Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Candle in the Darkness

Bright flows the river of God

There are literally hundreds of saints named John in the Catholic Church. December 14 marks the feast day of one, St. John of the Cross, the 16th century Spanish mystic theologian. John the Baptist was perhaps the most fearless of St. Johns, and John the Apostle the most gentle and loving. John of the Cross might be considered the most discerning about the pitfalls of our human nature and how our sufferings and weaknesses can actually enrich our relationship with God.

One of less than three dozen saints who rank as a Doctor of the Church, among John's numerous writings is Dark Night of the Soul, a term that has been used in modern times to describe a state of despair and depression. John taught that, if embraced with faith, this black state of being could lead to spiritual peace and perfection. He is one of the Church's incorrupt saints; his physical body has not decayed.

During this season of Advent, as we await the celebration of Our Lord's arrival in our troubled world, it's reassuring to remember that our bad times can really be a way forward.

Never was fount so clear,
undimmed and bright;
From it alone, I know proceeds all light
although 'tis night.
~ St. John of the Cross