Reflection from the “Soul Institute” Charisms and St John of the Cross

Ralph Martin writes, “There seems to be a wide-spread impression that the contemplative and the charismatic are contradictory, not complementary, and that John of the Cross condemns the exercise of the charismatic gifts.”

Ralph Martin writes, “One of St John of the Cross very important contribution is his laser-like insights into how even the most spiritual experiences can function as obstacles to union with God, if we seek them or cling to them. John acknowledges that God given these experience for various reasons, including our human weakness, but encourages us not to cling to them, but to allow the grace of them to effect deeper faith, hope and love in our lives…While not intending to write a balanced and comprehensive positive theology of the charismatic working of the Spirit for the sake of others John does deal with them in the Ascent III, chapters 30-32. In this Book of the Ascent John is dealing with how the will can become attached to genuine goods in a way that blocks progress to union with God. In these particular chapters he’s dealing with the reality of supernatural goods and the how the will can become attached to them, the fifth of the six classes of goods he discusses. So even though his purpose in writing is to focus on the possible dangers he does assume the reality and usefulness of the charismatic gifts of the Spirit (following the Thomistic terminology he calls them gratiae gratis datae) and specifically cites the charismatic gifts of 1 Cor. 12: 9-10 as the type of the working of the Spirit he’ll be discussing. St John of the Cross writes, ‘Examples of these are the gifts of wisdom and knowledge given by God to Solomon (1 Kgs 13:7-12) and the graces St Paul enumerates faith, the grace of healing, working of miracles, prophecy, knowledge and discernment of spirits, interpretation of words, and also the gift of tongues. (1 Cor 12:-10) The exercise of these gifts immediately concern the benefit of others, and God bestows them for that purpose, as St Paul points out: The Spirit is given to no one save for the benefit of others.” (11 Cor 12:7)

Ralph Martin writes, “John brilliantly points out the dangers to the soul of those who exercise these gifts by rejoicing excessively in the merely temporal benefits of such goods. He points out how inordinate attachment it rejoicing in the possession of these gifts can lead very easily to their inappropriate or even inauthentic exercise. As John puts it: ‘People, on account of their joy in the gift not only long to believe in it more readily, but even feel impelled to make use of it outside the proper time.’ (A,III,31,4) John also mentions the obvious temptation to vanity and vain-glory that the immature exercise of these gifts will generate in the heart of those who exercise these gifts for motives other than the glory of God and the good of souls.”

“John points out the importance of exercising these gifts in a way that’s appropriate ‘as time and place.'” St John writes, “It is true that when God bestows these gifts and graces he gives light for them and an impulse as the time and manner of their exercise.” (A,III, 31,2) St Paul writes in I Corinthians, ” What then, brethren? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all be done for edification. If any speaks on a tongue, let there be only two or most three, and each in turn; and let one interpret. But is there is no one to interpret, let leach if them keep silence in church and speak to himself and to God. Let two or three prophets speak, and let the other weigh what in said. If a revelation is made to another sitting by, let the first be silent. For you all can prophecy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged; and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.”(I Cor 14:26-33)

St Paul is saying that there is a proper order and use of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. When St Paul says, “The Spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.” St Paul is saying that when God gives a person a gift of the Holy Spirit. God expects us to use the gifts in accordance with our intellect and prudence.

Ralph Martin writes, “John also points out that in order for the gifts to work properly there needs to be a true detachment from our own ideas and desires about how it all should work and a deep trust in God, a true docility to the moving of His Spirit.” St John of the Cross writes, “Those, then, who have this supernatural gift, should not desire or rejoice in its use, nor should they care about exercising it. God, who grants the grace supernaturally for the usefulness of the Church or its members, will also move the gifted supernaturally as the manner and time in which they should use their gift. Since the Lord commanded his disciples not be anxious about what or how to speak. Since the Lord commanded his disciples not be anxious about what or how to speak, because the matter was supernatural one of faith, and since these works are also a supernatural matter he will want these individuals to wait until he becomes the worker. by moving their heart. (Mt 10:19, Mk 13:11) For it is by the power of God that every other power should be exercised. In the Acts of the Apostles the disciples beseeched him in prayer to extend his hand to work signs and wonders and cures through them, so faith in our Lord Jesus Christ would be introduced into hearts. (Acts 4: 29-30) (A, III, 31,7)

2 thoughts on “Reflection from the “Soul Institute” Charisms and St John of the Cross”

  1. it’s mystical that this was sent today. I was just contemplating on the long drive home, the graces God has given me wrt heightened Spiritual awareness. I have shared them where appropriate. I just remind myself how real they are and know God wants my Soul to get home. I can’t ignore the Graces especially with my beloved St. Faustina, and my Guardian Angel. God bless you all.

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