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(NOTE: This transcription has been automatically generated through an AI program. Consequently, this transcript may not match everything you hear in the podcast episode, and it may contain errors such as spelling, grammar, word choice, etc., due to the limitations of current AI technology.)
Hey everyone welcome to Episode two of season four of Midnight Carmelite. In this episode, we’ll be continuing our discussion of detachment according to St. John of the Cross. Enjoy. So we cease to order all things both sensory and imaginary towards knowledge, love and service of God. So this division of our heart results in a division of what we choose in order in our lives. So, because our longing is for finite things rather than for God. So for twitter and it’s not just again, it’s not to say that twitter is bad, is to say that twitter is placed first.
It’s the ultimate good without saying it. Now, a person who’s in that state may deny that. So instead of placing God first, we place these finite things, Twitter, money, power, pleasure, careers, any other material things, any other finite things about God and all these disorders, meaning how we relate to things requires a reordering if we’re to follow God’s commandments. So, you know, Scriptures. The first commandment of the 10 commandments is to not have any other Gods before God. That’s Deuteronomy 20 Verse three. For those who are interested And additionally, Jesus said, the greatest commandment is to love God with our whole self.
And that’s Matthew 22, 36, 38. So Saint John of the Cross’s teaching on detachment helps us to identify the things that we’ve placed above God in our life so we can do what is needed to place God above those things. And that’s the point of this season is to kind of give us this introduction to this notion of attachment. Start thinking about this; start identifying these things in our life that we can do. So let’s continue. So let’s discuss what detachment isn’t. So detachment is not in any way saying you need to give up all your material possessions.
So it’s a common misconception. So Saint John of the Cross and his teaching on detachment does not advocate selling all your possessions, especially if you’re a layperson who by justice ought to be able to provide for yourself in normal circumstances. When he says nada nada nada nada, he is not telling you to go sell everything as St. Francis, although maybe some people, you know, might be called to be Franciscans. The point is that if you’re a lay person, out of justice, you have to provide to yourself.
And it’s not just justice to yourself and your state in life, I would argue it’s justice to your neighbor, your family. Anyway, onward. So Saint John of the Cross think about it. He had a habit, he had other material possessions that were provided to him by his order. So if all material possessions are bad, he would not have had any of his own right. So we’re kind of getting rid of that objection. And I just want to point out to a biographical note about Saint John of the Cross here at this point.
So Saint John of the Cross grew up extremely poor and what happened with him was his father Gonzalo was kind of like a midlevel businessman for his family, I think he was doing accounting but something to, something to that effect. If I remember it anyway, he would go through towns in Spain to you know, to sell their wares and he ends up in this kind of like in between town font of arrows in there. He was staying with a woman who also boarded a young woman who was named Catalina who would be Gonzalo’s wife in the future.
And what happened was Gonzalo fell in love with Catalina and the woman who boarded him said, look your family is going to go crazy if you marry this woman, we don’t know exactly why Catalina was so objectionable. We had no idea really. There’s some theories, one of the theories is that at the time they’re they’re just done the reconquista and they pushed out the Muslims from Spain and there was this high fervor at the time, very fervor like national, you know, nationalistic and and christian Catholicism were kind of like united at that time.
And you know, there’s people who were bragging about their their pure blood meeting that since the time of the conquest, they remained christian blood throughout. There was no intermingling and that gave people status and there was also a lot of stuff going on with the christians were, you had issues with the jewish people there and basically actually Saint Teresa of Avile, I think I think her grandfather was Jewish. Um So anyway, the point is there was something about Catalina probably in her ancestry as our is our assumption.
That was so objectionable. Now this is the thing, it must have been horribly objectionable. It was so objectionable to Gonzalo’s family that Gonzalo, his family immediately disowned him at the point when he decided to marry Catalina, they completely got rid of him and Gonzalo’s livelihood was tied to his family business. So he had to learn a trade to support his new wife and the three Children that they later had. Catalina was a weaver, which was not lucrative. So she taught Gonzalo her trade because Gonzalo’s couldn’t get another job doing what he was doing for his family.
John’s family suffered so much in poverty that one of his siblings died young possibly due to malnutrition. Gonzalo died this long, horrible protracted illness when john was young. So I just want to say something here that I think I like to emphasize is we’re talking about detachment. Gonzalo could have saw Catalina could have said, I know God’s calling me to marry. Catalina, but I’m going to say no because I know my family is gonna disown me and my livelihood is more important than who God wants me to marry.
If he did not make that decision, we would not have John of the Cross and who knows what has happened with the Carmelite reform. That one decision. That one decision, that one time doing God’s will putting God above all things, practicing detachment without probably without even knowing it maybe gave us a Jonathan cross. So I want to, this is a good example for lay people in my opinion, where Gonzalez said, I don’t care if I lose everything, I don’t care what it takes. I need to be with the one I love.
And that’s the view of detachment of John of the Cross with God. It’s not about, you know, hurting yourself for the sake of pain. It’s about saying I love God above all things. Therefore I need to shed whatever I need to to be with him. Okay. And that’s these finite things that you’re putting above him. So later in life, john was in residence at a Carmelite convent. Ah He spotted one of the nuns sweeping the floor without shoes. So, without saying anything during, went out to the city, begged for money and bought her some shoes.
So if john thought material things were bad, he would not gotten shoes for the none. So clearly John did not think material things were bad. So, we’re gonna do one more example from John’s life, that will suffice to show that he did not think Material things were bad. The example is this, john would often go into nature and use nature as a launch point in his mental prayer to contemplate our Lord. But if he thought material things were bad, he would have avoided nature since nature introduces an opportunity for a person’s census to be distracted by finite things in the normal input a human person receives from creation.
Saint John of the Cross didn’t avoid nature though. And on the contrary, he went out to it. He did not avoid this material world because he did not believe this Material world is bad. What’s going on there? Is that Saint John of the Cross is showing us that when things are rightly ordered to God, they’re good because they bring you to God when things are not rightly or to God, I even fight a things or above God, it’s bad. So that’s really the key here.
That and again, I’m looking at it more philosophically. The notion of order is, there’s a thing, the unifying principle of any genus, the governor of all that, of that meaning. You know, whatever your your main goal is to put in layman’s terms. So whatever your main goal is, that’s going to order everything else in your life. Whatever your main thing is going to order everything else. If it’s God, God’s going to order everything else in your life. If it’s truth without God, that’s going to order everything else in your life, meaning whatever that consists of.
If it’s love without God, that’s going to order everything in your in your life. And in fact, I would argue truth and love are no longer truth and love without God. But that’s my personal opinion. So, so the point is is that john didn’t forsake nature. In fact, he went to it now. Caveat here, John does say in his work, he does say look, if you look at nature and you find yourself launching to God, like you immediately look at, let’s say a beautiful flower and you are just so taken by it.
You just say, Lord, thank you for this beautiful power. You start praising God, that’s a good thing. But if you find yourself getting trapped in the flower, let’s say like you just get obsessed with like looking at the flower per se. He says, then you you have to work on attachment. You you’re not rightly ordered to that flower. And it’s probably not good that you deal with those types of flowers because they don’t launch you to God. So you can see now how flowers or things in nature of finite things could or couldn’t launch you to God depending how rightly ordered they are.
So in the next episode, we’re going to continue our discussion of what detachment is in and kind of dive more into this relationship between finite and infinite things.
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