Friday, April 13, 2012

St. John of the Cross quotes

Did you know that Pope John Paul II learned Spanish so that he could read St. John of the Cross's poetry in the original? It's true. And with an introduction like that, how could you not read this saint and Church Doctor's writings? I finally got around to reading Dark Night of the Soul and, even though it was very dense and difficult to get through, not a page-turner like the other books I've read recently, it was amazing. I especially loved the part in his biography at the beginning that explained that the period of his life in which he was imprisoned and tortured by his own brothers was when he wrote his best poetry and he forgave them all afterwards. "When he refused to recant, he was imprisoned in a windowless cell. Three times a week they let him out to eat his daily meal of bread and water, after which he was whipped for his continuing obstinacy. He wrote some of his finest poetry during this imprisonment. After nine months, he broke out by scaling the walls and found refuge with nearby nuns."

This book was another confirmation of my recent revelation that saints' writings are a real TREASURE, far superior the millions of other books about religion/spirituality that exist (they have stood the test of time), and especially Catholics but also non-Catholics should read them! Here are some of my favorite quotes:

  • They are much too embarrassed to confess their sins nakedly, lest their confessors should think less of them, so they palliate them and make them appear less evil, and thus it is to excuse themselves rather than to accuse themselves that they go to confession. And sometimes they seek another confessor to tell the wrongs that they have done, so that their own confessor shall think they have done nothing wrong at all, but only good... Book I, Chapter II, #4
  • Many of these persons purpose to accomplish a great deal and make grand resolutions; yet, as they are not humble and have no misgivings about themselves, the more resolutions they make, the greater is their fall and the greater their annoyance, since they have not the patience to wait for that which God will give them when it pleases Him; this likewise is contrary to the spiritual meekness aforementioned, which cannot be wholly remedied save by the purgation of the dark night. I,V,3
  • This is to judge God very unworthily; they have not realized that the least of the benefits which come from this Most Holy Sacrament is that which concerns the senses; and that the invisible part of the grace that it bestows is much greater; for, in order that they may look at it with the eyes of faith, God oftentimes withholds from them these other consolations of sweetnesses of sense. I,VI,5
  • There is thus a great difference between aridity and lukewarmness, for lukewarmness consists in great weakness and remissness in the will and in the spirit, without solicitude as to serving God; whereas purgative aridity is ordinarily accompanied by solicitude, with care and grief, as I say, becasue the soul is not serving God. I,IX,3
  • gives the soul an inclination and desire to be alone and in quietness, without being able to think of any particular thing or having the desire to do so. If those souls to whom this comes to pass knew how to be quiet at this time, and troubled not about performing any kind of action, whether inward or outward, neither had any anxiety about doing anything, then they would delicately experience this inward refreshment in that ease and freedom from care. I,IX,6
  • is God Who is now working in the soul; He binds its interior faculties, and allows it not to cling to the understanding, nor to have delight in the will, nor to reason with the memory. For anything that the soul can do of its own accord at this time serves only, as we have said, to hinder inward peace and the work which God is accomplishing in the spirit by means of that aridity of sense. I,IX,7
  • For God sets them in this night only to prove them and to humble them, and to reform their desires, so that they go not nurturing in themselves a sinful gluttony in spiritual things. I,IX,9
    St. John of the Cross and
    St. Teresa of Avila... buddies.
    I love saints that were friends!
    The way in which they are to conduct themselves in this night of sense is to devote themselves not at all to reasoning and meditation, since this is not the time for it, but to allow the sould to remain in peace and quietness, although it may seem clear to them that they are doing nothing and are wasting their time, and although it may appear to them that it is because of their weakness that they have no desire in that state to think of anything. The truth is that they will be doing quite sufficient if they have patience and persevere in prayer without making any effort. What they must do is merely to leave the soul free and disencumbered and at rest from all knowledge and thought, troubling not themselves, in that state, about what they shall think or meditate upon, but contenting themselves with merely a peaceful and loving attentiveness toward God, and in being without anxiety, without the ability and without desire to have experience of Him or to perceive Him. I,XI,4
  • Other souls, which are weaker, God Himself accompanies, now appearing to them, now moving farther away, that He may exercise them in His love; for without such turnings away they would not learn to reach God. I,XIV, 5
  • It is meet, then, that the soul be first of all brought into emptiness and poverty of spirit and purged from all help, consolation and natural apprehension with respect to all things, both above and below. In this way, beign empty, it is able indeed to be poor in spirit and freed from the old man, in order to live that new and blessed life which is attained by means of this night, and which is that state of union with God. II,IX,4
  • It suffices for us here to know that, in order that the interior motions and acts of the soul may come to be moved by God divinely, they must first be darkened and put to sleep and hushed to rest natrually as touching all their capacity and operation, until they have no more strength. II,XVI,6
  • ...for the road of suffering is more secure and even more profitable than that of fruition and action... II,XVI,9
  • For this soul is now, as it were, undergoing a cure, in order that it may regain its health - its health being God Himself. II,XVI,10
  • Oh, miserable is the fortune of our life, which is lived in such great peril and wherein it is so difficult to find the truth! For that which is most clear and true is to us most dark and doubtful; wherefore, though it is the thing that is most needful for us, we flee from it. And that which gives us the greatest light and satisfactoin to our eyes we embrace and pursue, though it be the worst thing for us, and make us fall at every step. In what peril and fear does man live, since the very natural light of his eyes by which he has to guide himself is the first light that dazzles him and leads him astray on his road to God! And if he is to know with certainty by what road he travels, he must perforce keep his eyes closed and walk in darkness, that he may be secure from the enemies who inhabit his own house - that is, his senses and faculties. II,XVI,12

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