As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Friday, March 30, 2018

Good Friday with John of the Cross

The beginning of this day was quite painful for me.  Aptly so, since it is Good Friday.  I have been trying my best to offer my sufferings in union with Christ, and to allow them to draw me into this day with Him.  I know of course that they can't compare to what Our Lord endured for me, but I feel somehow blessed that this day is not serene, and rosy, and chipper.  If I am miserable, I can be miserable for Him.

I was lamenting that I don't have a spiritual director, because a director could help me sort through a lot of the difficulty I have in my life.  It's not that there isn't anyone I could go to, I am certain there are many capable people who would point me to Christ and help me discern the daily workings of my life.  About a year ago a dear friend did in fact offer to make time for me any day I wanted.  But finding the time has proven to be so difficult, and so it has never come to be.  People will say quite easily that I just "need to make the time," but this is so difficult given the current state of my life. And so I had just accepted that for now, I could not do it.  God would have to find another way to guide me.

And so, he did.  I've been working my way through John of the Cross' "The Living Flame of Love". The copy I have also includes several of his minor works, and this evening I skimmed through each of the other sections when I stumbled upon his Spiritual Maxims.  And there, in black and white, I found it - guidance and direction for my floundering soul.

He begins his maxims with the following prologue:

"O my God, sweetness and joy of my heart, behold how my soul for love of Thee will occupy itself with these maxims of love and light.  For though the words thereof are mine, I have not the meaning and the power, and these are more pleasing to Thee than the language and the knowledge thereof. Nevertheless, O Lord, it may be that some may be drawn by them to serve and love Thee, and profit where I fail; that will be a consolation to me, if through me Thou shalt find in others what Thou canst not find in me.  O my Lord, Thou loves discretion, and light, but love, more than all the other operations of the soul; so then let these maxims furnish discretion to the wayfarer, enlighten him by the way, and supply him with motives of love for his journey.  Away, then, with the rhetoric of the world, sounding words and the dry eloquence of human wisdom, weak and delusive, never pleasing unto Thee.  Let us speak to the heart words flowing with sweetness and love, and such as Thou delightest in.  Thou wilt be pleased herein, O my God, and it may be that Thou wilt also remove the hindrance and the stones of stumbling from before many souls who fall through ignorance, and who for want of light wander out of the right way, though they think they are walking in it, and following in all things in the footsteps of Thy most sweet son, Jesus Christ our Lord, and imitating Him in their life, state, and virtues according to the rule of detachment and poverty of spirit.  But, O Father of mercy, do Thou give us this grace, for without Thee, O Lord, we shall do nothing." (emphasis mine)

These words leapt out at me, as it even seems as though St. John writes them with the purpose of guiding people.  Here I find one who can accompany me where I am, without the need to find a night, to go out for a meeting, to change a schedule.  As I perused the pages that follow, I found these maxims divided up by category, and so plan to spend a week or so on each set of them.  My hope is to pray with them, take them in, and from them glean wisdom that will help me become more holy and close to the Lord in my daily life.  I want to share the first group, "Imitation of Christ", with you today, as they are particularly applicable to Christ's passion.  They have helped me enter into Good Friday with renewed purpose and focus on the journey Our Lord makes today, and I pray they will do the same for you.

For any who want to make this journey with me, I will post each new set of maxims as I begin them (hopefully weekly).  Blessings to all of you this Good Friday, and however you observe this day, may you be close to our Lord in His suffering, as we await the joy of the Resurrection.


Spiritual  Maxims of Saint John of the Cross

Imitation of Christ

1. There is no progress but in the following of Christ, Who is the way, the truth and the life, and the Gate by which he who will be saved must enter.  Every spirit therefore, that will walk in sweetness at its ease, shunning the following of Christ, is, in my opinion, nothing worth.

2. Your first care must be to anxiously and lovingly earnest in your endeavours to imitate Christ in all your actions; doing every one of them to the uttermost of your power, as our Lord Himself would have done them.

3. Every satisfaction offered to the senses which is not for God's honour and glory you must renounce and reject for the love of Jesus Christ, Who while upon earth, had, and sought for, no other pleasure than doing the will of His Father; this, He said, was His meat and drink.

4. In none of your actions whatever should you take any man, however holy he may be, for your example, because Satan is sure to put his imperfections forward so as to attract your attention.  Rather imitate Jesus Christ, Who is supremely perfect and supremely holy.  So doing you will never go astray.

5. Inwardly and outwardly live always crucified with Christ, and you will attain unto peace and contentment of spirit, and in your patience you shall possess your soul.

6. Let Christ crucified alone be enough for you; with Him suffer, with Him take your rest, never rest nor suffer without Him;  striving with all your might to rid yourself of all selfish affections and inclinations, and annihilation of self.

7. He who makes any account of himself, neither denies himself nor follows Christ.

8. Love tribulations more than all good things, and do not imagine that you are doing anything when you endure them; so shall you please Him Who did not hesitate to die for you.

9. If you wish to attain to the possession of Christ, never seek Him without the cross.

10. He who seeks not the cross of Christ, seeks not the glory of Christ.

11. Desire to make yourself in suffering somewhat like our great God, humiliated and crucified; for life, if not an imitation of His, is worth nothing.

12. What does he know who does not know how to suffer in Christ?  The greater and the heavier the sufferings, the better is his lot who suffers.

13.  All men desire to enter into the treasures and consolations of God; but few desire to enter into tribulations and sorrows for the Son of God.

14. Jesus Christ is but little known of those who consider themselves His friends; for we see them seeking in Him their own comfort, and not His bitter sorrows.

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