Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Free to Love

Negation in the doctrine of St. John of the Cross.
To begin with, the starting point for approaching John's negation spirituality is the experience of being loved by a God who desires to enter into a personal relationship of love with human beings and our response to that love. Any notion of self-denial, detach ment, renunciation, or emptiness that is not born of an experience of God's personal love makes no sense to John of the Cross. God always takes the initiative. "We love because he first loved us" (1 Jn 4:19). In the beginning of the Spiritual Canticle , which sings of and recounts the Christian journey toward union with God in terms of love, John writes that the soul is only able to begin the journey of love in search for union with God because she first had an experience of God's love, and as a fruit of that experience, came to an aware ness that love is the purpose of existence (C, 1, 1). It is this experience of God's love that ignites the fire of love within a person so that one can begin the journey towards union with God through love.
       Where have you hidden,
       Beloved, and left me moaning?
       You fled like the stag
       after wounding me;
       I went out calling you, but you were gone. (C, 1)
       For John, this experience of the transcendent but intimate loving nature of God, who takes the initiative and touches us with love, has a profound effect upon us; it begins a trans formation process that frees us to love God, ourselves, creation, and all of life in the way God created us to.
This experience of God's love is pivotal for understanding some of the radical statements John makes about the "nothingness" of creation and all things in comparison to God who is All. For instance:
       All the creatures of heaven and earth are nothing when compared to God. All the beauty of creatures compared with the infinite beauty of God is supreme ugliness. All the grace and elegance of creatures compared with God's grace is utter coarseness and crudity. (A, 1, 4, 3-7)
       To possess God in all, you should not possess anything in all. For how can the heart that belongs to one belong completely to the other? (Letter 17 to Magdalena del Espiritu Santo, July 28, 1589)

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