The Letters of St. Paul of the Cross: ‘When You Cannot Meditate’

The certain path is that of faith, that is, to pray in lively faith with a continual memory of the Passion of Jesus. When you cannot meditate, as I have already explained to you in writing, repose in God in a sacred silence of love with a pure, but sweet and loving, attention to God and living faith. Oh, here there can be no deception! One who practices this well, prays 24 hours a day, for then one is careful to stay always in the presence of God, adoring him in spirit and in truth! Let yourself be moved by this precious spur which moves you to love God very much. Let this precious desire soak you completely and penetrate to the very marrow of your bones. (St. Paul of the Cross, Letter 87)


But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

2 Cor 3:18

Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You,  as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.”

John 17:1-5

This gaze upon Christ Crucified is transformative in that what we behold, we become.

The ultimate display of God’s glory is revealed in His death upon the cross.  As we behold Christ Crucified, we behold pure Love in action. The Cross is the way that the Godhead decided to display extravagant pure love. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” (John 3:16) Gazing upon Christ Crucified through meditation is the pathway to receive this Love into our very being and begin to be transformed by it. Love is transformative. His Love so displayed in blood has a completely defining and momentous effect upon the soul that sees the Cross. Nothing competes with this outpouring in the horror as well as the love.

This sight of Christ Crucified has an “imprinting” effect on the soul who witnesses this bloody scene.  We can see this scene in our meditation, and from there the Lord can gift us with the grace of contemplation. One who has been “imprinted” with this scene is one that is able to “continually behold Him in His Passion” and be ever filled with gratefulness, repentance, adoration, humility, as well as other fruits of the Holy Spirit.

We will never “get over” what He has done for us on the Cross for all eternity and a billion years times a billion years.  Christ’s death on the Cross will be celebrated and honored for all eternity.

Even now, we can begin to share in this “eternal life” of knowing Him fully. He daily gives us the opportunity to know Him at the deepest level of love as we bring every trial and suffering and use it to meditate upon His suffering on the Cross. Our suffering given over to Him is our glory as well for all eternity. How much we get to suffer for His Name will be our greatest reward forever and ever. If we only realized this fact, how differently we would treat each trial and tribulation and heartache that comes our way.  In His great love, He lets us participate in His Cross in some small way.

This post was originally published on Upper Garden and is reprinted here with permission.

Image courtesy of Unsplash.

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