Discalced Carmelite Friars

Province of St. Therese

Poet and Contemplative

“From the abundance of his spirit [the poet] pours out secrets and mysteries rather than rational explanation” (Prologue, The Spiritual Canticle).

“In contemplation God teaches the soul very quietly and secretly, without its knowing how, without the sound of words” (Chapter 39, The Spiritual Canticle).

In the spirit of St. John of the Cross, this blog reflects on the contemplative experience and the poetic experience, sometimes separately and distinctly, sometimes in common, as mutually enlightening.

I will also post to this blog, from time to time, my own poetry, with a short interpretive note attached.

~ Fr. Bonaventure Sauer, OCD

Elijah on Mt. Horeb--A Parable for Contemplation

        There are other ways, besides being analytical about--as I have been--to talk about the contemplative experience of God.  One such way is through the use of narrative.  And, of course, there is one such story, drawn from Scripture, that has come to have this significance for Carmelites.  It is the story of Elijah on Mt. Horeb--or on Mt. Sinai.   
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What is Contemplation? -- Contemplation as Experience and as Prayer

        One can have contemplative experiences in ways not explicitly religious, although most of us would still consider such experiences spiritual, using that word to describe them, and making a distinction between the spiritual and the religious. (As an aside, I would draw the line of this distinction somewhat in this way, namely, that the spiritual is a dimension of
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What is Contemplation? -- a Recap

        There are, I think it safe to say, only a few out there in cyber-land who've been wondering what's become of this blog these past couple of months.  Maybe it's dried up under the summer sun and withered on the vine--or so a few of you might have been wondering.  Well, be that as it may, among the possible few who perhaps have been so wondering I
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The Main Course--What is Contemplation? (Part Two)

St. John of the Cross        I've somewhat lost my train of thought in these reflections on the topic of contemplation which I've been pursuing, or have meant to be pursuing, in this blog.  No matter.  I'm not going to go back and try to recover it.  Instead, I'll forge ahead.        What, then, is contemplation? 
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Poetry - 4th in a series

ContemplationAwash with a shallow stream of light, the chapel bracesTo witness the Spirit come forth at this hour.He rides as though over stones polished smoothAnd shimmering with wakefulness,The sound that of a swift gallop under rain.  He does not stop.I offer him the setting sun of my sadness,Whose shadows lean in, trying to make themselves his own.If only he could find his way to me across
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A First Serving (the poem The Dark Night)--Part Three

    In my previous post on the poem The Dark Night I recounted the simple story of a lovers tryst, told by the woman, which the poem narrates.  But, in doing so, I omitted one key stanza, the central one, which lies at the heart of the poem, namely, stanza 5.  It reads:Night that guided me,Night lovelier than the dawn,O Night that unitesThe lover and beloved,Beloved made one
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A First Serving (the poem The Dark Night)--Part Two

       How does one express in poetry the experience of divine love?  One can try to do so directly, by using direct statement, and writing explicitly religious verse.  St. John of the Cross adopts this approach, and accomplishes it masterfully, in his poem The Living Flame of Love.       But usually this approach—to capture
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