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SJC12 – Dawning Light of the Gift of Contemplation – St. John of the Cross: Master of Contemplation with Fr. Donald Haggerty – Discerning Hearts Podcast
In this series Fr. Donald Haggerty and Kris McGregor discuss the depths of prayer as explored by St. John of the Cross, the Mystical Doctor of the Church.
An excerpt from St. John of the Cross: Master of Contemplation
We are ready now to take up the teaching of Saint John of the Cross on contemplation. However, it can be beneficial to ease a bit into the subject, which is what Saint John of the Cross does in his writings. On a few occasions, for instance, he mentions a primary motive for him in taking up his pen. A matter of critical importance for him—“extremely necessary to so many souls” (AMC Prologue 3)—is the harm done to souls who do not recognize the initial symptoms of contemplative graces and do not adjust their approach to prayer accordingly. The failure to advance into contemplation when the grace is being offered is, for him, a great misfortune. A lack of understanding is the obvious reason and an excuse of sorts; nonetheless, this ignorance is consequential and requires remedy.
The loss is inestimable, not just to particular souls, but to the vast fruitfulness that a contemplative soul can bear for the sake of others. Saint John of the Cross wastes no time in bringing up the issue. The first pages of the Prologue to The Ascent of Mount Carmel express his lament. When he refers to the “dark night” in the following passage, he is referring to the initial experience of purification that occurs as the grace of contemplation commences. What should not be missed in this passage is also the opening phrase. The initial graces of contemplative prayer do not presume the rarity of a saintly life, but a life sincerely engaged in a wholehearted pursuit of virtue.
Haggerty, Donald. Saint John of the Cross: Master of Contemplation (p. 158). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.
For more episodes in this series visit Fr. Haggerty’s Discerning Hearts page here
You find the book on which this series is based here