Quote of the day, 20 December: St. John of the Cross

Arise, make haste, my love, my dove, my beautiful one, and come; for now the winter has passed, the rains have gone far off, the flowers have appeared in our land, the time of pruning has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.

Song of Solomon 2:10–12

The bride feels that this voice of the Bridegroom speaking within her is the end of evil and the beginning of good. In the refreshment, protection, and delightful sentiment afforded by this voice, she too, like the sweet nightingale, sings a new and jubilant song together with God, who moves her to do this. He gives his voice to her that so united with him she may give it together with him to God.

This is the Bridegroom’s aim and desire, that the soul may intone to God with a spiritual voice of jubilation, as he requests in the Song of Songs: Arise, make haste my love, and come, my dove; in the clefts of the rock; in the hollow of the wall show me your face, let your voice sound in my ears (Sg. 2:13-14).

The ears of God signify his desires to have the soul sing to him with this voice of perfect jubilation. That this voice be perfect, the Bridegroom asks that she sing and let it resound in the caverns of the rock, that is, in the transformation into the mysteries of Christ. Since the soul rejoices in and praises God with God himself in this union (as we said in speaking of love), it is a praise highly perfect and pleasing to God, for a soul in this state of perfection performs very perfect works. This voice of jubilation, thus, is sweet both to God and to the soul. As a result the Bridegroom declared: Your voice is sweet (Sg. 2:14), that is, not only to you but to me as well, since through union with me you sing for me — and with me — like the sweet nightingale.

Such is the song of the soul in the transformation that is hers in this life, the delight of which is beyond all exaggeration. Yet since this song is not as perfect as the new song of the glorious life, the soul in this bliss becomes mindful of the new song of glory, hearing faintly in the song of this life the excellence of the possession of glory, which is incomparably more precious.

Saint John of the Cross

The Spiritual Canticle: Stanza 39, nn. 8–10

About our featured image: Study of a Bird, a painting of a nightingale by early 17th c. Iranian artist Riza-yi ‘Abbasi (ca. 1565–1635), is attributed to Isfahan, Iran and is dated A.D. 1634, which was one year following the death of John Thaddaeus Roldan of St. Eliseus, O.C.D. Along with the famous Father Prosper of the Holy Spirit, Roldan was a co-founder of the Discalced Carmelite mission in Iran. He was consecrated as the first bishop of Isfahan in 1632 and was the first Discalced Carmelite bishop.

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.

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