"Those who love God are always happy, because their whole happiness is to fulfill, even in adversity, the will of God."

St Alphonsus de Liguori

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"He who wishes to be perfectly obeyed, should give but few orders."

St Philip Neri

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"We must not be behind time in doing good; for death will not be behind his time. "

St Phillip Neri

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 St John of the Cross   (1542 - 1591)

 

THE SPIRITUAL CANTICLE (cont)

 

by St John of the Cross

 

Stanza 6


Introduction to the Following Stanza[1]

1. In addition to all this, from the viewpoint of contemplative experience it should be known that in the living contemplation and knowledge of creatures the soul sees such fullness of graces, powers, and beauty with which God has endowed them that seemingly all are arrayed in wonderful beauty and natural virtue. The beauty and virtue derive from above and are imparted by that infinite supernatural beauty of the Image of God; his look clothes the world and all the heavens with beauty and gladness, just as he also, on opening his hand, fills every animal with blessing, as David says [Ps. 145:16]. The soul, wounded with love through a trace of the beauty of her Beloved, which she has known through creatures, and anxious to see the invisible beauty that caused this visible beauty, declares in the following verse:

Ah, who has the power to heal me?
now wholly surrender yourself!
Do not send me
any more messengers,
they cannot tell me what I must hear.

Commentary

2. Since creatures gave the soul signs of her Beloved and showed within themselves traces of his beauty and excellence, love grew in her and, consequently, sorrow at his absence. The more the soul knows of God the more the desire and anxiety to see him increase. Since she is conscious that nothing can cure her grief other than her Beloved's presence and the sight of him, she asks him in this stanza, distrusting any other remedy, to surrender his presence so she may possess him. She asks him that from henceforth he no longer detain her with any other knowledge, communications, and traces of his excellence since, rather than bringing her satisfaction, these increase her longings and suffering. The will is content with nothing less than his presence and the sight of him. She asks, therefore, if it be his will, that he truly surrender himself to her in complete and perfect love. She says:

Ah, who has the power to heal me?

3. This is like saying: Among all worldly delights and sensible satisfactions and spiritual gratification and sweetness, there is certainly nothing with the power to heal me, nothing to satisfy me. And then she adds:

Now wholly surrender yourself!

4. It is noteworthy that any soul with authentic love cannot be satisfied until it really possesses God. Everything else not only fails to satisfy it but, as we said,2 increases the hunger and appetite to see him as he is. Every glimpse of the Beloved received through knowledge or feeling or any other communication (which is like a messenger bringing the soul news of who he is) further increases and awakens her appetite, like the crumbs given to someone who is famished. Finding it difficult to be delayed by so little, she pleads: "Now wholly surrender yourself!"

5. All the knowledge of God possible in this life, however extensive it may be, is inadequate, for it is only partial knowledge and very remote. Essential knowledge of him is the real knowledge for which the soul asks here, unsatisfied by these other communications. She says next:

Do not send me
any more messengers,

6. This is like saying: Do not let my knowledge of you, communicated through these messengers of news and feelings about you, be any longer so measured, so remote, and alien to what my soul desires. How well you know, my Spouse, that messengers augment the sorrow of one who grieves over your absence: first, through knowledge they enlarge the wound; second, they seem to postpone your coming. From now on do not send me this remote knowledge. If up to this time I could be content with it, because I did not have much knowledge or love of you, now the intensity of my love cannot be satisfied with these messages; therefore: "Now wholly surrender yourself!"

More clearly, this is like saying: My Lord, my Spouse, you have given yourself to me partially; now may you give yourself completely. You have revealed yourself to me as through fissures in a rock; now may you give me that revelation more clearly. You have communicated by means of others, as if joking with me; now may you do so truly, communicating yourself by yourself. In your visits, at times, it seems you are about to give me the jewel of possessing you; but when I become aware of this I find myself without possessing it, for you hide this jewel as if you had been joking. Now wholly surrender yourself by giving yourself entirely to all of me, so my entire soul may have complete possession of you. "Do not send me any more messengers,"

they cannot tell me what I must hear.

7. This verse is equivalent to saying: I desire complete knowledge of you, and they have neither knowledge nor ability to tell of you entirely. Nothing in heaven or earth can give the soul the knowledge she desires of you. Thus "they cannot tell me what I must hear." Instead of these other messengers, may you, then, be both the messenger and the message.
 

 
   
 
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