Monday, December 10, 2012

In Today’s Reading from the Catechism: An Avocado Pit

I know almost nothing about St. John of the Cross, except that he was a Carmelite and a mystic inspired by St. Teresa of Ávila to help reform the Carmelite order, and that he wrote something about the dark night of the soul, and that he wrote the following, which I first read two years ago and which has never ceased to move me:

In giving us his Son, his only Word (for he possesses no other), [God] spoke everything to us at once in this sole Word—and has no more to say. 

(He has no more to say!)

. . . because what he spoke before to the prophets in parts, he has now spoken all at once by giving us the All Who is His Son. Any person questioning God or desiring some vision or revelation would be  guilt not only of foolish behavior but also of offending him, by not fixing his eyes entirely upon Christ and by living with the desire for some other novelty.

(Who does not live with this “desire for some other novelty”?)

This nugget from The Ascent of Mount Carmel is buried in today’s passage from the Catechism (paragraphs 65-66 and 73) and helps answer the corresponding question (9) in the Compendium, What is the full and definitive stage of God’s Revelation?

The full and final stage of God’s Revelation is Jesus Christ.

I should add that John’s quote is “buried” in this section of the CCC the way a giant pit is “buried” in a small avocado. It makes up most of the mass of the fruit on offer.

One of the terrible ironies for me of the journey that has been my spiritual life to date is that I left Christian worship for nearly 40 years (1968–2008), only to find that I had had the “revelation” all along. For 40 years, I searched for novelty—zen, yoga, Gurdjieff, est, the Sufis, the power of positive thinking, blah, blah, blah—“foolish behavior” indeed!

Surely I offended God “by not fixing [my] eyes entirely upon Christ,” the Lord of my childhood, the God of my parents. But then I was only everyman: the sophisticated liberal intellectual convinced that Jesus was way too Age of Pisces for me.

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