St. John of the Cross


St. John of the Cross

For my Carmelite Community I have written a brief study guide for reading the very first part of the Ascent of Mount Carmel. The process of preparing the guide was simple enough, but it is amazing what you learn when you open your mind and heart. Now the problem is to maintain this open posture. How does one open oneself consistently to God's action. Well, that is part of what St. John of the Cross teaches in his major works.

As we have spoken before of spiritual reading, it is interesting to note here that while I cannot claim always to have understood St. John of the Cross, his language and his stance appealed to me. I have longer for what he describes. Similarly, I now long for a spiritual director who is not afraid to direct. These must be the rarest of the rare. I know that others out there have such directors as I have read reports from them of their directors. Unfortunately, I have yet to find one. One person I visited seemed to spend much of her spiritual life in the hinterlands of the New Age movement--she wanted to walk labyrinths and do enneagrams. I don't know whether or not these things are bad in themselves, but they certainly didn't strike me as the Christ-centered direction I wanted to take. I've had other "directors" who largely talked about the Church and the state of the world and the current crisis (whatever it may have been at the time). Better no director than such as these--while their talk is undoubtedly elevating, interesting, and enlightening, it doesn't function much as direction. One director I visited spent all of the time talking about Our Lady of Mudjegorje (please forgive any misspelling). Devotion to Our Lady under any of her titles is a commendable thing, but again, I didn't really want to hear about listening to visionaries, particularly if we weren't going to get around to prayer. This director would probably be enormously helpful to others more attuned to the message that meant so much to him; unfortunately, I was not that individual.

Father Dubay emphasizes the incredible importance of finding a competent spiritual director to help the beginner along the path to proficiency. In section four of the prologue, St. John of the Cross writes:

Ascent of Mount Carmel Prologue 4 St. John of the Cross Some spiritual fathers are likely to be a hindrance and harm rather than a help to these souls that journey on the road. Such directors have neither understanding nor experience of these ways. They are like the builders of the tower of Babel. When these builders were supppoed to provide the proper materials for the project they brought entirely different supplies because they failed to understand the language. And thus nothing was accomplished. Hence, it is arduous and difficult for a soul in these periods of the spiritual life when it cannot understand itself or find anyone else who understands it.

It seems that above all, one must exercise caution in whom one asks to be a director.

Bookmark and Share



About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on December 31, 2002 12:13 PM.

Alexander Schmemann--Found Via Surfing First was the previous entry in this blog.

Happy New Year A bit is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

My Blogroll