St. John of the Cross Novena — Day 6

Whoever flees prayer flees all that is good.

Sayings of Light and Love, 169

 

SCRIPTURE

When evil men advance against me
to devour my flesh,
they, my opponents, my enemies,
are the ones who stumble and fall.

When evil men advance against me
to devour my flesh,
they, my opponents, my enemies,
are the ones who stumble and fall.

Though an army pitched camp against me,
my heart would not fear;
though war were waged against me,
my trust would still be firm.

One thing I ask of Yahweh,
one thing I seek:
to live in the house of Yahweh
all the days of my life,
to enjoy the sweetness of Yahweh
and to consult him in his Temple.

For he shelters me under his awning
in times of trouble;
he hides me deep in his tent,
sets me high on a rock.

And now my head is held high
over the enemies who surround me,
in his tent I will offer
exultant sacrifice.

I will sing, I will play for Yahweh!

Yahweh, hear my voice as I cry!
Pity me! Answer me!
My heart has said of you,
“Seek his face.”
Yahweh, I do seek your face;
do not hide your face from me.

Do not repulse your servant in anger;
you are my help.
Never leave me, never desert me,
God, my savior!
If my father and mother desert me,
Yahweh will care for me still.

Yahweh, teach me your way,
lead me in the path of integrity
because of my enemies;
do not abandon me to the will of my foes
false witnesses have risen against me,
and breathe out violence.

This I believe: I shall see the goodness of Yahweh,
in the land of the living.
Put your hope in Yahweh, be strong, let your heart be bold,
put your hope in Yahweh.

Psalm 27

 

MEDITATION

Let’s have a virtual show of hands: who among us has had an experience where God seemed to be hiding or even absent when we pray? Who among us has ever prayed, “God, where are you?” Has anyone ever said, “prayer isn’t working for me, God doesn’t care about me, I give up”? Has anyone ever experienced dryness in prayer, where you can’t feel anything anymore? Or, has someone ever discovered one day that they drifted away from the fervor of the practice of prayer they once had?

If you answered, “yes” to any one or more of these questions, you are in good company. All of us experience difficulties in prayer. In yesterday’s fifth novena meditation, we read one of St. Teresa’s accounts where she experienced difficulties in prayer; she was going through a moment of tribulation and the practice of prayer that usually brought her encouragement and comfort simply didn’t work.

Growing in friendship with God is a lifelong journey along the way of perfection. There will be many moments when we will stumble and fall. Ask any old friend of God and they will testify to this age-old fact of the spiritual life. The most important lesson that those who travel the way of perfection (or the Little Way of St. Thérèse) must learn is that it’s not a matter of how frequently or infrequently we fall, it’s how quickly we get up again and keep moving along the way. Saint Teresa herself says in the Interior Castle’s Second Mansion (IC II), “if you should at times fall don’t become discouraged and stop striving to advance. For even from this fall God will draw out good.” (IC II:9)

“Don’t become discouraged” is advice we read and hear often in Carmelite spirituality. Here’s what St. Elizabeth of the Trinity said to her younger sister a few months before Elizabeth died:

Darling little sister, you must cross out the word “discouragement” from your dictionary of love; the more you feel your weakness, your difficulty in recollecting yourself, and the more hidden the Master seems, the more you must rejoice, for then you are giving to Him, and, when one loves, isn’t it better to give than to receive? God said to Saint Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9), and the great saint understood this so well that he cried out: “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:10). What does it matter what we feel; He, He is the Unchanging One, He who never changes: He loves you today as He loved you yesterday and will love you tomorrow. (Letter 298)

St. Teresa was more blunt when writing about those facing discouragement in prayer, especially beginners in prayer:

Ah, my Lord! Your help is necessary here; without it one can do nothing (cf. Jn 15:5). In Your mercy do not consent to allow this soul to suffer deception and give up what was begun. (IC II:6)

It will seem to you that you are truly determined to undergo exterior trials, provided that God favors you interiorly. His Majesty knows best what is suitable for us. There’s no need for us to be advising Him about what He should give us, for He can rightly tell us that we don’t know what we’re asking for (cf. Mt 20:22). The whole aim of any person who is beginning prayer—and don’t forget this, because it’s very, very important—should be that he work and prepare himself with determination and every possible effort to bring his will into conformity with God’s will. (IC II:8)

We can have all the determination in the world to be devout, faithful, and persistent in our prayer, but our own devotion, fidelity, and persistence alone are not sufficient. We need the Lord’s guidance. Here, St. Teresa refers to acquiring spiritual directors, but her point is more valid than ever: 

Provided that we don’t give up, the Lord will guide everything for our benefit, even though we may not find someone to teach us. There is no other remedy for this evil of giving up prayer than to begin again; otherwise the soul will gradually lose more each day—and please God that it will understand this fact. (IC II:10)

“Provided that we don’t give up,” Teresa writes. “Whoever flees prayer,” St. John of the Cross echoes, “flees all that is good.”

What is this “all that is good” to which John refers?

This time, we will let him answer the question, by sharing an excerpt from his 8 July 1589 letter to Madre Leonor de San Gabriel in Córdoba. A companion of St. Teresa in founding the monasteries of Beas and Sevilla, Mother Leonor was feeling alone in Córdoba without the companionship of Teresa and the sisters she knew and loved the best. St. John of the Cross wrote a letter to encourage her in her new mission as prioress:

Jesus be in your soul, my daughter in Christ.

Thank you for your letter. And I thank God for having desired to use you in this foundation, since His Majesty has done this in order to bring you greater profit. The more he wants to give, the more he makes us desire—even to the point of leaving us empty in order to fill us with goods. You will be repaid for the goods (the love of your sisters) that you leave behind in Sevilla. Since the immense blessings of God can only enter and fit into an empty and solitary heart, the Lord wants you to be alone. For he truly loves you with the desire of being himself all your company. And Your Reverence will have to strive carefully to be content only with his companionship, so you might discover in it every happiness. Even though the soul may be in heaven, it will not be happy if it does not conform its will to this. And we will be unhappy with God, even though he is always present with us, if our heart is not alone, but attached to something else. (Letter 15)

“He loves you today as He loved you yesterday and will love you tomorrow,” St. Elizabeth wrote, echoing the sentiments of St. John of the Cross. But if God is “always present with us”, how can we become present to God, so that our hearts are alone and not “attached to something else”? 

Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection tells us what he did:

Thus, after offering myself entirely to God in atonement for my sins, I renounced for the sake of his love everything other than God, and I began to live as if only he and I existed in the world. Sometimes I considered myself before him as a miserable criminal at his judge’s feet, and at other times I regarded him in my heart as my Father, as my God. I adored him there as often as I could, keeping my mind in his holy presence and recalling him as many times as I was distracted. I had some trouble doing this exercise, but continued in spite of all the difficulties I encountered, without getting disturbed or anxious when I was involuntarily distracted. I was as faithful to this practice during my activities as I was during my periods of mental prayer, for at every moment, all the time, in the most intense periods of my work I banished and rid from my mind everything that was capable of taking the thought of God away from me. (Letter 12)

 

NOVENA PRAYER

O St. John of the Cross
You were endowed by our Lord with the spirit of self-denial
and a love of the cross.
Obtain for us the grace to follow your example
that we may come to the eternal vision of the glory of God.

O Saint of Christ’s redeeming cross
the road of life is dark and long.
Teach us always to be resigned to God’s holy will
in all the circumstances of our lives
and grant us the special favor
which we now ask of you:

mention your request.

Above all, obtain for us the grace of final perseverance,
a holy and happy death and everlasting life with you
and all the saints in heaven.
Amen.

 

Arrest of John of the Cross Carmel de Pontoise Palissy POP 95W00981
The Arrest of St John of the Cross
18th c. French
Oil on canvas, 1772 or 1777
Carmel of Pontoise
© Ministère de la Culture (France), Médiathèque de l’architecture et du patrimoine, Diffusion RMN-GP. Used by permission.

 

 

All Scripture references in this novena are found on the Bible Gateway website, with the exception of texts drawn from the 1968 Reader’s Edition of the Jerusalem BibleSelections from the psalter appear in the Liturgy of the Hours.

The novena prayer was composed from approved sources by Professor Michael Ogunu, a member of the Discalced Carmelite Secular Order in Nigeria.

All of the citations from the Sayings of Light and Love are drawn from The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, Revised Edition (1991), translated from the Spanish by Kavanaugh, K and Rodriguez, O with revisions and introductions by Kavanaugh, K, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

 

Elizabeth of the Trinity, S 2003, The Complete Works of Elizabeth of the Trinity volume 2: Letters from Carmel, translated from the French by Nash, A, ICS Publications, Washington DC

 

Lawrence of the Resurrection, B 2015, Writings and Conversations on the Practice of the Presence of God, translated from the French by Sciurba, S, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

 

Teresa of Avila, St. 1985, The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, translated from the Spanish by Kavanaugh, K; Rodriguez, O, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

 

Advent 1: Alert

The reason for this dryness is that God transfers his goods and strength from sense to spirit … But through this nourishment the spirit grows stronger and more alert.

Saint John of the Cross

gary-bendig-169660-unsplash
Photo by Gary Bendig on Unsplash

Porque la causa de esta sequedad es porque muda Dios los bienes y fuerza del sentido al espíritu … mas el espíritu que va recibiendo el manjar, anda fuerte y más alerto.

San Juan de la Cruz

The Dark Night: Book One, Chapter 9
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.

 

St. Edith Stein Novena – Day 9

SCRIPTURE READING
Hosea 2:2-17

Denounce your mother, denounce her,
for she is not my wife
nor am I her husband.
Let her rid her face of her whoring,
and her breasts of her adultery,
or else I will strip her naked,
expose her as on the day she was born;
I will make a wilderness of her,
turn her into an arid land,
and leave her to die of thirst.
I will not love her children,
since they are the children of whoring.
Yes, their mother has played the whore,
she who conceived them has disgraced herself.
“I am going to court my lovers,” she said,
“who give me my bread and water,
my wool, my flax, my oil and my drink.”
She would not acknowledge, not she,
that I was the one who was giving her
the corn, the wine, the oil,
and who freely gave her that silver and gold
of which they have made Baals.

That is why, when the time comes, I mean to withdraw my corn,
and my wine, when the season for it comes.
I will retrieve my wool, my flax,
that were intended to cover her nakedness;
so will I display her shame before her lovers’ eyes
and no one shall rescue her from my power.
I will Jay her vines and fig trees waste,
those of which she used to say,
“These are the pay my lovers gave me”;
I am going to make them into thickets
for the wild beasts to ravage.
I will put an end to all her rejoicing,
her feasts, her New Moons, her sabbaths
and all her solemn festivals.
I mean to make her pay for all the days
when she burned offerings to the Baals
and decked herself with rings and necklaces
to court her lovers,
forgetting me.
It is Yahweh who is speaking.

That is why I am going to block her way with thorns,
and wall her in so that she cannot find her way;
she will chase after her lovers and never catch up with them,
she will search for them and never find them.
Then she will say, “I will go back to my first husband,
I was happier then than I am today.”

That is why I am going to lure her
and lead her out into the wilderness
and speak to her heart.
I am going to give her back her vineyards,
and make the Valley of Achor a gateway of hope.
There she will respond to me as she did when she was young,
as she did when she came out of the land of Egypt.

When that day comes – it is Yahweh who speaks she
will call me “My husband,”
no longer will she call me “My Baal.”
I will take the names of the Baals off her lips,
their names shall never be uttered again.

MEDITATION
The Science of the Cross 12.C.

The secret ladder

Dark contemplation is the secret ladder: secret as is mystical theology that is communicated and infused into the soul through love.

The mystical wisdom is therefore also called secret because it has the characteristic of hiding the soul within itself. . . . Occasionally, it so engulfs the soul in its secret abyss that she has the keen awareness of being brought into a place far removed from every creature. She accordingly feels that she has been led into a remarkably deep and vast wilderness unattainable by any human being, into an immense, unbounded desert. And this, for her, is the more delightful, pleasant, and lovely, the deeper, vaster, and more solitary it is. She is conscious of being so much more hidden, the more she is raised above every created being. This abyss of wisdom elevates and enriches the soul to a high degree: it engulfs her in the veins of the science of love and lets her know in this way how base are creatures in comparison with the lofty, divine knowledge and feelings, and gives her an insight into how lowly, inadequate, and entirely incapable all images and words are with which one speaks of divine things in this life.

PRAYER

Lord, God of our fathers,
you brought Saint Teresa Benedicta
to the fullness of the science of the cross
at the hour of her martyrdom.
Fill us with that same knowledge;
and, through her intercession,
allow us always to seek after you, the supreme truth,
and to remain faithful until death
to the covenant of love ratified in the blood of your Son
for the salvation of all men and women.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.

Wadi Rum_Julien Lavallee-93746-unsplash
Wadi Rum, Aqaba, Jordan | Photo by Julien Lavallée on Unsplash

 

St. Edith Stein Novena – Day 8

SCRIPTURE READING
Wisdom 19:6-17

God Guides and Protects His People

6 The whole nature of the universe was changed at your command so that your people would not be harmed. 7 They saw the cloud over their camp and dry land where water had been. There was a grass-covered plain between the stormy waves of the Red Sea, making it easy for them to cross over. 8 All your people, under your protection, saw this miracle and went across. 9 They pranced about like horses let out to pasture; they skipped about like lambs and praised you, Lord, for saving them. 10 They still remembered what life had been like when they were slaves—how the earth bred gnats instead of cattle, how the river produced huge numbers of frogs instead of fish. 11-12 Later, when they desperately wanted better food, quails came up from the sea to satisfy their hunger. The quail was a bird they had never seen before.

The Punishment of the Egyptians

13 But violent thunder gave warning of the punishment that was coming on those sinners. They suffered a well-deserved punishment for their great wickedness. No nation had ever hated strangers so bitterly. 14 Other people had been known to refuse welcome to strangers who came to them, but these people made slaves of those who were their guests and who had shown them kindness. 15 Every nation will be punished if it does not welcome foreigners, 16 but these people, who had earlier welcomed the foreigners with happy celebrations and treated them as equals, later made them suffer cruelly. 17 These people were also struck with blindness, like the men of Sodom who came to the door of that righteous man Lot. They found themselves in total darkness, as each one groped around to find his own door.

MEDITATION
The Science of the Cross 3.C.(3)

The purgative dryness of the dark night

A case of purgative dryness of the dark night can be discerned by three signs:

1) that the soul finds no delight in creatures;

2) that “the soul turns to God solicitously and with painful care, and thinks it is not serving God but turning back because it is aware of this distaste for the things of God.”

3) one recognizes purgative dryness in that “the soul is powerless in spite of all its efforts to meditate and make use of the imagination, the interior sense, . . . God no longer communicates himself through the senses as he did before, by means of the discursive analysis and synthesis of ideas, but has now begun to communicate himself through pure spirit by an act of simple contemplation for which neither the exterior nor the interior senses of the sensory human being have any capacity.”

This dark and, for the senses, dry contemplation is “something secret and hidden and even for the one who possesses it, mysterious.” Ordinarily, it imparts to the soul an inclination and a demand to remain alone and at rest. She is unable to dwell on any particular thought, nor does she have any desire to do so. If those in whom this occurs knew how to remain quiet, “they would soon experience in that unconcern and idleness a precious interior nourishment. This refection is namely so delicate that the soul cannot usually feel it if it desires it excessively or tries to experience it specifically. . . . It is like air that escapes when one tries to grasp it in one’s hand . . . God deals with the soul in this state in such a manner and leads it along such a special way that, if it desires to work with its own faculties and strength, it would rather hinder than help the work of God.” The peace God produces in the spirit through the dryness of the sensory being is “spiritual and most precious” and its “fruit is quiet, delicate, solitary, satisfying, and peaceful, and far removed from all the earlier gratifications which were more palpable and sensory.” So one understands that only the dying of the sensory being is felt and nothing is experienced of the beginning of the new life that is concealed beneath it.

It is no exaggeration when we call the suffering of the souls in this state a crucifixion. In their inability to make use of their own faculties they are as though nailed fast. And to the dryness is added the torment of fear that they are on the wrong path.

PRAYER

Lord, God of our fathers,
you brought Saint Teresa Benedicta
to the fullness of the science of the cross
at the hour of her martyrdom.
Fill us with that same knowledge;
and, through her intercession,
allow us always to seek after you, the supreme truth,
and to remain faithful until death
to the covenant of love ratified in the blood of your Son
for the salvation of all men and women.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.

StoneMountainStatePark_andrew-neel-209619-unsplash
Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash
The Science of the Cross 
The Collected Works of Edith Stein, Vol. 6 
ICS Publications, Washington DC 
© Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc.

 

 

 

St. Edith Stein Novena – Day 7

SCRIPTURE READING
Psalm 131

1 O Lord, my heart is not proud
nor haughty my eyes.
I have not gone after things too great
nor marvels beyond me.

2 Truly I have set my soul
in silence and peace.
A weaned child on its mother’s breast,
even so is my soul.

3 O Israel, hope in the Lord
both now and forever.

MEDITATION
The Science of the Cross 3.C.(3)

Passive Night as Crucifixion

It was mentioned earlier that the active entrance of the soul into the dark night is only possible for her because God’s grace anticipates her, draws her, and supports her along the entire way.

But for beginners this anticipatory and enabling grace does not as yet have the character of the dark night. Rather, God treats them the way a tender mother treats her tiny children—carrying them in her arms and feeding them with sweet milk: in all their spiritual exercises—in prayer, meditation, and mortifications—they receive abundant joy and consolation. This joy then motivates them to devote themselves to spiritual exercises. They are unaware of the imperfections that lie therein and how many faults they commit in their practice of virtue.

In order to be freed from all these defects we must be weaned from the milk of consolations and be fed with strengthening nourishment…. “After beginners have exercised themselves for a time in the way of virtue and have persevered in meditation and prayer and through the delight and satisfaction they experience in this have become detached from worldly things and have gained some spiritual strength in God, which helps them to restrain their appetites for creatures, and for God’s sake are able to suffer a little oppression and dryness without yearning to return to those better times when they experienced more pleasurable satisfaction and gratification… then… God darkens all this light and closes the door and the spring of sweet spiritual water they were tasting as often and as long as they desired…. Now he leaves them in such darkness that they do not know which way to turn in their discursive imaginings.”

PRAYER

Lord, God of our fathers,
you brought Saint Teresa Benedicta
to the fullness of the science of the cross
at the hour of her martyrdom.
Fill us with that same knowledge;
and, through her intercession,
allow us always to seek after you, the supreme truth,
and to remain faithful until death
to the covenant of love ratified in the blood of your Son
for the salvation of all men and women.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.

melanie-wasser-233297-unsplash
Photo by Melanie Wasser on Unsplash
The Science of the Cross 
The Collected Works of Edith Stein, Vol. 6 
ICS Publications, Washington DC 
© Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc.

St. Edith Stein Novena – Day 6

SCRIPTURE READING
Mark 8:31-38

31 Then Jesus began to teach his disciples: “The Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the Law. He will be put to death, but three days later he will rise to life.” 32 He made this very clear to them. So Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But Jesus turned around, looked at his disciples, and rebuked Peter. “Get away from me, Satan,” he said. “Your thoughts don’t come from God but from human nature!”

34 Then Jesus called the crowd and his disciples to him. “If any of you want to come with me,” he told them, “you must forget yourself, carry your cross, and follow me. 35 For if you want to save your own life, you will lose it; but if you lose your life for me and for the gospel, you will save it. 36 Do you gain anything if you win the whole world but lose your life? Of course not! 37 There is nothing you can give to regain your life. 38 If you are ashamed of me and of my teaching in this godless and wicked day, then the Son of Man will be ashamed of you when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

MEDITATION
The Science of the Cross 1.I.(6)

Content of the Message of the Cross

We have considered by what ways John penetrated the message of the cross. The following sections wish to show how this message was incorporated into the doctrine and life of the saint. To do so, it is necessary to set the content of the message before our eyes—for the time being, in a brief outline. We set it down here exactly as we find it expressed by the master of the science of the cross: “‘How narrow is the gate and constricting the way that leads to life! And few there are who find it’ (Mt 7:14). We should particularly note the exaggeration and hyperbole conveyed by the word how in this passage. This is like saying: Indeed the gate is very narrow, narrower than you think. . . . This path on the high mount of perfection is narrow and steep, it can only be trodden by wanderers who carry no burden that could drag them downwards. . . .  Since in this, God alone is the goal that one should seek and gain, then only God ought to be sought and gained. . . . Our Lord, for our instruction and guidance along this road, imparted to us that wonderful teaching—I think it is possible to affirm that the more necessary the doctrine the less it is practiced by spiritual persons—. . . . ‘If anyone wishes to be my disciple let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life, will lose it but whoever loses it for my sake, will save it’ [Mk 8:34-35]. Oh, who can make this counsel of our Savior on self-denial understandable, practicable, and attractive! . . . Annihilation of all sweetness in God . . . dryness, distaste, and trial. . . . the pure spiritual cross and the nakedness of Christ’s poverty of spirit. . . . A genuine spirit seeks rather the distasteful in God than the delectable, leans more toward suffering than toward consolation, more toward going without everything for God than toward possession, and toward dryness and affliction than toward sweet consolation, for it knows that in this consists the following of Christ and self-denial, while the other is nothing further than seeking oneself in God . . . Seeking God in God [sic] means. . . for love of Christ, to choose all that is distasteful whether in God or in the world.”

PRAYER

Lord, God of our fathers,
you brought Saint Teresa Benedicta
to the fullness of the science of the cross
at the hour of her martyrdom.
Fill us with that same knowledge;
and, through her intercession,
allow us always to seek after you, the supreme truth,
and to remain faithful until death
to the covenant of love ratified in the blood of your Son
for the salvation of all men and women.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.

EDITH - Annihilation of all sweetness in God

 

The Science of the Cross 
The Collected Works of Edith Stein, Vol. 6 
ICS Publications, Washington DC 
© Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc.
EDITH - In dryness and emptiness the soul becomes humble
The earlier arrogance disappears when one no longer finds in oneself anything that would give reason to look down on others; instead, others now appear to one to be more perfect; love and esteem for them awakens in the heart.

St. Edith Stein Novena – Day 3

SCRIPTURE READING
Psalm 63

.2 O God, you are my God, for you I long;
for you my soul is thirsting.
My body pines for you
like a dry, weary land without water.
.3 So I gaze on you in the sanctuary
to see your strength and your glory.

.4 For your love is better than life,
my lips will speak your praise.
.5 So I will bless you all my life,
in your name I will lift up my hands.
.6 My soul shall be filled as with a banquet,
my mouth shall praise you with joy.

.7 On my bed I remember you.
On you I muse through the night
.8 for your have been my help;
in the shadow of your wings I rejoice.
.9 My soul clings to you;
your right hand holds me fast.

MEDITATION
The Science of the Cross, I.6.(3)

Passive Night as Crucifixion

In the beginning, this being inflamed in love is not commonly perceived. The soul feels rather only dryness and emptiness, sorrowful fear and concern. And if she does feel any of the love, it is as a painful yearning for God, a smarting wound of love…

Now she is to travel on the constricted road, which is the night of the spirit. Of course, few will come so far, yet the advantages of the first night are very great: the soul is granted self-knowledge; she gains insight into her own misery, no longer finds anything good in herself and learns therefore to approach God with greater reverence. Yes, only now is she aware of the grandeur and majesty of God. Precisely this being freed from all sensory supports enables her to receive illumination and become receptive for the truth. That is why we find in the psalm: “In a desert land, without water, dry and without a way, I appeared before you to be able to see your power and your glory ” (Ps 63:1-2).

In dryness and emptiness the soul becomes humble. The earlier arrogance disappears when one no longer finds in oneself anything that would give reason to look down on others; instead, others now appear to one to be more perfect; love and esteem for them awakens in the heart. One is too occupied with one’s own misery to be concerned about others. Through her helplessness the soul also becomes subservient and obedient; she longs for instruction in order to reach the right way. Spiritual avarice is thoroughly healed; when one no longer finds any practice to one’s taste, one becomes very moderate and does whatever one does purely for the sake of God without seeking any satisfaction for the self. And so it goes with all imperfections. All the confusion and unrest disappear with them. Instead, a deep peace and a constant remembrance of God are established. The only care that remains is the concern not to displease God.

PRAYER

Lord, God of our fathers,
you brought Saint Teresa Benedicta
to the fullness of the science of the cross
at the hour of her martyrdom.
Fill us with that same knowledge;
and, through her intercession,
allow us always to seek after you, the supreme truth,
and to remain faithful until death
to the covenant of love ratified in the blood of your Son
for the salvation of all men and women.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.

EDITH - In dryness and emptiness the soul becomes humble
Photo by Marko Zupan on Unsplash
The Science of the Cross 
The Collected Works of Edith Stein, Vol. 6 
ICS Publications, Washington DC 
© Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc.

St. Edith Stein Novena – Day 2

SCRIPTURE READING
Psalm 88

Lord God, you are my Savior.
    I have been praying to you day and night.
Please pay attention to my prayers.
    Listen to my prayers for mercy.
My soul has had enough of this pain!
    I am ready to die.
People already treat me like a dead man,
    like someone too weak to live.
Look for me among the dead,
    like a body in the grave.
I am one of those you have forgotten,
    cut off from you and your care.
You put me in that hole in the ground.
    Yes, you put me in that dark place.
Your anger presses down on me like a heavy weight.
    It’s like one wave after another pounding against me. Selah

You made my friends leave me.
    They all avoid me like someone no one wants to touch.
Like a prisoner in my house, I cannot go out.
    My eyes hurt from crying.
Lord, I pray to you constantly!
    I lift my arms in prayer to you.
10 Do you do miracles for the dead?
    Do ghosts rise up and praise you? No! Selah

11 The dead in their graves cannot talk about your faithful love.
    People in the world of the dead cannot talk about your faithfulness.
12 The dead who lie in darkness cannot see the amazing things you do.
    Those in the world of the forgotten cannot talk about your goodness.
13 Lord, I am asking you to help me!
    Early each morning I pray to you.
14 Lord, why have you abandoned me?
    Why do you refuse to listen to me?
15 I have been sick and weak since I was young.
    I have suffered your anger, and I am helpless.
16 Your anger covers me like a flood.
    Your attacks are killing me.
17 They surround me on every side.
    I feel like a drowning man.
18 You caused my friends and loved ones to leave me.
    Now darkness is my closest friend.

 

MEDITATION
The Science of the Cross, Chapter 22

The Doctrine of the Darkest Path

The darkest path is the most secure. This doctrine from The Dark Night is stressed with great emphasis in spiritual direction: “Since your soul finds herself in this darkness and void of spiritual poverty, you believe you are lacking everything, and that everyone has abandoned you. Of course, that is no wonder since you even think God has forsaken you. However, nothing is missing. . . . Whoever seeks God and nothing else is not wandering in darkness no matter how dark and poor you think you are. Whoever does not walk in presumption and does not follow her own tastes whether in what concerns God or creatures, and does not insist on her own will, whether internally or externally, will not stumble now. . . .  Let us live on earth like pilgrims and the poor, like the banished and orphans, in dryness, without a way, and without anything else, but always in hope.”
(Cf. Letter 19 to Doña Juana de Pedraza)

 

PRAYER

Lord, God of our fathers,
you brought Saint Teresa Benedicta
to the fullness of the science of the cross
at the hour of her martyrdom.
Fill us with that same knowledge;
and, through her intercession,
allow us always to seek after you, the supreme truth,
and to remain faithful until death
to the covenant of love ratified in the blood of your Son
for the salvation of all men and women.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.

 

EDITH - The darkest path is the most secure
All graphics on Elijah’s Breeze are created on Snappa
The Science of the Cross 
The Collected Works of Edith Stein, Vol. 6 
ICS Publications, Washington DC 
© Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc.

 

A Long Walk in the Desert  — HOPE IN THE STORM

A word of introduction to this post from Jay Toups: Saint John of the Cross wrote, “My spirit has become dry because it forgets to feed on you.” The spiritual desert takes many forms. Read and reflect; what have your experiences been?

 

A Long Walk in the Desert Dryness in prayer, deep quiet times without consolation and sometimes a feeling of holy isolation are often a part of our walk with Christ. Striving for that union He desires with us can leave us vacant in our soul as God perfects our soul toward His will of eternal […]

via A Long Walk in the Desert  — HOPE IN THE STORM

“My spirit has become dry because it forgets to feed on you,” is drawn from the Sayings of Light and Love, No. 39.

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.

 

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