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!

Ever praying,

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.

 

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