“And he who had only a Father now had a Mother too”

I would like to share with you today an excerpt from St. John of the Cross’s “Romances”.  In this poem, John reveals the Heart of God behind the Annunciation and the Incarnation:

7. The Incarnation

Now that the time had come
when it would be good
to ransom the bride
serving under the hard yoke
of that law
which Moses had given her,
the Father, with tender love,
spoke in this way:
“Now you see, Son, that your bride
was made in your image,
and so far as she is like you
she will suit you well;
yet she is different, in her flesh,
which your simple being does not have.
In perfect love
this law holds:
that the lover become
like the one he loves;
for the greater their likeness
the greater their delight.
Surely your bride’s delight
would greatly increase
were she to see you like her,
in her own flesh.”
“My will is yours,”
the Son replied,
“and my glory is
that your will be mine.
This is fitting, Father,
what you, the Most High say;
for in this way
your goodness will be more evident,
your great power will be seen
and your justice and wisdom.
I will go and tell the world,
spreading the word
of your beauty and sweetness
and of your sovereignty.
I will go seek my bride
and take upon myself
her weariness and labors
in which she suffers so;
and that she may have life,
I will die for her,
and lifting her out of that deep,
I will restore her to you.”

8. Continues

Then he called
the archangel Gabriel
and sent him to
the virgin Mary,
at whose consent
the mystery was wrought,
in whom the Trinity
clothed the Word with flesh
and through Three work this,
it is wrought in the One;
and the Word lived incarnate
in the womb of Mary.
And he would had only a Father
now had a Mother too,
but she was not like others
who conceive by man.
From her own flesh
he received the flesh,
so he is called
Son of God and of man.

“Without a light to guide”

I apologize again for my spotty posting these days.  Lack of power (less than 24 hours!) and a bad cold have been inhibiting.  Here’s a bit on St. John of the Cross, whose feast we celebrate today, as Fr. Mark points out: “just one week before the longest night of the year.”

John of the Cross: A Saint for Advent

Saint John of the Cross comes to us in the middle of Advent; he comes to us just one week before the longest night of the year. He comes to us at the very moment when God speaks to us through the mouth of the prophet Isaiah, saying: “I am the Lord, there is no other; I form the light, and create the darkness” (Is 24:6). Saint John comes to guide us through the night; he is familiar with all its secrets.

Blest night of wandering
In secret, where by none might I be spied,
Nor I see anything;
Without a light to guide,
Save that which in my heart burnt in my side.

That light did lead me on,
More surely than the shining of noontide,
Where well I knew that One
Did for my coming bide;
Where he abode, might none but he abide.

(In an Obscure Night, trans. by Arthur Symons)

Poetry, the best poetry, is born of suffering and forged in the crucible of life. (To read more, go here: Though It Be Night

God’s look of love

Fr. Conrad de Meester says God has no needs, but if He did, it would be to love . . .

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Continuing from yesterday.  

St. John of the Cross has three chapters in his Spiritual Canticle in which he writes about God’s look of love.  It is God looking at us in love that makes us lovable and beautiful.  “With God, to gaze at is to love.” (SC 31.5)  And it is in His looking at us, loving us unconditionally, that we, in turn, become beautiful. 

By infusing his grace in the soul, God makes it worthy and capable of his love.  (SC 32.5)

He does not love things because of what they are in themselves.  With God, to love the soul is to put her somehow in himself and to make her his equal. (SC 32.6)

St. John says that God’s gaze of love produces four things in our souls: “it cleanses, endows with grace, enriches, and illumines.” (SC 33.1)   And as God gazes on us–as we let ourselves be gazed upon–we become beautiful, and then that beauty draws His gaze even more towards us, and the more He gazes upon us, the more beautiful we become, and so on and so on.  “When God beholds the soul made attractive through grace, he is impelled to grant her more grace.” (SC 33.7)

Who can express how much God exalts the soul that pleases him? [And remember we please Him best when we let Him look at us with His love.]  Who can express how much God exalts the soul that pleases him?  It is impossible to do so, nor can this even be imagined, for after all, he does this as God, to show who he is. (SC 33.8) [emphasis added]

God is Love.  For Him to be is to love.  So the more we let Him, give Him permission, turn our souls toward Him, the more we are letting Him be God, so to speak.

Fr. Conrad de Meester says God has no needs, but if He did, it would be to love . . .    So let Him love you . . .

Hope is a visor

Some random thoughts about hope:

Hope is a long patience! (Conrad deMeester)

Christ is held by the hand of hope.  We hold him and are held.  But it is a greater good that we are held by Christ than that we hold him.  For we can hold him only so long as we are held by him.  (Paschasius Radbert)

Moaning is connected with hope . . .  (John of the Cross)

Hope allows the soul only a visor that it may look toward heavenly things, and no more.  This is the ordinary task of hope in the soul; it raises the eyes to look only at God.  (John of the Cross)

I have meditated on that last quote quite often. God often narrows our perspective so that we will look only to Him. In St. John’s time, a visor was defined as “on a close helmet, a piece having slits or holes for vision”.   “St. Paul calls hope the helmet of salvation.  A helmet is a piece of armor that protects the entire head and covers it so there is no opening except for a visor through which to see.” (John of the Cross, N.2.21.7) That is what hope should be for us–that slit in our life that narrows our vision to look toward God.   If we could only remember when life seems to be closing in, that it could very well be the hand of God:

I lift my eyes to you,
    to you who have your home in heaven,
eyes like the eyes of slaves
    fixed on their master’s hand;
like the eyes of a slave girl
    fixed on the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes are fixed on the Lord our God,
    for him to take pity on us.  (Ps 123.1-2)

My eyes are always on the Lord . . . . (Ps 25.15a)