For this feast of St. John of the Cross, I could not hold my silence.
One of my favorite quotes from the Ascent of Mt. Carmel,
Love consists not in feeling great things but in having great detachment and in suffering for the Beloved.
Then one of my favorite re-echoes of that quote in St. John’s spiritual daughter, St. Thérèse of Lisieux,
I prefer the monotony of obscure sacrifice to all ecstasies.
And finally a quote from my former spiritual director, now deceased, who lived St. John’s radical vision of spiritual poverty in his parish priesthood (which he lived faithfully for 44 years). Speaking of his rationale for rising every day at 4:30 a.m. to pray his Holy Hour before celebrating 6:00 a.m. Mass, he said to me in a very private moment, as he tried to encourage me to persevere through a very arid time in my prayer life,
Tom, for the past 20 years my prayer has been dry dust; but in the end it’s faithfulness and not feelings that count, it’s what you do for your Beloved…it’s emptied my prayer of me, and though I entered these last years kicking and screaming, now prayer’s less about my needs and more for Him and for the people he has entrusted to my care.
My favorite image of him was sneaking a pre-dawn peek at him in his tiny rectory chapel, thumbing through the pages of the parish directory, his eyes dancing between the pages and Christ exposed in a tiny monstrance. Loving God and loving neighbor, and only thus truly loving himself.