Tuesday, November 29, 2011

An Ancient Prayer for Advent

Hail and Blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Blessed Mother. Amen

an ancient prayer traditionally prayed daily from St. Andrew's feast, November 30th, until Christmas

Sunday, November 13, 2011


“After arriving at the ninth step in this life the soul departs from the body. Since these souls -few that there be- are already extremely purged through love, they do not enter purgatory” (Dark Night Bk II, chapter 20,5)

This secret ladder, love, assimilated the soul so that it had become like God. It has reached the last step and now has “clear vision at the top of the ladder, where God rests.” 
Though few ascend to these heights through the gift of contemplation, we should all desire it. We are all called to this contemplation, to this love. Therefore, let’s remember that, “by means of this secret love the soul departs from itself and all things and ascends to God. For love is like a fire that always rises upward.” (Dark Night Bk II, chapter 20,5)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Burning Gently

photo by Darren Hester

“The ninth step of love causes the soul to burn gently.” (Dark Night Bk II, chapter 20,4) Filled with the Holy Spirit, these souls burn gently and interiorly with love. The soul has reached perfect union; that is, union that is possible while in this life. The good these soul enjoy are numerous and could never be fully explained. This step is “succeeded by the tenth and final step, which is no longer of this life.”

Friday, November 11, 2011

Holding On

At the heights of the eighth step, now so near the top, the soul does not want to let God go. The soul has found God, the one it loves; it has reached union, though this union is not yet perfect - “it does not do so continuously”. (Dark Night Bk II, chapter 20,3) This union lasts “only for short periods of time”
               - until the next step on the ladder......

Thursday, November 10, 2011


God gives souls on this seventh step an “ardent boldness”. Ask these souls to pray for you, for these souls “obtain from God what they ask of Him”. (Dark Night Bk II, chapter 20,2) 

While on this step the soul must “always conserve humility” remembering that although given a free hand and boldness from God, these same steps are used to descend.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


With nothing but hope, the soul on this sixth step runs swiftly towards God. The charity of these souls increases and is purer. It’s capacity to love has been enlarged by the many touches it has received from God. “And it runs without fainting by reason of its hope. The love that has invigorated it makes it fly swiftly.” (Dark Night Bk II, chapter 20,1)  ...to the seventh step.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Impatient Longings

The fifth step “imparts an impatient desire and longing for God”. (Dark Night Bk II, chapter 19,5) It is almost a painful death for the soul on this step. It so longs for and desires God that any delay tires it and annoys it. It experiences a great hunger and feeds this hunger with love for only love satisfies it.

Monday, November 7, 2011


Because of this love for God, souls on this fourth step of the ladder pursue Him “in the spirit of suffering for His sake”. (Dark Night Bk II, chapter 19,4) They do this because love makes “all burdensome and heavy things nearly nothing”. 

They have their body under control and take little account of it. They want to give to God and are willing to set aside their own interests. This love for God is so intense; therefore, he will frequently visit the soul with spiritual delights, ennobling them to endure the suffering they experience. The soul is interiorly detached from everything and does not stop to rest in these delights.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


The third step. The soul on this step in its ascent to God on this ladder of love thinks that what it does for God amounts to very little. These souls are pained and in sorrow about the little they do for him. They do not believe they are useful or that their lives are of any value. They truly believe themselves worse than others. There is no“vainglory, presumption, or condemning others.” (Dark Night Bk II, chapter 19,3)

Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Seeking His Face

James Tissot (French, 1836-1902).
 Jesus Looking through a Lattice
The second step consists in the searching. The soul searches for God unceasingly and passes by all that is not Him. All thoughts are about God, all its conversations are about God. “When eating, sleeping, keeping vigil, or doing anything else, it centers all its care on the Beloved.” (Dark Nigh Bk II, chapter 19,2) 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Ten Steps

“It is only love that unites and joins the soul to God” (Dark Nigh Bk II, chapter 18,5)  

The first step is the beginning of contemplation when the soul does not find any “satisfaction, support or consolation or resting place in anything” (Dark Night Bk II, chapter 19,1) 

It is on this first step that the soul has lost its appetites for all things and has now changed from its previous way of life. The soul has turned its back on sin and now only wants God and God alone, for only God can satisfy it.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Ladder of Love

In darkness, and secure
by the secret ladder
Union with God through love is described by St. John of the Cross as a secret ladder. The secret is that this love is an interior wisdom that is simple and enters the intellect without the aid of sensory information or the imagination. There are no forms or ideas to speak of and the experience is so ineffable that it is indescribable. St. John of the Cross says that, “this mystical wisdom occasionally so engulfs souls in its secret abyss that they have the keen awareness of being brought into a place far removed from every creature.” (Dark Night Bk II, chapter 17,6) 

He also describes this wisdom as a ladder which become the steps one uses to ascend and descend. These communications from God produce two things within the soul- exaltation and humiliation in which it comes to knowledge of God and of self.
This ladder of contemplation is prefigured, according to St. John, in the ladder Jacob saw in his sleep and “by which the angels were ascending and descending from God to human beings and from human beings to God, while God leaned on the top [Gen. 28: 12-13]. The divine Scriptures say that all this happened at night, while Jacob was sleeping, to disclose how secret is the way and ascent to God and how it differs from human knowledge.” (Dark Nigh Bk II, chapter 18,4) 
The reason for calling this secret contemplation a “ladder” is that it is a “science of love”  - “an infused knowledge that both illumines and enamors the soul, elevating it step by step to God, its Creator. For is is only love that unites and joins the soul to God.(Dark Nigh Bk II, chapter 18,5) This describes the state of perfection, which consist in love - “love of God  and contempt of self”.  It is God who is at the end of the ladder and it is in him that the ladder rests.  (Dark Nigh Bk II, chapter 18,4)