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Archive for the ‘Spiritual Canticle’ Category

marriage kiss

Marriage, is a communion of love between a man and a woman. It is also the image of the love and communion that exists between the three divine persons. Marriage is, therefore, not only a human institution but, more importantly, a sacred institution because it is made in the image of God Himself.

Think about the community of persons that is formed by this sacrament. It is meant to a reflection of the community of persons that is the Most Holy Trinity!

From the beginning man and woman were created in the image and likeness of God. The book of Genesis states: “God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:27).  This should lead us to see every individual person as possessing an infinite dignity. Additionally, male and female are in the image and likeness of God not only in their individual existence, but also as they exist together.

Much of the poetry of Saint John of the Cross is centered on the theme of the bridal relationship. He uses nuptial language in his poems referring to the bride and bridegroom. His poetry could guide us back to a much needed correct understanding of human love and marriage.

While the The Spiritual Canticle, The Dark Night and The Living Flame, speak this bridal language, there is another one of St. John’s poems that develops this view of human love as also being an image of God’s love. The poem is titled Romance on the Gospel Text In Principio Erat Verbum regarding the Blessed Trinity In it St. John of the Cross is speaking of the love that exists between the persons of the Trinity.

Thus it is a boundless

Love that unites them,

for the three have one love

and the more love is one

the more it is love.

His poem, The Dark Night, is the expression of the soul that rejoices in having reached the high state of perfection – that is, union with God. If we unknowingly ran into this poem, we would hardly think of it as a religious poem. The title is most certainly misleading. At first glance it is a love poem, like the many other love poems that have been written. Yet, St. John of the Cross, states that it is a description of the union of the soul with God. This union that he is describing is a mystical experience.  Why does he use sexual images to describe such a spiritual matter? How then can poetry, especially poetry about the mystical union of the soul with God, be related to the love of a man and a woman?

O night more lovely than the dawn!

O night that has united 

the Lover with his beloved.

transforming the beloved in her Lover.

Perhaps Saint John of the Cross uses these images to describe divine love because human love is meant to be an image of divine love. Human love is analogous to divine love. Therefore, Divine love is, the model which human love must imitate.

The image of human love and marriage has been so distorted. St. John of the Cross could help to restore that image. In addition, his poetry could provide us with a better knowledge of God.

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Beneath the apple tree:

there I took you for my own,

there I offered you my hand, 

and restored you, 

where your mother was corrupted.    

                                     

Beneath the apple tree ……

That is beneath the favor of the tree of the cross (referred to by the apple tree), where the Son of God redeemed human nature and consequently espoused it to himself, and then espoused each soul by giving it through the cross graces and pledges for this espousal. And thus he says:

there I took you for my own,

there I offered you my hand,

That is: There I offered you my kind regard and help by raising you from your low state to be my companion and spouse.

and restored you,

where your mother was corrupted.

For human nature, your mother, was corrupted in your first parents under the tree, and you too under the tree of the cross were restored. If your mother, therefore, brought you death under the tree, I brought you life under the tree of the cross. In such a way God manifests the decrees of his wisdom; he knows how to draw good from evil so wisely and beautifully, and to ordain to a greater good what was a cause of evil.

St. John of the Cross- The Spiritual Canticle, stanza 23

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Pouring out a thousand graces,

he passed these groves in haste;
and having looked at them,
clothed them in beauty.
~(Spiritual Canticle, stanza 5)

God created everything and He left some trace of who He is in them. “He passed” because creatures are like a trace of God’s passing. Through them one can track down his grandeur, might, wisdom and other divine attributes (Spiritual Canticle). Everyone is created in the image and likeness of God (Gen 1:26). This is our Faith. Therefore, it takes great faith to see God in His creatures. But what is it that disfigures the divine image in me and my neighbor?

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The fourth trait of this solitary bird is that it has no definite color. It desires to do nothing definite other that the will of God. The Holy Spirit gives the soul what is lacking in it by strengthening it to love as he loves. The soul’s will is not destroyed it is united firmly with God’s will and with his love “so that there is only one will and love, which is God’s “(Spiritual Canticle 38:3). The Blessed Virgin Mary was raised from the beginning to this high state of contemplation. “She never had the form of any creature impressed in her soul, nor was she moved by any, for she was always moved by the Holy Spirit.” (Ascent 3:2,10)

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