St John of the Cross – Principles for Detachment

These are the golden rules proposed by St John of the Cross for total detachment: The soul must always be inclined ‘not to the easiest thing, but to the hardest; not to the tastiest, but to the most insipid; not to the things that give the greatest pleasure, but to those that give the least; not to the restful things, but to the painful ones; not to consolation, but to desolation; not to more, but to less; not to the highest and dearest, but to the lowest and most despised; not to the desire for something, but to having no desires.’ In this way, we shall gradually become accustomed to subduing this inordinate desire for pleasure, which is at the base of all attachments. It is like going against a current; hence it is a hard tiring task which can be accomplished only by strength of will. We must oppose the inclinations of nature and make ourselves do what is repugnant to nature. This is, however, a sweet task for a soul in love with God; it knows that everything it refuses to self is given to God and that, when it has reached the point of renouncing self in everything – of selling everything – God Himself will give it the precious pearl of divine union.

Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C. D.

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