Make your own free website on Tripod.com
Cross



Spiritual Canticle

St. John of the Cross


...for the place where the Son of God is hidden is, as Saint John says, 'the bosom of the Father,' which is the Divine Essence, the which is removed from every mortal eye and hidden from all human understanding. For this cause Isaias, speaking with God, said: 'Verily Thou art a hidden God.'

For which cause says the prophet Job: 'If He comes to me I shall not see Him; and if He departs, I shall not understand Him.'

... the principal intent of the soul ... is ... to beg for the clear presence and vision of His Essence.

... the Father, Who lies not, neither is present, in any place, save in His beloved Son, in Whom He lies wholly, communicating to Him all His Essence--'in the midday,' which is in Eternity, where He ever begets Him and has begotten Him. ... He lies profoundly hidden from every mortal eye and from every creature ...

To the which end it is to be observed that the Word, the Son of God, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, is hidden, in essence and in presence, in the inmost being of the soul. Wherefore, the soul that would find Him must go forth from all things according to the affection and will, and enter within itself in deepest recollection, so that all things are to it as though they were not. Hence Saint Augustine, speaking with God in the Soliloquies, said: 'I found Thee not, O Lord, without, because I erred in seeking Thee without that wert within.' God, then, is hidden within the soul, and there the good contemplative must seek Him ...

... thou soul ... thou thyself art the lodging wherein He dwells, and the closet* and hiding-place wherein He is hidden, and that is a matter of great contentment and joy for thee to see that all thy good and thy hope are so near there as to be within thee, or, to speak more exactly, so near that thou canst not be without them. Behold, says the Spouse, the kingodm of God is within you. And His servant the apostle Saint Paul says: 'You are the temple of God.'

A great contentment for the soul is it to understand that God is never absent from the soul ...

What more desirest thou, O soul, and what more seekest thou without theyself, since within thyself thou hast thy riches, they delights, thy satisfaction, thy fullness and thy kingdom, which is thy Beloved, Whom thy soul desires and seeks? Rejoice thou and be glad in thy inward recollection with Him, since thou hast Him so near. There desire Him, there adore Him, and go thou not to seek Him outside thyself, for so shat thou be wearied and distracted; ...

There is but one thing to be remembered--that, although He be within thee, His is hidden. But it is a great thing to know the place where He is hidden in order to seek Him there with certainty.

But yet thou sayest: 'If He Whom my soul loves is within me, how is it that I neither find Him nor feel Him?' The reason is that He is hidden and that thou hidest not thyself likewise that thou mayest find Him and feel Him; for he that his to find some hidden thing must enter very secretly even into that same hidden place where it is, and, when he find it, he too is hidden like that which he has found.

... it will be fitting that, in order to find it, thou forget all that is thine, withdraw thyself from all creatures, hide in the interior closet of they spirit ...

Thus, remaining secretly with Him, shalt thou then experience His presence in secret, and shalt love Him and have fruition of Him in secret, and shalt delight in Him in secret--that is to say beyond all that is attainable by tongue and sense.

... since now thou knowest that the Beloved of thy desire dwells hidden within thy bosom, strive to be securely hidden with Him, ... He bids thee to that hiding-place, through Isaias, saying: 'Come, enter thou into thy chambers, shut thy doors about thee (that is, shut all thy faculties upon all creatures), hide thyself a little for a moment--that is, for this moment of temporal life. For if in this brief space of life, O soul, thou keepest thy heart with all diligence, as says the Wise Man, without any doubt God will give thee that which later He describes, through Isaias, in these words: 'I will give thee the hidden treasures and I will reveal to thee the substance and mysteries of the secrets.' This substance of the secrets is God Himself ...

... thou seek Him in faith and in love, without desiring to find satisfaction in aught, or to taste or understand more than that which it is well for thee to know; for these two are the guides of the blind, which will lead they, by a way that thou knowest not, to the hidden place of God.

... remain thou not, therefore, either partly or wholly, in that which thy faculties can comprehend. I mean, be thou never willingly satisfied with that which thou understandest of God, but rather with that which thou understandest not of Him; and do thou never rest in loving and having delight in that which thou understandest or feelest concering God, but do thou love and have delight in that which thou canst not understand and feel concerning Him; for this, as we have said, is to seek Him in faith. Since God is unapproachable and hidden, ... however much it seem to thee that thou findest and feelest and understandest Him, thou must ever hold Him as hidden, and serve Him, as One that is hidden, after a hidden manner. And be thou not like many ignorant persons who hold a low conception of God, understanding God to be farther off and more completely hidden when they understand Him not and have no consciousness or experience of Him; the truth being rather the contrary, that the less clearly they understand Him, the nearer they are approaching to Him, for, as says the prophet David, He made darkness His hiding-place. Thus, when thou drawest near to Him, thou must perforce be conscious of darkness because of the weakness of thy sight.

For although he have all things at once he will not be content, but rather the more he has, the less satisfied will he be; for satisfaction of the heart is not found in the possession of things but in detachment from them all and in poverty of spirit.

... the soul finds itself burning in the fire and flame of love, so much so that it appears to be consumed in that flame which causes it to go forth from itself and be wholly renewed and enter upon another mode of being; like the phoenix, that is burned up and re-born anew. Of this David speaks and says: 'My heart was kindled and my reins were changed and I brought myself to nothing and I knew not.'

It must be known that this going out is here understood spiritually according to two ways of going after God: the one, a going forth from all things, which she does by abhorring and despising them: the other, a going forth from herself, by forgetting herself, which she does for love of God; for, when this love touches the soul with the efficacy whereof we are here speaking, it raises her up in such wise that it makes her to go out not only from herself thought forgetfulness of herself, but even from her judgment and the ways and inclinations natural to her ...




Back to Christian Masters