Introductory Note:

Walter Hilton was a pioneer of the spiritual life. He was the first man to write a book of mysticism in the English language. He believed every Christian was called to overcome the sinful, ingrained habits of human brokenness. As he saw it, this would come through ascetic practice (Spiritual Disciplines) and contemplation of God. In his spiritual classic, The Scale of Perfection, he gently walks a young anchoress through the stages of formation in the image of God. The third phase of contemplation (excerpted below) is what we all long for. Enjoy and be strengthened by his vision of becoming like Christ.

—Jonathan Bailey

The third part of contemplation, which is as perfect as can be here, lies both in cognition and in affection: that is to say, in the knowing and perfect loving of God. That is when a person’s soul is cleansed from all sins and reformed in the image of Jesus by completeness of virtues, and afterward he is visited and taken up from all earthly and fleshly affections, from vain thoughts and imaginations of all bodily things, and is forcibly ravished out of the bodily senses; and then is illuminated by the grace of the Holy Spirit to see intellectually the truth, which is God, and also spiritual things, with a soft, sweet burning love for him — so perfectly that by the rapture of this love the soul is for the time united and conformed to the image of the Trinity. The beginning of this contemplation may be felt in this life, but the fullness of it is kept in bliss of heaven. St. Paul says this of such union and conforming: Qui adharete Deo, unus spiritus est cum illo. That is to say, if anyone is fastened to God by the rapture of love, then God and the soul are not two, but both are one — not in flesh, but in one spirit — and certainly in this union that marriage is made between God and the soul which shall never be broken.