St. John of the Cross
John is a saint because his life was a heroic effort to live up to his name: "of the Cross." The folly of the cross came to full realization in time. "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me" (Mark 8:34b) is the story of John's life. The Paschal Mystery—through death to life—strongly marks John as reformer, mystic-poet and theologian-priest.
Ordained a Carmelite priest in 1567 at age 25, John met Teresa of Jesus and like her vowed himself to the primitive Rule of the Carmelites. As partner with Teresa and in his own right, John engaged in the work of reform, and came to experience the price of reform: increasing opposition, misunderstanding, persecution, imprisonment. He came to know the cross acutely—to experience the dying of Jesus—as he sat month after month in his dark, damp, narrow cell with only his God!
Yet, the paradox! In this dying of imprisonment John came to life, uttering poetry. In the darkness of the dungeon, John's spirit came into the Light. There are many mystics, many poets; John is unique as mystic-poet, expressing in his prison-cross the ecstasy of mystical union with God in the Spiritual Canticle.
But as agony leads to ecstasy, so John had his Ascent to Mt. Carmel, as he named it in his prose masterpiece. As man-Christian-Carmelite, he experienced in himself this purifying ascent; as spiritual director, he sensed it in others; as psychologist-theologian, he described and analyzed it in his prose writings. His prose works are outstanding in underscoring the cost of discipleship, the path of union with God: rigorous discipline, abandonment, purification. Uniquely and strongly John underlines the gospel paradox: The cross leads to resurrection, agony to ecstasy, darkness to light, abandonment to possession, denial to self to union with God. If you want to save your life, you must lose it. John is truly "of the Cross." He died at 49—a life short, but full.
John in his life and writings has a crucial word for us today. We tend to be rich, soft, comfortable. We shrink even from words like self-denial, mortification, purification, asceticism, discipline. We run from the cross. John's message—like the gospel—is loud and clear: Don't—if you really want to live!
Quote:Patron Saint of:
Thomas Merton said of John: "Just as we can never separate asceticism from mysticism, so in St. John of the Cross we find darkness and light, suffering and joy, sacrifice and love united together so closely that they seem at times to be identified."
In John's words:
Daily Prayer - 2015-12-14
As I begin this prayer, God is here.
I ask for the grace
Knowing that God loves me unconditionally,
The Word of God
Reading 1 Nm 24:2-7, 15-17a
When Balaam raised his eyes and saw Israel encamped, tribe by tribe,
Responsorial Psalm PS 25:4-5ab, 6 and 7bc, 8-9
R. (4) Teach me your ways, O Lord.
Alleluia Ps 85:8
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mt 21:23-27
When Jesus had come into the temple area,
Some thoughts on today's scripture
Dear Lord, stay by my side always.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
Saint John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Memorial)
How goodly are your tents, O Jacob! (Numbers 24:5)
Fair tents? Prospering like lush gardens? As strong as tall cedars? Nourished as by flowing waters? A laughable description at best! It's easy to read Balaam's prophecy as comforting words of hope and miss out on the somewhat humorous disconnect in this passage. At the time when Balaam uttered these words, the Israelites were not much more than a ragged band of nomads and ex-slaves wandering in the desert.
What Balaam saw was the Israelites as they would become, not as they were. And that's why this is such a hope-filled passage. This is the way God always sees things, the way he always looks at us. He doesn't see sins. He sees the blood of his Son washing us clean. He doesn't see weaknesses and failures. He sees us clothed in the strength and dignity of Christ. As he looks down from heaven, he sees his children spotlessly pure and filled with his Spirit. And that includes you!
God always sees us in light of his perfect plan and intentions for our lives. So often, our sight is fixed on the ragged edges of who we are or what we've done. But we don't have to mire ourselves in problems, sins, and difficulties. We will always be far more than the sum of all our troubles. Why? Because we will always be treasured children of an all-loving God. This is the central truth that can set us free from anxiety and empower us to enjoy the gifts and talents God has given us—and to look forward with eager anticipation toward everything that he still wants to lavish on us.
So what can you do today to respond to this amazing passage? Simply enjoy who you are. You are a child of God. You are precious in his sight, chosen and beloved from before time began. You are a member of God's own family, and you have great dignity and honor. Nothing can rob you of your place in God's house; nothing can convince him to disown you or to abandon you. So marvel today in who you are—and in who you are destined to become!
"Father, how great is your plan for my life! It is so much bigger and better than I can possibly imagine. I stand in awe and praise you for your power and incomparable love."
who gave YOU
From today's 1st Holy Scripture, "I behold him, though not near: A star shall advance from Jacob, and a staff shall rise from Israel." A star shows the way. If you don't have a compass, if you don't know where you're at, if you wait for darkness, and hope for the light of the star, it will show the way...of the shepherd. The staff of Israel comes, and it is our Lord, the one who will show the way to safety, salvation, the way to live life now, to live everafter. The shepherd does so much for his flock, a true and good shepherd like the Lord our God. He lays down His life for His flock even, but first having spent most his life away from his family, away from society, away from the ways of the world. He spends his time with his flock, caring for the sick, looking for the lost. When they are brought to the fold, he feeds them, and looks over them in the hills and in safety, away from ravenous wolves that would devour...their soul. Me and you are of the flock that He shepherds, called through our baptism with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
We pray the Psalms today "Teach Me Your Ways Lord." This Good Shepherd knows what is best for us. We may not want to change, we may not want to move, we may not like what is uncomfortable, we may have to cross valleys, and climb mountains, but we must...we must learn the way. The Psalms pray today "Good and upright is the LORD; thus he shows sinners the way. He guides the humble to justice, he teaches the humble his way." Can we say that St. John of the Cross today was humble? Was he led to justice by being imprisoned for the Lord? Why do "bad things happen to good people?" is often the question. Why do the innocent have to suffer? Perhaps, maybe, just maybe it is a humility pill. Perhaps it is a chance of offering. St. Max Kolbe was one of hundreds of thousands and even millions that were killed by the Nazis. But the way he died made all the difference. He was in line to be killed for being a priest. And not just any priest, a really good priest, offering HIs life, and this is how; as he stood in line with cell mates, the Nazis were ordered to kill a few for that day, this time, by means of starvation to death. As they counted off every other man, the man in front of St. Max was chosen. St. Max said "let me go instead of him, for he is a father with children, I am just a priest". After a little thought, the Nazi allowed it. ST. Max took the hit, after weeks of starving and singing joyfully with his cell mates, they finally had to kill him by injecting him with carbolic acid. The Good Shepherd lived through St. Max, and the Good Shepherd lives on in the priests today. And He can live on through you and me. They lay down their lives for their flock. They lay down their lives for strangers. The Good Shepherd leaves one in wonder and awe. Are you amazed that the star of Jacob shows the way to the Shepherd of Israel? The staff that leads, the staff that corrects, the staff of a King...
In comes Jesus into our lives today: "Where was John's baptism from?" He asks the chief priests and the elders of the Jews. This after daring to ask Him where He got His authority from. Because the answer was the same, both John's baptism and the authority of Jesus our Lord came from Heaven. A place the Jews were not familiar with...anymore. They had lost the sense of the presence of God. In the Holy Catholic Church, the presence, the REAL presence is there. It recalls the 1st Scripture today "I see him, though not now; I behold him, though not near". There you very much could have the presence of God in your life and you do not perceive it! Yet, St. Max had it. Yet, St. John of the Cross had it. And you may have it as well. It's only a leap of faith away. I randomly opened the book "The Imitation of Christ" and read a part that eventually said "In whom can I believe, O Lord, except in You? For You alone are the Truth, Who can neither deceive nor be deceived. On the other hand, all people are liars (Ps 116:11) ,weak, unstable and subject to fail, especially in speech; so that even what seems to be true we should not be too ready to believe. "" The elders that day with Jesus were lying. They refused to acknowledge the authority of Jesus in their lives. This is to refuse to see the light in the dark and to fake believe we live in the light. If you don't know what I'm saying, it means sin. Sin refuses to acknowledge Christ Jesus in your life. Therefore, the only way to humility is to be subject to Him at every single breathing moment of your life. Jesus is first. Not me. Jesus is Lord. Not me. Jesus is King. Not me. Jesus is the savior. Not me. I am the lamb that follows the Lamb of God. Often and all the more frequent, as I walk in a line to receive Jesus, His real Presence into my body and soul, I walk with my soul surrendering...a lamb about to be slaughtered and all I can do is say...steady the way Lord, ready the way, show the way, with my head bowing, I know what I'm in for...a death, and this is a death to self, less of me and more of Jesus, and all I can say as He is about to come in and to prepare the way in my heart is one word to Jesus...AMEN!
AMEN! I believe! Amen I am in FULL COMMUNION With your Holy Church. AMEN I said one time of the few times I received Him this weekend, and as I was about to eat I said "I am about to taste eterntiy.......