Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Finding the Hidden God by being hidden

In the first stanza of his commentary on the Spiritual Canticle, St. John of the Cross tells the reader who seeks God, the Beloved, and who asks, "Where have you hidden, Beloved?"  So many people suffer inwardly because they interpret their lack of sensible feeling in prayer as an indicator of God's distance or else their failed "effort" at communion.  But John of the Cross declares: "we are telling you that you yourself are His dwelling and his secret inner room and hiding place. There is reason for you to be elated and joyful in seeing that all your good and hope is so close as to be within you, or better, that you cannot be without Him" (1.7). There's no need to look "outside" of one's soul or to "conjure" the Lord by stirring oneself like the pathetic prophets of Baal who beat themselves into a trance with stones. The Beloved is ALREADY present. However St. John says "there is but one difficulty: Even though he does abide within you, He is hidden." The means then to finding the Beloved who is "hidden" is for us to likewise make ourselves "hidden" by embracing fully the virtues of faith, hope and love. This is the "phenomenally unremarkable" but expedient and certain path to encounter the Beloved One.

If you want to find the Beloved in your hiding place, "Seek him in faith and love, without desiring to find satisfaction in anything, or delight, or desiring to understand anything other than what you ought to know. Faith and love are like the blind person's guides. They will lead you along a path unknown to you, to the place where God is hidden. Faith, the secret we mentioned, is comparable to the feet by which one journeys to God, and love is like one's guide" (1.11).

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