gifted with the light of wisdom, understood perfectly both Creator and creature. The grace
of God was in his soul making him innocent and pleasing to the most High God. His body was endowed with immortality. He had the
pure love of God in his heart without any fear of death, for he loved God ceaselessly, without wavering and purely for God himself. In
short, man was so godlike, so absorbed and rapt in God that he had no unruly passions to subdue and no enemies to overcome.

Such was the generosity shown to man by eternal Wisdom and such was the happiness that man enjoyed in his state of innocence.

39. But, alas, the vessel of the Godhead was shattered into a thousand pieces. This beautiful star fell from the skies. This brilliant
sun lost its light. Man sinned, and by his sin lost his wisdom, his innocence, his beauty, his immortality. In a word, he lost all the good
things he was given and found himself burdened with a host of evils. His mind was darkened and impaired. His heart turned cold
towards the God he no longer loved. His sin-stained soul resembled Satan himself. The passions were in disorder; he was no longer
master of himself. His only companions are the devils who have made him their slave and their abode. Even creatures have risen up
in warfare against him.

In a single instant, man became the slave of demons, the object of God's anger (Cf. Eph. 2:3), the prey of the powers of hell.

He became so hideous in his own sight that he hid himself for shame. He was cursed and condemned to death. He was driven from
the earthly paradise and excluded from heaven. With no hope of future happiness, he was doomed to eke out a pitiable life upon an
earth under curse (cf. Gen. 3:10; 17:23; 4:11,12). He would eventually die like a criminal and after death, together with all his
posterity, share the devil's damnation in body and soul.

Such was the frightful calamity which befell man when he sinned. Such was the well-deserved sentence God in his justice
pronounced against him.

40. Seeing himself in such a plight, Adam came close to despair. He could not hope for help from angels or any of God's creatures.
Nothing could restore his privileges because he had been so eminently fair, so very magnificently fashioned when he was created,
and now by his sin he had become so hideous, so repulsive. He saw himself banished from Paradise and from the presence of God.
He could see God's justice pursuing him in all his descendants. He saw heaven closed and no one to open it; he saw hell open and
no one to close it.

MARVELS OF WISDOM'S GOODNESS AND MERCY BEFORE HIS INCARNATION

41. Eternal Wisdom was deeply moved by the plight of Adam and all his descendants. He was profoundly distressed at seeing his
vessel of honour shattered, his image torn to pieces, his masterpiece destroyed, his representative in this world overthrown.

He listened tenderly to man's sighs and entreaties and he was moved with compassion when he saw the sweat of his brow, the tears
in his eyes, the fatigue of his arms, his sadness of heart, his affliction of soul.

[1. The Incarnation is decreed]

42. I seem to see this lovable Sovereign convoking and assembling the most holy Trinity, a second time, so to speak, for the purpose
of rehabilitating man in the state he formerly created him (cf. Gen. 1:26). We can picture a kind of contest going on in this grand
council between eternal Wisdom and God's justice.

43. I seem to hear eternal Wisdom, in his plea on behalf of man, admit that because of his sin man and all his descendants deserve to
be condemned and to spend all eternity with the rebel angels. Still, man should be pitied because he sinned more through ignorance
and weakness than through malice. He points out that it would be a pity if such an exquisite masterpiece were to become the slave of
the devil for ever, and millions upon millions of men were to be lost eternally, through the sin of only one man. Besides, eternal
Wisdom draws attention to the places left vacant by the fall of the apostate angels. Would it not be fitting to fill these places? And
would not God receive great glory in time and in eternity if man were saved?

44. It seems to me that I hear the God of justice replying that the sentence of death and eternal damnation has been pronounced
against man and his descendants, and it must be carried out without pardon or mercy, just as happened in the case of Lucifer and his
followers. Man has shown himself ungrateful for the gifts he received, has followed the devil in pride and disobedience and should
therefore follow him in his punishment, for sin must necessarily be punished.

45. Eternal Wisdom seeing that nothing on earth can expiate man's sin, that nothing can satisfy divine justice and appease God's
anger and still, wishing to save unfortunate man whom he cannot help loving, finds a wonderful way of accomplishing this.

Wonder of wonders! With boundless and incomprehensible love, this tender-hearted Lord offers to comply with his justice, to calm the
divine anger, to rescue us from the slavery of the devil and from the flames of hell, and to merit for us eternal happiness.

46. His offer is accepted; a decision is reached and made. Eternal Wisdom, the Son of God, will become man at a suitable time and in
determined circumstances. For about four thousand years - from the creation of the world and Adam's sin until the Incarnation of
divine Wisdom - Adam and his descendants were subject to death, just as God had decreed. But in view of the Incarnation of the Son
of God, they received the graces they needed to obey his commandments and do salutary penance for any they might have
transgressed. If they died in the state of grace and in God's friendship, their souls went to Limbo, there to await their Saviour and
Deliverer who would open the gates of heaven for them.

[2. The time before the Incarnation]

47. During the whole time preceding his Incarnation, eternal Wisdom proved in a thousand ways his friendship for men and his great
desire to bestow his favours on them and to converse with them. "My delight is to be with the children of men" (Prov. 8:31). He went
about seeking those worthy of him (Wisd. 6:16), that is those worthy of his friendship, his precious gifts, his very person. He passed
through different nations, making them prophets and friends of God (Wisd. 7:27; cf. 7:14). He it was who instructed all the holy
patriarchs, all the friends of God, all the saints and prophets of the old and new testaments (Wisd. 7).

This same Wisdom inspired men of God and spoke by the mouths of the prophets. He directed their ways and enlightened them in
their doubts. He upheld them in their weakness and freed them from all harm.

48. This is how the Holy Spirit tells it in the tenth chapter of the Book of Wisdom (Wisd. 10:1-21). 1. It was Wisdom who safeguarded
Adam, the first man, created alone to be the father of all men. 2. He rescued him from his sin and gave him power to control and rule
over all things. 3. When the sinful Cain in anger withdrew from Wisdom, he perished because through his fury he became the
murderer of his brother. 4. When the Deluge flooded the earth, because of him, it was Wisdom again who saved it, piloting the just
man Noah in a frail wooden ark. 5. When the nations conspired together to do evil, Wisdom discerned the just man, Abraham,
preserved him in innocence before God and kept him resolute in overcoming the pity he felt for his son, Isaac. 6. Wisdom rescued the
righteous man, Lot, when he fled from the company of wicked men who perished as fire descended upon the Five Cities. 7. Evidence
of their wickedness still remains - a smoking wasteland, plants bearing fruit that never ripen, and a pillar of salt standing as a
monument to an unbelieving soul. 8. For those who neglected to see Wisdom were not only kept from knowledge of good, but they
also left to mankind a memorial of their folly, and so their crime could never remain hidden.

49. 9. But Wisdom delivered those who served him from all evils. 10. When the just man Jacob fled from the wrath of his brother Esau,
Wisdom guided him along straight paths and showed him the kingdom of God. God gave him knowledge of holy things, prospered him
in his labours and increased the fruits of his work. 11. He stood by him against the greed of defrauders and made him rich. 12. He
protected him from his enemies and saved him from seducers. He gave him victory in his arduous struggle so that he might know that
Wisdom is mightier than anything. 13. He did not abandon Joseph, the just man, when he was old, but delivered him from the hands of
sinners and went down with him into the well. 14. He did not desert him in his chains until he brought him the sceptre of royalty and
authority over his oppressors. He showed those who had defamed him to be liars and gave him an eternal renown. 15. He liberated a
holy people and a blameless race, the Hebrews, from a nation of oppressors. 16. He entered the soul of God's servant, Moses, and
withstood fearsome kings with signs and wonders. 17. He gave the holy ones the reward of their labours, led them along a perfect
way, and became a shelter for them by day and shed a starry light upon them by night. 18. He brought them across the Red Sea and
led them through the deep waters. 19. He submerged their enemies in the sea and gathered his own people up from the depths of the
sea. Thus he carried off the spoils of the wicked. 20. They extolled you in their songs, O Lord, and together praised your conquering
hand. 21. For Wisdom opened the mouths of the dumb and made the tongues of the babes speak with fluency.

50. In the next chapter of the Book of Wisdom (Wisd. 11) the Holy Spirit describes the various evils from which eternal Wisdom
delivered Moses and the Israelites during the time they lived in the desert. To this we may add those who were delivered from great
dangers by eternal Wisdom in the Old and New Testaments. Among them were Daniel who was freed from the lions' den, Susanna
from the false crime she was accused of, the three young men from the furnace in Babylon, St Peter from prison, St John from the
cauldron of boiling oil and numberless martyrs and confessors from the physical torments they were made to suffer and the calumnies
which blackened their good name. All these were delivered and healed by eternal Wisdom. "O Lord, those who have pleased you from
the beginning were healed by Wisdom (Wisd. 9:19).

[Conclusion]

51. And now let us proclaim: "A thousand times happy is the man into whose soul Wisdom has entered to have his abode! No matter
what battles he has to wage, he will emerge victorious. No matter what dangers threaten him, he will escape unharmed. No matter
what sorrows afflict him, he will find joy and consolation. No matter what humiliations are heaped upon him, he will be exalted and
glorified in time and throughout eternity."

MARVELLOUS EXCELLENCE OF ETERNAL WISDOM

52. In the eighth chapter of the Book of Wisdom, the Holy Spirit shows the excellence of eternal Wisdom in terms so sublime and yet
so clear that we need only quote them here, adding a few reflections.

53. 1. "Wisdom reaches mightily from one end of the earth to the other and orders all things graciously."

Nothing is so gracious as eternal Wisdom. Of his very nature he is gracious without bitterness; gracious to those who love him, never
showing displeasure; gracious in his conduct, never showing severity. He is so gentle and unobtrusive that you might often think that
he is not present when you meet with accidents and contradictions. But, possessed of invincible power, he quietly but effectively
brings all things to a happy issue in ways unknown to men. After his example, the wise man should be graciously firm and firmly
gracious - suaviter fortis et fortiter suavis.

54. 2. "From my youth I have loved and sought him and desired to take him for my inseparable companion."

Whoever wishes to find this precious treasure of Wisdom should, like Solomon, search for him (a) early and, if possible, while still
young; (b) purely and spiritually as a chaste young man seeks a bride; (c) unceasingly, to the very end, until he has found him. It is
certain that eternal Wisdom loves souls so much that he even espouses them, contracting with them a true, spiritual marriage which
the world cannot understand. History furnishes us with examples of this.

55. 3. "Wisdom shows his glorious origin by being so intimately in union with God and by being loved by him who is Lord of all."

Wisdom is God himself - such is his glorious origin. God the Father has testified that he is pleased with him proving how much
Wisdom is loved (Cf. Chapter One and No. 98).

56. 4. "Wisdom is the teacher of the knowledge of God and director of all his works."

Eternal Wisdom alone enlightens every man that comes into this world (Jn. 1:9). He alone came from heaven to teach the secrets of
God (Cf. Jn. 1:18; Mt. 11:27; 1 Cor. 2:10). We have no real teacher (Mt. 23:8,10) except the incarnate Wisdom, whose name is Jesus
Christ. He alone brings all the works of God to perfection, especially the saints, for he shows them what they must do and teaches
them to appreciate and put into practice all he has taught them.

57. 5. "If it is riches we seek in this life, who is richer than divine Wisdom who created all things?" 6. "If the mind of man can produce
things, who is more able than the fashioner of everything that exists?" 7. "If someone loves holiness, again the great virtues are the
handiwork of Wisdom, for he teaches temperance and prudence, justice and fortitude, and nothing in this life is more useful than
these."

Solomon clearly shows that since we should love Wisdom alone, then from Wisdom alone we should expect all things - material
goods, knowledge of nature's secrets, all spiritual good, the theological and cardinal virtues.

58. 8. "If anyone desires knowledge, eternal Wisdom knows the past and can forecast the future. He understands the subtleties of
speech and the lessons of parables. He recognises signs and wonders and knows all that is going to happen as seasons and ages
pass by."

If anyone desires to possess a deep, holy and special knowledge of the treasures of grace and nature, and not merely dry, common
and superficial knowledge, he must make every effort to acquire Wisdom. Without him, man is nothing in the sight of God, no matter
how learned he may appear in the eyes of men. "He will count for nothing" (Wisd. 3:17).

59. 9. "I therefore resolved to take him as my companion in life, knowing that he would share his goods with me and be my consolation
in my cares and sorrows."

Eternal Wisdom is so rich and generous; how can anyone who possesses him be poor? He is so gentle, attractive and tender; how
can anyone who possesses him be unhappy? But among all those who seek eternal Wisdom how many can honestly say with
Solomon, "I have resolved to possess him"? The majority of men do not make such a resolution with real sincerity. Their decisions are
mere wishful thinking or at best weak and wavering resolves. That is why they never find eternal Wisdom.

60. 10. "Through him, I shall be acclaimed among the people and, although still a youth, honoured by the elders." 11. "I shall be
considered shrewd when I sit in judgement. The most powerful will be surprised when they see me and princes will show their
admiration for me." 12. "When I am silent, they will wait for me to speak; when I speak, they will pay attention to what I say. If I speak at
some length, they will place their hands on their lips." 13. "He it is who will give me immortality, and through him I shall leave an
everlasting remembrance to those who come after me." 14. "I shall govern people through him and nations shall be my subjects."

St Gregory has this comment to make on Solomon's self- praise, " Those whom God has chosen to write his sacred words are filled
with the Holy Spirit. In a way, they seem to rise above themselves and enter into the very one who possesses them. Thus they
become mouthpieces of God himself, for they are concerned with God alone in everything they say, and they speak of themselves as
though speaking of someone else."

61. 15. "The most formidable kings shall be afraid when they hear of me. I shall show myself kind to my people and valiant in war." 16.
"When I go home, I shall be at my ease with Wisdom, for his conversation is never disagreeable nor his company unpleasant. With him
there is only contentment and joy." 17. "I thought about these things and I reflected in my heart that immortality is found in union with
Wisdom." 18. "I found pure contentment in his friendship, inexhaustible wealth in his accomplishments, understanding in his teaching
and conversation, and great joy listening to his counsels; and so I went about seeking him everywhere to make him my companion."

After summing up his previous commentary, Solomon draws this conclusion: "I went about seeking for eternal Wisdom in all
directions." To possess him we must seek ardently; in other words, we must be ready to give up everything, to suffer everything, in
order to obtain possession of him. Only a few find him because only a few look for him in a manner worthy of him.

62. In the seventh chapter of the Book of Wisdom, the Holy Spirit speaks of the excellence of eternal Wisdom in these terms: "In
Wisdom there is a spirit that is intelligent, holy, unique, fruitful, subtle, eloquent, active, unsullied, lucid, gentle, benevolent, keen,
irresistible, beneficent, kindly, firm, unfailing, unperturbed, all-powerful, all-seeing, possessing every spirit, understandable, pure and
subtle. For Wisdom is more active than any active thing. He is so pure he penetrates all things" (Wisd. 7:22-24).

"Wisdom is an infinite treasure for men. Those who have utilised this treasure have become God's friends, and praiseworthy for their
gifts of knowledge". 63 After reading such powerful but tender words which the Holy Spirit uses to show the beauty, the excellence
and the treasures of eternal Wisdom, we cannot but love him and search for him with all our strength. All the more so since he is an
inexhaustible source of riches for man who was made for him and infinitely eager to give himself to man.
EARNEST DESIRE OF DIVINE WISDOM TO GIVE HIMSELF TO MEN

64. The bond of friendship between eternal Wisdom and man is so close as to be beyond our understanding. Wisdom is for man and
man is for Wisdom. "He is an infinite treasure for man," (Wisd. 7:14) and not for angels or any other creatures.

Wisdom's friendship for man arises from man's place in creation, from his being an abridgement of eternal Wisdom's marvels, his
small yet ever so great world, his living image and representative on earth (cf. Nos. 35-38). Since Wisdom, out of an excess of love,
gave himself up to death to save man, he loves man as a brother, a friend, a disciple, a pupil, the price of his own blood and co-heir
of his kingdom. For man to withhold his heart from Wisdom or to wrench it away from him would constitute an outrage.

[1. Eternal Wisdom's letter of love]

65. This eternal beauty, ever supremely loving, is so intent on winning man's friendship that for this very purpose he has written a
book in which he describes his own excellence and his desire for man's friendship. This book reads like a letter written by a lover to
win the affections of his loved one, for in it he expresses such ardent desires for the heart of man, such tender longings for man's
friendship, such loving invitations and promises, that you would say he could not possibly be the sovereign Lord of heaven and earth
and at the same time need the friendship of man to be happy.

66. In his pursuit of man, he hastens along the highways, or scales the loftiest mountain peaks, or waits at the city gates, or goes
into the public squares and among the gatherings of people, proclaiming at the top of his voice, "You children of men, it is you I have
been calling so persistently; it is you I am addressing; it is you I desire and seek; it is you I am claiming. Listen, draw close to me, for I
want to make you happy" (Prov. 8:4).

And the better to attract men, Wisdom says to them, "It is through me and through my grace that kings reign, princes rule, monarchs
and sovereigns bear the sceptre and crown, I inspire legislators with the ability to enact just laws for the good of their people. I give
magistrates the courage to administer justice fairly and fearlessly."

67. "I love those who love me and those who seek me diligently find me," and in finding me they will find good things in abundance.
"For riches, glory, honours, dignities, real pleasure and true virtue are found in me; and it is far better for a man to possess me than
to possess all the gold and silver, all the precious stones, and all the wealth of the whole universe. Those who come to me, I will lead
along the paths of justice and prudence. I will enrich them with the inheritance due to rightful children and fulfil their greatest desires
(cf. Prov. 8:15-21). Rest assured, it is my greatest pleasure and purest delight to converse and to abide with the children of men" (cf.
Prov. 8:31).

68. "And now, my children, listen to me. Happy are those who keep my ways. Hear my instructions, be wise and do not ignore them.
Happy is the man who listens to me, watching at my gates every day, waiting beside my door. He who finds me finds life and obtains
salvation from the Lord, but he who sins against me, wounds his own soul. All who hate me love death" (Prov. 8:32-36).

69. Even though eternal Wisdom has spoken so kindly and so reassuringly to win the friendship of men, he still fears that they, filled
with awe at his glorious state and sovereign majesty, will not dare approach him. That is why he tells them that "he is easily
accessible, is quickly recognised by those who love him and is found by those who seek him; that he hastens to meet those who
desire him and that anyone who rises early to look for him will have no trouble, for he will find him sitting at his door, waiting for him"
(Wisd. 6:13b-15).

[2. Incarnation, Death and the Eucharist]

70. Finally, in order to draw closer to men and give them a more convincing proof of his love, eternal Wisdom went so far as to
become man, even to become a little child, to embrace poverty and to die upon a cross for them.

How many times while here on earth could he be heard pleading, "Come to me, come to me, all of you. Do not be afraid, it is I. Why
are you afraid? I am just like you; I love you. Are you afraid because you are sinners? But they are the very ones I am looking for; I
am the friend of sinners. If it is because you have strayed from the fold through your own fault, then I am the good shepherd. If it is
because you are weighted down with sin, covered with grime and utterly dejected, then that is just why you should come to me for I
will unburden you, purify you and console you."

71. Eternal Wisdom, on the one hand, wished to prove his love for man by dying in his place in order to save him, but on the other
hand, he could not bear the thought of leaving him. So he devised a marvellous way of dying and living at the same time, and of
abiding with man until the end of time. So, in order fully to satisfy his love, he instituted the sacrament of Holy Eucharist and went to
the extent of changing and overturning nature itself.

He does not conceal himself under a sparkling diamond or some other precious stone, because he does not want to abide with man
in an ostentatious manner. But he hides himself under the appearance of a small piece of bread - man's ordinary nourishment - so
that when received he might enter the heart of man and there take his delight. Ardenter amantium hoc est - Those who love ardently
act in this way. "O eternal Wisdom," says a saint, "O God who is truly lavish with himself in his desire to be with man."

[3. The ingratitude of those who refuse]

72. How ungrateful and insensitive we would be if we were not moved by the earnest desire of eternal Wisdom, his eagerness to
seek us out and the proofs he gives us of his friendship!

How cruel we would be, what punishment would we not deserve even in this world, if, instead of listening to him, we turn a deaf ear;
if, instead of loving him, we spurn and offend him. The Holy Spirit tells us, "Those who neglected to acquire Wisdom not only
inherited ignorance of what is good, but they actually left in the world a memorial of their folly in that their sins could not go
unnoticed" (Wisd. 10:8).

Those who during their lifetime do not strive to acquire Wisdom suffer a triple misfortune. They fall (a) into ignorance and blindness,
(b) into folly, (c) into sin and scandal.

But how unhappy they will be at the door of death when, despite themselves, they hear Wisdom reproach them, "I called you and
you did not answer (Prov. 1:24). All the day long I held out my hands to you and you spurned me. Sitting at your door, I waited for
you but you did not come to me. Now it is my turn to deride you (Prov. 1:26). No longer do I have ears to hear you weeping, eyes to
see your tears, a heart to be moved by your sobs, or hands to help you."

How great will be their misery in hell! Read what the Holy Spirit himself has to say about the miseries, the wailings, the regrets and
the despair of the fools in hell who, all too late, realise their folly and misfortune in rejecting the eternal Wisdom of God. "They are
now beginning to speak sensibly - but they are in hell" (Wisd. 5:14).

[4. Conclusion]

73. Above all else let us seek and long for divine Wisdom. "All other things that are desired are not to be compared with Wisdom"
(Prov. 3:15). And again, "Nothing that you desire can be compared with him" (Prov. 8:11). You may desire the gifts of God and even
heavenly treasures, but if you do not desire Wisdom you desire always something of far less worth.

If only we could realise what Wisdom actually is, i.e. an infinite treasure made for man - and I must confess that what I have said
about him really amounts to nothing at all - we would be longing for him night and day. We would fly as fast as we could to the ends
of the earth, we would cheerfully endure fire and sword, if need be, to merit this infinite treasure.

But we must beware of choosing a wrong wisdom, because there is more than one kind.

CHOICE OF TRUE WISDOM

74. God himself has his Wisdom, the one and only true Wisdom which we should love and seek as a great treasure. The corrupt world
also has its wisdom which must be condemned and detested, for it is evil and destructive. Philosophers also have their wisdom which
must be spurned as useless for it can often endanger our salvation.

So far we have been speaking of God's wisdom to those who are spiritually mature, as the Apostle calls them (cf. 1 Cor. 2:6), but lest
they be deceived by the false glitter of worldly wisdom, let us unmask its hypocrisy and malice.

[1. Wisdom of the world]

75. The wisdom of the world is that of which it is said, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise (1 Cor. 1:19; cf. Is. 29:14), i.e. those whom
the world calls wise." "The wisdom of the flesh is an enemy of God" (Rom. 8:7), and does not come from above. It is earthly, devilish
and carnal (Jas. 3:15).

This worldly wisdom consists in an exact conformity to the maxims and fashions of the world; a continual inclination towards greatness
and esteem; and a subtle and endless pursuit of pleasure and self-interest, not in an uncouth and blatant way by scandalous sin, but in
an astute, discreet, and deceitful way. Otherwise the world would no longer label it wisdom but pure licentiousness.

76. In the opinion of the world, a wise man is one with a keen eye to business; who knows how to turn everything to his personal profit
without appearing to do so. He excels in the art of duplicity and well-concealed fraud without arousing suspicion. He thinks one thing
and says or does another. Nothing concerning the graces and manners of the world is unknown to him. He accommodates himself to
everyone to suit his own end, completely ignoring the honour and interests of God. He manages to make a secret but fatal
reconciliation of truth and falsehood, of the gospel and the world, of virtue and sin, of Christ and Belial. He wishes to be considered an
honest man but not a devout man, and most readily scorns, distorts and condemns devotions he does not personally approve of. In
short, a man is worldly-wise who, following solely the lead of his senses and human reasoning, poses as a good Christian and a man of
integrity, but makes little effort to please God or atone by penance for the sins he has committed against him.

77. The worldly man bases his conduct on personal honour, on "What will people say?", on convention, on high living, on self-interest,
on ceremonious manners, and on witty conversation. These seven principles are the irreproachable supports on which, he believes, he
can safely depend to enjoy a peaceful life.

The world will canonise him for such virtues as courage, finesse, tactfulness, shrewdness, gallantry, politeness and good humour. It
stigmatises as serious offences, insensitiveness, stupidity, poverty, boorishness and bigotry.

78. He obeys as faithfully as he can the commandments which the world gives him: You shall be well acquainted with the world. You
shall be respectable. You shall be successful in business. You shall hold on to whatever is yours. You shall rise above your
background. You shall make friends for yourself. You shall frequent fashionable society. You shall seek the good life. You shall not be
a kill-joy. You shall not be singular, uncouth or over-pious.

79. Never has the world been so corrupt as it is now, for never has it been so cunning, so wise in its own way, and so crafty. It cleverly
makes use of the truth to foster untruth, virtue to justify vice, and the very maxims of Jesus Christ to endorse its own so that even those
who are wisest in the sight of God are often deceived.

"Infinite is the number of these men, wise in the sight of the world but foolish in the eyes of God" (Eccles. 1:15).

80. Earthly wisdom of which St James speaks, is love for the things of this world. Worldly men secretly subscribe to this wisdom when
they set their hearts on worldly possessions and strive to become rich. They institute court proceedings and engage in needless
disputes to acquire wealth or hold on to it. Most of the time they are thinking, speaking, acting with the sole aim of acquiring or keeping
some temporal possession. They pay little or no attention to their eternal salvation or to the means of saving their souls, such as
Confession, Holy Communion, prayer, etc.; except in an offhand way out of routine, once in a while, and for the sake of appearances.

81. The wisdom of the flesh is the love of pleasure. This is the wisdom shown by the worldly-wise who seek only the satisfaction of the
senses. They want to have a good time. They shun everything that might prove unpleasant or mortifying for the body, such as fasting,
and other austerities. Usually they think only of eating, drinking, playing, laughing, enjoying life and having a good time. They must
always be comfortable and insist on having entertaining pastimes, the best of food and good company.

They regale themselves with all these pleasures without the least scruple, with no disapproval from the world and no inconvenience to
their health. Then they can go looking for some broad-minded confessor (that is how they describe lax confessors who shirk their duty)
to obtain from him on easy terms the peaceful sanction for their soft and effeminate way of living and a generous pardon for their sins. I
say "on easy terms" because these worldly people usually want as a penance only a few prayers or a small offering to the poor. They
detest anything that could possibly cause them any bodily discomfort.

82. Diabolical wisdom is the love and esteem of honours. This is the wisdom of the worldly-wise who, secretly, of course, long for
distinctions, honours, dignities and high offices. They strive to be seen, esteemed, praised and applauded by men. In their studies,
their work, their undertakings, their words and actions, all they want is the esteem and praise of men, to be reputed as devout or
learned people, as great leaders, eminent lawyers, men of great and distinguished merit or deserving of high consideration. They
cannot bear insult or blame and so they hide their shortcomings and parade their better qualities.

83. We must, like our Lord Jesus Christ, incarnate Wisdom, detest and condemn these three kinds of false wisdom if we are to possess
the true one, which is not self-seeking, not found in the world nor in the heart of those who lead a comfortable life, and which loathes
everything that men consider great and noble.

[2. Natural wisdom]

84. Besides worldly wisdom, which is pernicious and must be condemned, there is the natural wisdom of philosophers.

It was this natural wisdom that the Egyptians and Greeks eagerly sought for, "The Greeks look for wisdom" (1 Cor. 1:22). Those who
had acquired this wisdom were called magi or wise men. This wisdom consists in an eminent knowledge of nature in its primary
elements. It was given in full to Adam before the Fall. It was conferred on Solomon, and down through the ages many great men have
received it, as history testifies.

85. Philosophers boast that their wisdom is acquired through philosophical argumentation. Alchemists boast of cabalistic secrets for
finding the philosopher's stone in which, they imagine, this wisdom is to be found.

It is true that scholastic philosophy, when studied in a truly Christian way, develops the mind and enables it to understand the higher
sciences, but it will never confer that so-called natural wisdom which the ancients prided themselves on possessing.

86. The science of alchemists, which purports to teach that natural bodies can be reduced to their basic principles, is still more
worthless and dangerous. This science, although valid in itself, has duped and deceived multitudes of people regarding the end it
proposes to attain. Judging by my own experience, I am sure that the devil is using this false science to cause a loss of money and
time, as well as grace, and even the soul itself, under the pretext of finding the philosopher's stone. No other science claims to
accomplish such great effects by such obvious means.

This science claims to produce the philosopher's stone or a powder (which they call "projection") which, when thrown upon any metal in
a liquid state, will change it into silver or gold, which will restore health, cure illnesses, even prolong life, and effect countless marvels
which ignorant people believe are divine and miraculous.

There is a group of people who consider themselves experts in this science and who are called "Cabalists" and these keep such a
close guard on the hidden mysteries of this science that they would rather lose their life than reveal its so-called secrets.

87. They justify what they teach by: (1) The history of Solomon, whom they firmly believe had been given the secret of the
philosopher's stone, and as proof they produce a secret book which is false and insidious, entitled "The Clavicle of Solomon". (2) The
history of Esdras, to whom God gave a heavenly liquid to drink and which gave him "wisdom", as is related in the seventh book of
Esdras. (3) The history of Raymond Lully and of several great philosophers who say they have found this philosopher's stone. (4)
Finally, the better to cover their imposture with a cloak of piety, they call it a gift of God, which is given only to those who have
persevered in asking for it and who have merited it by their works and prayers.

88. I have given an account of the fantasies or illusions of this futile science so that like many others you may not be deceived. I know
that some who, after having spent so much money and wasted so much time, under the most laudable and pious pretexts in the world
and in a most devoted manner, have finally regretted everything and confessed their pretence and their delusions.

I do not admit that the philosopher's stone is a possibility. A learned man named Del Rio is certain it is and has given proofs; others
deny it. Be that as it may, it is not befitting, it is even dangerous, for a Christian to occupy himself in seeking it. It would be an insult to
Jesus Christ, Wisdom incarnate, in whom are found all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge of God (Col. 2:3) as well as every gift of
nature, grace and glory. It implies disobedience to the Holy Spirit who tells us in Ecclesiasticus 3: "Do not seek what is beyond your
capabilities" (Sir. 3:22).

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