Journal Notes on St Paul of the Cross #16
I told you that once, when I had to pass through a heavy storm, I found myself before my sacramental Love and my soul flew in spirit to embrace that Infinite Love exposed on the altar for the adoration of the people. Then I heard my Savior speak this sweet message: “My son, he who embraces me, embraces the thorns.“ Just as a good Jesus willed that his life on earth should be passed always in the midst of the thorns of pain, sufferings, fatigue, privations, agony, contempt, calumny, sorrow, nails, thorns, and a most bitter death on the cross, so he made me understand that embracing him, I would have to live my life in the midst of pain. Oh! What holy thoughts I had today while walking. Thoughts of charity and love and union with God for my soul and for your soul. Oh true God, what will our hearts be like when we swim in that infinite sea of sweetness! What will it be like when there in heaven we are all transformed by love in God, and we will be happy with that infinite goodness with which our God is happy? What will it be like, my daughter, when we will sing in eternity the divine mercies, the triumphs of the Immaculate Lamb and of Mary, our most holy mother! When we are united to God more than iron is united to fire, but without ceasing to be iron, it seems to be all fire; so we shall be so transformed into God that the soul will be completely divinized. Oh, when will that day come! When, when will death come to break the wall of this prison! Ah! that will be the day of our espousals, of our marriage, in which our soul in the highest fashion will espouse our dear Jesus and will be seated forever at the heavenly banquet table. L162
Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
II Corinthians 4:16-17 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
All that we suffer on this side of glory is, if seen rightly, only “momentary light affliction” as taught by the Apostle Paul who suffered greatly in his life whom the Lord Himself said, “For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”[i] Paul describes some of his sufferings: “Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep.”[ii] How are we to receive this word about “momentary light affliction” from the Apostle who suffered so much? How could the Apostle himself view his own severe sufferings this way? The key to the Apostle’s vantage point is having a higher vision. Paul knew something of the “eternal weight of glory” coming to him. True, he was taken into the third heaven and experienced things that he could not even talk about.[iii] This revelation that was imparted to him in the third heaven undoubtedly gave him a higher vision and an understanding of the glory that awaits those who remain faithful.
St Paul of the Cross also gained a similar understanding when he states that, “I told you that once, when I had to pass through a heavy storm, I found myself before my sacramental Love and my soul flew in spirit to embrace that Infinite Love exposed on the altar for the adoration of the people. Then I heard my Savior speak this sweet message: “My son, he who embraces me, embraces the thorns.” The Lord allowed him to have an ineffable experience while gazing upon the Lord in His sacramental Presence on the altar. He understood through this deep prayer a glimpse of the glory awaiting, specifically the fullness of union with the Godhead where the soul is completely transformed into a likeness with God such that could be described as iron immersed in fire where the iron takes on the properties of fire and becomes fire-like. When the soul begins to understand how high is the destiny of the soul fully united to the Godhead, then all suffering on this side is truly seen for what it is: a momentary light affliction.
What then is the key to obtaining this grace of vision? Deep prayer. Prayer that takes time at the altar of the Presence. Ardent prayer that perseveres through dryness and finds the oasis of glory in the desert. Prayer that doesn’t quit will find this glory. If the soul does not quit, it wins! God will break through in His perfect timing and give the soul all that is needed. To be clear, this type of deep prayer goes beyond the sense realm and need not be an experience of the senses where the soul is overwhelmed. Though at times, God may come in that way; however, He may also come in subtle stillness, a small voice, a fresh grace to persevere, a deep joy, a peace that passes understanding, or a deep knowing that God is holding the soul closely. He may come by infusing His virtues into the soul, even unbeknownst to the soul. Suddenly, hope arises. Suddenly faith become a concrete thing where the soul knows that it knows God is in control. Love inhabits the soul and the strength of this Love is such that it can forgive offenses and truly see others as God sees them. Such is the result of deep prayer. This type of deep prayer is not just for Apostles and Saints, but for all who would persevere in prayer. All who seek God earnestly will find Him.[iv]
Prayer: Dear Jesus, give me a higher vision! Let me begin to seek You with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Let me not seek an experience in the sense realm, but let me truly seek You alone. You are beyond the sense realm. You transcend all the created realm. Give me a higher vision to know that even if I don’t feel a thing, I can be in deep prayer. Awaken my spirit and let me know the subtle nuances of Your communications. In Jesus Name, Amen.
[i] Acts 9:16
[ii] II Corinthians 11:25
[iii] II Corinthians 12:2-4
[iv] Luke 11:10