Some Wisdom from John of the Cross

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Today at Holy Hour I read this passage in “The Living Flame of Love,” by St. John of the Cross:

He [The Holy Spirit] touches the soul not with His shadow only, for He unites Him self to it, feeling and tasting with it the form and attributes of God in the shadow of God: that is, feeling and tasting the property of divine power in the shadow of omnipotence: feeling and tasting the divine wisdom in the shadow of the divine wisdom: and finally, tasting the glory of God in the shadow of glory, which begets the knowledge and the taste of the property and form of the glory of God.”

If, like me, you are the sort of person who rarely if ever has the sensation of “feeling and tasting” the presence of Jesus, this is a very comforting passage. Certainly I believe that Jesus is present in the Tabernacle, in my soul in the state of grace, in the Eucharist. I would go so far as to say that I know this with a conviction that surpasses mere intellectual knowledge.

Yeah, Sure I believe this rope is going to hold. Totally.
Yeah, Sure I believe this rope is going to hold. Totally.

I have invested myself in it, like rappelling off a cliff. I know that the rope will hold me before I go. Afterwards I really know it from experience. However at no point during the rappel do I feel secure. I still feel as if the rope were going to snap at any second. It doesn’t really matter because I’m all in one way or the other, and that is the important thing.

Knowing is a gift, and being able to act on that knowledge is also a gift, but sometimes I think it would be nice to feel as well. This is why that passage from St. J of X (as Sir Alec Guinness affectionately called him) is so comforting. I may not be sensible of feeling or tasting the power and wisdom and glory of God, but that doesn’t really matter. The Holy Spirit is and does. When the Holy Spirit enters my soul He takes up residence and continues His eternal act of worship and communion with the Father and the Son. He feels and tastes the totality of the Godhead, which I am incapable of. By remaining in the State of Grace and by consciously uniting myself to that prayer, I make it my own. I am drawn into it, because I become a temple of the Holy Spirit.

I am sure I don’t know why I feel comforted by this, but there you have it. It doesn’t matter what I feel or don’t feel, as long as the Holy Spirit feels and tastes. More to the point, the Holy Spirit opens my eyes to various obstacles and hindrances I place between myself and being more fully entered into this eternal prayer. That gives me more than enough work to do. It sends me over the cliff edge, if you will.

It makes me go all in, which is really the important thing anyway.

Ryan Kraeger

Ryan Kraeger

Ryan Kraeger is a cradle Catholic homeschool graduate, who has served in the Army as a Combat Engineer and as a Special Forces Medical Sergeant. He now lives with his wife Kathleen and their two daughters near Tacoma, WA and is going to school to become a Physician's Assistant. He enjoys reading, thinking, and conversation, the making and eating of gourmet pizza, shooting and martial arts, and the occasional dark beer. His website is The Man Who Would Be Knight.

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