SJC9 – Purification of the Will for Love Alone – 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
After exposing these principles of asceticism, we turn to the purification of the will by the theological virtue of charity. Saint John of the Cross treats this subject in the last section of book 3 of The Ascent of Mount Carmel. The teaching is not a matter simply of self-denial leading to an emptying of the will for God. While the ascetical task is important and required, what is indispensable for the grace of contemplation is a developed capacity for deeper self-emptying. No grace of contemplation can be expected as long as we indulge coveting tendencies in our lives. A release from immoderate, self-oriented desires that turn us inwardly upon ourselves is therefore a necessary preparation for any deeper life of prayer. Seeking to please ourselves as a motive for choices is always some variation of this damaging inward turn. In the view of Saint John of the Cross, this tendency demands serious efforts of reversal. If we aspire to the grace of contemplation, our will has to give itself with vigor to the will of God. We have to strive to give delight to God by our choices and by our renunciations, not seeking to find pleasure and delight simply for ourselves. As we turn away from pleasing ourselves, we become more empty and receptive inwardly to God’s promptings. The grace of contemplation in prayer then has an open window, if God chooses to bestow it. Otherwise, that window is sealed tight. The purpose of this chapter is to understand the deeper challenges in this purification of the will for the sake of contemplative graces. As the will exercises itself in interior self-renunciation, it opens itself to a loving union with the will of God. This increasing bond with the will of God is a necessary prerequisite for the prayer of contemplation.
Haggerty, Donald. Saint John of the Cross: Master of Contemplation (pp. 120-121). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.
You find the book on which this series is based here