Poetry of St Paul of the Cross
The Way of Obscure Faith
In pure faith’s dim vision only
Soul enamored finds true joy
In the ever-present Being
Where it cleanses all alloy.
Burning sweetly in that furnace
Held by Hope above earth’s plane
Humbled in His holy presence
Sweet abandonment she claims.
As her ever-blessed portion
There, reposing in His Love,
Heart and life and all she offers
Brave detachment as a dove.
Whole, entire upon the altar
To the Spouse herself she gives,
Lost within that Sea unbounded
She finds rest and for Him lives.
Love enticing, she arises;
Gentle Spouse her greeting hears:
Alleluia, Holy, Holy!
Chant of heaven’s eternal years.
Would you sing the chant of heaven?
Prayer and solitude entice.
Is sweet music your ambition?
Crucifixion is the price.
Gaze upon your Savior, Jesus,
Love’s sweet victim crucified,
Lovingly He pleads for comfort
For your love He sweetly died.
“If you look upon My sufferings,
Contemplation will reveal
No sound spot on My body;
Wounded, bleeding, see Love’s seal.
“See My Face with spittle covered;
Blood blinds eyes all-seeing now;
Mouth with gall is all embittered
Crown entwined about my brow.
“Not with roses have they crowned Me,
Thorny wreath has pierced My head.
Not one found to help or pity
Midst a throng by fury led.
“Look once more, hands, feet are bleeding,
Riven by huge, cruel nails:
There is no soundness in My Body,
Wound on Wound My love reveals.
“See the dwelling for My loved ones
Where the lance has forced its way!
Here the soul who loves Me only
Lives detached; I am her stay.
“How My Heart was crushed with sadness,
O, if you but knew My plight,
Outraged by ungrateful people
Who have scorned My saving light.
“Have you understood My pleading.
Have you learned the lesson well?
Look upon your Jesus dying,
Live in Me, My Heart, your cell!
“Lowliness your sweet ambition,
As a flower upon your breast,
Wear the precious pearls I give you
My own pains and Passion blest!”
If you wish to be a master
In this science so sublime
Enter then into the cellar
Drink the wine of love divine.
Do not cease to seek despoilment
Stripping self of all desires
Finding all your joy in giving
All to loves consuming fires.
Docile ever to the Spirit,
Yielding all to His behest
Faith your guiding light unfailing,
God Himself will do the rest.
Open wide your heart to Jesus
When He gives this milk divine.
Let no fear prevent acceptance
But to Him your soul incline.
If dark spirits raise a tempest
To deprive you of your peace,
Christ’s great Heart’s the mighty stronghold
Where the wildest storms will cease.
Pay no heed to doubts annoying
Cruel monster at his play
He would rob you of your treasure;
Love of Jesus is your stay.
In all sorrows run to Mary,
Mother sweet and Queen most fair.
Here all darksome fears will vanish
If childlike you seek her care.
Tempest-tossed my soul is weary
I find not the will to sing,
Do not think I can be merry
For I’m plunged in suffering.
Pray that in His loving mercy,
He, the God of Love supreme,
May endow me with the spirit
Of contrition, deep and keen.
“So that by this deep compunction
Into tears I may be transformed,
And my heart so hard and stony
By His sacred Love be warmed.”
O, that in this fire so holy
I by love might be consumed,
And by this be changed entirely
To Christ’s Passion be transformed!
Ah, that His most Sacred Suffering
Could always be in my heart!
Burning love my only part!
Would that I might ever languish
At the cause of Mary’s grief,
That when death at last shall claim me,
Her dear face my sweet relief.
Song ill fits my weary spirit
Mid the darkness, tempest-tossed;
Rest Thou in the Heart of Jesus,
Hidden, loving, ever lost.
For a very meaningful commentary on some of these stanzas
by Msgr. Bernard Powers click here.
Long Live the Holy Cross
When the soul of God enamored
Gives her heart and life to Him,
He perfects the patient victim
On the Cross, mid shadows dim.
If I could but tell the treasures
Hidden by our Triune God
For the souls who strive to follow
In the path that Jesus trod!
But it is a precious secret
To the loving one revealed,
To me, lowly, inexperienced,
It is hidden and concealed.
Blessed is the heart abandoned
To this crucifying pain,
In the arms of the Beloved,
Burned, consumed in love’s pure flame.
Yet more blessed, when in anguish,
Stripped of all consoling forms,
Clothes the soul in desolation,
Into Christ Himself transforms.
Happy blessed soul who suffers
Thus that God alone may reign,
Seeking but to die, the better
Thus His Sacred love to gain.
Nailed upon the cross with Jesus,
I to you this lesson give;
You will sound its depth and meaning
If a life of prayer you live. Amen.