The Suffering That Transforms Us

 

Christ art by ladislav zaborsky
Art by Ladislav Záborský

 

Suffering is not only physical; it can be mental or spiritual as well. In proportion to the love of God and others that grows in the soul, a massive transformation takes place through suffering. This is the threshold of a mystery into which God gently leads you.

If you follow him into his pain, it changes you. If you keep your hand in God’s hand, love will grow. He who holds his hand in the hand of God knows love, for God is love.

And there, I think, is something very profound, very mysterious and deep.

 

. . .we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us.
~ Rm 5:3-5 

 

~ A Meditation by Catherine Doherty

 

 

In sorrow and suffering, go straight to God with confidence, and you will be strengthened, enlightened and instructed.
~ Saint John of Cross

For Well I Know The Spring

 

spring of mist
Art source unknown

 

For well I know the spring that flows so free,
although it is night.

That fountain is eternal and concealed,
though well I know from where it is revealed,
although it is night.

Its origin, unknown, nor has it one,
yet from her have all origins begun,
although it is night.

I know there can’t be any thing so fair,
and that the heavens and earth both drink from there,
although it is night.

I know no one its bottom e’er could sound,
no way to cross it ever could be found,
although it is night.

Its clarity ne’er is made to be obscure,
I know each ray of light has come from her,
although it is night.

I know that it’s so full its currents swell,
and water all the people, heaven and hell,
although it is night.

 

~ A poem by Saint John of the Cross, O.C.D.

 

 

Sum Of Perfection

Forgetting all things creaturely,
remembering the Creator,
attending to the interior,
and loving the One loving thee.

~ Saint John of the Cross, O.C.D.

 

jesus praising god the father

 

 

 

I Went In Pursuit By Love’s Way

 

saint john of the cross toledo
Painting of Saint John of the Cross, photo taken by me from the chapel of the Discalced Carmelite Monastery in Toledo, Spain in July 2017

 

I went in pursuit by love’s way,
my hope did not fail in the try,
I flew very high, oh so high,
at last overtaking the prey.

In order to gain me the right
to divine opportunity,
I flew high toward unity
and soon became lost out of sight,
with all, in this dangerous way
I faltered in my strength to fly,
yet love bore me more high,
at last overtaking the prey.

While rising so near to the light,
my vision was dazed by the glare,
and my greatest conquest was there
in darkest obscureness of night;
but since I was seeking love’s way,
I blindly leapt in the dark sky,
and I flew so high, oh so high,
at last overtaking the prey.

The higher became my ascent
within this search so excellent,
the lower became my descent
fatigued and o’erwhelmed, I was spent;
None can overtake! I would say,
it humbled and made me so dry,
that I flew so high, oh so high,
at last overtaking the prey.

By this rare endeavor to cope
one flight did a thousand excel,
for hope within heaven to dwell
gains fully the height of its hope;
I hoped just to search in this way,
my hope did not fail in the try,
since I flew so high, oh so high,
at last overtaking the prey.

~ A poem by Saint John of the Cross, O.C.D.

 

 

Wishing you all a very blessed Feast of Saint John of the Cross!

 

 

 

Dark Night

 

for the heart
A Dark Night, by unknown artist


Deep in the dark of night

with yearning, set aflame by love’s own fire,
—oh, happy grace-full flight!—
I left with no descrier,
as all my household, peaceful, would retire.

Secure, out of the light,
disguised, up secret ladder ever higher,
—oh, happy grace-full flight!—
the dark hid my desire,
as all my household, peaceful, would retire.

Within that happy night,
in secret, without anyone’s discerning,
nor aught that caught my sight,
nor guide nor light returning
save for the one that in my heart was burning.

It served me as my guide,
more certain than the brilliant midday sun,
to where for me would bide—
how well I knew! —the One,
where we might not be found by anyone.

O night that guides my flight!
O night that was more loving than the sun!
O night that would unite
the Lover and loved one,
beloved changed to Lover—unison!

Upon my blossoming breast—
I guarded it for only him, no less—
there he remained at rest,
I gave him my caress,
our love the fanning cedar’s breeze would bless.

The breeze blew from the tower,
my fingers now began to part his hair,
with his hand’s gentle power
he wounded my neck where
my senses, stricken, faded unaware.

I lost, forgot my being,
my face reclined upon my Lover there,
all ceased, my spirit freeing,
and leaving all my care
behind, forgotten, midst the lilies fair.

 

~ A poem by Saint John of the Cross, O.C.D.

 

 

 

 

 

A Pearl of Great Price

Pearl of great price by JVC
A pearl of great price, art by Janice Van Cronkhite

“The higher he ascends the less he understands,
because the cloud is dark which lit up the night;
Whoever knows this remains always in unknowing
and transcending all knowledge.”
~ Saint John of the Cross

The contemplative must lean on pure faith, as Saint John of the Cross affirms insistently. By this teaching, he maintains that our hunger for God in prayer depends in an absolute sense on a belief in his immediate presence to our soul despite what can seem at times the stark emptiness of the dark hour. In this teaching, faith is essential to the contemplative life, just as breathing is to the human person.
The certitude upon which the deeper life of contemplative prayer rests can only be firmly grounded in the unquestioning dispositions of a soul’s deeper faith. Faith establishes the certitude of the divine presence, without which prayer might be thought simply a lonely cry released into the vast reaches of an empty night. By faith our soul knows that prayer draws a mysterious response from God, even when it seems to be an answer of silence. The silence conceals God’s longing for our soul—a truth known often only by faith. It is a faith always rooted in the clear teaching of the Catholic doctrinal tradition, without which no contemplative life can survive.

The truth of God is an inexhaustible mystery and therefore always an incitement and goad to our intelligence. Even with an intensity of faith, we confront the incomprehensibility of God. There is no eventual arrival in prayer at a comfortable knowledge of God. He is infinite love and beyond our human understanding. Contrary to what may be our expectation, greater faith does not grant a more expansive knowledge of God. What it does more often is reduce our knowledge of him to a blind certitude of his living presence. We realize in deeper prayer how real he is and, likewise, how unknown he still is. This inability to overcome barriers of blindness in our knowledge of God is the normal condition of contemplative prayer after a certain point. Over time, we learn more about the limits of knowledge, while at the same time recognizing that there is no limit to love. A loving encounter with God can remain our great desire in prayer even in blindness and incomprehension. And God, indeed, does make the reality of his presence known at times, though not perhaps to our satisfaction. For his presence is not a reality that the soul, even with great love, can embrace as a possession. Always God slips back into hiding, so that our love, too, may be inexhaustible.   

~ A Meditation by Father Donald Haggerty

The Flower Of Love

A Starlit Garden ~ Art by Charlotte Bird
A Starlit Garden ~ Art by Charlotte Bird

“Where there is no love, put love and you will find love.” ~ Saint John of the Cross

Whoever first plants the seed in any soil hitherto fallow, and cultivates the shoot with humble toil near steep or shallow…

They will be first to come upon the flower whose instant glory can recreate, in even this trivial hour, the Eden story.

Blessed are they who stand upon their vow and are insistent that love in this bleak here, this barren now become existent.

Blessed are they who battle jest and scorn to keep love growing from embryo immaculately born to blossom showing.

Primarily for them will petals part to draw and win them.
It, when the pollen finds their opened hearts, will bloom within them.

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

 

The Living Flame Of Love

Saint John of the Cross4

Painting of St. John of the Cross by Céline Martin
“This was requested of me by the Carmel, as he was known. I focused on creating a strong contrast with the cross.” Céline’s note. (taken from the Archives du Carmel de Lisieux)


Songs of the soul in the intimate communication of loving union with God.
 

1. O living flame of love
that tenderly wounds my soul
in its deepest center! Since
now you are not oppressive,
now consummate! if it be your will:
tear through the veil of this sweet encounter!


2. O sweet cautery,
O delightful wound!
O gentle hand! O delicate touch
that tastes of eternal life
and pays every debt!
In killing you changed death to life.


3. O lamps of fire!
in whose splendors
the deep caverns of feeling,
once obscure and blind,
now give forth, so rarely, so exquisitely,
both warmth and light to their Beloved.

 

4. How gently and lovingly
you wake in my heart,
where in secret you dwell alone;
and in your sweet breathing,
filled with good and glory,
how tenderly you swell my heart with love. 

~ Saint John of the Cross, O.C.D.