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St. John of the Cross: Reaching union with God is not about understanding, experience, or imagination via @TeDeumBlog

14 December 2016

Posted by Diane Korzeniewski, OCDS
at her blog, Te Deum Laudamus

San Juan de la Cruz

From Diane:

On this great Carmelite feast of St. John of the Cross, Doctor of Mystical Theology, I would like to share something from The Ascent of Mount Carmel, Book Two. This is paragraph 4.

4. St. Paul also meant this in his assertion: Accedentem ad Deum oportet credere quod est (Whoever would approach union with God should believe in His existence) [Heb. 11:6]. This is like saying: Those who want to reach union with God should advance neither by understanding, nor by the support of their own experience, nor by feeling or imagination, but by belief in God’s being. For God’s being cannot be grasped by the intellect, appetite, imagination, or any other sense; nor can it be known in this life. The most that can be felt and tasted of God in this life is infinitely distant from God and the pure possession of him. Isaiah and St. Paul affirm: Nec oculus videt, nec auris audivit, nec in cor hominis ascendit quae praeparavit Deus iis qui diligunt illum (No eye has ever seen, nor ear heard, nor has the human heart or thought ever grasped what God has prepared for those who love him) [Is. 64:4; 1 Cor. 2:9].

Now souls in this life may be seeking to unite themselves perfectly through grace with what they will be united to in the next through glory (with what St. Paul says eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor the human, fleshly heart grasped). But, manifestly, the perfect union in this life through grace and love demands that they live in darkness to all the objects of sight, hearing, and imagination, and to everything comprehensible to the heart, which signifies the soul.

Those are decidedly hindered, then, from attainment of this high state of union with God who are attached to any understanding, feeling, imagining, opinion, desire, or way of their own, or to any other of their works or affairs, and know not how to detach and denude themselves of these impediments. Their goal, as we said, transcends all of this, even the loftiest object that can be known or experienced. Consequently they must pass beyond everything to unknowing.

St. John of the Cross (1991-12-14). The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross (Kindle Locations 2971-2984). ICS Publications. Kindle Edition.

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