In Sayings of Light and Love, n. 68, St. John of the Cross says:
Take God for a spouse1 and friend with whom you walk continuously, and you will not sin, and you will know how to love, and necessary things will be done prosperously for you.2
This particular saying is more important today than ever. Here, St. John of the Cross gives us a key principle for prosperity: we all need to take God as a spouse and friend.
Do we really consider God as close as a spouse? Frequently, we try to solve life’s problems on our own, and more often than not, our attempts at solving life’s problems on our own devolve quickly into something that barely works or is a complete failure.
St. John of the Cross wants us to remember that prosperity, while usually in reference to material gains, here speaks to flourishing in the spiritual life.
Notice how St. John of the Cross mentions two things that will act as causes of your prosperity: (1) you will not sin and (2) you will know how to love. If you recall, I made a podcast about two types of knowing which tells us that you can know things by abstraction, and that is one type of knowledge, but you also can know things by loving. Here, we learn that it is God who teaches us how to love.
How does God teach us to love? By being himself and loving us. Just like in any deep relationship (e.g., marriage, friendship), we learn how to love from the other person loving us. Remember, St. John the Evangelist said in his first letter: ὁ Θεὸς ἀγάπη ἐστίν (God is self-gifting-complete-love).3 God’s love is perfect love, and we learn from our Lord how to love completely as he loves us.
Furthermore, since we are moving away from sin and learning how to love, all the necessary works of our love are prosperously done for us because we are more and more conformed to the Will of God, who assists us in all things.
Each time we pray, despite being busy, we are learning from Love itself how to love because we prioritize him over all other finite things. Clearly, if exigencies prevent us from praying, we should be present to whatever we must attend to. Yet, how many hours do we spend on YouTube or other social media platforms instead of taking just ten minutes to spend time with God as a friend like St. John of the Cross says above?
Finally, we all wish people in this world would be more loving. Well, if we want more love in the world, we need to love Love itself more, and then we will know how to love, leave sin behind, and become brighter lights who love God and those near us in a way that will bring them too back to the source of our love, who is God himself.
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The word here is esposo in the original Spanish writing of St. John of the Cross. The word esposo has been translated here as “spouse” to keep this passage understandable for both men and women who read the present blog article. ↩︎
This translation of St. John of the Cross is my own. ↩︎
See 1 John 4:8 ↩︎