St. John of the Cross, said Benedict XVI, “is considered one of most important lyric poets of Spanish literature. He wrote four major works: ‘Ascent of Mount Carmel’, ‘Dark Night of the Soul’, ‘Spiritual Canticle’ and ‘Living Flame of Love’.
“In his ‘Spiritual Canticle’ St. John outlines the soul’s journey of purification”, the Holy Father added. “The ‘Living Flame of Love’ continues in the same line, describing in greater detail the condition of union with God. … ‘Ascent of Mount Carmel’ outlines the spiritual itinerary from the point of view of a progressive purification of the soul, which is necessary in order to scale the heights of Christian perfection, symbolised by the summit of Mount Carmel”.
The Pope continued his catechesis by explaining how “the ‘Dark Night of the Soul’ describes the ‘passive’ aspect; in other words, God’s contribution to the process of purifying the soul. Human effort alone, in fact, is incapable of reaching the deepest roots of a person’s bad inclinations and habits. It can halt them but not eradicate them completely. To do this, we need a special action by God which radically purifies the spirit and disposes it to the union of love with Him”.
TERESA OF AVILA: CONTEMPLATIVE AND INDUSTRIOUS VATICAN CITY, 2 FEB 2011 (vatican.va) – Dear Brothers and Sisters, In the course of the Catecheses that I have chosen to dedicate to the Fathers of the Church and to great theologians and women of the Middle Ages I have also had the opportunity to reflect on certain [...]
“St. Alphonsus”, continued the Pope, “never tired of repeating that priests were a visible sign of the infinite mercy of God, Who pardons and illuminates the minds and hearts of sinners that they might convert and change their lives. In our age, in which there are clear signs of a loss of moral conscience and – it is necessary to note with some concern – a certain lack of respect for the Sacrament of Confession, the teaching of St. Alphonsus remains valid”.
The first step in prayer is confidently opening one’s heart to God; this is not merely accepting a word but opening one’s heart to God’s presence. Next, is speaking with him affectionately, seeing him present with oneself; then a very natural thing presenting our needs to him; and lastly, praising and thanking him.
In study and in the daily meditation of Sacred Scripture, Peter Damian discovered the mystical meaning of the word of God, finding in it nourishment for his spiritual life. In this regard he described the hermit’s cell as the “parlour in which God converses with men”. For him, living as a hermit was the peak of Christian existence, “the loftiest of the states of life” because the monk, now free from the bonds of worldly life and of his own self, receives “a dowry from the Holy Spirit and his happy soul is united with its heavenly Spouse” (Ep 18, 17; cf. Ep 28, 43 ff.). This is important for us today too, even though we are not monks: to know how to make silence within us to listen to God’s voice, to seek, as it were, a “parlour” in which God speaks with us: learning the word of God in prayer and in meditation is the path to life.
“In the Gospel, Therese discovers above all the Mercy of Jesus … and ‘Trust and Love’ are therefore the end point of her account of her life, two words that, like beacons, illuminated her saintly path, in order to guide others along the same ‘little way of trust and love’, of spiritual childhood. Her trust is like that of a child, entrusting herself to the hands of God, and inseparable from her strong, radical commitment to the true love that is the full giving of oneself”, the Holy Father concluded.
VATICAN CITY, 23 MAR 2011 (VIS) – In his general audience this morning, Benedict XVI dedicated his catechesis to St. Lawrence of Brindisi (born Giulio Cesare Rossi, 1559-1619), a Doctor of the Church. The saint, who lost his father at the age of seven, was entrusted by his mother to the care of the Friars [...]
VATICAN CITY, 23 FEB 2011 (VIS) – Benedict XVI dedicated his catechesis during this morning’s general audience, held in the Paul VI Hall in the presence of 7,500 people, to St. Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621), an outstanding figure of a troubled age in which “a serious political and religious crisis provoked a split between entire nations [...]
VATICAN CITY, 9 FEB 2011 (VIS) – Benedict XVI dedicated his catechesis during this morning’s general audience to St. Peter Canisius, whom Leo XIII proclaimed as “the second apostle of Germany”, and who was subsequently canonised and proclaimed as a Doctor of the Church by Pius XI in 1925. Born at Nijmegen in the Netherlands [...]
Vatican City –From Pope Benedict’s Wednesday General Audience from vatican.va Dear Brothers and Sisters, Today I would like to talk to you about a woman who played an eminent role in the history of the Church: St Catherine of Siena. The century in which she lived — the 14th — was a troubled period in [...]