Wednesday, December 14, 2011

In memory of St. John of the Cross



Considerations more respectful.

St. John is one of my very special patrons.  I am not a Carmelite except by affiliation in and through the Confraternity of the Scapular - I wear Our Lady's 'hidden' habit out of devotion to her, and in that devotion and through the grace of God, I developed under the sound guidance of Therese, Teresa, and John.  I'm 'too little' as St. Therese might say, to be a member of any order, or to have any status.  That was never my call.  That said, the teachings of the saints are for all of us to learn from, according to our state in life.

I've always been fascinated by St. John's request to Our Lord, "to suffer and be despised."  Driven by divine love, he asked nothing more than what Our Lord had chosen for Himself on earth.  John possessed the spiritual maturity to know what he was asking - many of us do not however.  I think most of us - especially myself - attach conditions to our willingness to accept from God's hands all the sufferings he is pleased to send us.  Frequently we lack the patience needed to follow Christ in the narrow way that leads to life.  St. John practiced heroic patience - and therefore he is a very powerful intercessor for those who suffer in any way.  St. John once said, "the holier the confessor, the gentler he is and the less he is scandalized at other people's faults, because he understands man's weak condition better."  One can perhaps accommodate this exhortation to confidence for those of us who are spiritually bereft, yet who seek his intercession.  In other words:  'The greater the saint, the more accessible he is to the littlest - the weakest of us." 

Instead of using something from the writings of St. John of the Cross to edify and inspire for his feast day, I found something perhaps easier to digest, written by St. Francis de Sales, very much related to suffering and being despised.
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PATIENCE: Its GreatValue and Proper Exercise.
"Patience is necessary for you; that, doing the will of God, you may receive the promise.' If our Saviour himself has declared, 'In your patience you shall possess your souls,' should it not be a great happiness for man to possess his soul? - and the more perfect our patience, the more absolutely do we possess them. Let us frequently call to mind, that as our Lord has saved us by patient sufferings, so we also ought to work out our salvation by sufferings and afflictions; enduring injuries and contradictions with all possible meekness. Limit not your patience to this or that kind of injuries and afflictions,but extend it universally to all those that it shall please God to send you. Some are unwilling to suffer any tribulations but those that are honorable; for example, to be wounded in battle, to be a prisoner of war, to be persecuted for religion, or impoverished by some lawsuit determined in their favor; now these people do not love the tribulation, but the honor wherewith it is accompanied; whereas he that is truly patient suffers, indifferently, tribulations whether accompanied by ignominy or honor. To be despised, reprehended, or accused by wicked men is pleasant to a man of good heart; but to suffer blame and ill-treatment from the virtuous or from our friends and relations, is the test of true patience. I admire the meekness with which the great St. Charles Borromeo suffered a long time the public reprehensions that a great preacher of a strictly reformed order uttered against him in the pulpit, more than all the assaults he received from others; for as the sting of a bee is far more painful than that of a fly so the evils we suffer from good men are much more insupportable than those we suffer from others; and yet it often happens that two good men, having each of them the best intentions, through a diversity of opinion, foment great persecutions and contradictions against each other."
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"Be patient, not only with respect to the subject of the affliction which may befall you, but also with regard to its accessories or accidental circumstances. Many could be content to encounter evils, provided they might not be incommoded by them. I am not vexed, says one, at being poor, if it had not disabled me to serve my friends, to give my children proper education; or to live as honorable as I could wish. It would give me no concern, says another, were it not that the world would think it happened through my own fault. Another would be content to suffer the scandal patiently, provided no one would believe the detractor. Others are willing to suffer some part of the evil, but not the whole; they do not complain on account of their sickness, but for the want of money to obtain a cure, or because they are so troublesome to those about them. Now, I say, we must not only bear sickness with patience, but also be content to suffer sickness under any disorder, and in any place, among those persons, and with those inconveniences, which God pleases; and the same must be said of other tribulations, which God pleases; and the same must be said of other tribulations. When any evil befalls you, apply the remedies that may be in your power, agreeably to the will of God; for to act otherwise would be to tempt divine Providence Having done this, wait with resignation for the success it may please God to send; and, should the remedies overcome the evil, return Him thanks with humility, but if, on the contrary, the evils overcome the remedies, bless Him with patience.
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"The following advice of St. Gregory is useful: whenever you are 'justly accused' of a fault, humble yourself, and candidly confess that you deserve more than the accusation which is brought against you; but, if the charge be false, excuse yourself meekly, denying your guilt, for you owe this respect to truth, and to the edification of your neighbor. But if, after your true and lawful excuse, they should continue to accuse you, trouble not yourself nor strive to have your excuse admitted; for, having discharged your duty to truth, you must also do the same to humility, by which means you neither offend against the care you ought to have of your reputation, nor the love you owe to peace, meekness of heart, and humility." - Finish reading here.
"Consider frequently Christ Jesus crucified, naked, blasphemed, slandered, forsaken, and overwhelmed with all sorts of troubles, sorrows, and labors; and remember that all your sufferings, either in quality or quantity are not comparable to His, and that you can never suffer anything for Him equal to that which He has endured for you" - St. Francis de Sales


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9 comments:

  1. guauuuuuu.... fantastic

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  2. As fellow ex Carmelites Terry, happy Feast Day!

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  3. Good stuff. I think this portion applies aptly to those with SSA: "Now, I say, we must not only bear sickness with patience, but also be content to suffer sickness under any disorder, and in any place, among those persons, and with those inconveniences, which God pleases..."

    Bear it patiently if one is not delivered from the thorn of it, through no fault of one's own.

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  4. Very nice meditation ...

    Terry, you may know this - why were the vestments in Church red today? St. John wasn't technically martyred, but is it because of the persecution her suffered?

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  5. Mercury, the priest in my parish wore Advent colors today. EWTN says "white." Maybe red because mention of the Cross?

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  6. Merc - maybe your priest was vested for this martyr/saint:

    http://catholiclane.com/st-nicasius-archbishop-and-his-companions-martyrs/

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  7. Hm, because he mentioned St. John of the Cross.

    But now that I think of it, his vestments were actually white with very prominent red highlights.

    Maybe a compromise of sorts? :)

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