Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Dirty Hands

When St. John of the Cross was a six year old and out playing with his friends, he fell into a mud puddle and nearly drowned. During this time a beautiful lady appeared immaculately clean to help him out of his predicament. This appearance at such a young age of the Blessed Virgin Mary was a precursor of how she would be involved in his life. She reached out her hands in a loving manner to help St. John up and he reached for her but with drew his dirty hands.

If we continue to follow his life two things must be noted. First we can see that St. John spent a lifetime cleaning and keeping his hands (and heart) clean so he could reach out his hands toward God. Secondly events in his life showed that he developed a reliance on Mary. St. John of the Cross lived many crosses in his life and he endured with the help Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. We see drawings of Father John with the cross, he lived at the foot of the cross and in so doing was standing besides our Blessed Mother.

If we can turn our lives around this Lent and in effect CLEAN OUR HANDS as it were, then we can ascend the mountain towards union with God. Our sacrifices and crosses are easier to bear knowing Our Lady of Mt. Carmel is with us and they are well worth the effort to have the joy of the Resurrected Christ in our hearts.

Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false,
and does not swear deceitfully.
He will receive blessing from the LORD,
and vindication from the God of his salvation.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Ps 24:3-6

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Doctor of the Dark Night

Every year at Cardinal Spellman High School this poster is displayed in every classroom. It is a reminder of what Lent is about. Some look at the sacrifices as a burden, (we didn't serve meat in our cafeteria yesterday), or senseless in our society, (why should I give up something?). No these are not burdens or senseless acts. The point that is missing is the very fact that we should do these Lenten practices out of LOVE!!

I am on a journey this Lent with St. John of the Cross. Some people misunderstand his call for detachment as "too much" or worse a sadistic way in which to achieve union with God that is not possible. I see it as LOVE in it's purest and simplest form, something we should strive for but won't obtain until the next life, a giving away of self for others. Jacques Maritain wrote of the human condition so eloquently in the introduction to the biography of St. John of the Cross by Father Bruno, O.D.C. :

Soul a-hunger for joy no longer hope for it. Dying of  a desire to be loved, they sink, in crowds, into a mysticism of the creature, and a homesickness of the damned. What they ask for, without knowing it, is that true countenance of love may be revealed to them.
In the general break-up of the framework of human society, each of us is called on to add to his own weakness a burden of heroism. We need the sternest secrets of wisdom and strength. The Cross lies heavy, with all the weight of love understood, on an ungrateful world, groaning in vain, and loathing it; nothing remains but to love the Cross dearly; it will bear us onwards, as, with swift prow, it cleaves the waters of eternal life. What better pilot than the Doctor of the Dark Night?

Knowledge of God was not an end for St. John of the Cross, Love was the end in which he strove for, a loving union with God who is LOVE. So the central message of our Lenten sacrifice is LOVE as St. John of the Cross writes, "There is no better and no more necessary work than love", "We have been created for love", "God makes use of nothing but love", "As love is the union of the Father and Son, so is it the union of the soul of God."

So love is sacrifice, a sacrifice that leads to the Cross, but it brings us into union with God. Whatever our state in life, we should be moving towards this perfect love and what a wonderful guide we have in St. John of the Cross.