Fire is Hot!

fire!

Have you ever heard the expression: “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen!”  The kitchen can get very hot!  The stove is hot…the barbeque is hot…fire is hot!  Have you ever been camping…or had a bonfire?  There is something so cozy about gathering around the fire in the summer time with your hotdogs and marshmallows and the lake out at the back.  Yes…bonfires are fun…but there are always lots of mosquitoes!  You can even bring a guitar and sing around the bonfire!

Anyone who has been near fire knows that it is hot and it burns!  When we are roasting our hotdogs and marshmallows we need to be super careful because it is easy to get to close to the fire!  We do not want to get burned, yet the fire offers us many wonderful things: heat, light, yummy marshmallows…

God’s fire is a different type of fire!  God’s fire is a fire of love…full of passion.  St. John of the Cross says that “the spiritual inflaming engenders the passion of love.” (Dark Night of the Soul Book 2. Chapter 11. 2). The soul is starting to feel that it is being wounded by a strong divine love and it has a certain feeling and foretaste of God.” (Dark Night of the Soul Book 2. Chapter 11. 1). At this stage of the journey in the dark night of the soul, the soul is being purged out meaning that it’s attachments and passions are all being purged and purified in the flames of God’s divine love.  Union with God means that we need to be purified!  The saints knew this, and they all worked hard to overcome vices, temptations, passions and attachments in order to be in union with God.  The soul is starting to possess something of union with God and it is in this union that the soul will learn to love God so intensely, with all its strength.  This type of love would not be possible if our appetites, passions and emotions are all over the place and scattered.  God allows for this dark night in order to make the soul strong in virtue and in order to break self-will.

So what is God doing?  He is basically gathering all the strength, faculties, appetites of the soul both sensory and spiritual to be employed in his love.  This means that “the soul must be wounded, touched, and impassioned, all its strength and its appetites are recollected in this burning love.” (Book 2. Chapter 11. Par 4.)  The soul will eventually become aware of this fire…this wound…and the soul desires God with a desire so strong that it sighs in darkness and doubt because it realizes that it is not yet filled with this love of union.

St. John of the Cross says, “the soul proclaims this verse: fired ‘with love’s urgent longings.’” (Book 2 Chapter 11: 6).  In everything: his thoughts, and deeds the soul loves in many ways; however, the soul does not feel rest…only anxiety in the burning wound.  However, St. John of the Cross assures us: “nonetheless, in the midst of these dark and loving afflictions, the soul feels the presence of someone and an interior strength which so fortifies and accompanies it…” (Book 2. CH 11. Par 7).  What is this presence?  It is the Holy Spirit!

We want God’s purifying fire to make our hearts pure!  St. John of the Cross makes it very clear that if we do not purify completely in this life, then we will need to be purified in Purgatory after death.  He says, “as the spirits in the other life are purged with a dark material fire, so in this life souls are purged and cleansed with a dark, loving, spiritual fire…Souls are cleansed in the other life by fire, but here on earth they are cleansed and illuminated by love.” (Bk 2. Ch 12. Par 1).  This should not make us afraid…we want to be pure and clean before we meet God.  Purgatory is a mercy from God where we can finally be free of all our disordered passions and attachments and be in union with God.  We must pray for the souls in Purgatory everyday!  Souls in Purgatory know that they are going to heaven once their time of purification is ended.  We must work hard to cooperate with God’s grace to be purified in this life and learn to sacrifice certain attachments and passions for the good of our soul!
As this fire of divine love purifies the soul, the intellect and the will are becoming united as well all for the sake of a deeper contemplation.  St. John of the Cross says, “this enkindling of love and the union of these two faculties, intellect and will, is something immensely rich and delightful for the soul…it is a certain touch of the divinity and already the beginning of perfection of the union of love for which the soul hopes…” (Bk 2. Chapter 12. Par 6)

He offers a further explanation, “when God infuses these spiritual goods the will can very easily love without the intellect understanding, just as the intellect can know without the will loving…” (Bk 2. Chapter 12 par. 7) This means that just as fire gives off light and heat, the light  can sometimes act upon the will leaving the intellect in darkness, or the intellect can have understanding while the will is in dryness.  St. John of the Cross uses this analogy, “All of this is similar to feeling the warmth of the fire without seeing its light, or seeing its light without feeling the fire’s heat.” (Bk 2. Chapter 12. Par 7)

I think that is good for now!  More to come!

 

Lent With Our Mother…

our lady of tenderness

Mary our Mother loves Lent!  Lent is a time where we can offer our prayers and sacrifices to her Son for the Church and for the world.  Lent is a wonderful time in the Church where souls are being transformed by love.  What a beautiful resolution it would be for us to develop our relationship with Mary this Lent.  Mary knows how to love Jesus the best and with her help we will be inspired and encouraged us to make deeper acts of love and penance during this beautiful time!

How can we walk this Lent with Mary?  Perhaps we can resolve to pray the rosary everyday.  The Rosary is basically pondering the life of Jesus in our hearts as Mary did.  The events that we meditate on in the rosary are Mary’s memories of Jesus.  We can also strive to imitate Mary’s patience, sacrifice, generosity and above all- her love.

Pope Pius XI’s Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus says: “the most holy Virgin, united with him (Jesus) by a most intimate and indissoluble bond, was, with him and through him, eternally at enmity with the evil serpent, and most completely triumphed over him, and thus crushed his head with her immaculate foot.” https://www.newadvent.org/library/docs_pi09id.htm

We need Mary!  We need her, united with Jesus, to take her Immaculate foot and crush the evil serpent! During temptations and struggles that we may encounter during Lent, we can ask Mary to “crush the evil serpent.”  She will!

Lent is also a wonderful time to talk to Mary all the time!  Even saying her name in reverence and prayer has power!  The Blessed Virgin herself revealed to St. Bridget “that there is not on earth a sinner, however devoid he may be of the love of God, from whom the devil is not obliged immediately to fly, if he invokes her holy name with a determination to repent.” https://www.motherofallpeoples.com/post/st-alphonsus-liguori-on-the-holy-name-of-mary

We need to pray her name many times this Lent!  We can also strive to spend more time in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament during these days.  We can contemplate the Word of God, just as Mary contemplated the Word in her home.

Please click on the link below and enjoy this beautiful piece of music and make it your prayer today to Mary:

Stella Caeli

God Knows…

math hopscotch

Have you ever had trouble with Math?  Some people are so fascinated by the world of Mathematics…but some find Mathematics difficult.  What is beautiful about Math is that it is so clear and objective.  The answer to 2+2 is always 4…it is never 5 or 6 or 700.  It is always 4.  However, there are things in life that are not as clear to us…there are truths that we may find difficult to understand…

We have been continuing our discussion on the Dark Night of the Spirit and the afflictions of the soul that happen during this Dark Night of the Spirit.  We explained that it is possible for the soul to feel abandoned by God…but there are other signs as well.  A soul may also feel forsaken by friends.  St. John of the Cross quotes Psalm 87:9: “You have withdrawn my friends and acquaintances far from me; they have considered me an abomination.”  The affections and consolations of friendships seems now to be like an emptiness.

We need to remember that Jesus also experienced moments of darkness.  Remember Jesus’ Passion, “Father, let this cup pass from me, not as I will but as you will…My soul is sorrowful even unto death” (Matthew 26:38). “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).  Jesus experienced everything we experience but He is without sin.  God knows us…He knows our weaknesses…He knows our struggles and He knows our moments of darkness.  We should take great comfort in this…God knows.

The soul also experiences “humiliation” which is an awareness of its own poverty and misery.  St. John of the Cross reminds us that God is purging “both the sensory and spiritual substance of the soul and its interior and exterior faculties…” (Dark Night of the Soul Bk. 2. Ch 6. Par 4.) In order to be filled with God, our faculties must be emptied of everything else.  In our last post we spoke about the reason for the darkness: the pure light is striking in order to expel the impurities within us.

St. John of the Cross explains: “Since these imperfections are deeply rooted in the substance of the soul, it usually suffers besides this poverty and this natural and spiritual emptiness, an oppressive undoing and an inner torment” (Dark Night of the Soul., Bk 2. Ch 6. Par. 6).  We must have compassion for souls who enter this state!  But the soul must have great hope in what is being accomplished through this dark night.

In addition to these aridities, the soul will also feel no consolation from the direction of their spiritual director.  Even though the director tells them that they will receive many graces and blessings through going through this dark night, the soul has difficulty believing the director.  He feels that he is misunderstood and abandoned.  The soul does not realize that God is humbling, softening, purifying the soul so that it becomes delicate, simple, refined, and that it “can be one with the Spirit of God according to the degree of union of love that God, in His mercy, desires to grant.” (Dark Night of the Soul Bk. 2. Ch. 7. Par. 3).

It is also possible for a soul in this state to not be able to lift up their spirit to God in prayer.  St. John of the Cross explains that the reason for this is that God is working in the soul.  He says, “It seems incredible that the brighter and purer the supernatural, divine light is, the darker it is for the soul” (Dark Night of the Soul, Bk. 2. Ch. 8. Par 2).  In order to prepare the soul for “divine union of love, the soul must be withdrawn from all creature affections and apprehensions.” (Dark Night of the Soul. Bk 2. Ch. 8. Par 2).

So you might be thinking, “this sounds way too hard for me to handle!”  I suppose hearing about these aridities and the darkness that occurs can shake us a bit…but just think about the graces and blessings that will result after you go through it!  It will be wonderful to be in a divine union of love with God.  It will be wonderful!  May that give you the strength to keep going!