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Showing posts with the label St. John of the cross

John of the Cross and the contemplative life

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What is the contemplative life? What does it entail? What is its purpose? Let’s start our study of St. John of the Cross’s spirituality with these questions.

Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen writes in Union with God According to St. John of the Cross:
[The contemplative life] is the form of Christian life that tends to intimacy with God by means of the assiduous exercise of prayer and mortification.” The Catholic Encyclopedia at New Advent defines it this way:
A life ordered in view of contemplation; a way of living especially adapted to lead to and facilitate contemplation, while it excludes all other preoccupations and intents.”Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.

Why is my prayer so dry?

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Anyone who practices mental prayer for any length of time will reach a dry period. Why does this happen? What can we do about it?

Sometimes prayer is dry because we are sick, depressed, anxious, or over-tired. In such cases, dryness is usually very temporary. A little bit of reflection can point out the reason for it. But other times, life seems to be going fine until we get to prayer. Then everything seems to fall apart.

Dryness in prayer can indicate that we’re growing closer to God, or it can indicate the opposite. How do we know if our dryness is related to spiritual growth?

St. John of the Cross is the master teacher about darkness in the spiritual life. His classic works, The Ascent of Mt. Carmel and Dark Night of the Soul talk about two periods of darkness in particular.
Many souls struggle with darkness or dryness when they are transitioning from the purgative way to the illuminative way–from St. Teresa of Avila’s third to fourth mansions. The second common darkne…

Longing to be Still

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Jesus, through this frantic world, could you just hold me still?

I don't want to be happy.
I do not want comfort,
for these things pass.

O How I long to be still, still, still with you.

I've had enough,
and nothing else will satisfy.
and there is nothing I won't do
to be still with you.

Let the world keep spinning,
Let it spin until I'm sick,
but Jesus, hold me still.

continue reading

What's the Little Way got to do with detachment?

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You can’t read the Carmelite saints for long without encountering the idea of detachment. We find it in the writings of John of the Cross, of Teresa of Avila, and even of St. Therese. Detachment for Catholics is not the same as mere  penance. Detachment, like the entire spiritual life, begins and ends with love.
St. John of the Cross is the master teacher about detachment. Here is his famous passage on detachment from The Ascent of Mount Carmel:
Endeavor to be inclined always:
not to the easiest, but to the most difficult;
not to the most delightful, but to the most distasteful;
not to the most gratifying, but to the least pleasant;
not to what means rest for you, but to hard work;
not to the consoling, but to the unconsoling;
not to the most, but to the least;
not to the highest and most precious, but to the lowest and most despised;
not to wanting something, but to wanting nothing. Do I detect a few sighs?
If we read this passage out of context, the spiritual life appears dry,…

Panic, Anxiety, Borderline Personality Disorder and Hunger for God

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I've been studying Spiritual Canticle by St. John of the Cross as part of my OCDS Secular Carmelite formation program Every Friday afternoon, I spend an hour in the Adoration Chapel at church. Today, I had the idea to practice lectio divina with the stanzas. I was surprised by some of the reflections I had. For some reason, I was pulled to the topic of mental illness, specifically anxiety disorder, panic attacks and borderline personality disorder. 
The first twelve stanzas struck me as "angsty" and full of longing and distress. Anxiety permeates the entire section. The "bride" has seen God, who is "the bridegroom," only for an instant, and then He was gone. If she had not seen Him or known He was there, she could not feel the pain of loss, and because he caused the sense of loss, only He could heal her.
The phrases of the Canticle are intense and dramatic,such as, "If you shall see Him Whom I love the most, Tell Him I anguish, suffer, …

Our Biggest Delusion

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There is a world of difference between a man who is aware of himself, sitting on a hill and looking at a beautiful sunrise and a man so enthralled with that very same sunrise that he forgets himself and becomes  absorbed in the scene. In the first instance the man is egocentric; he is at the centre 0f his world, not God. When I see beauty everywhere, I experience joy and a sense of connection because my eyes are not on myself. The truth is that I am simply part of the whole. Everything does not depend on me. I am free to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature and the Spirit of God which permeates all when I am in the right place in the scheme of things. I am living in a fantasy when I see myself as the center of the universe, viewing everything as it circles around me. As believers we sing and recite prayers that proclaim that God is the centre of all but our psychological make-up screams the exact opposite. I view people, events, history and yes even God through my eyes, judging what i…