Sunday, December 14, 2008

Musical Saints: John of the Cross

Today is the feast day of the great Carmelite Saint John of the Cross. The Carmelite Order, which traces its origins to the prophet Elijah, is notable for its ethos of close listening -- Elijah himself had to discern the voice of God on Mount Horeb in the midst of a soundscape of terrifying power -- and so it is fitting that the order has attracted holy men and women of a musical bent, incuding Father Hermann Cohen and Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity.

Saint John of the Cross himself spoke of the search for and mystical union with the Savior in musical terms. In his Spiritual Canticle of the Soul and the Bridegroom Christ, he described the fleeting moment between night and day as a time charged with the "silent music" of this encounter:

The tranquil night
At the time of the rising dawn,
Silent music,
Sounding solitude,
The supper that refreshes, and deepens love.

Musical saints of Carmel, intercede for us, that we may receive the gift of true hearing!

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