I should like to persuade spiritual persons that the road leading to God does not entail a multiplicity of considerations, methods, manners, and experiences—though in their own way these may be a requirement for beginners—but demands only the one thing necessary: true self-denial, exterior and interior, through surrender of self both to suffering for Christ and to annihilation in all things.
In the exercise of this self-denial everything else, and even more, is discovered and accomplished. If one fails in this exercise, the root and sum total of all the virtues, the other methods would amount to no more than going around in circles without getting anywhere, even were one to enjoy considerations and communications as lofty as those of the angels.
A person makes progress only by imitating Christ, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one goes to the Father but through him, as he states himself in St. John (Jn 14:6). Elsewhere he says: I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved (Jn 10:9). Accordingly, I would not consider any spirituality worthwhile that wants to walk in sweetness and ease and run from the imitation of Christ.
Saint John of the Cross
Ascent of Mount Carmel, II.7.8
St. John of the Cross: “I would not consider any spirituality worthwhile that wants to walk in sweetness and ease and run from the imitation of Christ.”Tweet
John of the Cross, St. 1991, The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, Revised Edition, translated from the Spanish by Kavanaugh, K and Rodriguez, O with revisions and introductions by Kavanaugh, K, ICS Publications, Washington DC.
NB… “…and experiences” – so good for us to hear in this self-help age.
This entire passage is such a nugget of wisdom, and it was the subject of an entire week’s meditation for the Discalced Carmelite Lenten online retreat from our friars in Paris a few weeks ago.
Thank you!! Absolutely excellent. Reminds me of St Therese and her stony road in the dark vs a path carpeted with flowers. She’d know this passage, of course.