Thursday, December 14, 2006

Apothegms of Saint John of the Cross

From the Discalced Carmelites in the Austrian Region, come these apothegms, or spiritual aphorisms, of Saint John of the Cross:
  • It is better to be burdened and in company with the strong than to be unburdened and with the weak. When you are burdened you are close to God, your strength, who abides with the afflicted. When you are relieved of the burden you are close to yourself, your own weakness; for virtue and strength of soul grow and are confirmed in the trials of patience.
  • The virtuous soul that is alone and without a master is like a lone burning coal; it will grow colder rather than hotter.
  • God desires the smallest degree of purity of conscience in you more than all the works you can perform.
  • Deny your desires and you will find what your heart longs for. For how do you know if any desire of yours is according to God?
  • The soul that carries within itself the least appetite for worldly things bears more unseemliness and impurity in its journey to God than if it were troubled by all the hideous and annoying temptations and darknesses describable; for, so long as it does not consent to these temptations, a soul thus tried can approach God confidently, by doing the will of His Majesty, who proclaims: "Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will refresh you" [Mt. 11:28].
  • Those who do not allow their appetites to carry them away will soar in their spirit as swiftly as the bird that lacks no feathers.
  • The very pure spirit does not bother about the regard of others or human respect, but communes inwardly with God, alone and in solitude as to all forms, and with delightful tranquility, for the knowledge of God is received in divine silence.
  • A soul enkindled with love is a gentle, meek, humble, and patient soul.
  • Well and good if all things change, Lord God, provided we are rooted in you.
  • Reflect that the most delicate flower loses its fragrance and withers fastest; therefore guard yourself against seeking to walk in a spirit of delight, for you will not be constant. Choose rather for yourself a robust spirit, detached from everything, and you will discover abundant peace and sweetness, for delicious and durable fruit is gathered in a cold and dry climate.
  • Blessed are they who, setting aside their own pleasure and inclination, consider things according to reason and justice before doing them.
  • The soul that journeys to God, but does not shake off its cares and quiet its appetites, is like one who drags a cart uphill.
  • See that you do not interfere in the affairs of others, nor even allow them to pass through your memory; for perhaps you will be unable to accomplish your own task.
  • Abide in peace, banish cares, take no account of all that happens, and you will serve God according to his good pleasure, and rest in him.
  • How is it you dare to relax so fearlessly, since you must appear before God to render an account of the least word and thought?
  • Do not rejoice vainly, for you know how many sins you have committed and you do not know how you stand before God; but have fear together with confidence.
  • Bridle your tongue and your thoughts very much, direct your affection habitually toward God, and your spirit will be divinely enkindled.
  • The soul that walks in love neither tires others nor grows tired.
  • The purest suffering produces the purest understanding.
  • Let your speech be such that no one may be offended, and let it concern things that would not cause you regret were all to know of them.
  • Abandon evil, do good, and seek peace.

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