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"Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart." – Luke 2:19 (RSV)

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saint john of the cross

Giving

stjohnofthecross.jpg

Love is the mutual gift of self. Loving is really self-giving. So I suppose I can paraphrase St John’s words like so: With what procrastinations do you wait, since from this very moment you can give yourself to God in your heart and allow Him to give Himself to you?

I procrastinate a lot. One area that I really procrastinate in is giving of my time to others and to the Lord. I usually think that I’d rather do something else with my time or that I want to do my own thing now and giving of myself can wait.

So St John’s words really strike me because I’m reminded that giving of myself will lead to a deeper fulfillment than satisfying my own wants, counter-intuitive as it may be.

The Spiritual Canticle, Stanza 1 – Reflection

secret garden

Where have you hidden,
Beloved, and left me moaning?
you fled like the stag
after wounding me;
I went out calling you, but you were gone.

St. John of the Cross, The Spiritual Canticle

St. John accompanies every stanza in his ‘Spiritual Canticle’ with beautiful commentary.

Commentary…

… the absence of the Beloved causes continual moaning in the lover. Since she loves nothing outside of him, she finds no rest or relief in anything. This is how we recognize persons who truly love God: if they are content with nothing less than God. But what am I saying, if they are content? Even if they possess everything they will not be content; in fact the more they have, the less satisfied they will be. Satisfaction of heart is not found in the possession of things, but in being stripped of them all and in poverty of spirit. Since perfection consists in this poverty of spirit, in which God is possessed by a very intimate and special grace, the soul, having attained it, lives in this life with some satisfaction, although not complete. For David, in spite of all his perfection, hoped to have this fullness in heaven, saying: When your glory appears, I shall be filled [Ps. 17:15].

As a result, the peace, tranquility, and satisfaction of heart attainable in this life is insufficient to prevent the soul from moaning within itself – although this moan may be tranquil and painless – hoping for what it lacks. Moaning is connected with hope, and the Apostle affirmed that he and others moaned even though they were perfect: We ourselves who have the first fruits of the spirit moan within ourselves, hoping for the adoption of the children of God [Rom. 8:23].

The soul, then, bears this moan within herself, in her enamored heart. For there where love wounds is the moan rising from the wound, and it ever cries out in the feeling of his absence; especially when the soul, after the taste of some sweet and delightful communication of the Bridegroom, suffers his absence and is left alone and dry.

St. John of the Cross, The Spiritual Canticle

In recent times, God has graciously drawn me closer to Himself not because of my own merit but because of His providence. In this time, I have felt more and more keenly that I am content with nothing less than God.

I still try to substitute God with the 4 categories of worldly things; wealth, pleasure, honor and power. I do this daily in fact. But each time I do, I find no rest or relief in anything but God. The Lord has made my heart for Himself, and so I am restless until I rest in Him.

It is so difficult to express what my soul is going through. All I can say are using the words that the Lord gives me. Even these don’t scratch the surface of how things really are; beyond even my understanding.

A concept/word that St. John brings up in his commentary of Stanza 1 however, resonates with me. My soul is moaning within itself because I find no rest and no relief in worldly things. Only my Lord can quench my thirst and sate my hunger.

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