John of the Cross: January 2006 Archives

REALLY Hard Instructions


from Listen to the Silence: A Retreat With Pere Jacques
Tr./Ed. Francis J. Murphy

Then, between them, with a quick stroke, he drew what must be the way of our retreat; a direct, exacting road on which one hears the refrain, "Nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing but God alone." Not this little personal matter, not this slight comfort we cling to, not this tiny curiosity that seems so trivial, but "nothing, absolutely nothing"--John of the Cross is speaking. You see, this retreat we are making must have direction. When Saint Bernard arrive at the monastery he too asked himself frequently, "Bernard, what did you come to the monastery to do?"

I hear the call of nothing--attachment to nothing, cleaving to nothing, being nothing. And my heart wants to follow it, but my body has ideas of its own. And my reason, tricky little devil that it is says things like, "Well the joy you take in this or that minor pleasure is eutrepalia legitimate, and legitimate use of God's goods.

But I've come to the point where I must say, "No, it isn't." And I need to leave behind the things that attract me and keep me away from the serious pursuit of the one thing that matters. I need to discipline myself so that nothing ever interferes with Everything.

And you know, the thought isn't chilling, frightening, or even daunting. It is enthralling. It is the most exciting thing in the world. So, why is it I never make it beyond the first few steps?

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This page is a archive of entries in the John of the Cross category from January 2006.

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