It is in intimacy that we discover who we really are. Opening our heart to another is not as simple as it seems. The depths of who we are takes time and patience to explore, and the journey is not something that comes automatically, even among people of good will. Our relationship with Jesus Christ is no different. As we enter into the mystery of His love for us and the world, we soon encounter a whole new mode of existence that has a dynamism that captivates and draws the heart deeper below the surface of things.
This exploration is subtle and is the science of those noble souls that have cultivated a sensitivity to the Spirit. The danger for souls that have reached this pinnacle is that they turn back because the final purification requires a real death to the ego. St. John of the Cross explains that the soul must participate in the Cross of Jesus Christ. Although the believer has grown to love mortification and the suffering that it involves, this new demands seems too much. It is frightening in ways that penetrate our subconscious.
The depths of the rebellion caused by sin are now exposed. We see our complete weakness and dependence on God, not in an intellectual or philosophical sense, but in an experiential sense. This experience is both painful and liberating. The freedom that is now offered seems boundless because it is a participation in the freedom that the saints have in heaven. We remain creatures in that we can still sin, but now love has become the center of our existence.
The love described here is not that of sentiment or natural attraction. Rather love as a kind of gravity in which the heart is drawn and interconnected with its supernatural end. In this way, Divine grace becomes seductively powerful, and our hearts let go of the last remnants of resistance. This allows us to be overpowered and obedient to the Spirit. This obedience is not simply our conscious assent, but involves a deep awakening in which subconscious impulses come under the domain of Divine providence. Our faculties are elevated and transformed as the Spirit allows them to experience the end for which they were created, namely union with God.
Note: This last age is generally referred to as the Unitive.