Dark night triggers

“In the evening of life, we will be judged on love alone.”
St. John of the Cross

“The endurance of darkness is the preparation for great light.”
St. John of the Cross

So a few weeks ago, I decided that I wanted–or maybe that should read,
I needed to revisit a dear old friend…St. John of the Cross.

I felt St. John’s own ‘dark night of the soul’ calling my own lonely
darkened soul.

For a quick bit of background on my ancient friend…according to Wikipedia
John of the Cross (born Juan de Yepes y Álvarez;
Spanish: Juan de la Cruz; 24 June 1542 – 14 December 1591),
venerated as Saint John of the Cross, was a Spanish Catholic priest,
mystic, and a Carmelite friar of converso origin.
He is a major figure of the Counter-Reformation in Spain,
and he is one of the thirty-six Doctors of the Church.

John of the Cross is known especially for his writings.
He was mentored by and corresponded with the older Carmelite, Teresa of Ávila.
Both his poetry and his studies on the development of the soul
are considered the summit of mystical Spanish literature and among
the greatest works of all Spanish literature.
He was canonized by Pope Benedict XIII in 1726.
In 1926 he was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XI,
and is commonly known as the “Mystical Doctor”.

And thus I went searching for my own copy of St. John’s book
as I find that sometimes…I simply desperately
need a Christian mystic in the worst of ways!

So I began to search…
Where was it???
Where was my book?

Was it on a bookshelf?
Was it in a box that might have been overlooked in the move?
Was it in this stack or that stack??

I scoured every book I owned.
I scanned every shelf in the house.
I tore every drawer in the house apart.
I rummaged through every box and tub that remains squirreled away in a
new basement.

Had it ended up in the yard sale by accident?
Had it errantly gone to the Goodwill?
Or worse—had it been borrowed???

St. John and his dark night were no where to be found.
All of which seemed to be adding to my own oppressively growing darkness.

However, I actually think that oppressive darkness of mine was probably due
to too much digested news…but I digress.

And thus, I knew my only recourse…order another book!
Of which I did.

When the package arrived in the mail, I was so excited to greet my
dear old friend.

And for those of you who know me, you know that I treasure my books!

I was so excited opening the package and pulling out the small new treasure
tucked neatly within.

Excitedly, I opened the book…
savoring the newness and crispness of each fresh page.

I looked excitedly and expectantly at those first few pages…
all with great anticipation.
And that is when I first saw it…
It was the moment I felt the collision of both then and now.
An odd yet sickening juxtaposition of time and space.

This was when I first saw something I found almost repugnant given who it was that
I was reading—reading the deep personal struggle of one who had the courage
and the gift to write about what we all have each struggled over…
that very depth of wondering…”God are you there? Do you hear me?”

Immediately I stopped dead in my tracks…
did I just catch an odd out of place “warning” of all things????

A trigger warning for St. John of the Cross.
I felt a bit of heat rising up into my cheeks.

This book is a product of its time and does not reflect the same values as
it would if it were written today. Parents night wish to discuss with
their children how views on race have changed before
allowing them to read this classic work.”

“Oh really–does not reflect the same values??”–
I found myself speaking aloud for anyone present to hear.

Despite what one might think, I will opt not to jump on my soapbox today…
for I have done so often here in this little corner of mine in
this blogosphere of ours.

I just fret that when I see what we are allowing in our schools as now,
we feel threatened by a 16th century mystic monk.

It amazes me what we are allowing our children to exposed to and yet
we opt to censor a Christian mystic.

I just don’t seem to know us anymore and that is what i think troubles me most.

“If a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on,
he must close his eyes and walk in the dark.”

St. John of the Cross

Light, truth, humility

Christian, recognize your dignity and, now that you share in God’s own nature,
do not return to your former base condition by sinning.
Remember who is your head and of whose body you are a member.
Never forget that you have been rescued from the power of
darkness and brought into the light of the Kingdom of God.

St. Leo the Great


(Black eyed Susans / Highland, NC / Julie Cook / 2021

“Once, while I was wondering why Our Lord so dearly loves the virtue
of humility, the thought suddenly struck me, without previous reflection,
that it is because God is the supreme Truth and humility is the truth,
for it is the most true that we have nothing good of ourselves but
only misery and nothingness: whoever ignores this,
lives a life of falsehood. they that realize this fact
most deeply are the most pleasing to God, the supreme Truth,
for they walk in the truth.”

St. Teresa of Avila, p. 175-6
An Excerpt From
Interior Castle

***(the Sheriff’s daycare room is quarantined so the Sheriff will be coming
for a visit during the next couple of days… so I will get back to cookieland
as fast as I can)

quiet significance found in the seemingly insignificant

It is a dangerous thing to be satisfied with ourselves.
St. Teresa of Avila
From the book Sermon in a Sentence, Vol. 4


(a single drop of rain / Julie Cook / 2021)


(detail of a drop of remaining rain / Julie Cook / 2021)

“Even though we know that God’s will and commandments apply to everyone,
we do not always have the strength to fulfill them.
Now, every time we respond faithfully to a motion of the Spirit,
out of desire to be docile to what God expects of us,
even if it’s something almost insignificant of itself,
that faithfulness draws grace and strength down on us.
That strength can then be applied to other areas and may make
us capable of one day practicing the commandments that up until
then we had not been capable of fulfilling entirely.”

Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 20
An Excerpt From
In the School of the Holy Spirit

turning from self to God

“Even when God’s will does not correspond to your own desires,
it is always beneficial for you.”

St. Arnold Janssen


(algae along a fountian / Julie Cook / 2021)


(the bubbling waters of a fountain / Julie Cook / 2021)

“I believe we shall never learn to know ourselves except by endeavoring
to know God, for,
beholding His greatness we are struck by our own baseness,
His purity shows our foulness, and by meditating on His humility
we find how very far we are from being humble.
Two advantages are gained by this practice.
First, it is clear that white looks far whiter when placed near something black,
and on the contrary, black never looks so dark as when seen beside
something white.
Secondly, our understanding and will become more noble and capable
of good in every way when we turn from ourselves to God:
it is very injurious never to raise our minds above the mire of
our own faults.”

St. Teresa of Avila, p. 17
An Excerpt From
Interior Castle

***Off to keep the Sheriff for a few days as he recovers from the latest
virus coming down the pike

do not lose courage

“Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself.
Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections,
but instantly set about remedying them, every day begin the task anew.”

St. Francis de Sales


(a lovely red zinnia / Julie Cook / 2021)

“Let us not fancy that if we cry a great deal we have done all that
is needed—rather we must work hard and practice the virtues:
that is the essential—leaving tears to fall when God sends them,
without trying to force ourselves to shed them.
Then, if we do not take too much notice of them,
they will leave the parched soil of our souls well watered,
making it fertile in good fruit; for this is the water which
falls from Heaven.
I think it is best for us to place ourselves in the presence of God,
contemplate His mercy and grandeur and our own vileness and
leave Him to give us what He will, whether water or drought,
for He knows best what is good for us;
thus we enjoy peace and the devil will have less chance to deceive us.”

St. Teresa of Avila, p.147
An Except From
Interior Castle

Built on such strong rocks, your castle can never go to ruin

“Arm yourself with prayer rather than a sword;
wear humility rather than fine clothes.”

St. Dominic


(desolation in the countryside / Julie Cook / 2021)

“Do you know what it is to be truly spiritual?
It is for men to make themselves the slaves of God—branded with His mark,
which is the Cross. …
Unless you make up your minds to this,
never expect to make much progress,
for as I said humility is the foundation of the whole building and
unless you are truly humble,
Our Lord, for your own sake,
will never permit you to rear it very high lest it should fall to the ground.
Therefore, sisters, take care to lay a firm foundation by seeking
to be the least of all and the slave of others,
watching how you can please and help them,
for it will benefit you more than them.
Built on such strong rocks, your castle can never go to ruin.
I insist again: your foundation must not consist of prayer
and contemplation alone: unless you acquire the virtues and praise them,
you will always be dwarfs; and please God no worse may befall
you than making no progress, for you know that to stop is to
go back—if you love, you will never be content to come to a standstill.”

St. Teresa of Avila, p.209-10
An Excerpt From
Interior Castle

God will not abandon us

“Help me to journey beyond the familiar and into the unknown.
Give me the faith to leave old ways and break fresh ground with You.”

St. Brendan


(St Teresa in Ecstasy, Gian Lorenzo Bernini/ Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome /
Julie Cook 2007)

“Do not suppose that after advancing the soul to such a state God abandons
it so easily that it is light work for the devil to regain it.
When His Majesty sees it leaving Him,
He feels the loss so keenly that He gives it in many a way a thousand
secret warnings which reveal to it the hidden danger.
In conclusion, let us strive to make constant progress:
we ought to feel great alarm if we do not find ourselves advancing,
for without doubt the evil one must be planning to injure us in some way;
it is impossible for a soul that has come to this state
not to go still farther, for love is never idle.
Therefore it is a very bad sign when one comes to a standstill in virtue.”

St. Teresa of Avila, p.99
An Excerpt From
Interior Castle

Let us pray…

“Keep to the ancient way and custom of the Church,
established and confirmed by so many Saints under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
And live a new life.
Pray, and get others to pray, that God not abandon His Church,
but reform it as He pleases, and as He sees best for us, and more to His honour and glory.”

St. Angela Merici


(St Peter / St. Peters, Rome, Italy / Julie Cook / 2007)

“Once, while I was wondering why Our Lord so dearly loves the virtue of humility,
the thought suddenly struck me, without previous reflection,
that it is because God is the supreme Truth and humility is the truth,
for it is the most true that we have nothing good of ourselves but only misery and nothingness:
whoever ignores this, lives a life of falsehood.
They that realize this fact most deeply are the most pleasing to God,
the supreme Truth, for they walk in the truth.”

St. Teresa of Avila, p. 175-6
An Excerpt From
Interior Castle

Overwhlelmed

“Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you.
All things pass. God does not change. Patience achieves everything.
Whoever has God lacks nothing; God alone suffices.”

St. Teresa of Avila


(the Sheriff giving in to his being overwhelmed by the day / Julie Cook / 2020)

Trying times overwhelm us.
There are no ifs, ands, or buts to it…

So during such times, we must be ever mindful that it is precisely how we respond
to such overwhelming trying times that will, in the end, define us—

Will we be the better for it or the worse for it?

Will the difference be life or will it be death?

And will it be either life eternal or death damnation?

Because you see, if we cry out for God’s intervention, will we be prepared for what
such an intervention will entail?

Some of us will and some of us will not.

C.S. Lewis reminds what such a cry entails…

“God will invade.
But I wonder whether people who ask God to interfere openly and directly in our
world quite realise what it will be like when He does.
When that happens, it is the end of the world.
When the author walks on to the stage the play is over.
God is going to invade, all right: but what is the good of saying you are on His side then,
when you see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream and something else –
something it never entered your head to conceive –
comes crashing in; something so beautiful to some of us and so terrible to others
that none of us will have any choice left?
For this time it will God without disguise;
something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror
into every creature.
It will be too late then to choose your side.
There is no use saying you choose to lie down when it has become impossible to stand up.
That will not be the time for choosing; it will be the time when we discover which side
we really have chosen, whether we realised it before or not.
Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side.
God is holding back to give us that chance.
It will not last for ever.
We must take it or leave it.”

C.S. Lewis

power found in prayer, humility and truth

“Keep to the ancient way and custom of the Church,
established and confirmed by so many Saints under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
And live a new life.
Pray, and get others to pray, that God not abandon His Church,
but reform it as He pleases, and as He sees best for us,
and more to His honour and glory.”

St. Angela Merici


bearded iris / Rosemary Beach, Fl / Julie Cook / 2019)

“Once, while I was wondering why Our Lord so dearly loves the virtue of humility,
the thought suddenly struck me, without previous reflection,
that it is because God is the supreme Truth and humility is the truth,
for it is the most true that we have nothing good of ourselves but only misery and nothingness:
whoever ignores this, lives a life of falsehood.
They that realize this fact most deeply are the most pleasing to God,
the supreme Truth, for they walk in the truth.”

St. Teresa of Avila, p. 175-6
An Excerpt From
Interior Castle