Posts Tagged ‘St. John of the Cross’

Song of Solomon 3: God’s Yardstick – The Law of Love – Part IV

God’s Mercysongofsongs

Friday, January 20, 2023

We continue to look for God’s yardstick in the New Testament.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Once the soul has capitulated to God, emptied out the human to let in the divine, it thirsts for more of what it has begun to experience. And this soul will search without ceasing to experience God in deepest intimacy. It hears God’s call and must respond. This soul will wander through the night calling out for the beloved in the same way as the mourning lover in Chapter 3 of the Song of Songs (Song of Solomon).

Restless in bed and sleepless through the night,
    I longed for my lover. (Songs 3:1)

The soul searches endlessly as the does the soul in St. John of the Cross’ beautiful poem “Dark Night of the Soul.”

Upon a darkened night
The flame of love was burning in my breast
And by a lantern bright
I fled my house while all in quiet rest. (St. John of the Cross)

The soul that burns with desire for God will do all in order to be with God. And it will find healing serenity once it has found God because God alone is enough.

Those who are satisfied in this way cannot be manipulated by the world. They have no fear when they enter troubled waters because they have known the freedom of God’s embrace. And those who are satisfied in God alone respond with mercy – the fifth beatitude.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.” And having walked through a gauntlet of people and events that taunt them to abandon God, having given and received mercy, having moved through fire to find peace . . . these souls will be purified.

Tomorrow, the pure of heart.

St. John of the Cross, “Dark Night of the Soul”, Arranged and adapted by Loreena McKennitt, 1993. http://www.frimmin.com/poetry/darknight.html

Adapted from a favorite written on January 5, 2007.

Image from: https://www.torahmusings.com/2019/05/marriage-the-ring/ 

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Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Jesus and the Scribes and Pharisees

James Tissot: Jesus and the Scribes and Pharisees

Luke 5:33-6:11


I am always fascinated by the questions posed to Jesus . . . and the manner in which he answers these questions.  The Pharisees and scribes whom he condemns as vipers are anxious to depose this man.  They are jealous of his authenticity and his authority.  They want him gone.

Last week we examined how to react and pray for the plotters and schemers who want to undermine us and even eradicate us.  Today we watch Jesus as he combats his foes with the simplest of techniques . . . with questions.

Jesus so often answers his inquisitors’ demands with questions of his own.  He also uses the parables with which we are familiar, stories with simple images like putting new wine into old skins.  His words are plain and simple enough for the people of his day to understand . . . and they are also eternal so that we might understand his meaning two thousand years later.  Jesus’ words are also universal.  They create pictures that humans will comprehend.  He invites.  He calls.  He brings the Old Testament scriptures to life as he describes the desperation of David’s plight when he and his men eat the bread of offering in 1 Samuel 21.  Jesus makes a connection between himself and David by using a simple rabbinic method of mentioning a well-known scripture story to pertain to a present situation.  Jesus was, in fact, a wonderful teacher.

The questioners described by Luke in today’s reading do not understand that God has come to live among us in human form.  They do not see that Jesus fulfills their hopes and prophecies.  Jesus is the Sabbath . . . and they do not revere him . . . they trump up charges against him . . . they became enraged and together discussed what they might do to Jesus.

Yesterday’s MAGNIFICAT reflection was from St. John of the Cross and it concerned why we undergo trial.  He writes: The reason trials are necessary . . . is that highest union cannot be wrought in a soul that is not fortified by tribulations, darknesses, and distress, just as a superior quality liqueur is poured only into a sturdy flask which is prepared and purified . . .  A man should hold in esteem the interior and exterior trials God sends him, realizing that there are few who merit to be brought to perfection through suffering and to undergo trials for the sake of so high a state.  For God repays the interior and exterior trials very well with divine goods for the soul and body, so that there is not a trial which does not have a corresponding and considerable reward.

In today’s story we can feel the resentment building among Jesus’ enemies and, of course, we know the end of the story.  We know that they win . . . but they lose.  We know that they are in power . . . but have no power.  We know that they are full of themselves . . . and empty of God.  We see their opposite in Jesus who stands quietly to answer their questions . . . who calls them to unity, to hope and to love . . . who waits patiently, who replies calmly, who endures endlessly.

In today’s story, who are we?  The Pharisees . . . or the expression of God among us?  And how have we decided to question our own inquisitors?

Image from: https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/objects/4550

Adapted from a reflection written on February 11, 2008.

Cameron, Peter John, ed. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 1.21 (2008). Print.  

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Saturday, February 1, 2020

John 13:1-5: Holiness

john-of-the-cross[1]This week we have been considering the concept of betrayal – in particular betrayal by one near to us and well-loved.  Plots to kill prophets, a cherished teacher turned over to authorities by a well-respected disciple, betrayal at the deepest and most sensitive core.  Years ago a colleague wondered aloud if he ought to alert a supervisor of a co-worker’s laziness and lack of loyalty.  My thinking was that our supervisor already knew: “This will cut deeply when the truth is known,” my colleague observed.  “Yes,” I agreed, “And all the more because they have been such close friends”.  We nodded to one another in quiet understanding.  Months later the truth came to light, so did the pain, and – fortunately for all of us – the suffering was accompanied by holiness.

Robert F. Morneau writes about holiness at such a time as described by St. John of the Cross: “Essentially, this way of holiness was the doing of God’s will and a refusal to live a life of self-interest and self-indulgence.  Holiness is more than an intellectual assent to what God teaches through Scripture and the teachers in the church.  Holiness is actually doing faith, putting into action the decrees of God.  But there must be a radical awareness that one’s holiness is rooted in one’s relationship with God, fostered by prayer.  Only when disciplined prayer and the offering of one’s life in service come together are we on the road to holiness”. 

IM000314.JPGIn today’s Noontime we see Jesus as the consummate servant leader.  He not only washes his followers’ feet, he gives over his life so that they . . . and we . . . may live forever with him.  This, of course, we can easily see as holiness.  The more difficult task is to be the servant leader to even those who wish to see us fail.  We remember that Judas Iscariot was one of the twelve who lived with Jesus and then betrayed him.

Jesus knew that his hour had come . . .

He loved his own in the world, and he loved them to the end . . .  So during supper, fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power . . . Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist.

Jesus, the consummate servant leader, puts his faith into action.  Radically aware of what he is meant to do, he hands over all to the Father . . . and he kneels to do the simplest of tasks.  He cleans the feet of those who follow him.  He loves his own, and he loves them to the end.  And so must we tend to those who follow us, even those who betray us . . . for this is holiness.  This is the way through and beyond the deepest betrayal.


Written on December 14, 2010. Re-written and posted today as a Favorite. 

For more on John of the Cross, click on the link or images above or go to: http://www.doctorsofthecatholicchurch.com/JC.html

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Song of Songs 6:1-3: Discovery

The Three Magi

The Third Day of Christmas, December 27, 2017

In the old carol The Twelve Days of Christmas, our true love brings us three costly French hens on the third day. This extravagant gift might reflect the gifts of the three magi to the Christ child of frankincense, gold and myrrh; or they might remind us of the essential virtues for life: faith, hope and love. Today we consider another powerful Trinity present in our lives: Creator, Redeemer, and Healer, giver, receiver, and gift – a duo of two who hold between them the essence of their love . . . the Holy Trinity. Looking for clues to discover more about this mysterious relationship we experience with God, we explore Solomon’s Song of Songs.

“Determined to share her lover with no one, the girl refuses the aid offered by the daughters in seeking him.  She implies that she had never really lost him, for he has come down to his garden”.  (Senior 796)

We often spent time thinking about our need to trust and obey God when we feel trouble brewing.  Can we imagine ourselves as ardent lovers of God?  Can we see ourselves as determined as this young woman in today’s Noontime?  Can we see ourselves as settling for nothing less than full discovery of God even within our most intimate selves?  Can we believe it possible that God might have a unique, genuine and loving connection with each one of us . . . without forgetting who we are and what we need?

With God all things are possible.  We have only to ask.  God loves us more ardently than any earthly lover might, and we might love God more than anything or anyone on earth.

How much time do we spend in quiet discovery of God’s goodness each day as balanced with the time we spend worrying about all we believe we need from God?  How much effort do we give to tending our own garden to make it ready for the visit of the lover who is anxious to bring us what we need before we ask?  Do we go out in search of this most excellent lover who awaits us with joy even when we are in the midst of our suffering, or do we sit at home and pine?

Do we seek sorrow or joy, separation or union?  How much effort do we really give to seeking God?

Zurbarán: St. John of the Cross

I paraphrase here the third of St. John of the Cross’ Dichos, or Sayings: Although the road is wide and soft for those who have the will to walk it, you will still need strong feet, an eager spirit, and obstinate determination.  The pathway to the lover’s garden is inviting, but not easy.  There are always stones in the path, low-hanging branches and slippery stepping stones that cross the stream.  Do we pursue this Lover God as ardently as we pursue our daily wants and desires?  Are we willing to put aside our agendas to take up the one we are given by the one who loves us best?  Do we secretly undermine our own efforts to find intimacy with God, or is this life of God’s one we choose to discover? Do we give up in our search of the beloved, or is this a lover we seek with passion?

Perhaps we have been searching and have discovered this intimate God already.  Perhaps we know precisely where Christ sits among the lilies.  Perhaps we browse along the paths with the Spirit when we are both troubled and happy.  If not, then let us go.  If so, then let us celebrate.

Where has your lover gone? 

My lover has come down to his garden . . . to gather lilies . . . my lover belongs to me and I to him . . .

Adapted from a favorite written on August 13, 2010.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.796. Print. 

To read the O’Henry (William Sydney Porter) story, The Gift of the Magi, visit: http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/UBooks/GifMag.shtml

To better understand the three gifts of frankincense, gold and myrrh, visit: https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/jesus-historical-jesus/why-did-the-magi-bring-gold-frankincense-and-myrrh/

To read John of the Cross’ poem, Dark Night of the Soul, along with a brief commentary, visit: https://www.poetseers.org/spiritual-and-devotional-poets/christian/the-works-of-st-john-of-the-cross/dark-night-of-the-soul/index.html

Find John’s Dichos at: http://joshuakezer.blogspot.com/2012/01/sayings-of-light-and-love-dichos-de-luz.html 

For reflections on the mystery of God as three persons in one, enter the word Trinity into the blog search bar and explore.

For more on the Trinity, visit: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Trinity-Christianity

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Sirach 44:1Singing Praise

Tuesday, August 30, 2016Singing_God_Praise

A Favorite from August 27, 2010.

Let us now sing the praises of famous men and women, our ancestors in their generation.

We have so much to be grateful for when we look to our past and remember the stories we have heard about the generations who preceded us.  They laid the foundation for who and what we are today.

We have so much to give thanks for when we look at those young ones around us who will carry us into the future.  They carry the dream we hope for who and what we will be in the years to come.

We have so much to sing joyously in the present for as we ponder the love our maker has for us.  This creator wants nothing more than our welfare and success.

These words of St. John of the Cross appear in MAGNIFICAT today as the Meditation.  When read carefully and thoughtfully, they can bring us to an appreciation for the level of joy Hebrew ancestors felt when they worshiped Yahweh in the desert tent.  They can bring us an understanding of the goodness of the Lord, our Bridegroom.

When one loves and doses good to another, he loves and does good to him in the measure of his own nature and properties.  Thus your Bridegroom, dwelling within you, grants you favors according to his nature.  Since he is omnipotent, he omnipotently loves and does good to you; since he is wise you feel that he does good to you with wisdom; since he is infinitely good, you feel that he loves you with goodness; since he is holy, you feel that with holiness he loves and favors you; since he is just, you feel that in justice he loves and favors you; since he is merciful, mild, and clement, you feel his mercy, mildness and clemency; since he is strong, sublime, and delicate being, you feel that his love for you is strong, sublime, and delicate; since he is pure and undefiled, you feel that he loves you in a pure and undefiled way; since he is truth, you feel that he loves you in truthfulness; since he is liberal, you feel that he liberally loves you, without any personal profit, only in order to do good to you; since he is the virtue of supreme humility, he loves you with supreme humility and esteem and makes you his equal, gladly revealing himself to you in these ways of knowledge, in this his countenance filled with graces, and telling you in this union, not without great rejoicing: “I am yours and for you and delighted to be what I am so as to be yours and give myself to you”. 

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 27.8 (2010). Print.  

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