Monday, April 15, 2019

JOHN OF THE CROSS and the call to seek Christ

THE MYSTICAL POETRY of St John of the Cross is a constant reminder that, even when it feels as if we’re imprisoned in a dark and gloomy cell – the prison of parish or church life, of the humdrum daily round, or the desolate surroundings where we live, where people torment us or colleagues goad us, where it seems as if there’s no escape, or all we can see is the cold darkness that seems to enfold us  – and re-focus into the light of Christ burning in the darkness.  Reach out to him in love and escape those surroundings which can ensnare and enfold us.  We’ve to redirect our attention, re-focus our heart, towards our Divine Lover:

Upon a gloomy night,
With all my cares to loving ardours flushed,
(O venture of delight!)
With nobody in sight
I went abroad when all my house was hushed.

In safety, in disguise,
In darkness up the secret stair I crept,
(O happy enterprise)
Concealed from other eyes
When all my house at length in silence slept.
Oh night that was my guide! 

Oh darkness dearer than the morning’s pride,
Oh night that joined the lover
To the beloved bride
Transfiguring them each into the other.
Within my flowering breast 

Lost to myself I stayed
My face upon my lover having laid
From all endeavour ceasing:
And all my cares releasing
Threw them amongst the lilies there to fade.

This is what St Benedict, less poetically, committed himself and his brethren to do as he sought for conversatio morum – that ‘conversion of life’ which has to be our daily concern.  Is your attention often taken by the weariness of life?  Set yourself free by cultivating that ’indifference’ taught by St Ignatius.  Don’t become trapped by thoughts and feelings that are life-denying, but, instead, take hold of Christ and ask him to let you abide in his Heart.

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