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The saint, St. John of the Cross, whom so many fear, was only a man who made room for God to come near. With God’s grace, he could see God at work, giving his heart a jerk when necessary. Through all of his sufferings, while living in a closed cell he did some of his greatest work. God did not forsake him, and John remained close to Our Lord in his lowest moments when most people would blame God. He sought after union with God and found Him more and more as God showered him with blessings and favors through his suffering. He clung to the cross with his continual saying, “Nothing, nothing, nothing.” What seemed to the world as a loss was but a gain. Teaching us how to pray is what gave him his Doctor of the Church name.
The road is narrow. He who wishes to travel it more easily, must cast off all things and use the cross as his cane. In other words, he must be truly resolved, too suffer willingly, for the love of God in all things.”St. John of the Cross 1542-1591 Doctor of the Church
To walk the narrow road, as John had the courage to do, is to love God according to the words in St. Luke 10:27: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with all thy strength and with all thy mind.” To some it may seem such a tight of road that they convince themselves they will not fit, and they give up following it day after day. To the very few who travel this road, the challenge is of faith, hope, and love, to squeeze through and attempt the journey by trusting and abandoning themselves to God to order and provide, living out St. John’s quote: “If something is presented to the senses, which is not solely for the honor and glory of God, give it up, and deprive yourself of it for the love of Jesus Christ, who, while on earth, had and desired nothing but to do the will of his Father.”
Detachment along the narrow way can be a scary word to most. Attachments to self or creatures blocks us from loving God with all our strength, as you just heard from St. John. If we can’t give it up, we are attached. Many people presented with this idea become sad, like the rich man in Matthew 19:22 whose heart was snatched by his riches. St. John of the Cross knew and lived out the words of Matthew 16:25: “For he that will save his life shall lose it, and he that shall lose his life for My sake, shall find it.”
The more we lose of this world, the more we gain of heaven, which is where our true joy can be found. The nothingness, the emptiness of this world, allows more room for Christ to dwell within our tabernacle, like Mary carrying Christ to others in the Visitation to St. Elizabeth, who rejoiced.
I have come in my own life to practice this way of Nothing. I call it “Don’t Think.” I leave room for God by knocking out distracting thoughts that come to me, instead of allowing them to keep running. I allow God to order my days, as they can change in an instant. I would have wasted time worrying. Instead, I let Him reveal His glory by being silent. John says that the Lord knows what is best for us, better than we do. In my afflictions, rejections, losses, sufferings, heartaches, illnesses, and abandonments, I have seen greater grace, thanking and praising God for these things with the eyes of faith because his tender goodness is always hidden underneath the disguises and lies of the evil one’s face. The more empty we are of the things of this world, the lighter we feel, which is a joy full of zeal.
One of my Epiphanies in prayer is: “Live life here on earth like you’re already in Heaven.” In heaven, all things are ordered to give God glory. Your eyes are fixed on Jesus Christ. When the soul embraces the nothingness of creature or self, it will then be living spiritual detachment in order to reach the all of God by discovering its true self. This is John’s way of nothing, to possess God totally.
Do you desire God? Then you will find the way of nothing and detachment not so scary after all, as it makes its way closer to your heart and God’s word is not feeling odd. If we have God in all things while they are ours, then we shall have all things in God when they are taken away.
Naomi is a true Louisiana Cajun single consecrated woman living in the world but not of it. Naturally exuberant, full of life, and joyful, she has a deep love for Jesus as her spouse, striving to be a saint and encouraging others to do the same. A singer-songwriter, she can play any instrument by ear. But as a music minister serving the church for twenty-six years, she chooses guitar and piano as her main instruments to usher God’s people in praising him in song. She also serves as the head of the St. Ignatius Catholic school choir. Calling herself a “Jill of all trades” since she’s a woman, Naomi has been blessed with many gifts, such as singing, playing musical instruments, songwriting, poem writing, drawing, carpentry work, welding, and others. She uses all her gifts to give God glory and is passionate about proclaiming God’s kingdom from the rooftops. Her Facebook page features many live-stream videos to help to lift the hearts of others in song and encouragement as we all move forward, keeping our eyes on the prize, which is Heaven. Her ministry is called The Visitation Pilgrimage since, like Mary, it brings Jesus to others so they can experience the exposing of God’s love as Elizabeth and St. John the Baptist did. Through her ministry, Naomi provides music for weddings, funerals, conferences, retreats, and talks upon request. She will do what the Spirit says to do and holds all of God’s people in her heart as she serves her King with great fervor.