The Optimism Of God
Father John of the Cross was thirty years
old when he had a colorful experience.
pretty girl coming from a rich family
madly in love with him. She tried to
his attention but to no avail! One
she decided to go for it! She managed
sneak into his room. Obviously he was
surprised to find her there, staring
His reaction? No, he did not get mad
He did not chase her away or even censure
her. He just spoke with her gently.
at her own actions, she burst into
Saints are so full of charm and grace.
understand human nature so well.
Once Saint John of the Cross summarized
secret of perfection in four short
'To forgot the created,
And always remember the creator.
To guard always the interior life
And always love the Beloved.'
The pretty girl wanted to embrace Father
John. He showed her that it is better
God is the kind of a person who can
be charmed by love. When He finds someone
who really desires to love Him, He
reeling! And He does everything possible
to stay close and intimate with the
who loves him. In his book "The
of Mount Carmel", John insists
'The Lord is made in such a way that,
one approaches Him with good manners
according to His nature, one can do
he wants with Him; but if one approaches
Him for one's own personal interest,
is no point in even talking to Him!!'
Even God has his own style in building
with man! He can be so openhanded and
The moment He sees someone who is trying
to love Him above everything else,
becomes exuberant. 'When God falls
with a soul, you cannot imagine how
He can be.' He starts showering the
with gifts recklessly. God is the greatest
In order to illustrate better his message,
John of the Cross once painted a drawing
of a mountain which he called Mount
It is a very simple design. There is
hill, which has a very high, dominant
- it fills more than half the page.
on this summit - and here there is
security, beauty, wisdom. Here there
It is the abode of God, and also of
Christians who reach the summit. We
called to go on ahead towards this
It is the only goal which gives meaning
At the bottom of this hill, there are
roads. Two which meander and zigzag
nothing - they never make it to the
The other, a straight one, reaches
One road which leads to nowhere is
of money, honors, fancy ideas, diplomas,
comfort... It is the road taken by
who want more things, more respect,
certificates, more comforts... Saint
of the Cross jots down a tiny comment
is very suggestive : The more I desired
seek them, the less I had them. How
The second road which again leads nowhere
is the road of consolation, enjoyment,
This is the road of those who serve
so that they can extract back something
Him - health, consolation, happiness,
less problems in life. Here also Saint
puts in a curt short comment : The
hankered, the less I found. Again,
Nada, Nada, Nada
Then there is the third road, the road
the middle. A straight road which leads
to God. On this road, John of the Cross
only one word : NADA - nothing, repeated
several times. Nada, nada, nada, nada....
It is the road of those who try to
above everything else. God first. Not
before God, but God before money. Not
before God but God before comfort.
before God, but God before man.
This does not mean that the Christian
to throw everything away. But it means
he has to learn to use everything without
becoming riveted to them. Things go
when I become attached to something
instead of walking towards the Lord.
many times what we call love is simple
Here again Saint John of the Cross
concise provoking sentence Now that
desire them, I have them all without
The Nothing leads to Everything. Nobody
be put on a par with God!
It is in this light that one must view
negation for which Saint John of the
became so famous...or infamous! In
detachment from everything is not the
effort of a religious lunatic, but
awareness in the use of things. Use
love everything, appreciate everything,
hang on to nothing, be bound to nothing,
because if you do, you will suffer
suffering in others. Build relationships
with others but do not idolize anyone.
smart! Only in this way, you will experience
the totality of God and enjoy people.
In Seville there was a group of eight
all young men full of energy and life.
imagination was excited, full of the
and beautiful discoveries which the
Conquistadors were making in the New
Their superior was worried because
they were too distracted, their minds
too muddled! He thought it would be
to dismiss them all, as he considered
unsuitable for the Discalced Carmelite
Father John of the Cross, the Vicar provincial
at the time, went to see what was going on.
He quickly realized... The crazy one was
not the young friars but the master of novices,
who was taxing them with six hours of prayer
a day! "Don't you see?!," he remarked,
"Less hours of prayer, more free time
and more work in the garden .... and you
will see how things will improve!"
This is what God does. When you climb this
hill of Mount Carmel, you become familiar
with God, and because you become familiar
with God, you will understand man better...
What a fantastic adventure!
(Adapted from the book GOD IS A FEAST written
by Father Pius)
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission
hereby granted for any non-commercial
provided that the content is unaltered
its original state, if this copyright