Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Tuesday - Fourth Week after Epiphany
"Spiritual Canticle" - St. John of the Cross. Translated and edited by E.Allison Peers, Image Books, 1961
Stanza II, part 1
In this stanza the soul seeks to make use of intercession and intermediaries with her Beloved, begging them to tell Him of her pain and affliction; for it is a characteristic of the lover, when she cannot commune with her Beloved because of His absence, to do so the best means that she may. And so at this point the soul would fain use her desires, affections and sighs as messengers, who are also able to make known the secrets of her heart. And thus she says:

2. Calling the affections and desires shepherds, because they feed soul on spiritual good things. For shepherds signifies 'one who feeds' and by their means God communicates Himself to her (which without them He does not). And she says: 'Ye that go'. That is to say, Ye that go forth from pure love; because they go not all to God, but those only that go forth from faithful love.

3. By the 'sheepscotes' she means the choirs of the angels, by whose ministry, from choir to choir, our sighs and prayers travel to God; Whom she calls 'the hill', because the hill is high, and, even so, God is the greatest of all heights; and because in God, as on the hill, are spied out and seen all things. To Him go our prayers, which the angels offer Him, as we have said; for it is they who offer Him our prayers and desires, according as the angel said to holy Tobias, in these words: When thou didst pray with tears and did bury the dead, I offered thy prayer unto the Lord. We can likewise understand by these shepherds of whom the soul here speaks the angels themselves, for not only do they bear our messages to God but they also bring God's messages to our souls, feeding our souls, like good shepherds, with sweet inspirations and communications from God, which He also creates by means of them. And they protect us from the wolves, who are the evil spirits, and defend us from them like good shepherds.