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Richard of St. Victor

From "The Mystical Ark"

Translated by Grover A. Zinn

(c) 1979 by the Missionary Society of St. Paul the Apostle in the State of New York

Paulist Press,


Book III Chapter V  How strongly the mind is able to pursue this contemplation and how it advances to it by much consideration and knowledge of itself.


...Does it go beyond comprehension that the kingdom of God is within us?  Behold, you say, the kingdom of heaven is within us but is gold within us in a similar way?  Why not, I say. So! Have you forgotten that the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field?  Behold, from what source an abundance of gold abounds abundantly to you.  You have it at hand.  Dig it up, if you will.  Go quickly, sell what you have, purchase this field, and seek the hidden treasure.  Whatever in the world you crave, whatever in the world you hesitate to part with, expend it freely for freedom of the heart.  After purchasing the field, dig in the depths of it, exulting no doubt like persons who dig up a treasure and rejoice greatly when they have discovered a sepulcher.  It is necessary to seek this treasure in the depths because wisdom is drawn from a hidden place.


But wretched me; from what source does gold come to me for the gilding, the crown, and the propitiatory?  I do not have silver and gold, and from what and how can these things be made?  By what art, I ask, can I procure this gold for myself?  I am not able to dig; I blush to beg.  I know what I shall do.  I shall go quickly to my Father, the Father of mercies from whom comes every good gift and every perfect gift, because He who gives copiously to everyone and does not reproach them is rich toward all.  And so I pour out my prayer in His presence; I announce before Him my poverty and lack of gold; and I shall say to Him: Lord, you know my lack of wisdom; my property is like as nothing before you; give me understanding, Lord, and I have gold and am rich.  Since I am weak, guard my soul and I shall have a propitiatory of the sort I crave.  O how great an abundance of gold existed for him who was able to sing the truth: "I have understood more than all who teach me.  I have understood more than the elders because I have sought your commandments" (Ps. 118:99-100).  O what kind of propitiatory he had who sang confidently before the Lord: "You have protected me from the assembly of the wicked, from the multitude of those working iniquity" (Ps. 63:3). 



Book III Chapter X  Concerning the intellectual watchtower and its superior height.


...If entirely and without doubt the kingdom of heaven is within us, if it can be found within us, where, I ask, other than in this highest of heavens, is it sought more rightly, found more quickly and possessed more securely?  I think that all the regions of that kingdom abound in gold because the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field.  For if you seek and love the gold of knowledge and the treasure of wisdom where, I ask, will you be able to find more abundant riches than in this highest of heavens?  Where, I beg you, will the brightness of the highest wisdom be able to shine forth better for you, other than in the express image of that One and in His most excellent work, namely in the creation, restoration and glorification of the soul?  Surely from this watchtower, from a nearby point as it were, he is able and is accustomed to see what that loftiness of the angelic spirit is, what that supereminent magnitude of the divine Spirit is.  In no place is it seen more nearly, is it discerned more clearly, than from the summit of this lofty seat which is that highest and sempiternal beatitude of supernal citizens.  In no place other than from this most excellent of the heavens does that spirit who examines thoroughly all things, even the depths of God, contemplate more serenely those invisible things of God which are made.  Nowhere in all His works, other than in the creation, restoration and glorification of the soul, does His power appear more sublime, His wisdom more marvelous, His mercy more delightful.  I think you surely see from whence comes to you that abundance of gold that I promised to you earlier; namely how from much consideration and knowledge of your spirit you will be raised up to the knowledge and contemplation of the angelic spirit and the divine Spirit.