Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Most Holy Trinity as a spring of water, a poem of St. John of the Cross


The water that I will give him, shall become in him a fountain of water, springing up into life everlasting. (John 4:14)
With these words, Christ our Savior promises the gift of the indwelling of the Most Holy Trinity. The Holy Spirit is often compared to fire (as on Pentacost), but he may likewise be indented through the metaphor of water (especially under the form of rain). Here, the Good Lord declares that the gift of grace is not merely a separated gift – a gift separated or distinct from the Holy Trinity – but, rather, this grace is a participation in the very life of the Almighty.
St. John of the Cross wrote a poem in which he meditated upon the mystery of the Trinity under the metaphor of a spring of water.

The meaning of the poem, in brief
In the first six stanzas, the Mystical Doctor discusses the Divine Essence itself, yet seamlessly transitions from the Essence to the person of the Father – a masterful example of theological precision of which the Saint is capable, even in his poetry! The “eternal spring” is the whole Trinity, for only of the entire Trinity may we rightly say, “I know that nothing else is so beautiful” (stanza 3) and that it creates and sustains “the lands of hell, the heaven, and earth” (stanza 6). In the seventh stanza, at the words “I know well the stream that flows from this spring,” it is clear that the “spring” is the Father, while the “stream” is the Son – for the Son has eternally proceeded from his Father.
The seventh stanza speaks of the Son, while the eighth turns to the person of the Holy Spirit: “I know the stream proceeding from these two.” Here we have the famous filioque – the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and from the Son, as from a single principle; though, he proceeds principally from the Father (apud St. Augustine). And yet, although the Spirit is from the Father and the Son, he is not after these two: “I know […] that neither of them in fact precedes it.”
Finally, in the ninth through the eleventh stanzas, St. John incites our minds and hearts to long for (indeed to thirst for) this living water, the indwelling of the Most Holy Trinity. The Carmelite father directs us to the Most Holy Eucharist: “This living spring that I long for, I see in this bread of life, although it is night.”

Cantar del alma que se huelga de conocer a Dios por fe
 (Song of the soul that rejoices in knowing God by faith)

For I know well the spring that flows and runs,
although it is night.

1. That eternal spring is hidden,
for I know well where it has its rise,
although it is night.

2. I do not know its origin, nor has it one,
but I know that every origin has come from it,
although it is night.

3. I know that nothing else is so beautiful,
and that the heavens and the earth drink there,
although it is night.

4. I know well that it is bottomless
and no one is able to cross it,
although it is night.

5. Its clarity is never darkened,
and I know that every light has come from it,
although it is night.

6. I know that its streams are so brimming
they water the lands of hell, the heavens, and earth,
although it is night.

7. I know well the stream that flows from this spring
is mighty in compass and power,
although it is night.

8. I know the stream proceeding from these two,
that neither of them in fact precedes it,
although it is night.

9. This eternal spring is hidden
in this living bread for our life's sake,
although it is night.

10. It is here calling out to creatures;
and they satisfy their thirst, although in darkness,
because it is night.

11. This living spring that I long for,
I see in this bread of life,
although it is night.



Qué bien sé yo la fonte que mane y corre,
aunque es de noche.

1. Aquella eterna fonte está escondida,
que bien sé yo do tiene su manida,
aunque es de noche.

2. Su origen no lo sé, pues no le tiene,
mas sé que todo origen de ella tiene,
aunque es de noche.

3. Sé que no puede ser cosa tan bella,
y que cielos y tierra beben de ella,
aunque es de noche.

4. Bien sé que suelo en ella no se halla,
y que ninguno puede vadealla,
aunque es de noche.

5. Su claridad nunca es oscurecida,
y sé que toda luz de ella es venida,
aunque es de noche.

6. Sé ser tan caudalosos sus corrientes.
que infiernos, cielos riegan y las gentes,
aunque es de noche.

7. El corriente que nace de esta fuente
bien sé que es tan capaz y omnipotente,
aunque es de noche.

8. El corriente que de estas dos procede
sé que ninguna de ellas le precede,
aunque es de noche.

9. Aquesta eterna fonte está escondida
en este vivo pan por darnos vida,
aunque es de noche.

10. Aquí se está llamando a las criaturas,
y de esta agua se hartan, aunque a oscuras
porque es de noche.

11. Aquesta viva fuente que deseo,
en este pan de vida yo la veo,
aunque es de noche.

3 comments:

Nick said...

Yet another reason why sand and rocks shouldn't be in the holy water fonts during Lent.

Martin said...

6. I know that
its streams are so brimming
they water the
lands of hell, the heavens, and earth,
although it is
night.


Water the lands of hell? Is he perhaps thinking of purgatory ?

Reginaldus said...

Martin,
It is indeed a bit of a surprise for most people to realize that God is present even in Hell!
You see, because the souls in hell do still exist, they must be held in existence by God. And God is pure Love -- thus, it is Love which holds the souls in Hell! Even in Hell!

There is no where we can go to be separated from the Love of God -- but in Hell, this Love punishes us eternally: Fr. Lacordere writes, “Had justice alone created the abyss, there might be remedy. But it is love, the first love sempiternal, which made hell. This it is which banishes hope. Were I condemned by justice, I might flee to love. But if I am condemned by love, whither can I turn? Such is the fate of the damned, Love, that gave his blood for them – this Love, this same Love, must now curse them. […] Love is not a farce. It is God’s love which punishes, God’s crucified love. Love is life or death. And if that love is God’s love, then love is either eternal life or eternal death.”

You may find an earlier article interesting: http://newtheologicalmovement.blogspot.com/2010/08/eternity-of-hell.html

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