John of the Cross was a reformer of the Carmelite Order and is considered, along with Saint Teresa of Ávila, as a founder of the Discalced Carmelites. He is also known for his writings. Both his poetry and his studies on the growth of the soul are considered the summit of mystical Spanish literature and one of the peaks of all Spanish literature.
The passionate love to God and Union with God described in his works are interesting. His poem The Spiritual Canticle is a love drama where a Soul with longing heart searches beloved Christ and finally finds him and ends in a ‘mystical marriage’. Two interesting symbols used by him are symbol of Night and Spouse symbol.
There is an immense mystical significance for Night in his writings. This symbol unfolds for us the progressive phase of the whole process of the soul’s purification until it is made ready to enter into union with its Beloved.
This night is supreme moments of utter interior and exterior darkness and he sings:
“On a dark night, Kindled in love with yearnings, Oh, happy chance! I went forth without being observed, My house being now at rest”.
St. John of the Cross describes the movement and progress of the soul towards God as a journey in the night. But why do we call it “a journey in the night”? Saint gives three reasons: “We may say that there are three reasons for which this journey made by the soul to union with God is called ‘night'”:(i) The person who decides to journey towards God has to renounce all worldly possessions; and this denial is like a “night” to all his senses; (ii) the road toward this union is faith, which is “night” to the intellect; (iii) the point of arrival is God, who is also a “dark night” to man in this life. In the night of the senses the soul departs, in affection and desire, from all things of the world with the sole aim of journeying towards God.
The relation between God and the soul cannot be better expressed except through the “spousal symbol”. St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross comments: “The bridal union with God is seen to be the original and true bridal state, while corresponding human relationships appear as imperfect images of this original, just as the Fatherhood of God is the archetype of all earthly paternity”. St John’s love for God was passionate and irrevocable. Thus, chastity for him was not something inhuman or a dry abstinence from something evil. Instead, it is one of the expressions of a total self-offering by the creature to its Creator in whom alone love finds its perfection and fulfilment. St John describes the spiritual marriage: “When the soul has been raised to the high state of spiritual marriage, the Bridegroom reveals to it, as His faithful consort, His own marvellous secrets most readily and most frequently, for he who truly and sincerely loves hides nothing from the object of his affections. The chief matter of His communications is the sweet mysteries of His Incarnation, the ways and means of the redemption, which is one of the highest works of God, and so is to the soul one of the sweetest.”
There is no consensus among scientists about why a person develops a particular sexual orientation. However, biologically-based theories for the cause of sexual orientation are favoured by experts which point to genetic factors, the early uterine environment, or both in combination. Most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation There is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation.
Now Catechism of the Catholic Church tells about this inclination:
2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfil God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.
Now the following points are crucial:
- Homosexuality is an inclination, ie; A person’s natural tendency or urge to act or feel in a particular way; a disposition.
- Need to separate the inclination and the sexual act based on it.
- Homosexuals are called to fulfil God’s will with their condition.
Persona Humana discuss: “A distinction is drawn, and it seems with some reason, between homosexuals whose tendency comes from a false education, from a lack of normal sexual development, from habit, from bad example, or from other similar causes, and is transitory or at least not incurable; and homosexuals who are definitively such because of some kind of innate instinct or a pathological constitution judged to be incurable.”
Homosexuality and mystic love to God
Now I am trying to explain that how this second category people can fulfil God’s will in their condition of being homosexual. To clear any doubt I deny the sexual acts on homosexuality because it is a mortal sin. But as a mental condition homosexuality should be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. The church says by the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom they can gradually approach Christian perfection. This is the reason why I believe mystic love to God is helpful for them to reach this perfection.
Mystic love to God is passionate experience beyond the senses. Which should be enough to anchor the instincts of a homosexual person. Now St Teresa of Avila describes how to go into the interior castle to unite with God, as a description of the stages of soul’s growth.
This initial level of the life of the soul is likened to a courtyard surrounding the castle, in which the ‘venomous creatures’ of sin prowl. Teresa speaks of those who are continually busying themselves with their affairs, never realizing the treasure that lies within. Teresa says that just the attempt to get in on the first floor the castle is a great step.
We now appreciate the need for regular prayer to stave off our old ways, and to feel a comforting nearness to God. God makes a great effort to beckon us closer, even though we are very much still involved in the ‘pastimes and businesses and pleasures and haggling. In the second mansions, the soul starts to get more in charge of itself, and seeks out the things of God to keep it on the spiritual path. Through prayer it becomes more able to resist temptations.
By third mansion, we may be perceived by others as being ‘good’ or ‘religious’, yet these rarefied heights are also a dangerous place for the seeker of God. At this level of the interior castle we stand on a threshold: full surrender to the Divine – or going back to relying on our own reason.
In the fourth mystical level of the castle, when we are depending less on ourselves and relying on God, falling into God’s embrace with trust. Instead of always thinking about God, we begin to receive the gift of natural understanding. Teresa tells the reader ‘not to think much but to love much’.
In the fifth mansion the soul achieve union with God. She says “It sets no store by the things it did when it was a worm – that is, by its gradual weaving of the cocoon. It has wings now: how can it be content to crawl along slowly when it is able to fly?”
Now there is a hope for homosexual persons to perfect in Christianity and they have a resting place on Christ’s bosom as John the Apostle did. John 13:25.