DISCALCED CARMELITE FRIARS
PROVINCE OF ST. THERESE
Stacks Image 51
from The Romances
of St. John of the Cross
~a free translation
by Fr. Bonaventure Sauer, OCD
On the Blessed Trinity
We go back to the beginning, to when
In ecstatic Love Eternity sang out,
Echoing across the infinite meadows
Of Its own flowering melody, resting

Beneath the imperturbable oak of Its
Heart’s steady beat. Then the
Poem
Stepped out from behind Eternal Light
Shining with joy, pure joy in being.

*

We understood then that this Poem was of God,
Was God in Its own right, God from God,
The beginning of all that is or yet may be—

God’s Love had sprung forth singing of Spring,
And thus it was that all had a beginning:

“Yes, nothing precedes Me,
For Love is the Beginning,
Beginning-without-Beginning.”

This
Poem was like a lullaby meant for God’s
Beloved Son, who was born at the beginning
When God’s imagination, having dreamt
Of a Son, first stirred to fashion Him

In the perfection of His divinity—God crafting
His depth and height, His length and breadth,
Then filling Him with His own breath, all
The while losing nothing of His wholeness:

“This Child’s become One
With My own eternal being, just
As a father loves
His son, another self, his heart
Brimming over with pride.”

*

“Think of someone you love,” the Father said, “a beloved child perhaps, or a spouse, a parent, a sibling, a friend. You and this other person, whom you love and are loved by, live to some extent
through each other, assuming your love is true—namely, that you love each other as truly another, other than yourself. Of course, through this love you then come to know each other, at first partially, then more and more, although never completely. Your love is always free to grow and afford continued amazement and wonder, while also risking disappointment, rejection, or betrayal.”

“So it is that Love unites,
Being one thing born of two,
A truth now stirring like breath
Between Us—Lover, Beloved,
And the Love between Us become
As true and real as We Ourselves.”

*

Such is the fullness of the Triune God,
Ever among us, one God, one Love,
Source of all, life-giving, nurturing,

Making Three One, and One Three—
Lover, Beloved, and Love. What Each is
All are in this intimate communion,

Each loving the Others with whom He
Shares being—a oneness arrived at again
And again, existing beyond all words,

Like the Tao, transcendent, omnipresent,
Boundless as the life of all, everywhere.

God proclaims the law of all being:
“The more love makes one of two
The more is it truly alive as love.”

***
On the Incarnation
The clock struck morning’s first watch,
And creation rose from nothingness
Prodded forth by the rosy dawning

Of eternity ever new. Dewy fields
Stepped into view and, in the distance,
Snowcapped mountains peered up.

Time had yet to hogtie humanity
With dull hours of work and want.
Instead, all lingered a moment,

Poised like a hatchling soon to launch
Into flight. And all of a sudden
The Father’s voice thundered forth,

Shattering the air all around. This
Is what He said:
“Your bride, My Son,
Shines with the innocence of youth.

I have fashioned her to bear Your Light
Within herself; thus, her appearance
Will please you, her heart and hands

Wholly like Yours. Yet, unlike You,
She is constantly changing—now here,
Now there, coming and going like the rain,

Ebbing and flowing like the tide.
Yet it is an eternal law that love, to be true,
Must fully unite lover and beloved,

Reshaping each in the other’s image.
And the closer their sharing, one
To the other, the deeper their joy.

Thus, I say—Your bride will rejoice
To see You at her side, with a face,
Like hers, caressed by the breeze,

With fingers, like hers, combing clods
Of rich loam, with hands, like hers,
Blessing bread and breaking it.”

*

The Son nodded. “I’ll do it, to her I’ll go;
It makes perfect sense to me—to show
Your goodness shining on all like the sun,
Your glory reflected in the face of Adam.

Yes, I’ll hurry forth, darting from door to door,
Letting it be known in words of deep lore—
That You are all-powerful in Your mercy’s munificence,
Your beauty as abundant as the Goldberg Variations.

So, I’m off to seek My bride, taking as My own
The trials and toil she now suffers alone;
I’ll die in her midst, shouldering her distress,
Reclaiming all for her the hope of new bliss.”

*

So the Son summoned Gabriel
The Archangel, charging him
To fly posthaste to a lowly girl
Of a village called Nazareth,

A place of no importance. “She
Will be the new Eve,” the Son told
The angel; “her name is Mary.
Ask her consent—and, behold,
With it the mystery shall be.”

So it was. In her the Divinity,
Triune in Love’s eternal oneness,
As one acted to cloth the Word
In human flesh, human history,
Human joy, and human need.

All Three wrought this mystery,
Working it as one in One, God’s
Eternal Word, Who came to be
In Mary’s womb. Thus, it was

That He Who had had a Father
Now had a Mother as well—for
From her flesh He took human
Flesh, and at her breast felt
Human need; in her arms He

Learned human joy, and from
Her lips heard oft retold
The history of God’s People—
Yes, in her God’s Son became
A human being, a son of man.

***
On the Nativity
“And when the time drew near
For My mother to give birth,
Like a bridegroom I appeared
Shining upon this dark, cold earth.

I embraced My innocent bride,
Her eyes glowing with joy and awe,
While My mother, full of pride,
Laid Me in a bed of straw.

Creation rang out like tolling bells,
And angels sang in unison,
Celebrating with glad carols
The marriage of Two-made-One—

God in Me dressed in swaddling clothes
Softly cooing and crying,
And infant noises against the cold,
Which creation gave Me as My bride.

Mary pondered all this in her heart,
A wonderful exchange:
How in My eyes welled human tears
And in creation eternal cheer—
Each to the other in its part
A thing usually so strange.”

***