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Lenten Journey with St. John of the Cross

John of cross.JPG

Fr. George Mangiacina, O.C.D


Some people told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. Jesus said to them in reply, "Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans? By no means! But l cell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did! Or those eighteen people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them – do you think they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!"

And he told them this parable: "There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard, and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none, he said to the gardener, For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none. So cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil? He said to him in reply, 'Sir, leave it for this year also. and l shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it: it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down:" LUKE 15: 1-9


When John of the Cross writes about repentance, he is very thorough. 'Those desiring to climb to the summit of the mount in order to become an altar for the offering of a sacrifice of pure love and praise and reverence to God must first accomplish these three tasks perfectly. First, they must cast out strange gods, all alien affections and attachments. Second, by denying these appetites and repenting of them—through the dark night of the senses—they must purify themselves of the residue. Third, in order to reach the top of this high mount, their garments must be changed. By means of the fro two works, God will substitute new garments for the old. The soul will be clothed in a new understanding of God in God (through removal of the old understanding) and in a new love of God in God, once the will is stripped of all the old cravings and satisfactions. And God will vest the soul with new knowledge when the other old ideas and images are cast aside [Col 3:9]. He causes all that is of the old self, the abilities of one's natural being to cease, mud be attires all the faculties with new supernatural abilities. As a result, one activities, once human, now become divine. This is achieved in the state of union when the soul, in while God alone dwells, has no other fiction than that of an altar on whirl, God is adored in praise and love.

"God commanded that the altar oft& Ark of the Covenant be empty and hollow [Ex 27:8] to remind the soul bow void of all things God wishes it to be i f it is to serve as a worthy dwelling for His Majesty. It was forbidden that the altar have any strange fire, or that its own go out; so much so that when Nadab and Abilm, the sons of the high priest Aaron, offered strange fire on our Lord's altar God became angry and slew them there in front lithe altar [Lv 10:1-2]. The lesson we derive bore is that one love for God must never fail or be mixed with alien love( (tone wants to be a worthy altar of sacrifice. (my emphasis!" (A 1.5.7).


From time to time we hear the lament that Catholics are not going to confession as much as they used to. Maybe in some way this is good as it shows that Catholics have moved away from confessing minor faults and venial sins. On the other hand, it may be something serious. It may be a sign that we as Catholics have lost our way in knowing how we stand before God. Maybe we have lost knowing how to examine our conscience and our knowledge of who we are.

The selection from John of the Cross challenges us to grow in self-knowledge. While it is true that we do nor worship false gods of the past, we may havc some new ones. For example. how much time and money do we spend for things other than God? or. how much time and energy do we spend for products or services that we cannot afford? Asking ourselves these types of questions can further us along the path of conversion that our Lord calls us to travel today.


Lord, God, through the Season of Lent, you call us to conduct a spiritual spring-cleaning of all that we find within us that is not of you, through prayer, fasting, and self-denial. Grant, we ask, that we may continue to persevere in this work so that when Holy Week arrives, we may be able join in spirit with your Son who will climb the mountain of his gift of self to you through his crucifixion. We ask this through Christ. our Lord. Amen.

As Carmelites We live our life of allegiance to Jesus Christ and to serve Him faithfully with a pure heart and a clear conscience through a commitment to seek the face of the living God (the contemplative dimension of life), through prayer, through fraternity, and through service (diakonia). These three fundamental elements of the charism are not distinct and unrelated values, but closely interwoven. 

All of these we live under the protection, inspiration and guidance of Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, whom we honor as "our Mother and sister." 


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