"Prayer should be accomplished by grace and not by artifice. "
--St.Jane Frances de Chantal
Saint's Lives and Writing: November 2003 Archives
It is often difficult to think of St. John of the Cross in particularly Marian terms. Not much of his writing touches on the Mother of God, and yet, that may be because she touches every part of his writing in so deep a way as to go almost unnoticed. We have the Blessed Martyr Titus Brandsma to thank for helping to bring this to our attention:
from Carmelite Mysticism Historical Sketches
"The Marian "Doctor Mysticus"
Blessed Titus Brandsma
A much loved comparison of the saint which he employs to express the necessity of our being susceptible and pure in order to partake of the grace of God, and even share the divine nature, is the image of the window through which the sunlight passes. The painters of the Flemish country, the land of Memling, of Quinten Matsys made a plentiful use of this image through their wonderful miniatures. No creature absorbed more purely the divine light that came into this world; no creature gave it back with less blemish or spot and grew more one with God than Our Lady. In the cherished metaphor of St. John of the Cross, Mary appears before our mind's eye as the greatest example of all; nay more, as the first pane of glass without spot, who gave us the light of the world. To her, more than to anyone else, may be applied the words of St. John of the Cross explaining the divine communing of the mystic life: "So close is the created communion, if God grants it this excellent and elevated favour, that the soul and everything that is proper to God are united by a participating re-creation. The soul seems more God than soul, even is God, through this participation, although its natural being, in spite of its re-creation, remains as distinct from God's being as before; just as the pane of glass, however lit up by the sun's beams yet retains its proper essence, different from the beam that passes into it." He further explains the image in a way that more directly concerns Our Blessed Lady. If the pane of glass be clean and spotless, the sunbeam will light it up and change it in such a way that it seems to be the light itself and gives out light itself. That is the reason why Our Lady deserved to become the Mother of God; because she offered not the slightest hinderance to the divine indwelling. Like Our Lady we must absorb the divine light.
For the complete series of essays, go here