THE SPIRITUAL CANTICLE
This commentary on the stanzas that deal with the exchange of love between the soul and Christ, its Bridegroom, explains certain matters about prayer and its effects. It was written at the request of Mother Ana de Jesús, prioress of the Discalced Carmelite nuns of St. Joseph’s in Granada, in the year 1584.
1. These stanzas, Reverend Mother, were obviously composed with a certain burning love of God. The wisdom and charity of God is so vast, as the Book of Wisdom states, that it reaches from end to end [Wis. 8:1], and the soul informed and moved by it bears in some way this very abundance and impulsiveness in her words. As a result, I do not plan to expound these stanzas in all the breadth and fullness that the fruitful spirit of love conveys to them. It would be foolish to think that expressions of love arising from mystical understanding, like these stanzas, are fully explainable. The Spirit of the Lord, who abides in us and aids our weakness, as St. Paul says [Rom. 8:26], pleads for us with unspeakable groanings in order to manifest what we can neither fully understand nor comprehend.
Who can describe in writing the understanding he gives to loving souls in whom he dwells? And who can express with words the experience he imparts to them? Who, finally, can explain the desires he gives them? Certainly, no one can! Not even they who receive these communications. As a result, these persons let something of their experience overflow in figures, comparisons, and similitudes, and from the abundance of their spirit pour out secrets and mysteries rather than rational explanations.
If these similitudes are not read with the simplicity of the spirit of knowledge and love they contain, they will seem to be absurdities rather than reasonable utterances, as will those comparisons of the divine Song of Solomon and other books of Sacred Scripture where the Holy Spirit, unable to express the fullness of his meaning in ordinary words, utters mysteries in strange figures and likenesses. The saintly doctors, no matter how much they have said or will say, can never furnish an exhaustive explanation of these figures and comparisons, since the abundant meanings of the Holy Spirit cannot be caught in words. Thus the explanation of these expressions usually contains less than what they embody in themselves.
2. Since these stanzas, then, were composed in a love flowing from abundant mystical understanding, I cannot explain them adequately, nor is it my intention to do so. I only wish to shed some general light on them, since Your Reverence has desired this of me…
Read the official biography of the Servant of God on the website of the Discalced Carmelite General Postulation of the Causes of the Saints
The Spiritual Canticle and biographic sketch of Ana de Jesús from The Collected Works of Saint John of the Cross, Revised Edition Translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. and Otilio Rodriguez, O.C.D. With Revisions and Introductions by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. ICS Publications Copyright © 1976 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc.
Albert, called by God’s favor to be patriarch of the church of Jerusalem, bids health in the Lord and the blessing of the Holy Spirit to his beloved sons in Christ, B. and the other hermits under obedience to him, who live near the spring on Mount Carmel.
Saint Albert of Jerusalem
The Rule of St Albert, Chapter 1
Blessed Virgin, my good Mother, remember that I am still your child, a poor orphan; have compassion on me, teach me what to do.
St Mariam of Jesus Crucified
Prières et Cantiques
When King David was settled in his palace,
and the LORD had given him rest from his enemies on every side,
he said to Nathan the prophet,
“Here I am living in a house of cedar,
while the ark of God dwells in a tent!”
Nathan answered the king,
“Go, do whatever you have in mind,
for the LORD is with you.”
But that night the LORD spoke to Nathan and said:
“Go, tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD:
Should you build me a house to dwell in?
“‘It was I who took you from the pasture
and from the care of the flock
to be commander of my people Israel.
I have been with you wherever you went,
and I have destroyed all your enemies before you.
And I will make you famous like the great ones of the earth.
I will fix a place for my people Israel;
I will plant them so that they may dwell in their place
without further disturbance.
Neither shall the wicked continue to afflict them as they did of old,
since the time I first appointed judges over my people Israel.
I will give you rest from all your enemies.
The LORD also reveals to you
that he will establish a house for you.
And when your time comes and you rest with your ancestors,
I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins,
and I will make his Kingdom firm.
I will be a father to him,
and he shall be a son to me.
Your house and your Kingdom shall endure forever before me;
your throne shall stand firm forever.'”
Monday in Fourth Week of Advent – Mass in the Morning
2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16
I mentioned in the other letter how I desire to remain in this desert of La Peñuela, where I arrived about nine days ago and which is about six leagues north of Baeza. I like it very much, glory to God, and I am well. The vastness of the desert is a great help to the soul and body, although the soul fares very poorly. The Lord must be desiring that it have its spiritual desert. Well and good if it be for his service; His Majesty already knows what we are of ourselves. I don’t know how long this will last, for Father Fray Antonio de Jesús threatens from Baeza that he will not leave me here for long. Be that as it may, for in the meanwhile I am well off without knowing anything, and the life of the desert is admirable.
Allí decía cómo me había querido quedar en este desierto de La Peñuela, seis leguas más acá de Baeza, donde habrá nueve días que llegué. Y me hallo muy bien, gloria al Señor, y estoy bueno; que la anchura del desierto ayuda mucho al alma y al cuerpo, aunque el alma muy pobre anda. Debe querer el Señor que el alma también tenga su desierto espiritual. Sea muy enhorabuena como él más fuere servido; que ya sabe Su Majestad lo que somos de nuestro. No sé lo que me durará, porque el P. Fray Antonio de Jesús, desde Baeza, me amenaza diciendo que me dejarán por acá poco. Sea lo que fuere, que, en tanto, bien me hallo sin saber nada, y el ejercicio del desierto es admirable.
Letters: Letter 28 to Doña Ana del Mercado y Peñalosa, in Granada; sent from La Peñuela, August 19, 1591 The Collected Works of Saint John of the Cross, Revised Edition Translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. and Otilio Rodriguez, O.C.D. With Revisions and Introductions by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. ICS Publications Copyright © 1976 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc.
Let us rejoice, Beloved,
and let us go forth to behold ourselves in your beauty
to the mountain and to the hill,
to where the pure water flows,
and further, deep into the thicket.
That is: to the morning and essential knowledge of God, which is knowledge in the divine Word, who in his height is signified here by the mountain. That they may know the Son of God, Isaiah urges all: Come, let us ascend to the mountain of the Lord [Is. 2:3]; in another passage: The mountain of the house of the Lord shall be prepared [Is. 2:2].
Saint John of the Cross
y vámonos a ver en tu hermosura
al monte o al collado,
do mana el agua pura;
entremos más adentro en la espesura.
Esto es, a la noticia matutina y esencial de Dios, que es conocimiento en el Verbo divino, el cual por su alteza es aquí significado por el monte, como dice Isaías (2,3), provocando a que conozcan al Hijo de Dios, diciendo: Venid y subamos al monte del Señor; otra vez (2, 2): Estará aparejado el monte de la casa del Señor.
San Juan de la Cruz
The Spiritual Canticle: Stanza 36 The Collected Works of Saint John of the Cross, Revised Edition Translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. and Otilio Rodriguez, O.C.D. With Revisions and Introductions by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. ICS Publications Copyright © 1976 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc.
Hermits who lived in caves near a spring. Sound familiar? We’re talking about Mount Carmel, correct? Actually, we are talking about the Carmelites who migrated to France from Mount Carmel in Palestine.
Bob Cromwell, “The Toilet Guru”, has completed extensive research on the primitive, but effective plumbing system at the Abbaye de Saint-Hilaire in the Luberon region of Provence, the first Carmelite monastery in France. Cromwell makes reference to our Order’s first monastery on Mount Carmel as the birthplace of the Order from whence the French Carmelites migrated.
Archeologists who have studied the system of channels that delivered water from the spring to the other areas of the 13th c. monastery property on Mount Carmel have been amazed at the advanced engineering. The comparison between that system and the system at the Abbaye de Saint-Hilaire described by The Toilet Guru is just as amazing. It seems that there are more similarities here than simply hermits living in caves near a spring…
During the summer months of 2018, the Discalced Carmelite nuns of the Carmel of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel, undertook a significant restoration project in their monastery chapel that included a redesign of the sanctuary to permit more space for concelebrating priests and for altar servers.
Built during the years 1935-1937, the monastery was designed by the French architect Marcel Favier and is one of the few jewels of French art deco architecture still standing in Israel. Please enjoy this brief video produced by the Discalced Carmelite friars of the Holy Land Delegation that highlights the completed restoration project. You can visit the website of the Discalced Carmelite nuns Holy Land federation of monasteries here.
The day of consecrated life was celebrated on February 2 in the Holy Land. In Jerusalem and in Nazareth lay and religious from around the world gathered to pray together.
A powerful Israeli leader with a charismatic message that resonates deeply with tens or hundreds of thousands of Israelis writes: “Christmas has no place in this our holy land. Evangelicals must not gain a footing here. Expel the vampires from our land before they once again suck our blood.” Accused of murdering a Palestinian couple, he has never been charged…