Reflections on the Dark Night ~ Part Two

 

29.100.6

El Greco painting of the Carmelite Monastery in Toledo, where St. John of the Cross was kept prisoner (It has been proposed that the Dark Night of the Soul was composed while John was imprisoned in Toledo, between 1577 and 1579).

 

A Pure Heart Create in Me, O God (Ps. 51:12)

The purified heart has been finally and fully claimed by God can, paradoxically, become progressively purer and more fulfilled in him right till the moment of death. This is because God himself expands its capacity with his inpouring love, fills the enlarged space with more love, which expands it further—and so the process goes on. But never without our full consent. A helpful prayer is “My God, penetrate and possess me to the uttermost—and don’t take notice when I squeal in pain.”

It is fear of suffering that holds back so many from the unqualified gift of themselves to God, so that he can do whatever he likes with them. But has he not promised he will match every trial with enough grace to bear it? Of course this may well mean that part of the trial will be the experience of desperately needing more, and more, and more grace.

However, this in itself provokes a constant plea for what we know we cannot endure without. It engenders intimate knowledge of our own helplessness—“Without Christ I can do nothing” (cf. John 15:5)—coupled with a reckless confidence—“With God all things are possible” (Mark 10:27). “I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me.”

The truth is that grace can be flooding into us while we remain unaware of it and experience no comfort. This happens because we are only too prone to think, as soon as we realize we are over-coming, “Aha! I’m getting somewhere! I’ve conquered! How brave and strong I am! How far I’ve advanced in virtue! I hope everyone else is noticing this!”

Such self-congratulations and the tendency to various forms of self-exaltation arise from those buried roots that only the passive purgations can eradicate. So God’s work progresses in direct relation to our humble receptivity to grace, and humility, as is well known by the humble, comes above all through dire humilations. What appears to be the curse of being refused the grace we need is really the blessing of being given it in abundance, but minus the extra grace of the awareness to enjoy it. Being what we are, this last grace would engender pride. Only those with great humility dare say, “He who is mighty has done great things to me” (Luke 1:49).

 

beauty-and-fire-vesna-delevska

Art by Vesna Delevska

 


Candle and Pinecone Sequence

This flame’s shape is like a spear—
or else a dagger—leaving wounds concealed
behind the bulwark of the living flames of love,
which do not burn.

Lights illuminate our darknesses
and flames give warmth—though the uncircumspect
receive what could be stigmata, exposed
or else concealed in heart, or brain, or bloodless hands.

This flame’s symmetry is like a spear’s keen blade
or else a dagger, small but dangerous,
shaped to deal out penetrating wounds
mysteriously secret, all of them
deep buried in the heart’s blind fastnesses
spousal gifts from those living flames of love.

 

~ A reflection and poem by  Barbara Dent, O.C.D.S.

 

 

 

The Source

 

THE-ONLY-REST-SACRED-HEART-OF-JESUS-_57

The Only Rest ❤ Sacred Heart of Jesus, antique 19th lace holy card – France

 

I have a shrine within me.
Tapers burn there day and night
flowers gather round the candles—
colors and living flames
mingle in extravagance of bloom,
celebrating love and chastity.

I meet you here in stillness.
My head against your tranquil heart
bends in homage, rests in peace;
my own heart dares to merge
with that unquenchable furnace from which
we both derive our reckless gift of self.

This is the living flame of love,
this is the source of primal energy,
of every urge to impetuous offering
of myself. Here, with bowed head
and face against your breast
I drink the strength I need, and give my all.

 

~ A poem by Barbara Dent, O.C.D.S.

The Most Important Thing in Life

 

Sparrow art by jake weidman

Art by Jake Weidmann

 

When I was haltingly beginning to acknowledge both God and Christianity, I asked myself in the midst of my travail: “What is the most important thing in life?” The answer came without hesitation: “The kingdom of heaven within.” I was startled. I should never have expected a reply like that. But when I look back over my life, I see that this is precisely true. The times when I felt most alive, most real, most complete, were those when I experienced that state of being I had called “the kingdom of heaven within.” At these moments peace established itself in me.

Without being able to define anything. I had known I was one with God and through him one with all people. Without being able to understand the why and how of the chaos of the world or the chaos in my own heart, I had yet been sure that all things were ordered well and held safely in the hollow of God’s hand. Without being able to explain how, I had been filled with a tranquil joy.

Without any doctrinal background, I knew the truth—that God was love, that I lived and moved and had my being in him, that in some obscure fashion he was working out his will in me, and I might trust him and be at peace.

Yes, this was the kingdom of heaven within, and this was the most important thing in life for me. The times when I had entered into this state of soul had been the times when something enormous had happened to me. On my faith in this reality I could build the whole structure of my existence.

“Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven, and the rest shall be added unto you.”

This realization was one of the crucial happenings of my life. Now I had a focal point. I had a purpose for living—full of meaning for me because it was based on the reality of my own experience. I knew exactly what I wanted from life—I wanted to enter more and more frequently, more and more completely, into this state of being called the kingdom of heaven within. From a bewildering disorder, life became astonishingly simple.

I thought back carefully over the circumstances I was in when I attained this state. These were what I would seek to recapture and cultivate. Many of the items of everyday living were found useless for my purpose, and I put other things in their place. I still did not know why, how, when, or where. I simply relied blindly on an experiential truth to be the light in my darkness.

What I really did was entrust myself to God, and looking back, I can see now the unerring way long which he led me to my true destination once I put my hand in his. Now that he had brought me to the Church, everything was clear. This state called the kingdom of heaven within was the very presence of God in the soul who loved him. It was the Christ-life within. To enter into God in this way was to enter into something of the state that the blessed enjoy in heaven, to become submerged in Christ, to taste here and now the bliss of eternity.

This was the life of identification with Christ to which all Christians are called, and which the Church extols as its goal. As members of his mystical body, they were incorporated into him, sharing his divine life, and fed by his sanctifying grace. The more fully they merged themselves with him, the more completely they were the instruments of God’s will, the nearer they approached the state of the saints. Self still existed, but only as Christ’s vehicle for loving, working, and suffering, only as a husk inhabited by the fertile seed of the Holy Spirit.

At last I understood the life principle of my soul, the source of all my restless yearnings and mysterious, luminous peace over the years. Now it was clear—God had been calling me, as he calls each soul he sends into the world, to a share in his divine life, to identification with his Son, to sanctity.


How for his praise
to order my new ways?
I would be no more myself, but he
using my breath and blood and song
to his own end, my life long.

So do I say—Master, your way
in mystery and wonder has evolved
my safety, and my curse resolved.
Glory and honor and homage are your due.
After the refining fire I bow to you. 

 

~ A reflection and poem by Barbara Dent, O.C.D.S.

 

 

An Autumn Encounter

Jesus walking in the path

Art by Yong Sung Kim


My Beloved,

you are the author of all seasons.
At the arrival of each one,
you leave your footprints in my garden.

Now, is the glorious season of autumn.
Here where I live, in this beautiful North,
the majestic beauty of your touch
is everywhere to be seen.

The precious gift of your presence
is always a special grace
in my garden.

My Beloved,
my flowers are still in bloom
despite the late night cold breeze.
But the maple tree is already
showing the vibrant hues of red and orange leaves.

Oh! Blessed Lord!
The birds always welcome your divine presence in my garden,
they whisper in my ear
that your gentle steps are approaching,
and I know you are near
calling me to come to your presence and rest awhile.

Autumn, this glorious season of change,
is also of transformation and beauty.
I can sense your gentle presence within me,
transforming and revealing within my soul
new insights illuminated by your precious light,
leading me in my own
journey of self-discovery and towards you.

Beloved of mine,
how I long for these moments of being
in your holy presence!
Quietly listening to you,
awakening my heart.

Your voice I seek,
your warmth I crave,
you give me an abundance
of unconditional love.
Thank you, my Jesus!

Oh! My Rabboni,
I love you!
I want to live to love you!
Each and every day and night
of my life.
Let us walk together along this path
in my fall garden.
This tender precious moments I’ll always treasure
within my heart and soul.

Let me embrace you,
my Beloved,
with endless love and gratitude
forever!

~ My Personal Reflection

Bible verse Colossians

 

 

The Brightness of Water

Woman at the well by father sieger koder

Woman at the Well, art by Fr. Sieger Köder

 

From this depth—I came only to draw water
in a jug—so long ago, this brightness
still clings to my eyes—the perception I found,
and so much empty space, my own,
reflected in the well.

Yet it is good. I can never take all of you
into me. Stay then as mirror in the well.
Leaves and flowers remain, and each astonished gaze
brings them down
to my eyes transfixed more by light
than by sorrow.

~ Song of the Brightness of Water, a poem written by Karol Wojtyla (Pope St. John Paul II), on the Samaritan woman’s reflections after her encounter with Jesus at the well
(John 4).

Saint John Paul II 3

 

Wishing you all a very blessed Feast day of Pope St. John Paul II!

Humility

 

man and the cross art by arild rosenkratz

Art by Arild Rosenkrantz


Humility  is to be still

under the weathers of God’s will.

It is to have no hurt surprise
when morning’s ruddy promise dies,

when wind and drought destroy, or sweet
spring rains apostatize in sleet,

or when the mind and month remark
a superfluity of dark.

It is to have no troubled care
for human weathers anywhere.

And yet it is to take the good
with the warm hands of gratitude.

Humility is to have place
deep in the secret of God’s face

where one can know, past all surmise,
that God’s great will alone is wise,

where one is loved, where one can trust
a strength not circumscribed by dust.

It is to have a place to hide
when all is hurricane outside.

~ A poem by Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit (Jessica Powers), O.C.D.

 


“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.”
~ Micah 6:8


Saint Teresa of Ávila: A Mystical Poem

Saint Teresa vision

The Vision of Saint Teresa, art by Bartolomeo Guidobono (late 17th century)

 

Loving Colloquy

If all the love you have for me,
my God, is like my love for you,
say, what detains me, that I do?
Or what is it delaying thee?

— Soul, what of me are your desires?
— My God, no more than you to see.
— And what most in you fear inspires?
— What I fear most is losing thee,

A soul within its God now hidden,
whatever else should it desire,
but to e’er greater love aspire,
and in that love remain all hidden,
returned anew into love’s fire?

One love that owns me I request,
my God, my soul within you centered,
for making me the sweetest nest
where union can the best be entered.

~ By Saint Teresa of Ávila, O.C.D.

Saint teresa of Avila art by Corrado Yaquinto

Santa Teresa de Ávila , arte de Corrado Yaquinto

 

Coloquio Amoroso

Si el amor que me tenéis,
Dios mío, es como el que os tengo,
Decidme: ¿en qué me detengo?
O Vos, ¿en qué os detenéis?
— Alma, ¿qué quieres de mí?
— Dios mío, no más que verte.
— Y ¿qué temes más de ti?
— Lo que más temo es perderte.
Un alma en Dios escondida
¿qué tiene que desear,
sino amar y más amar,
y en amor toda escondida
tornarte de nuevo a amar?
Un amor que ocupe os pido,
Dios mío, mi alma os tenga,
para hacer un dulce nido
adonde más la convenga.

~ Poema místico de Santa Teresa de Ávila, Carmelita Descalza

 

Wishing you all a happy and blessed Feast day of Saint Teresa of Ávila!

Deseandoles a todos un feliz y bendecido dia de Santa Teresa de Ávila!

 

 

The Gift of Love

Art by Maria Oosthuizen

Art by Maria Oosthuizen

 

My thoughts of you are fair as precious stones
out of the memory’s deep mysterious mines.
I cut and polish, hold the gems to light—
color of sea water, color of wines
coaxed from the earth’s sweetest fruits.
I drop them down into my heart,
into the lifted hands of love
whose lone concern is your renown.  

~ A poem by Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit (Jessica Powers), O.C.D.

 

Jesus abounds in love

Thank You Father, for the Gift of Your Love!

A Happy & Blessed Thanksgiving Canada!

 

To My Angel Guardian

 

angel by my side

My Guardian Angel

 

O glorious guardian of my frame!
In heaven’s high courts thou shinest bright,
As some most pure and holy flame,
Before the Lord of endless light.
Yet for my sake thou com’st to earth,
To be my brother, Angel dear:
My friend and keeper from my birth,
By day and night to me most near.

Knowing how weak a child am I,
By thy strong hand thou guidest me;
The stones that in my pathway lie,
I see thee move them carefully.
Ever thy heavenly tones invite
My soul to look to God alone;
And ever grows thy face more bright,
When I more meek and kind have grown.

O thou who speedest through all space
More swiftly than the lightnings fly!
Go very often, in my place,
To those I love most tenderly.
With thy soft touch, oh! dry their tears;
Tell them the cross is sweet to bear;
Speak my name softly in their ears,
And Jesu’s name, supremely fair.

Through all my life, though brief it be,
I fain would succor souls from sin.
Dear Angel, sent from heaven to me,
Kindle thy zeal my heart within!
Naught but my holy poverty,
And daily cross to give have I;
O join them to thine ecstasy,
And offer them to God on high.

Thine are heaven’s glory and delight,
The riches of the King of kings;
The Host in our ciboriums bright
Is mine, and all the wealth pain brings.
So with the Cross, and with the Host,
And with thine aid, dear Angel Friend,
I wait in peace, on time’s dark coast,
Heaven’s happiness that knows no end.

~ A poem written by Saint Thérèse of Lisieux on February, 1897 (seven months before her death) From a translation by S.L. Emery, 1907.

 

May we always have our Holy Guardian Angel by our side guiding and protecting us!

Wishing you all a very blessed Feast Day of the Holy Guardian Angels!

 

To Scatter Flowers

Saint Therese by unknown author

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux by unknown artist

 

O Jesu! O my Love! Each eve I come to fling
Before Thy sacred Cross sweet flowers of all the year.
By these plucked petals bright, my hands how gladly bring,
I long to dry Thine every tear!

To scatter flowers! – that means each sacrifice,
My lightest sighs and pains, my heaviest, saddest hours,
My hopes, my joys, my prayers, I will not count the price.
Behold my flowers!

With deep, untold delight Thy beauty fills my soul.
Would I might light this love in hearts of all who live!
For this, my fairest flowers, all things in my control,
How fondly, gladly I would give!
To scatter flowers! – behold my chosen sword
For saving sinners’ souls and filling heaven’s bowers.
The victory is mine: yes, I disarm Thee, Lord,
With these my flowers!

The petals in their flight caress Thy Holy Face;
They tell Thee that my heart is Thine, and Thine alone.
Thou knowest what these leaves are saying in my place;
On me Thou smilest from Thy throne.

To scatter flowers! – that means, to speak of Thee,–
My only pleasure here, where tears fill all the hours;
But soon, with angel hosts, my spirit shall be free,
To scatter flowers!

~ A poem written by Saint Thérèse of Lisieux in June 28, 1896

 

Wishing you all a very happy and blessed Feast day of Saint Thérèse,
The Little Flower! 

 

Santa teresita y Jesus

Saint Thérèse with the Child Jesus by unknown artist