“I am weary from my journey Prior. I covered the short distance in haste. I do not wish to debate, nor perplex you any longer. I have come to seek a blessing, for a specific task, from my former spiritual director. I will put you aside, concentrating upon my mission. Aligned with my current spiritual director, in addition I possess written permission from my monastery’s prior, I am confident within my endeavor.”
“Brother the one you seek, the infamous John of the Cross, comes with great complexity. I do not appreciate being placed in command of his care. The accusations against him contain the worst of perversity, a horrible abuse of authority. His scandal involves men and women of authentic religious life. Good people oppose him. The sordid details need not be explored further. Outrage aside, the man’s need for attention and his arrogance to reform and rise above the Carmelite order has been his shared disgrace with Teresa of Jesus throughout his life. Imprisonment did nothing to humble the man. The man pursued a religious career with self-advancement always forefront.”
“Father John of the Cross was a priest. He served none other than God throughout his life. I have thoroughly defended him against all the accusations. I am through arguing with you. I am aware of your judgement against him, however your stubbornness blocks your ears from all my words. Prior your obstinacy blinds you.”
“Your coming only reinforces my concerns. You seek the man, the poet, a worldly one who needs fame. He has amassed followers of himself throughout his life.”
“Father enough. I will explain myself no further. I will not defend one who wills not to be defended. I will say, I am convinced you are a man of destiny. You are truly the answer to John of the Cross’ prayers.”
With hesitation, the prior allowed the traveler from the convent in Baeza to visit the one whose reputation he loathed. The sick one handed over to him was determined to exploit the life of a priest in order to nurture the obsession for personal glory, all the time living a hidden deplorable life of sin. Disgraceful priest especially stirred an irrefutable anger. The harsh prior, a strong proven leader of a thriving convent, trusted his discernment. Spiritually aligned with the reigning religious authorities locally, throughout Spain, and even on into Rome, the prior assumed a position beyond refute. He entered the religious life as a teenager, excelling throughout his years, never once knowing the slightest hint of shame. Obedient, his pride for adhering to, while respecting, the hierarchy of the Church and apostolic tradition forced the prior to sternly unite with the righteous judgement against this John of the Cross.
The following morning the religious brother from Baeza returned to the prior’s office.
“I am leaving this afternoon after mid-day prayers with your community prior. I have come to personally thank you for your hospitality and say goodbye. I extend my apologies for raising my voice with you yesterday, and above that for questioning your judgement and authority.”
“The apology is accepted. Did you accomplish your mission brother? I forbid the slightest exercising of gossip; however I cannot withhold the words whispered about the length and heated tone of your conversation with your former spiritual director.”
“It seems I was confused in my mission. My former spiritual director clearly detailed my intent, informing me I did not need his advice. God has provided adequately for me with my current spiritual director. He scolded me for exercising my will into matters. When I expressed my outrage at all the false accusations being spread about him and the fact you adhere to them….I could not withhold a flood of passion, breaking into tears, screaming and yelling at the one I adored beyond measure. I vented my anger at the sick one laying before me. In my mind, he was a fierce spiritual warrior and now here he was allowing his reputation to be soiled, and in my mind, abandoning everything he had fought for throughout his life. Prior, I will be honest with you that I mad strong accusations against you, and I also threatened to physically accost my former spiritual director. You were right prior. I came to worship the man and the priest corrected my vision. I did not perceive the truth within myself. I have spent the night and morning praying about matters. Father John of the Cross insist that I make amends with you. He concretely reiterated the fact that you are his authority sent by God. It is as I expressed, you are the answer to his prayers. With sincerity and remorse, I offer my apologies.”
“Your apologies are accepted. God is good and all giving brother. Your mission may have been more complex than any of us can reason. The more I advance in years the more mystery appears—the darkness your friend in God poetically writes about being the ultimate wisdom. I had a dream last night brother. The details are not important. The imprinted message is the words ‘he is a beloved and pure’, obviously announcing the validity of the dying one given to my care.”
“Prior your words bring joy to my heart, peace to my mind, and strength to my body.”
“Yes, your mission is complete. I have also been praying and meditating upon matters. It dawned on me that never have I ‘hated’ a man as deeply as I did John of the Cross. I always thought of myself as a man of compassion, one possessing mature understanding, steeped in wisdom, trusting above all things God. How did such passion enter my heart? I associated the anger with a Holy Spirit inspired intensity necessary for the exercising of God’s will in the world of sinners. No matter how far we advance brother, we remain sinners. As religious men, living committed to the pursuit of purity and unity, we comprehend the propensity of religious men to veer from the narrow path. The mind is clever in deceiving. I recognize my wrath, understanding your former spiritual director, your beloved friend, acquiesced to it. God infused my opposition. Not through cleverness, nor greater insight, did John of the Cross allow God to further cauterize his soul, exercising penetrating purgatory. Absent the purgatory, it mirrors Our Lord’s ascent to Golgotha, our ascent to Mount Carmel.”
The religious brother from Baeza broke into a good-natured chuckle.
“That is the title of one of his books is it not? It did not register until you laughed.”
“God is good and all giving my friend in Christ.”