26 December 2008

Saint John: Apostle and Evangelist

Our Lord Jesus Christ drew His disciple Saint John to Himself in a three-fold manner, even so does He now draw all who ever arrive at the deepest truth. The first way in which our Lord drew Saint John to Himself is when He called him out of the world and made him an apostle; a second time when he rested on His Bosom; the third time, and in the most perfect manner, on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended on the apostle. That day opened the door and he entered within.

Thus, like John, each man is called out of the world, when all his inferior faculties come to be goverened by his highest reason; you then learn to know yourself and to exercise your free self-guiding power, and to watch your words. Then you speak to everyone as you would want them to speak to you, also watching the movements of your heart, to see if it proceeds from God and tends towards Him, to watch your thoughts, in order not to detain voluntarily some bad or useless thought. What comes to you from on High is a purification, a preparation, to give a greater value to your works, that you may have a single eye to the glory of God and the welfare of mankind.

As to the second way, will you with Saint John rest on the loving Heart of our Lord Jesus Christ? Then you must be transformed into the beauteous Image of our Lord and earnestly contemplate Him. You must consider His sweetness, His humility, His burning deep love for His friends and His enemies, His great and docile abandonment which He manifested in all the paths in which His Father called Him to tread.

Next consider the boundless charity He showed to all men as well as His blessed poverty. Heaven and earth belong to Him but He never possessed them with attachment. In all His words and deeds He looked only to the glory of His Father and the salvation of mankind. And now you must gaze more closely and deeply into the glorious Image of our Lord Jesus Christ than I can show you with my outward teaching. Then look attentively at yourself, your unlikeness to this Image and behold your own littleness. Here, then, will your Lord let you rest on Him.

There is no better or more profitable way to rest on the Heart of our Lord than to receive worthily the Sacrament of His adorable Body, and to follow the counsel of one whom the light of grace shines on more brightly than it has on you. In the glorious likeness of Christ you will be made rich and find all solace and sweetness in the world. These two degrees of holiness are often found in many men who in their haste think they have conquered on their own the ground in which they stand, while they are yet far from the goal.

Even though John rested on the Heart of our Lord, he left his cloak and fled when Christ was taken prisoner. Therefore, how ever holy you walk in these two paths, see to it that, if you are assailed, you do not let your mantle fall through your hasty thought for yourself.

It is good and holy that you practice these two degrees, and let no creature turn you away from it, until God Himself draws you into a closer union with Him. Thus if Christ calls you to Himself, then let go of all forms and images, and allow Him to work through you as His instrument. It is more pleasing to Him and more profitable for you to permit Him to do as He wills in you for a moment, than you exercise yourself in inferior things for a hundred years.

In the third way, when the Holy Spirit was given to Saint John, then the door of heaven was opened unto him. This happens to some with a convulsion of the mind, and to others calmly and gradually. In it are fulfilled the words of Saint Paul: "Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man." Let no man boast that he is continually drawing nearer to the highest perfection possible while here on earth unless the outward man has been entirely absorbed into the inner man; only then is a man introduced into the depth of God, to behold the wonders and riches of Him. Truthfully, my children, one who would know much about these matters of divine intuition, will often have to put themselves to bed, because their nature could not support all that. But, you know before that can come to past, of which we have been speaking, nature must endure many deaths outward and inward. And to this death corresponds eternal life.

My children, this is not the work of a day or a year. Do not be discouraged, it takes time, and requires simplicity, purity and abandonment.

It is the most perfect way; it is given to us, to you and me, from the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

~ Sermon pour la veille des Rameaux, "Sermons de Tauler" ~