3.C.4 Spiritual Journey / Spiritual Path – A Christian Perspective


The motif of spiritual path/journey/pilgrimage plays an important role in Christian tradition. It has been used on symbolic/conceptual level – as an image of human spiritual development (human striving toward union with God). I has also been used at practical level – there are many spiritual practises which include travelling, walking, journeying. These levels are, of course, interconnected.

I’d like to present here three texts, yet dividing the session into two parts. The reason for this is that the texts belong to two, as it were, categories. The first one is interwoven with a popular devotional practise, which includes movement in space, and which can exhibit different levels of the spiritual depth. The second and the third texts belong to the most developed and profound strands of Christianity, and have never been connected with one particular practise, but rather were aimed and have been used to influence the whole spiritual and mystical life of a person.

PART I

In the first part I’m going to present the text of so called “Via Crucis” (the way of the cross).  The devotion of “Via Crucis” has its origin in Christian pilgrimages to Jerusalem and in the desire to follow the final stage of Jesus’ life. In the form very similar to the one known and practised today it was developed by Franciscans (the religious order founded by st. Francis of Assisi) in the late Middle Ages. In its most popular form it consists of fourteen stations depicting some moments of Jesus’ passion, i.e. his way with the cross to the Golgotha, his death and burial. Some of those stations are described in the New Testament, some of them are known only from the oral tradition.

The stations are used in a very popular spiritual practise. The faithful move from one station to the other praying and meditating on Jesus’ passion and their life. Many of such meditations have been written down and can be found in several pious books (and today also in the Internet).

What I propose to read, are the meditations that had been read during the “Via Crucis” led be Pope Francis at this year Good Friday. I have chosen them because of their spiritual quality, and due to the fact that they reveal fundamental motif of “Via Crucis” – the close, even intimate connection between the passion of Jesus (understood as God’s presence in the world) and the life of the participants of the “Via”.

VIA CRUCIS

OFFICE FOR THE LITURGICAL CELEBRATIONS

OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF

WAY OF THE CROSS

AT THE COLOSSEUM

LED BY THE HOLY FATHER

POPE FRANCIS

MEDITATIONS

by Lebanese young people under the guidance of His Eminent Beatitude Cardinal Béchara Boutros Raï

WAY OF THE CROSS 2013

Introduction

“A man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’” (Mk 10:17).

Jesus answered this burning question, which arises in the innermost core of our being, by walking the way of the Cross.

We contemplate you, Lord, along this path which you were the first to tread, and after which “you built a bridge to death with your Cross, so that men might pass from the land of death to the land of Life” (Saint Ephraim the Syrian, Homily).

The call to follow you is addressed to all, especially to the young and to those who are tried by division, wars or injustice and who fight to be signs of hope and builders of peace in the midst of their brethren.

We therefore place ourselves before you with love, we present our sufferings to you, we turn our gaze and our heart to your Holy Cross, and strengthened by your promise, we pray: “Blessed be our Redeemer, who has given us life by his death. O Redeemer, realize in us the mystery of your redemption, through your passion, death and resurrection” (Maronite Liturgy).

I Station: Jesus is condemned to death

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Mark 15:12-13, 15

Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man whom you call the King of the Jews?” And they cried out again, “Crucify him.” Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas; and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

From Pilate, the man with power, Jesus ought to have obtained justice. Pilate did indeed have the power to recognize Jesus’ innocence and free him. But the Roman Governor preferred to serve the logic of his personal interests and he yielded to political and social pressures. He condemned an innocent man in order to please the crowd, without satisfying truth. He handed Jesus over to the torment of the Cross, knowing that he was innocent … and then he washed his hands.

In today’s world, there are many “Pilates” who keep their hands on the levers of power and make use of them in order to serve the strongest. There are many who are weak and cowardly before the spectre of power, and mortgage their authority to the service of injustice, trampling upon man’s dignity and his right to life.

Lord Jesus,

do not allow us

to be among those who act unjustly.

Do not allow the strong

to take pleasure in evil,

injustice and tyranny.

Do not allow injustice

to condemn the innocent

to despair and death.

Confirm them in hope

and illumine the consciences

of those with authority in this world,

that they may govern with justice.

Amen.

II Station: Jesus takes up the Cross

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Mark 15:20

When they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak, and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him.

Jesus Christ stands before soldiers who think they have complete power over him, while he is the One through whom “all things were made … and without him was not anything made that was made” (Jn 1:3).

In every age, man has thought he could take the place of God and determine for himself what is good and what is evil (cf.  Gen 3:5) without reference to his Creator and Saviour. He has thought himself omnipotent, capable of excluding God from his own life and from that of his peers, in the name of reason, power or money.

Today too, the world bows to realities that seek to expel God from human life, such as the blind secularism that suffocates the values of faith and morals in the name of an alleged defence of man; or the violent fundamentalism that claims to be defending religious values (cf. Ecclesia in Medio Oriente, 29).

Lord Jesus,

who accepted humiliation

and stood alongside the weak,

we entrust to you

all who are humiliated and suffering,

especially those from the tormented East.

Grant that they may find in you

the strength to be able to carry

their Cross of hope with you.

We place into your hands

all who are lost,

so that, thanks to you,

they may find truth and love.

Amen.

III Station: Jesus falls for the first time

A Reading from the Prophet Isaiah 53:5

He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed.

He who holds the lights of heaven in his divine hand and before whom the powers of heaven tremble: see him falling to the ground, without protecting himself, under the heavy yoke of the Cross.

He who brought peace to the world, wounded by our sins, falls under the burden of our guilt.

“O ye faithful, behold our Saviour as he moves forward along the path to Calvary. Oppressed by bitter sufferings, his strength abandons him. Let us go to see this incredible event that surpasses our understanding and defies description. The foundations of the earth were shaken and a dreadful fear took hold of those who were present when their Creator and God was crushed under the weight of the Cross and let himself be led to death, for love of all humanity” (Chaldean Liturgy).

Lord Jesus,

raise us from our own falls,

lead our wandering spirit

back to your Truth.

Do not allow human reason,

which you created for yourself,

to be satisfied with the partial truths

of science and technology

without seeking to pose the fundamental questions

of the meaning of our existence

(cf. Porta Fidei, 12).

Grant, Lord,

that we may open ourselves to the action of your Holy Spirit,

so that he may lead us to the fullness of Truth.

Amen.

IV Station: Jesus meets his mother

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke 2:34-35, 51b

Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.” His mother kept all these things in her heart.

Wounded and suffering, carrying mankind’s Cross, Jesus meets his mother and, in her face, all mankind.

Mary the Mother of God was the first disciple of the Master. In accepting the Angel’s message, she encountered the Incarnate Word for the first time and became the Temple of the living God. She met him without understanding how the Creator of heaven and earth could have wanted to choose a young girl, a fragile creature, in order to become incarnate in this world. She met him in a constant search for his face, mediating on the word in the silence of her heart. She thought she was seeking him, but in reality, it was he who was seeking her.

Now he encounters her as he carries the Cross.

Jesus suffers on seeing his mother suffer, as does Mary on seeing her Son suffer. But from this shared suffering a new humanity is born. “Salam to you! We implore you, holy and glorious ever-Virgin, Mother of God, Mother of Christ. Let our prayer rise up before your beloved Son, that he may forgive our sins” (Theotikon from the Horologion, Al-Aghbia, 37).

Lord Jesus,

in our families we too experience

the sufferings caused to children by their parents

and to parents by their children.

Lord, grant that in these difficult times

our families may be places of your presence,

so that our sufferings may be turned to joy.

Support our families

and make them oases of love,

peace and serenity,

in the image of the Holy Family of Nazareth.

Amen.

V Station: Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry the Cross

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke 23:26

As they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the Cross, to carry it behind Jesus.

Jesus’ meeting with Simon of Cyrene took place in silence, providing us with a lesson for our lives: God does not want suffering and he does not accept evil. The same is true of the human being. But suffering, accepted in faith, is transformed into a path of salvation. Then we accept it as Jesus did, and we help to carry it as Simon of Cyrene did.

Lord Jesus,

you have involved man in the carrying of your Cross.

You have invited us to share your sufferings.

Simon of Cyrene is like us

and he teaches us to accept the Cross

that we encounter on the paths of life.

Following your example, Lord,

we too carry the Cross

of suffering and illness today,

but we accept it because you are with us.

It can nail us to our chair,

but it cannot prevent us from dreaming;

it can obscure our vision,

but it cannot touch our conscience;

it can deafen our ears,

but it cannot prevent us from listening;

it can bind our tongue

but it cannot suppress our thirst for truth;

it can weigh down our spirit,

but it cannot rob us of our freedom.

Lord,

we want to be your disciples

so as to carry your Cross every day;

we will carry it with joy and hope

because you are carrying it with us,

because you have triumphed over death for us.

We give you thanks, Lord,

for every sick or ailing person

who knows how to bear witness to your love,

and for every “Simon of Cyrene”

whom you place on our journey.

Amen.

VI Station: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus

A Reading from the Book of Psalms 27:8-9

Of you my heart has spoken: “Seek his face.” It is your face, O Lord, that I seek; hide not your face. Dismiss not your servant in anger; you have been my help. Do not abandon or forsake me, O God my help!

Veronica sought you in the midst of the crowd. She sought you and finally found you. While your anguish was at its height, she wanted to ease it by wiping your face with a towel. A small gesture, but it expressed all her love for you and all her faith in you; it has remained impressed on the memory of our Christian tradition.

Lord Jesus,

it is your face that we seek.

Veronica reminds us that you are present

in every person who suffers

and goes forward along his or her path to Golgotha.

Lord, grant that we may find you in the poor,

in the least of your brethren,

in order to wipe away the tears of those who weep,

to take care of those who suffer

and to support those who are weak.

Lord, you teach us

that a wounded and forgotten person

loses neither worth nor dignity

and remains a sign

of your hidden presence in the world.

Help us to wipe away from his or her face

the marks of poverty and injustice,

so that your image in him or her

may be revealed and may shine forth.

We pray for those who are seeking your Face

and who find it in those of the homeless,

the poor and children exposed to violence and exploitation.

Amen.

VII Station: Jesus falls for the second time

A Reading from the Book of Psalms 22:8,12

All who see me deride me. They curl their lips, they toss their heads. Do not leave me alone in my distress; come close, there is none else to help.

Jesus is alone under the interior and exterior weight of the Cross. In this fall, the weight of evil becomes too great and there seems no longer to be any limit to injustice and violence.

But he rises once more, strong in the infinite trust that he places in his Father. Before the men who abandon him to his lot, the power of the Spirit raises him up; it unites him fully to the Father’s will, that of love which can do all things.

Lord Jesus, in your second fall,

we recognize so many of our situations

from which there seems to be no way of escape.

Among them are those that derive from prejudice and hatred,

which harden our hearts

and lead to religious conflicts.

Enlighten our minds

so that they recognize,

despite “human and religious differences,”

that “a ray of truth

shines on all men and women”,

called to walk together

– with respect for religious freedom –

towards the truth that is in God alone.

Thus, the different religions can

“join one another in service to the common good

and contribute to the development of each person

and the building of society” (Ecclesia in Medio Oriente, 27-28).

Come, Holy Spirit,

to console and strengthen Christians,

especially those from the Middle East,

so that, united in Christ,

they may be witnesses of your universal love

in an area torn apart by injustice and conflicts.

Amen.

VIII Station: Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem who weep for him

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke 23:27-28

There followed him a great multitude of the people, and of women who bewailed and lamented him. But Jesus turning to them said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.”

On the path to Calvary, the Lord meets the women of Jerusalem. These women are weeping at the Lord’s sufferings as if it were suffering without hope. All they can see in the Cross is the wood, sign of a curse (cf. Dt 21:23), whereas the Lord chose it as a means of Redemption and Salvation.

In the Passion and Crucifixion, Jesus gives his life as a ransom for many. Thus he gave relief to those who were oppressed under the yoke and he consoled the afflicted. He wiped away the tears of the women of Jerusalem and opened their eyes to Paschal truth.

Our world is full of afflicted mothers, of women whose dignity has been wounded, abused by discrimination, injustice and suffering (cf. Ecclesia in Medio Oriente, 60). O suffering Christ, be their peace and be a balm to their wounds.

Lord Jesus,

by your incarnation from Mary,

“Blessed among women” (Lk 1:42),

you raised the dignity of every woman.

With the Incarnation

you unified the human race (cf. Gal 3:26-28).

Lord,

may the encounter with you be the desire of our hearts.

Let our path, filled with sufferings,

always be a path of hope,

with you and towards you

who are the refuge of our life

and our Salvation.

Amen.

IX Station: Jesus falls for the third time under the weight of the Cross

A Reading from the Second Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians 5:14-15

The love of Christ controls us, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, that those who live might live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

For the third time Jesus falls under the Cross, burdened with our sins, and for the third time he seeks to get up again, summoning up the strength that remains to him, so as to continue his journey towards Golgotha, refusing to let himself be crushed and to succumb to temptation.

From the moment of his Incarnation, Jesus carries the Cross of human suffering and sin. He has fully and eternally assumed human nature, showing men that victory is possible and that the path towards divine sonship is open.

Lord Jesus,

the Church, born from your open side,

is oppressed under the Cross of the divisions

that distance Christians from one another

and from the unity that you willed for them;

they turn away from your desire

“that they may all be one” (Jn 17:21)

as the Father is with you.

This cross bears down with all its weight

on their lives and on their common testimony.

Grant us, Lord, the wisdom and the humility

to rise once more and to move forward along the path of unity,

in truth and love,

without succumbing to the temptation

to have recourse merely to the criteria

of personal or sectarian interests,

in the face of our divisions (cf. Ecclesia in Medio Oriente, 11).

Grant that we may renounce the mentality of division,

“lest the Cross of Christ be emptied of its power” (1 Cor 1:17).

Amen.

X Station: Jesus is stripped of his garments

A Reading from the Book of Psalms 22:19

They divide my clothing among them, they cast lots for my robe.

In the fullness of time, Lord Jesus, you clothed yourself in our humanity, you whose “train filled the temple” (Is 6:1); already, you are walking in our midst, and those who wish to touch the hem of your garments are healed. But you have been stripped even of this garment, Lord! They have stolen your cloak and you have also given us your tunic (cf. Mt 5:40). You have allowed the veil of your flesh to be torn so that we might once more be admitted into the Father’s presence (cf. Heb 10:19-20).

We thought we could find fulfilment by ourselves, independently of you (cf. Gen 3:4-7). We found ourselves naked, but in your infinite love you reclothed us with the dignity of sons and daughters of God and of his sanctifying grace.

Bestow, Lord, upon the children of the Eastern Churches – stripped by various difficulties, sometimes to the point of persecution, and weakened by emigration – the courage to remain in their countries to proclaim the Good News.

O Jesus, Son of Man,

who were stripped so as to reveal to us

the new creation raised from the dead,

tear in us the veil that separates us from God

and weave in us your divine presence.

Grant us to conquer fear

before the events of life

that strip us and leave us naked,

and to put on the new man of our Baptism,

in order that we may announce the Good News,

proclaiming that you are the only true God

who guides history.

Amen.

XI Station: Jesus is nailed to the Cross

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to John 19:16a,19

Then he handed him over to them to be crucified. Pilate also wrote a title and put it on the cross; it read: “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”

Behold, the long-awaited Messiah, hanging on the wood of the cross between two thieves. The two hands which blessed humanity are pierced. The two feet which trod our earth to proclaim the Good News are now suspended between earth and heaven. The eyes full of love, whose gaze healed the sick and forgave our sins, now gaze only heavenward.

Lord Jesus,

you were crucified for our sins.

You pray to God the Father and you intercede for humanity.

Each hammer blow echoes like a beat of your immolated heart.

How beautiful upon the mount of Calvary

are the feet of the One who proclaims

the Good News of salvation.

Your love, Jesus, has filled the universe.

Your pierced hands

are our refuge in distress.

They embrace us

whenever the abyss of sin threatens us,

and in your wounds

we find healing and forgiveness.

O Jesus,

we pray to you for all those young people

who are overcome by hopelessness,

for young people who are the victims of drugs,

of sects and of perversions.

Free them from their enslavement.

May they lift up their gaze and accept Love.

May they find happiness in you;

save them, our Saviour.

Amen.

XII Station: Jesus dies on the cross

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke 23:46

Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” And having said this, he breathed his last.

From the height of the cross a cry is heard a cry: a cry of abandonment at the moment of death, a cry of trust amid suffering, a cry accompanying the birth of a new life. Behold, hanging on the tree of life, you deliver your spirit into your Father’s hands, causing life to spring up in abundance and forming the new creation. Today we too face the challenges of this world: we sense the surge of fears which overwhelm us and shake our trust. Grant us, Lord, the strength to know deep within our heart that no death will conquer us, until we rest in the hands which have shaped us and accompany us.

May every one of us be able to cry out:

“Yesterday I was crucified with Christ,

today I am glorified with him.

Yesterday I died with him,

today I live with him.

Yesterday I was buried with him.

Today I have risen with him.” (Gregory Nazianzen)

In the darkness of our nights,

we contemplate you.

Teach us to turn towards the Most High,

your heavenly Father.

Today, let us pray

that all those who promote abortion

may become aware that love

can only be a source of life.

Let us think also of those who defend euthanasia

and those who encourage

techniques and procedures

which endanger human life.

Open their hearts

to know you in the truth

and to work for the building

of the civilization of life and love.

Amen.

XIII Station: Jesus is taken down from the cross and given to his Mother

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to John 19:26-27a

When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother: “Woman, behold your son!” Then he said to the disciple: “Behold, your mother!”

Lord Jesus, those who love you remain at your side and keep faith. In the hour of your agony and death, when the world believes that evil triumphs and that the voice of truth, love, justice and peace is silent, their faith does not fail.

O Mary, into your hands we place our earth. “How sad it is to see this blessed land suffer in its children, who relentlessly tear one another to pieces and die!” (Ecclesia in Medio Oriente, 8). It seems that nothing can overcome evil, terrorism, murder and hatred. “Before the cross on which your Son stretched out his sinless hands for our salvation, O Virgin, we fall prostrate this day: grant us peace” (Byzantine liturgy).

Let us pray

for the victims of the wars and of the violence

which in our days devastate

various countries in the Middle East,

as well as other parts of the world.

Let us pray that the displaced and the forced migrants

may soon return

to their homes and lands.

Grant, Lord,

that the blood of innocent victims

may be the seed of a new East,

ever more fraternal, peaceful and just,

and that this East

may recover the splendour of its vocation

as the cradle of civilization and of spiritual and human values.

Star of the East,

show us the coming of the Dawn!

Amen.

XIV Station: Jesus is laid in the tomb

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to John 19:39-40

Nicodemus also, who had at first come to him by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight. They took the body of Jesus, and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.

Nicodemus receives the body of Christ, he looks after it and puts it in a tomb in the middle of a garden which evokes the garden of Creation. Jesus lets himself be buried, even as he let himself be crucified, in the same abandonment, entirely “delivered” into the hands of men and “perfectly united” to them, “even to sleeping beneath the tombstone” (Saint Gregory of Narek).

To accept difficulties, painful events, death, demands steadfast hope, living faith.

The stone placed before the entrance of the tomb will be overturned and a new life will arise. For “we were buried with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” (Rom 6:4)

We have received the freedom of the children of God, so that we will not return to slavery; life has been given to us in abundance, so that we will no longer be satisfied with a life lacking beauty and meaning.

Lord Jesus,

make us children of the light

who do not fear the darkness.

We pray to you today

for all those who search for meaning in life

and for all those who have lost hope,

that they may have faith in your victory

over sin and death.

Amen.

PART II

In the second part of this session I’d like to present two texts of the utmost importance for the Christian mystical tradition. The first one is a fragment of  “The Mystical Theology”, written by Pseudo-Dionisius, a 6th century anonymous writer, living probably in today’s Syria. “The Mystical Theology” is one of the most influential mystical writings in both Eastern and Western branches of Christianity, especially in their apophatic strands. The proposed fragment contains a mystical interpretation of Moses’ ascent to Mount Sinai. Moses climbing Mount Sinai has become a symbol of human mystical journey toward God. Such an interpretation of the biblical story plays an important role in many Christian mystical writings (especially in those written in the first millennium CE by so called Church Fathers).

The author of the second text – or more precisely the drawing –  is one of the most influential mystical author living in the Christian West, the 16th century Spanish mystic, St. John of the Cross. The motif of climbing the mountain remained important for Christian mystical tradition also c.a. thousand years after the Dionisius (even if, as a member of the Carmelite Order, John uses different mountain, the Mount Carmel not Mount Sinai, as a symbol of union with God).  The John’s drawing depicts three ways of spiritual path, only one of which (the way of nothing) reaches the summit. The drawing includes also the list of the rules of pursuing the spiritual/mystical path, formulated in a poetical way. John used to hand out this drawing to many people as a synthetic reminder of what he taught in his poems and speculative writings (I’ll summarize his mystical teaching during our session).

THE MYSTICAL THEOLOGY

Tr. modifed from those of:  C. Lubheid, (Paulist, CWS 1987) and C. Rolt  (SPCK, 1920).  Greek ed. G. Heil, de Gruyter, 1991 Corp. Dionys. II, pp. 142-150

http://www.ldysinger.com/@texts/0500_dion_aer/03_dion-mys_th.htm

ON MYSTICAL THEOLOGY  – to Timothy

ΠΕΡΙ ΜΥΣΤΙΚΗΣ ΘΕΟΛΟΓΙΑΣ

ΠΡΟΣ ΤΙΜΟΘΕΟΝ

TRINITY!! Higher than any being, any divinity, any goodness!

Τριὰς ὑπερούσιε καὶ ὑπέρθεε καὶ ὑπεράγαθε,

Guide of Christians in the wisdom of heaven!

lead us up beyond unknowing and light, up to the farthest, highest peak of mystic scripture,

τῆς Χριστιανῶν ἔφορε θεοσοφίας

ἴθυνον ἡμᾶς ἐπὶ τὴν τῶν μυστικῶν λογίων ὑπεράγνωστον καὶ ὑπερφαῆ καὶ ἀκροτάτην κορυφήν·

where the  mysteries of God’s Word lie simple, absolute and unchangeable in the  brilliant darkness of a  hidden silence.

ἔνθα τὰ ἁπλᾶ καὶ ἀπόλυτα καὶ [142] ἄτρεπτα τῆς θεολογίας μυστήρια κατὰ τὸν  ὑπέρφωτον  ἐγκεκάλυπται τῆς κρυφιομύστου σιγῆς γνόφον,

Amid the deepest darkness they pour overwhelming light on what is most manifest.

ἐν τῷ σκοτεινοτάτῳ τὸ ὑπερφανέστατον ὑπερλάμποντα

Amid the wholly unsensed and unseen they completely fill our sightless minds with treasures beyond all beauty

καὶ ἐν τῷ πάμπαν ἀναφεῖ καὶ ἀοράτῳ τῶν ὑπερκάλων ἀγλαϊῶν ὑπερπληροῦντα τοὺς ἀνομμάτους νόας.

I

FOR this I pray; and, Timothy, my friend, my advice to you as you look for a sight of the mysterious things, is to leave behind you everything perceived and understood, everything perceptible and understandable, all that is not and all that is,

Εμοὶ μὲν οὖν ταῦτα ηὔχθω· σὺ δέ, ὦ φίλε Τιμόθεε, τῇ περὶ τὰ μυστικὰ θεάματα συντόνῳ διατριβῇ καὶ τὰς αἰσθήσεις ἀπόλειπε καὶ τὰς νοερὰς ἐνεργείας καὶ πάντα αἰσθητὰ καὶ νοητὰ καὶ πάντα οὐκ ὄντα καὶ ὄντα¨

and unknowingly strive upward as much as you can toward  union with him who is beyond all being and knowledge.      καὶ πρὸς τὴν  ἕνωσιν, ὡς ἐφικτόν, ἀγνώστως ἀνατάθητι τοῦ ὑπὲρ πᾶσαν οὐσίαν καὶ γνῶσιν·

By an undivided and Absolute abandonment of yourself and everything, shedding all and freed from all freed from all, you will be uplifted to the ray of the divine shadow [darkness] which is above everything that is.

τῇ γὰρ ἑαυτοῦ καὶ πάντων ἀσχέτῳ καὶ ἀπολύτῳ καθαρῶς ἐκστάσει πρὸς τὸν ὑπερούσιον τοῦ θείου σκότους ἀκτῖνα, πάντα ἀφελὼν καὶ ἐκ πάντων ἀπολυθείς, ἀναχθήσῃ.

(…)

It has neither word nor act of understanding, since it is on a plane above all this, and it is made manifest only to those who travel through foul and fair,

ὡς οὔτε λόγον οὔτε νόησιν ἔχουσα, διὰ τὸ πάντων αὐτὴν ὑπερουσίως ὑπερκειμένην εἶναι καὶ μόνοις ἀπερικαλύπτως καὶ ἀληθῶς ἐκφαινομένην τοῖς καὶ τὰ ἐναγῆ πάντα καὶ τὰ καθαρὰ διαβαίνουσι

who pass beyond the summit of every holy ascent,

καὶ πᾶσαν πασῶν ἁγίων ἀκροτήτων ἀνάβασιν

who  leave behind them every divine light,

every voice,

every word from heaven,

ὑπερβαίνουσι καὶ πάντα τὰ θεῖα φῶτα

καὶ ἤχους

καὶ λόγους οὐρανίους ἀπολιμπάνουσι

and who plunge  into the darkness where, as scripture proclaims, there dwells the One who is beyond all things.

καὶ “εἰς τὸν γνόφον” εἰσδυομένοις, “οὗ” ὄντως ἐστίν, ὡς τὰ λόγιά φησιν, ὁ πάντων ἐπέκεινα.

It is not for nothing that the blessed Moses is commanded to submit first to purification and then to depart from those who have not undergone this. When every purification is complete, he hears the many-voiced trumpets. He sees the many lights, pure and with rays streaming abundantly.

Καὶ γὰρ οὐχ ἁπλῶς ὁ θεῖος Μωϋσῆς ἀποκαθαρθῆναι πρῶτον αὐτὸς κελεύεται καὶ αὖθις τῶν μὴ τοιούτων ἀφορισθῆναι καὶ μετὰ πᾶσαν ἀποκάθαρσιν ἀκούει τῶν [144] πολυφώνων σαλπίγγων καὶ ὁρᾷ φῶτα πολλὰ καθαρὰς ἀπαστράπτοντα καὶ πολυχύτους ἀκτῖνας·

Then, standing apart from the crowds and accompanied by chosen priests, he pushes ahead to the summit of the divine ascents. And yet he does not meet God himself, but  contemplates, not him who is invisible, but rather [the place] where he stands.

εἶτα τῶν πολλῶν ἀφορίζεται καὶ μετὰ τῶν ἐκκρίτων ἱερέων ἐπὶ τὴν ἀκρότητα τῶν θείων ἀναβάσεων φθάνει. Κἀν τούτοις αὐτῷ μὲν οὐ συγγίνεται τῷ θεῷ, θεωρεῖ δὲ οὐκ αὐτόν ἀθέατος γάρ ἀλλὰ τὸν τόπον οὗ ἔστη.

This means, I presume, that  the holiest and highest of the things perceived with the eye of the body or the mind are but the logoi (inner meanings or purposes) of all that lies below the Transcendent One.  Τοῦτο δὲ οἶμαι σημαίνειν τὸ τὰ θειότατα καὶ ἀκρότατα τῶν ὁρωμένων καὶ νοουμένων ὑποθετικούς τινας εἶναι λόγους τῶν ὑποβεβλημένων τῷ πάντα ὑπερέχοντι,

Through them, however, his unimaginable presence is shown, walking the heights of those holy places to which the mind at least can rise.

δι’ ὧν ἡ ὑπὲρ πᾶσαν ἐπίνοιαν αὐτοῦ παρουσία δείκνυται ταῖς νοηταῖς ἀκρότησι τῶν ἁγιωτάτων αὐτοῦ τόπων ἐπιβατεύουσα).

But then he [Moses] breaks free of them, away from what sees and is seen, and  he plunges into the truly mysterious darkness of unknowing.

Καὶ τότε καὶ αὐτῶν ἀπολύεται τῶν ὁρωμένων καὶ τῶν ὁρώντων καὶ εἰς  τὸν γνόφον τῆς ἀγνωσίας εἰσδύνει τὸν ὄντως μυστικόν,

Here, renouncing all that the mind may conceive, wrapped entirely in the intangible and the invisible, he belongs completely to him who is beyond everything [and to nothing at all].

καθ’ ὃν ἀπομύει πάσας τὰς γνωστικὰς ἀντιλήψεις, καὶ ἐν τῷ πάμπαν ἀναφεῖ καὶ ἀοράτῳ γίγνεται, πᾶς ὢν τοῦ πάντων ἐπέκεινα καὶ οὐδενός,

Here, being neither oneself nor someone else, one is supremely united by a completely unknowing inactivity of all knowledge, and knows beyond the mind by knowing nothing.

οὔτε ἑαυτοῦ οὔτε ἑτέρου, τῷ παντελῶς δὲ ἀγνώστῳ τῇ πάσης γνώσεως ἀνενεργησίᾳ κατὰ τὸ κρεῖττον ἑνούμενος καὶ τῷ μηδὲν γινώσκειν ὑπὲρ νοῦν γινώσκων.

1. JOHN OF THE CROSS

ACENT ON MOUNT CARMEL

(DRAWING)