“I just can’t sense Jesus. I cannot feel Him close to me. I don’t sense…
“Take God for your bridegroom and friend and walk with him continually…”
(Dark Night of the Soul, Stanza 5)
This lovely quote from St. John of the Cross is much more than a pretty sentiment. His words are wise and sound instruction. This Doctor of the Church, in his collection of writings, sets down for us how to enter into this spousal relationship with God, what obstacles to expect along the way, and how to overcome those pitfalls. He knows that union with God, with the Divine Bridegroom, is what all hearts are seeking even if they are unaware of this truth.
John fell in love with the Canticle of Canticles, the Song of Songs, and this book of Scripture inspired and informed much of his teachings. On his deathbed, he asked his brother friars to stop reading the prayers for the dying and read him the Canticle of Canticles. As the Canticle was read to him, John sighed with delight, “Oh what precious pearls!” He understood the Song of Songs to be the poetic description of the soul’s journey to transforming union, spiritual marriage, with Christ the Divine Bridegroom. His poem, “A Spiritual Canticle of the Soul and the Bridegroom Christ”, is John’s own inspired version of the Song of Songs. At the end of his explanations of the poem, he wrote, “May the most sweet Jesus, Bridegroom of faithful souls, be pleased to bring all who invoke his name to this marriage.”
As you pray this novena and reflect on the quotes from St. John of the Cross and verses from the Song of Songs, ponder the ways in which the Beloved has been wooing and inviting you into a spousal relationship with Himself. As John teaches us, union with God is not just for the few but for all souls. And God invites us to taste of the joys and sweetness of divine union even as we make our ascent up the mountain to finally arrive at the eternal marriage feast.
“Take God for your bridegroom and friend, and walk with him continually; and you will not sin and will learn to love, and the things you must do will work out prosperously for you.”
(Sayings of Light and Love #68)
“His conversation is sweetness itself, he is altogether lovable. Such is my Beloved, such is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.” (The Bride, Song of Songs 5:16)
Thoughts to ponder: Jesus, my Lord and my God, desires to also be my friend and the bridegroom of my soul. He, Who is “altogether lovable”, thirsts for a mutually loving relationship with me. Am I ready and willing to take His hand and walk with Him continually, no matter where life with Him leads? Is my heart open and pliable so I can learn to love from Him Who is Love? St. John of the Cross says that the things I “must do will work out prosperously”. How do I discern what I must do according to God’s will and what are the things that I want to do according to my own will?
Prayer: St. John of the Cross, pray for me and all faithful souls who desire to know and love Jesus the Bridegroom. May our hearts and minds be illuminated by the wisdom of your teachings and the holiness of your witness. Lead us through the dark nights of this life and into the radiant light of our Beloved’s Face. Amen.
To pray the 9-Day Novena, click here.
copyright 2023 – Laura Ercolino