“The little white dove
Has returned to the ark with the bough;
And now the turtle-dove
Its desired mate
On the green banks has found.“ Saint John of the Cross
During the reading of the Office of Readings for today, where we celebrate the works of Saint John of the Cross and venerate him in heaven as a Priest and Doctor of the Church, I was struck bythefact that he was born on a fewshort years after “Our Lady of Guadalupe”, Mary, appeared in Mexico. She appeared in 1531, and Saint John was born in 1542. Of course, there is the Spanish connection, which I haven’t given much thought to. However, the reformation of the church that was necessary back then, so that religious would start living more simply, to better identify with the Cross of Christ and less with the nobility and luxury of this world, I believe it started with the discovery of this mass of humanity that God was able to convert through the humility and obedience of a simple indigenous man, Saint Juan Diego. I am not aware of whether the knowledge of the miracle on Tepayac Hill in Mexico would have reached Saint John of the Cross, but my suspicion is that in Spain there were plenty of people talking about what was happening in this new world. It is the simplicity that Saint John of the Cross and Saint Theresa of Avila provided for the new order of Discalced Carmelites that supplied the seed bed for the teachings of “The little way of Saint Therese” that is essential today to convince people that it is not necessary to be a spiritual giant to be a “Saint” and made holy by the grace of God.
To me, this poem from Saint John’s “Spiritual Canticle” tells the story of how the Holy Spirit found Mary and brought Jesus to the world. At least, that is what it says to me, and the gospel reading for today talks about the fact that Jesus said that John the Baptist was the prophet Elijah who was supposed to come to herald the coming of the savior, I believe Saint Juan Diego was the herald of Mary that was delivered to Saint John of the Cross to fill him with the power to reform the religious order that would give rise to Saint Therese, the little flower!
What does this have to do with us today? I will use part of the homily our pastor delivered to us at the Mass for Our Lady of Guadalupe on Thursday night to explain the significance to all of us today. He mentioned how the image was responsible for converting millions of people in Mexico that would have made up a large percentage of the population in Mexico at the time. We can use that same image to convert our country and world away from the culture of death and back to a culture of life, and I will let the image explain itself there.
However, for those that need something more, but consider themselves to small or not spiritually gifted enough to ascend to the heights of a Saint John of the Cross or Saint Theresa of Avila, there is the little way of Saint Therese that looks to God like a child waiting to be picked up. For those that are up to the challenge, “The Dark Night of the Soul” and “Interior Castle” of Saint John of the Cross and Saint Theresa of Avila respectively stand ready as monumental works of theological mastery that I have started, but have not completed. Maybe I never will, but I have the image of “Our Lady of Guadalupe” and obedience to the will of God to lean on until God graces me with the ability to grasp these amazing works of literature or the ability to let them go!