Feast of St. John of the Cross
Our Father, Confessor, and Doctor of the Church
“…. Later,” continues St. Francis de Sales, “Our Lord carries us and does in us works altogether performed [by Him], by which I mean that it seems that we do nothing.” This marks that “happy night” which St. John of the Cross speaks of in his Ascent of Mount Carmel when the soul goes forth, being led by God, to a more perfectly intimate union with Him – “for love of Him alone, enkindled in love of Him, upon a dark night, which is the privation and purgation of all its sensual [not something entirely connected with lust but rather, in the strictly Scholastic term, perception through the senses] desires, with respect to all outward things of the world and to those which were delectable to its flesh, and likewise with respect to the desires of its will.”
“Oh,” exclaims St. Francis de Sales, “how happy are the souls who through life this way and leave the arms of the Divine majesty only to walk and do on their part what they can in the practice of virtue and good works, still always holding on to the hand of Our Lord!” But alas, our holy Father John observes: “it is sad to see many souls to whom God gives both aptitude and favor with which to make progress (and who, if they would take courage, could attain to this high estate), remaining in an elementary stage of communion with God for want of will, or knowledge, or because there is none who will lead them in the right path, or teach them how to get away from these beginnings. And at length, although Our Lord grants them such favor as to make them to go onward without this hindrance or that, they arrive at their goal very much later, and with great labor, yet with less merit, because they have not conformed themselves to God, and allowed themselves to be brought freely into the pure and sure road of union. For although it is true that God is leading them, and that He can lead them without their own help, they will not allow themselves to be led; and thus, they make less progress, because they resist Him Who Is leading them, and they have less merit, because they apply not their will, and on this account they suffer more.” And to drive this point more poignantly, the same Doctor of Teresian Carmel: “These are souls… like children, who, when their mothers desire to carry them in their arms, start stamping and crying, and insist upon being allowed to walk, with the result that they can make no progress; and if they advance at all, it is only at the pace of a child.”
“Let us pass on now,” enjoins St. Francis, “to the third point, which is the absolute surrender… to the Divine Majesty. It is thus that we must give ourselves totally to the Lord because the Savior does not want us to do what He Himself cannot do – which is to give Himself to us partially. His goodness is so great that He wishes to give Himself to us totally. Similarly, He desires, and it is only just, that we give ourselves to Him without reserve – with perfect abnegation: that is, with that generosity that dares even rival the generosity of the love the Crucified lavished on God – by complete conformity to the designs of God – and upon us. I know that people of the world give themselves to God in their fashion, but I am not speaking of them – but of us who are dedicated and consecrated. We must leave all to have the All which is God. We must forget our father’s house (Ps. 44.11).”
“On a dark night, kindled in love with yearnings
Oh, happy chance!
I went forth without being observed,
My house being now at rest”
(St. John of the Cross, Ascent of Mt. Carmel)
A most blessed Feast to all!