Saint John of the Cross


“Mine are the heavens and mine is the earth. Mine are the nations, the just are mine, and mine the sinners. The angels are mine, and the Mother of God, and all things are mine; and God himself is mine and for me, because Christ is mine and all for me. What do you ask, then, and seek, my soul? Yours is all of this, and all is for you. Do not engage yourself in anything less or pay heed to the crumbs that fall from your Father’s table. Go forth and exult in your Glory! Hide yourself in it and rejoice, and you will obtain the supplications of your heart.” - Saint John of the Cross, Sayings of Light and Love, 27

How many of us have had the experience of the loss of a beloved pet. An animal that has been such a big part of our lives that when they die we surprise ourselves at how we are affected and how hard we cry. As we’re crying we might think to ourselves “But he was only a dog (cat etc). Why is my heart so broken?”

We say “but he’s only a dog” because a dog and a human live at different levels. A dog’s life is mostly instinctual, with some ability to think, and with some ability to emote. A human’s life is a lot less instinctual, with lots of ability to think and great ability to love. We love our pets intensely and they return that love but we still lived on different levels – the canine and the human. It is a vertical love.

This is similar to our relationship with God. God loves us intensely and we love God intensely, but still we live on different levels – God on the divine level while we live on the human level. It is a vertical love. But there is a big difference! Our relationship with God may start vertically, but we are invited and being led to make that relationship horizontal!

Although we can share great love between animals and humans, it’s still a vertical love. A human’s strongest relationships must be with other humans (a horizontal human-to-human love). God, too, desires horizontal love. That is the relationship between Father and Son. Perfectly horizontal and therefore perfectly sharing in the fullness of love. God wants my love to be less and less vertical and more and more horizontal. To do this, God is inviting me to be God so God can completely share love with me on the same level.

Saint Mary Magdalene d’Pazzi, who was a Carmelite mystic in Florence, Italy, in the late 1500s writes in Revelations and Enlightenments, “There is no longer one God, but a thousand-thousand gods; one God in essence and in Three Persons, but a thousand-thousand gods by participation, communion and union.” Wow! And this is exactly what Saint John of the Cross is saying in Maxim 27 of his Sayings of Light and Love. This is mega-mysticism and this is what we are all invited to. The word ‘wow!’ doesn’t begin to describe it.

One Comment

  1. Hanque Amundsen

    3-10-13 I am reading “St.John of the Cross” by Bede Frost, a reprint of the Hodder & Stoughton edition of 1937.
    Parts of this book are hard to read when she goes off on rambling tangents that sound more like dictated personal devotionals. I don’t question her sincerity; I am very sure that my point of view is interfering with my ability to understand many of her ideas the way she intended.
    Last night, I came across a passage that I returned to three times with an hour. As difficult as it is to understand John’s way, last night Bede Frost gave me an insight.
    (p.168) ..on the journey from self to God…the reason why the purification of the soul, whether in this life or in Purgatory, must be so drastic…
    John of the Cross,”The reason is that all the imperfections and disorders of the sensitive part of the soul have their strength and root in the spirit wherein all habits, good or bad, are subjected, and thus until these are purged the rebellions and depravities of the senses cannot be entirely purged.”
    (Dark Night II, iii, I)
    Although I have been reading John of the Cross for over 30 years, this idea has finally hit me, like a brick.
    (Just sayin’)

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