This seeking of either physical or spiritual comforts stops the self-denial of the body and soul. Running away from suffering is the denial of the Cross.
My son told me something a while ago now which resonated with me. He said, "Mother, you got more serious about things after your cancer operation." Such wisdom from a man who observed a spiritual change in his mum when he was 21...
Yes, I did, because I faced death, having had a death experience in a previous operation and realizing that I could very well not make it through another serious one...I detached myself from many things, people, places even my life, then, but not completely. That is why I am still suffering purgation.
St. John of the Cross notes this, and I repeat the ideas, if not the exact quotations, as there are at least 134 posts on this saint alone.
"If you purify your soul of attachment to and desire for things, you will understand them spiritually. If you deny your appetite for them, you will enjoy their truth, understanding what is certain in them...
How is it you dare to relax so fearlessly, since you must appear before God to render an account of the least word and thought?"
This saint states exactly what St. Bernard does--that one must fight the self daily in order to find God. Sin is merely the replacing of things, people, desires, for the God within.
One must be completely detached from all things, persons, places and self. God is within, but He wants to be found by the pure in heart. That is the end of purification. If one does not do this willingly, God may impose His Will upon us and send us great suffering in order to make one pure.
Even John of the Cross experienced great suffering at the hands of his own community. So did St. Padre Pio. So did St. Faustina. And so on...
St John of the Cross tells us that we shall not advance towards oneness with God until we get rid of ambition, desires, attachments.
But, God wills to be found. He waits within us. He waits for us to love solitude, holy books, meditation, contemplation. He waits until we guard our imaginations, memories, understanding and will to love Him more than anything or anyone else. St. John uses the word "guard", meaning that to pursue perfection, one must be "on guard". There is, simply, no real rest until heaven.
A hard, but true thought from this saint..."The soul that walks in love neither rests nor grows tired."
We see an agreement here among the four saints mentioned so far, SS. Augustine, Teresa, Bernard, and John of the Cross for the need for purification and perseverance.
Teresa states, “God withholds Himself from no one who perseveres.”
Augustine writes, "Holy Spirit, powerful Consoler, sacred Bond of the Father and the Son, Hope of the afflicted, descend into my heart and establish in it your loving dominion. Enkindle in my tepid soul the fire of your Love so that I may be wholly subject to you. We believe that when you dwell in us, you also prepare a dwelling for the Father and the Son. Deign, therefore, to come to me, Consoler of abandoned souls, and Protector of the needy. Help the afflicted, strengthen the weak, and support the wavering. Come and purify me. Let no evil desire take possession of me. You love the humble and resist the proud. Come to me, glory of the living, and hope of the dying. Lead me by your grace that I may always be pleasing to you."
"But it will be well to note what class of people takes comfort in the thought of God. Surely not that perverse and crooked generation to whom it was said, ‘Woe unto you that are rich; for ye have received your consolation’ (Luke 6.24). Rather, those who can say with truth, ‘My soul refuseth comfort’ (Ps. 77.2). For it is meet that those who are not satisfied by the present should be sustained by the thought of the future, and that the contemplation of eternal happiness should solace those who scorn to drink from the river of transitory joys. That is the generation of them that seek the Lord, even of them that seek, not their own, but the face of the God of Jacob." On Loving God
and John of the Cross, again
"He will be unable to reach perfection who does not strive to be content with having nothing, in such fashion that his natural and spiritual desire is satisfied with emptiness; for this is necessary in order to reach the highest tranquillity and peace of spirit. Hence the love of God in the pure and simple soul is almost continually in act."
This is our goal, as stated clearly by St. John:
"The very pure spirit does not meddle with exterior attachments or human respect, but it communes inwardly with God, alone and in solitude as to all forms, and with delightful tranquility, for the knowledge of God is received in divine silence."
to be continued...maybe