Notes on Spiritual Guidance in the Carmelite Way

 

Tiny bluebird friend by Unknown Artist

 

In the Gospel [Jesus said] … where two or three are gathered to consider what is for the greater honor and glory of My name, there I am in the midst of them… that is, clarifying and confirming truths in their hearts, It is noteworthy that He did not say: Where there is one alone, there I am: rather, He said: Where there are at least two. Thus God announces that He does not want the soul to believe only by itself the communications it thinks are of divine origin, or for anyone to be assured or confirmed in them without the Church or her ministers. God will not bring clarification and confirmation of the truth to the heart of one who is alone. Such a person would remain weak and cold in regard to the truth. (The Ascent of Mount Carmel by St. John of the Cross)

This passage, even though it deals specifically with souls who have received visions and revelations, is pertinent to all of us, for it contains a basic truth, namely, that we are not always the best interpreters of our own experience. St. Teresa of Jesus taught that it is one grace to receive a grace from God and another grace to correctly understand the grace that one has received (The Book of Her life. 154). And the grace of understanding is often communicated to us through another person.

St. John of the Cross does not say that we need someone to tell us the truth but we need a trusted guide who is able to assist us in “clarifying (aclarando) and confirming (confirmando) truths [that] are in [our] hearts.” Aclarando is the process of clearing up obscurity or shedding light upon things that are unclear, whereas confirmando means to confirm and give support.

Good spiritual directors are hard to come by, you may say. This is true. However, the guidance of which St. John of the Cross speaks can come to us through many sources. We can receive clarification and confirmation about truths that are in our hearts from our spouse, a coworker, a support group, a friend, or even a book.

So we may ask ourselves and reflect:

What are the channels through which I receive spiritual guidance? What or who is most helpful in clarifying or shedding light upon my experiences?

 

~ By Marc Foley, O.C.D ~ The Ascent of Mount Carmel Reflections

 

Prayer of a Soul Taken with Love

Tomb of Saint John of the Cross ~ Photo taken by me in Segovia, July 2017

 

I recently came back from a trip to Spain and visited the Monastery of San Juan De La Cruz, Discalced Carmelite Fathers in Segovia.  The Monastery stands next to the Shrine of La Fuencisla. St. John of the Cross is buried here.
The church has a single nave with side chapels. The marble and bronze mausoleum of St. John of the Cross is in the side chapel of the Evangelio.

There I read the most beautiful prayer by St. John of the Cross “Oracion del alma enamorada” Prayer of a soul taken with love….

You will not take from me, my God, what You once gave me in Your only Son, Jesus Christ in Whom You gave me all I desire.  Hence I rejoice that if I wait for You, You will not delay. With what procrastinations do You wait, since from this very moment you can love God in your heart? Mine are the heavens and mine is the earth.  Mine are the nations, the just are mine, and mine the sinners.  The angels are mine, and the Mother of God, and all things are mine; and God Himself is mine and for me, because Christ is mine and all for me. What do you ask, then, and seek, my soul?  Yours is all of this, and all is for you.  Do not engage yourself in something less, nor pay heed to the crumbs which fall from your Father’s table.  Go forth and exult in your Glory!  Hide yourself in It and rejoice, and you will obtain the supplications of your heart.