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ST JOHN OF THE CROSS – HIS WISH WAS TO BE TO BE DESPISED FOR JESUS’ SAKE

ST JOHN OF THE CROSS – HIS WISH WAS TO BE TO BE DESPISED FOR JESUS’ SAKE

Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake: Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven. (Mt 5:11,12a)

ST JOHN OF THE CROSS, CONFESSOR AND DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH – FEAST DAY: DECEMBER 14

John of the Cross was born of pious parents at Hontiveros in Spain, and from his very infancy was dear to the Virgin Mother of God. When he was fifteen years old and fell into a well, the hand of the same Mother of God lifted him out and he escaped unharmed. As a young man, he offered himself as a servant to the sick poor in the hospital of Medina del Campo.

Then he entered the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, where, under obedience, he was ordained a priest and followed the primitive rule. But, burning with ardour to promote a stricter discipline, he was divinely given as a companion to St Teresa, who considered him among the purest and most excellent souls at that time adorning the Church of God, that she might restore the primitive observance of the Carmelite Order among his brethren.

In this work, after he had laboured zealously and suffered much, he was asked by Christ what reward he desired for so many labours. He replied: “Lord, to suffer and to be despised for you.” He wrote many books of mystical theology abounding with heavenly wisdom. Finally, at Ubeda, most patiently enduring a dreadful malady, he fell asleep in the Lord in the year 1591, in the forty-ninth year of his age. Pius XI, after consulting the Congregation of Sacred Rites, declared him a Doctor of the universal Church.

St John of the Cross, pray for us.

– From: An Approved Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964

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WITHOUT FAITH, EVERY HUMAN LABOUR IS EMPTY

“Jesus says to his friends in the boat who were terrified at the storm, ‘How is it that you have no faith?’ Let us prayerfully reflect on what some holy people have written about faith:

• Faith is the ear of the soul. (St Clement of Alexandria)

• Just as the mere memory of fire does not warm the body, so also faith without love doesn’t produce the light of knowledge in the soul. (St Maximus the Confessor)

• Without faith, every human labour is empty. (St Fulgence of Ruspe)

• I may love by halves, I may obey by halves; I cannot believe by halves: either I have faith, or I have it not. (Blessed John Henry Newman)

• The spiritual quest is a continuous act of faith, a faith that spiritual experience is the most real thing in human life and that all other categories of experience are subordinate to the fact of God. (Martin Israel – priest and spiritual director)

• Faith is the union of God with the soul. (St John of the Cross)

• What is required of you is faith and a sincere life, not loftiness and intellect of deep knowledge of the mysteries of God. (Thomas a Kempis – spiritual writer)

• Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward for this faith is to see what you believe. (St Augustine of Hippo)

• Faith is a beam radiating from the face of God. (St John Dudes)

• God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ increase us in faith and truth and gentleness. (Prayer of St Polycarp)”

– From: “Spiritual Thought from Fr Chris” / June 2015

 

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“SONGS OF THE SOUL IN RAPTURE AT HAVING ARRIVED AT THE HEIGHT OF PERFECTION”

SONGS OF THE SOUL IN RAPTURE AT HAVING ARRIVED AT THE HEIGHT OF PERFECTION, WHICH IS UNION WITH GOD BY THE ROAD OF SPIRITUAL NEGATION

Upon a gloomy night,
With all my cares to loving ardours flushed,
O venture of delight!
With nobody in sight
I went abroad when all my house was hushed.

In safety, in disguise,
In darkness up the secret stair I crept,
O happy enterprise!
Concealed from other eyes
When all my house at length in silence slept.

Upon that lucky night
In secrecy, inscrutable to sight,
I went without discerning
And with no other light
Except for that which in my heart was burning.

It lit and led me through
More certain than the light of noonday clear
To where One waited near
Whose presence well I knew,
There where no other presence might appear.

O night that was my guide!
Oh darkness dearer than the morning’s pride,
Oh night that joined the lover
To the beloved bride
Transfiguring them each into the other.

Within my flowering breast
Which only for himself entirely I save
He sank into his rest
And all my gifts I gave
Lulled by the airs with which the cedars wave.

Over the ramparts fanned
While the fresh wind was fluttering his tresses,
With his serenest hand
My neck he wounded, and
Suspended every sense with its caresses.

Lost to myself I stayed
My face upon my lover having laid
From all endeavour ceasing:
And all my cares releasing
Threw them amongst the lilies there to fade.
– St John of the Cross

 

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ONLY GOD – AND NOTHING LESS (POEM)

WITH A DIVINE INTENTION

For all the beauty life has got
I’ll never throw myself away
Save for one thing I know not what
Which lucky chance may bring my way.

The savour of all finite joy
In the long run amounts to this –
To tire the appetite of bliss
And the fine palate to destroy.
So for life’s sweetness, all the lot,
I’ll never throw myself away
But for a thing, I know not what,
Which lucky chance may bring my way.

The generous heart upon its quest
Will never falter, nor go slow,
But pushes on, and scorns to rest,
Wherever it’s most hard to go.
It runs ahead and wearies not
But upwards hurls its fierce advance
For it enjoys I know not what
That is achieved by lucky chance.

He that is growing to full growth
In the desire of God profound,
Will find his tastes so changed around
That of mere pleasures he is loth,
Like one who, with the fever hot,
At food will only look askance
But craves for that, he knows not what,
Which may be brought by lucky chance.

Do not amaze yourself at this
That pleasure is of earthly things
That cause from which most evil springs
And most the enemy of bliss.
And so all creatures earth-begot
Begin from it to turn their glance
And seek a thing, I know not what,
Which may be won by lucky chance.

For once the will has felt the hand
Of the Divine upon it set,
It never ceases to demand,
Divinity must pay the debt.
But since its loveliness to scan
Only true faith may steal a glance,
It finds it out as best it can
By risking on a lucky chance.

With love of One so high elated,
Tell me, if you would find great harm
If the servants He created
Did not rival Him in charm?
Alone, without face, form, or features,
Foothold, or prop, you would advance
To love that thing, beyond all creatures,
Which may be won by happy chance.

Think not that the interior sprite
Which is of vastly greater worth,
Can find among the joys of earth
Much for amusement or delight.
This world no beauty can advance
Which is, or ever was begot,
To vie with that, I know not what,
Which may be won by lucky chance.

The man who strains for wealth and rank
Employs more care, and wastes more health
For riches that elude his stealth
Than those he’s hoarded in the bank;
But I my fortune to advance
The lowlier stoop my lowly lot
Over some thing, I know not what,
Which may be found by lucky chance.

For that which by the sense down here
Is comprehended as our good,
And all that can be understood
Although it soars sublime and sheer;
For all that beauty can enhance –
I’ll never lose my happy lot:
Only for that, I know not what,
Which can be won by lucky chance.
– St John of the Cross
tr. Roy Campbell

 

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DESCRIPTION OF AN ENCOUNTER WITH GOD (POEM)

“ENCOUNTER WITH GOD” (POEM) – DESCRIPTION OF AN ECSTASY OF HIGH EXALTATION

“I entered in, I know not where,
And I remained, though knowing naught, Transcending knowledge with my thought.

Of when I entered I know naught,
But when I saw that I was there
(Though where it was I did not care)
Strange things I learned, with greatness fraught.
Yet what I heard I’ll not declare.
But there I stayed, though knowing naught,
Transcending knowledge with my thought.

Of peace and piety interwound
This perfect science had been wrought,
Within the solitude profound
A straight and narrow path it taught, such secret wisdom there I found
That there I stammered, saying naught,
But topped all knowledge with my thought.

So borne aloft, so drunken-reeling,
So rapt was I, so swept away,
Within the scope of sense or feeling
My sense or feeling could not stay.
And in my soul I felt, revealing,
A sense that, though its sense was naught,
Transcending knowledge with my thought.

The man who truly there has come
Of his own self must shed the guise;
Of all he knew before the sum
Seems far beneath that wondrous prize:
And in this lore he grows so wise
That he remains, though knowing naught,
Transcending knowledge with his thought.

The farther that I climbed the height
The less I seemed to understand
The cloud so tenebrous and grand
That there illuminates the night.
For he who understands that sight
Remains for aye, though knowing naught,
Transcending knowledge with his thought.

This wisdom without understanding
Is of so absolute a force
No wise man of whatever standing
Can ever stand against its course,
Unless they tap its wondrous source,
To know so much, though knowing naught,
They pass all knowledge with their thought.

This summit all so steeply towers
And is of excellence so high
No human faculties or powers
Can ever to the top come nigh.
Whoever with its steep could vie,
Though knowing nothing, would transcend
All thought, forever, without end.

If you would ask, what is its essence –
This summit of all sense and knowing:
It comes from the Divinest Presence –
The sudden sense of Him outflowing,
In His great clemency bestowing
The gift that leaves men knowing naught,
Yet passing knowledge with their thought.”
– St John of the Cross
tr. Roy Campbell, 1951

 

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TRUE FREEDOM IS ONLY IN GOD (POEM)

WITH A DIVINE INTENTION

Without support, yet well supported,
Though in pitch-darkness, with no ray,
Entirely I am burned away.

My spirit is so freed from every
Created thing, that through the skies,
Above herself, she’s lifted, flies,
And as in a most fragrant reverie,
Only on God her weight applies.
The thing which most my faith esteems
For this one fact will be reported –
Because my soul above me streams
Without support, yet well supported.

What though I languish in the shades
As through my mortal life I go,
No over-heavy is my woe
Since if no glow my gloom invades,
With a celestial life I glow.
The love of such a life, I say,
The more benightedly it darkens,
Turns more to that to which it hearkens,
Though in pitch-darkness, with no ray.

Since I knew Love, I have been taught
He can perform most wondrous labours.
Though good and bad in me are neighbours
He turns their difference to naught
Then both into Himself, so sweetly,
And with a flame so fine and fragrant
Which now I feel in me completely
Reduce my being, till no vagrant
Vestige of my own self can stay.
And wholly I am burned away.
– St John of the Cross

 

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A POEM ON THE GOSPEL “IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE WORD”

UPON THE GOSPEL “IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE WORD” [John 1:1 ff] RELATING TO THE MOST HOLY TRINITY

In the beginning of all things
The Word lived in the Lord at rest.
And His felicity in Him
Was from infinity possessed.

That very Word was God Himself
By which all being was begun
For He lived in the beginning
And beginning had He none.

He Himself was the beginning,
So He had none, being one.
What was born of the beginning
Was the Word we call the Son.

Even so has God conceived Him
And conceived Him always so,
Ever giving Him the substance
As He gave it long ago.

And thus the glory of the Son
Is the glory of the Sire
And the glory of the Father
From His Son He does acquire.

As the loved-one in the lover
Each in the other’s heart resided:
And the love that makes them one
Into one of them divided,

Then with one and with the other
Mated in such equality,
Three Persons now and one Beloved
They numbered, though they still were three.

There is one love in all three Persons:
One lover all the Three provides;
And the beloved is the Lover
Which in each of them resides.

The Being which all three possess
Each of them does possess alone:
And each of them loves what that Being
Itself possesses of its own.

This very Being is Each One,
And it alone, in its own way,
Has bound them in that wondrous knot
Whose mystery no man can say.

Thus lives undying and eternal
The love that has entwined them so,
Because one love the three united
Which as their Essence now we know,
And this one love, the more in one-ness,
The more and more in love will grow.
– St John of the Cross
tr. Roy Campbell, 1951

 
 

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