Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: The Wisdom of Saint John of the Cross 1

Ubeda Museum of Saint John of the Cross. Photo Credit: thespeakroom.org
Ubeda Museum of Saint John of the Cross. Photo Credit: thespeakroom.org

The Power of God’s Promise. Peter 1: 3-10

3His divine power has bestowed on us everything that makes for life and devotion, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and power.4Through these, he has bestowed on us the precious and very great promises, so that through them you may come to share in the divine nature, after escaping from the corruption that is in the world because of evil desire. 5For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, virtue with knowledge, 6knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with devotion, 7devotion with mutual affection, mutual affection with love. 8 If these are yours and increase in abundance, they will keep you from being idle or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 Anyone who lacks them is blind and shortsighted, forgetful of the cleansing of his past sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more eager to make your call and election firm, for, in doing so, you will never stumble.

That’s the most direct passage from sacred scriptures that refers to what the Church Fathers refer to as the transforming union and deification. According Father Thomas Dubay in The Fire Within, “The human person’s deification in Christ is a testimony to the heart of pure Carmelite doctrine. Moreover, it is the complete reason for the incarnation and the redemption. It is the fulfillment of the divine plan.” Transforming union is the whole goal of why God was incarnate in Christ, why He was crucified on the cross, risen and poured out His spirit. This is the crown of redemption.

Father Dubay says, “Thus, all structures of the Church, priesthoods, curias, chancery offices, books and candles and all else, are aimed at producing this abundance of life, this utter immersion in triune splendor, this transforming union” (197). That’s magnificent.

Also, in the beginning of Deep Conversion, Deep Prayer, Thomas Dubay quotes Pope John Paul II, when he was speaking with the bishops of the world. The pope said ‘as pastors, your primary duty is to lead people into divine intimacy with the most Holy Trinity.’ The pope reminds the bishops that their duties are not just about administration, but about leading people to divine union.

Transforming union is entirely related to our universal call to holiness. In the contemporary Church, those terms are very popular and many have heard of that coined expression. The universal call to holiness is characterized as a radical state of healing and wholeness. Radical healing and wholeness. That is holiness.

Saint John of the Cross is a master at expressing what is meant by radical healing. The author who best communicates Saint John in a contemporary tone, without watering him down, is Father Ian Matthew in The Impact of God, where he refers to the dark night as healing. That’s exactly what it is, and that’s a wonderful approach to understand the dark night appropriately. It is a healing of the soul, just what the doctor ordered. Grant it, the dark night is a tough medicine but it’s always for the sake of this greater life, this greater health, this greater wholeness, which is holiness.

“This ongoing growth process in the grace and truth of Christ is one of continual conversion, which is the ultimate life-long love affair with One whom we know loves us with a love which this world cannot give. The state of total union of which scripture and St. John speak and to which we are all called is simply the crowning of all God’s gifts, the full flowering of the life of grace, the maturation of the life within us, of Christ’s supernatural life, into whom we were baptized.”

That reality of baptism is deepened in the Eucharist. Dr. Owen Cummings, one of the professors at Mount Saint Angel’s seminary said, ‘To receive Jesus Christ, the savior, in the Blessed Sacrament, is to feast on the DNA of God.’ His body, His blood, His soul, and Divinity are his DNA! We share in the whole aspect of His person, fully God and fully human; we share in the inner life of who He is in order to become more like Him (to be continued).

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil, and bring us to everlasting life.

(SOURCE: Carmelite Nuns Retreat, 12/2013)  Transforming Union: The Wisdom of Saint John of the Cross- transcribed by TL

Copyright 2016, Fr. Robert Barcelos. All Rights Reserved

Novena Prayer to St. John of the Cross

Lord, you endowed our Father, St. John of the Cross with a spirit of self-denial and a love of the cross. By following his example may we come to the eternal vision of your glory. Through his intercession, may we obtain the favor we ask for (pause for intention) if it be for our good and the greater glory of God. We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Litany of Humility

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being loved…
From the desire of being extolled …
From the desire of being honored …
From the desire of being praised …
From the desire of being preferred to others…
From the desire of being consulted …
From the desire of being approved …
From the fear of being humiliated …
From the fear of being despised…
From the fear of suffering rebukes …
From the fear of being calumniated …
From the fear of being forgotten …
From the fear of being ridiculed …
From the fear of being wronged …
From the fear of being suspected …

That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I …
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease …
That others may be chosen and I set aside …
That others may be praised and I unnoticed …
That others may be preferred to me in everything…
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…

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