Letter 3, St. Paul of the Cross
“When the sea is swept by storms, the wind raises the waters and they swell in huge billows. The waves hit the rocks and beat on them as if they would break them up and smash them to pieces. But not so! They beat on the rocks, yes, but the rocks don’t break nor are they smashed to pieces, although a small chip may be knocked off here and there. No matter how great the waves may be, the rocks are so hard that there’s no danger they will be shattered.
Similarly, the soul at prayer is a rock that God holds fast in his infinite love. It may even be called a rock of strength because the Sovereign Good imparts strength to it.”
St. Paul of the Cross, Letter 594
“By God’s high providence, you find yourself struggling in darkness. That’s where humility and self-knowledge are found. So don’t give up prayer, interior solitude, acceptance of God’s Holy Will and all other virtues. Faith come alive in the dark. With love, then, detached from everything else, reach out to God in the silence and alone. Search for God carefully and peacefully.
But what am I saying? Isn’t God always with us? With naked faith, go to the depths of your soul and find your highest Good. Stay there and you’ll find all riches. We know that; remember it.”
Letter 160, St. Paul of the Cross
As you look at what you’re going through, don’t philosophize and reflect so much about yourself. Stop thinking about yourself and just do what’s right. Love God’s Will and stay beneath the Holy Cross without getting involved in useless subtleties. By thinking too much about yourself, you lose sight of the Sovereign Good.
With regard to prayer, if you can’t put in much time, it’s not important. You always pray by doing what is right.”
Work around the house, do what you have to do there, and be attentive to God by frequently plunging your spirit into the immense sea of divine love, but don’t check up minutely whether this plunge was done well. I repeat, go about doing good simply as children do…
Take care of your health, eat what’s necessary, and get the sleep you need. In that way you build up your strength, if that is God’s wish and for your good.
I’m reading the Letters of St. Paul of the Cross and for the next few weeks I leave some excerpts:
“You may not be able to give much time to prayer and other spiritual practices now, but I will give you–with confidence Jesus Christ would agree–a rule about praying always. One prays always who does what is right. For this, I ask you to stay faithfully in the Presence of God in all that you do.
God will help you acquire this practice little by little. You may spend hours preoccupied and not remembering God’s Presence. That doesn’t matter, because your original intention empowers all you do.
But keep your heart and spirit aware of your beloved good God, yet do this gently, not straining your heart and mind. Say, for example, “I don’t want to forget you, O God.” “My God, you are with me, in me, I live entirely in you and because of you.” God lives in you. You breathe in God, you walk with God, you work in God, who is joy, love, fire.
Get accustomed to making acts like that.. When God enters your heart as you are making those acts of love, stop, and like a bee take in the honey.
Reading the letters of St. Paul of the Cross you notice how often he wishes the one to whom he’s writing to be placed in the “wounds of Christ” or the “holy Side of Jesus” or his “Sacred Heart.”. “I am in a hurry and leave you in the holy Side of Jesus, where I ask rich blessings for you.”
Expressions like these seem to be pious phrases until we read the story of Thomas from John’s gospel. Jesus shows the doubting disciple the wounds in his hands and side, and Thomas believes.
Belief is not something we arrive at by our own powers of reason or will. Faith is a gift that God gives through Jesus Christ.