Wednesday, December 14, 2022


 Saint John of the Cross (1542–1591)

I live yet do not live in me,
am waiting as my life goes by,
and die because I do not die.

No longer do I live in me,
and without God I cannot live;
to him or me I cannot give
my self, so what can living be?
A thousand deaths my agony
waiting as my life goes by,
dying because I do not die.

This life I live alone I view
as robbery of life, and so
it is a constant death — with no
way out until I live with you.
God, hear me, what I say is true:
I do not want this life of mine,
and die because I do not die.

Being so removed from you I say
what kind of life can I have here
but death so ugly and severe
and worse than any form of pain?
I pity me — and yet my fate
is that I must keep up this lie,
and die because I do not die.

The fish taken out of the sea
is not without a consolation:
his dying is of brief duration
and ultimately brings relief.
Yet what convulsive death can be
as bad as my pathetic life?
The more I live the more I die.

When I begin to feel relief
on seeing you in the sacrament,
I sink in deeper discontent,
deprived of your sweet company.
Now everything compels my grief:
I want — yet can’t — see you nearby,
and die because I do not die.

Although I find my pleasure, Sir,
in hope of someday seeing you,
I see that I can lose you too,
which makes my pain doubly severe,
and so I live in darkest fear,
and hope, wait as life goes by,
dying because I do not die.

Deliver me from death, my God,
and give me life; now you have wound
a rope about me; harshly bound
I ask you to release the cord.
See how I die to see you, Lord,
and I am shattered where I lie,
dying because I do not die.

My death will trigger tears in me,
and I shall mourn my life: a day
annihilated by the way
I fail and sin relentlessly.
O Father God, when will it be
that I can say without a lie:
I live because I do not die?

St. John of the Cross
translated by Willis Barnstone
found in “Poems of St. John of the Cross”

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Élisabeth Leseur - Meditation on Suffering

I know that if I didn't begin each day with the daily meditations from The Magnificat I would be banging around like the pinball in the song Pinball Wizard by The Who.

This year, with my trials and tribulations, the theme of suffering has brought me some solace. I just want to share a few quotes from Élisabeth Leseur.

“Let it be done for you according to your faith”

God, I offer you my spiritual aridity and deprivations. I offer you the interior sadness, the injuries, the disappointments of my heart, so much anxiety for the spiritual well-being and the health of those precious to me, and all the many sufferings of life. I offer you darkness of spirit, weakness of will, interior sorrow, and burdens. I offer you my physical distress, this illness that has sadly limited my external life, the discomforts and exhaustion that my troubles bring right now. I bind these things into a sheaf, Lord, and come humbly with the shepherds to lay it in the manger.

Little Child, all love, all purity, all tenderness, give me purity of heart, tenderness, and charity. Accept my afflictions and use them for the good of others and for your glory. May your blessed hands help me to carry [my burdens], and may your love and the union of our hearts relieve my isolation. May it end one day, when, by your grace, you will convert and make holy those dear persons whom I beg you to make Christians and apostles, O Jesus Christ, my Lord and my God.

A few more quotes from Servant of God Elisabeth Leseur:

“Look around oneself for proud sufferers in need,” Élisabeth counseled, “find them, and give them the alms of our heart, of our time, and of our tender respect.”

“Suffering is the highest form of action, the highest expression of the wonderful Communion of Saints, and that in suffering one is sure not to make mistakes (as in action, sometimes) — sure to be useful to others and to the great causes that one longs to serve.”

And here is an entry from her diary dated, May 3, 1904, which is typical of her experience of sorrow: 

"Has my life known any unhappier time than this?…And yet through all these trials and in spite of the lack of interior joy, there is a deep place that all these waves of sorrow cannot touch….[T]here I can feel how completely one with God I am, and I regain strength and serenity in the heart of Christ. My God, give health and happiness to those I love and give us all true light and charity."

Sometimes the best place to be is in silence and Élisabeth sums it up this way:

“Silence is sometimes an act of energy, and smiling, too.”

Dear Lord, please kindle in my heart the indelible mark of suffering shared by all in the Communion of Saints and help me find union with Your Heart full of tenderness and charity.