Meditations from St. John of the Cross 1

icon of Christ on cross

Contemplation is nothing less than a secret, peaceful and loving infusion from God. The road of contemplation is where God himself feeds and refreshes the soul directly, without the soul’s help or meditation.

There is a remarkable transformation of the heart’s desires as a result of surrendering to God in our soul’s center. Our desire and God’s desire now join in a consonance of desire.

The nature of love is to be united, linked up with and at one with the object of its love. Only love unites and cements the soul with God. The soul lives in that which it loves.

Prayer, by its nature, involves a sense of incompleteness and thus of longing in truth.

The more God wants to give us, the more He makes us desire–even to the point of leaving us empty in order to fill us with goods. Be careful that you do not lack the desire to be poor and in want.

In following Christ in the contemplative way, without laying down one’s own ground rules and conditions, we grow into dimensions of the reality of God’s love which lie beyond what we can comprehend, experience or place in any systematic order. We are stripped of all guarantees which are rooted in the self, and we begin to live on the faith, trust and love that we have for God. We now experience God more as he is–as sheer Mystery.

Prayer ultimately leads us to go beyond anything that can be known. We travel unknowing into an unknown land and we learn how to stay there, knowing naught.

Meditations from St. John of the Cross 2


Love is the inclination, strength, and power for the soul in making its way to God, for love unites it with God. They will see and experience your mild touch who withdraw from the world and become mild, bringing the mild into harmony with the mild, thus enabling themselves to experience and enjoy you.

Pure contemplation lies in receiving. In contemplation the activity of the senses and of discursive reflection terminates, and God alone is the agent who then speaks secretly to the solitary and silent soul.

It is impossible for this highest wisdom and language of God, which is contemplation, to be received in anything less than a spirit that is silent and detached from discursive knowledge and gratification. Pacify the soul, draw it out, and liberate it from the yoke of its own weak operation.

The Beloved dwells secretly with an embrace so much closer, more intimate and interior, the purer and more alone the soul is to everything other than God. His dwelling is in secret, then, because the devil cannot reach the area of his embrace, nor can the human intellect understand how it occurs.

I am so fortified in love that not only do my sense and spirit no longer faint in you, but my heart and my flesh, reinforced in you, rejoice in the living God with great conformity between the sensory and spiritual parts. What you desire me to ask for, I ask for; and what you do not desire, I do not desire, nor can I, nor does it even enter my mind to desire it. My petitions are now more valuable and estimable in your sight, since they come from you, and you move me to make them, and I make them in the delight and joy of the Holy Spirit.

Meditations from St. Frances de Sales


Souls differ more widely from each other than do human faces. But however different souls might be, all of them ultimately have the same vocation–to glorify God by their holiness.

When you come to Him, speak to Him if you can. If not, stay there. Be seen, and care for nothing else. Remain near God in this gentle and quiet attention of heart and in the sweet slumber of His holy will, for all this is agreeable to Him.

We cannot require from ourselves what is not in ourselves. As your spirit looks elsewhere than where you are, it will never apply itself rightly to profiting from where you are. Let us be who we are, and let us be it well, so that we can do honour to the Master whose work we are.

We must hate our faults, but with a tranquil and quiet hate, not with an angry and restless hate; and so we must have patience when we see them, and draw from them the profit of a holy abasement of ourselves.

We must not break the strings nor throw up the lute when we find a discord; we must bend our ear to find where the disorder comes from, and then gently tighten or relax the string as required.

In patience you shall possess your souls. To possess fully our souls is the effect of patience, made more perfect as it is less mixed with disquiet and eagerness.

Meditations from Richard Rohr


“We must keep in mind that the purpose of the exploration of prayer is not to get anywhere. We cannot attain the presence of God because we’re already totally in the presence of God. ”

“The prayer of words attempts to express our dependence on the great mystery of God. The prayer of silence is not so much to express, but to experience that dependence.”

“We have to pray for the grace of a beginner’s mind. The beginner’s mind is a posture of eagerness, of spiritual hunger. It knows it needs something. To acknowledge oneself as a beginner is to be open to transformation.”

“Grace will lead us into fears and voids, and grace will fill us, if we are willing to stay in the void. We mustn’t engineer an answer too quickly. To stay in God’s hands, to trust, means that to a certain degree I have to stop taking hold of things myself. I have to hold instead to a degree of uncertainty, fear and tension. This takes practice and grace. As long as we stay in the world of preference and choice, we keep ourselves as the first reference point. Prayer lives in a spacious place. It is free of personal needs or meanings or even interpretations.”

“Who I really am. That’s a place of utter simplicity. Perhaps we don’t want to go back there often precisely because it’s so simple. It feels so unardorned. There’s nothing to congratulate myself for. I can’t prove any worth, much less superiority. There, I am naked and poor and I feel like nothing.”

“The only true perfection available to us is the honest acceptance of our imperfection.”

“True contemplation looks for the place of perfect simplicity. You can’t stay there, but if you know this simplicity once, it is enough for a whole lifetime. You know your life is radically okay. That you are a child of God. You are in union. There is nothing to prove, nothing to attain. Everything is already there.”

Meditations from Teresa of Avila

The whole foundation of prayer must be laid in humility, and the more a soul humbles itself in prayers, the more God lifts it up. The nearer we draw to God, the more this virtue should grow; if it does not, everything is lost. Humility is the right road, and if we can journey along a safe and level path, why should we want wings with which to fly?

Let His Majesty guide us wherever He will. We are not our own; we belong to Him. His Majesty may do what He likes with the soul. It is His property. The soul no longer belongs to itself. It has been given over wholly to our Lord. Let it, therefore, cast its cares wholly aside for ever and ever.

Now it is best for the soul which God has not raised to a higher state not to try and seek to rise higher. Let this be well considered, because all the soul will gain in that manner will be but loss. Do not demand that which you have not merited. It is very important that we do not attempt to raise our spirits ourselves if God does not raise them for us. If He does, then there will be no mistaking it.

What the soul must do in seasons of quiet amounts to no more than proceeding gently and noiselessly into prayer. What I mean by noise is running about with the intellect, looking for many words and meanings. Everything is in motion and rush. Therefore in such times of quietude, let the soul remain in its repose. Put aside learning. The time will come when learning will be useful for the Lord. For here there is no demand for reasoning, but simply for knowing what we are and that we are humbly in God’s presence.