- Lumen Fidei 36 -



- Evangelii Gaudium 11 -

P R E P A R A T I O N   F O R   T H E   M O U N T

- the graphic of the mystic path -

A   H I G T   A N D   T O T A L I Z I N G   M E A S U R E 

 1.   In the draft, "which is the figure" (1S 13,10) of the Mount of perfection (Mp), drawn by St. John of the Cross, it is essential the high and totalizing measure of the path of the “nada” which, becoming more and more narrow and steep, climbs towards the totalizing summit of the union with God, the “todo”.

  • St. John of the Cross combined a poetic intuition and a verbal invention with a late-scholastic taste for the schemes and a meticulous analytic distinction. So, he added to the poem Dark Night a famous sketch of the Mount of perfection and the path which leads to its summit. Reading the book by John Ballini, we get the feeling that he is following this second inspiration of the Saint. [*]


The Mystic Doctor himself maintains that this "figure is at the beginning " (1S 13,10) of the book “Ascent of Mount Carmel”. As he was an artistic mind, he decided to draw a sketch, a picture with the main lines of his mystic todo y nada.


2.   Also the draft of the mystic path we elaborated, following and pursuing that of St. John of the Cross, climbs up in the nature of the “Ascent of Mount Carmel” (Mp)

This draft, showing the mystic path, actually is a preparation, a frame of mind towards the doctrine (S, prologue 9), summarized by the lines of our Saint Father John, which are under the Mount he has drawn for those who have received from God the grace of having being posed “en la senda di este monte” (S, prologue 9)



- The vertical line of the layout


1.  We can notice, in fact, that the doctrine of the todo-nada is at the summit of our mystic path, while in the drawing of the “Mount of perfection” (1S 7,3) it is at the base. This is the reason why we are allowed to speak about the mystic path as a preparation; in fact, this path leads to the diptych Ascent/Dark Night and is connected with it. The theological/dynamic nature which is at the basis of our draft, with the helicoidal movement of the mystic path, is explained in the following way.


2.   Starting from the first theological knot, relating to the theological, intuitive, mysticism, thanks to the three terms – night, infusion, contemplation –  connected with this mysticism, the searcher of God goes forward, “in a dark night” (N poem), towards the second theological knot, relating to the dynamic, orientative, mysticism, that is composed by other three interrelated terms: divine pedagogy, theological crossing, progress/searcher of God.

Moving in a dynamic relation on this existential knot – dramatic and wonderful, where wonder and horrors alternate – the searcher of God proceeds again towards the same direction of the starting point, to find himself into new dimension in a theological act – mysticism in evolution, exploratory mysticism, thanks to the experience of transcendental echoes hidden within three points: todo/nada, precise spirituality, theological attitude towards the nada; actualization of the mystic theology related to the starting point of the knot.

As we can notice, the passage and the link from a knot to another one always occurs on the same helicoidal positioning and in a gradual way, at the soul pace, step by step" (CB 23,6), as the Mystic Doctor maintains.


Let's remember that on this subject we find the oblique movement in Clemens of Alexandria, who compares the spiritual ascent towards God with that "turning movement that goes, in a true ascent, towards the One who is" (Stromati, V, 14). And also in Dionysius the Aeropagite (De Divinis Nominibus, IV) and Thomas of Aquin (Summa Teologiae, II-II, q. 180).

There are three areas - or theological knots - of the Christian mystery that, with "motum obliquum" [3] compose the structure of the mystic path and the mystery of the theological science that is contained in it:


Mistyc Theology, intuitive

- "salir en la noche a buscar" (2N 24,4)    [N]

- "pasar por la oscura noche" (S arg)        [S]


Doctrinal basis: the nature of the mystic path in the three terms of the search: "noche"; "infusión"; "contemplación".


Mystic dynamics, indicative

- "senda del alto Monte" (2S 7,3)            [S]

- "subir y bajar" (2N 18,3)                       [N]


Existential development: the mystic dynamics of the mystic path in the three elements that outline the way: pedagogy of God; "senda"; searcher of God.


Mystic in evolution, exploratory

- "nuevos caminos (2N 16,8)                 [N]

- "no tiene modo" (2 S4,5)                     [S]


in a theological act: the cult in the spirit which is in progress, by degrees, as new dimensions, through three exploratory criteria in relation the one with the other: "todo y nada"; "coordinated spirituality"; "theological attitude towards the nada"


As it can be noticed, this structure of the mystic path as a rotatory - helicoidal progression that winds the 'Mount Carmel' of St. John of the Cross leads - as a high and clear vertical line - to the "musica callada" of the famous "nada" that are "doctrine" (1S 13,10-13) , totalizing fullness on God's initiative for the sons of the Church, who received from God the grace of having been placed "en la senda de este monte" (S, prologue 9).


Conclusion of the discourse about our "figure"


Everything-nothing, focused spirituality, attitude towards the nada, as a point of connection between the mystic path and "the path to the mount of perfection" (1S 7,3).

In particular, the connection of the mystic path which we have drawn with the path that leads to the Mount drawn by St. John of the Cross may be seen in the theological attitude towards the nada; here we find the contact with the famous stairs of  silent music, the "musica callada" (CB strophe 15) of the seven "nada" of the draft, "which is the figure" (1S 13,10).

In this meeting point our explorer is already well-disposed: "pure spirit well-disposed towards God" (CB 1,22), but here we are already into the mystic "dark night" (N poems), no more in the "figure" (1S 13,10).


After what has been referred by the draft, we can naturally see the mystic path traced in these pages as a preparation, a disposition, a preliminary introduction to the wonderful diptych Ascent of the Mount Carmel/Dark Night , "grave words and instructions" (1N 13,3) of the Doctor Mysticus, "high measure" (John Paul II) and a "totalizing" (Benedict XVI) one for the son of the Church of the third millennium.




[*] SAVERIO CANNISTRÁ, Camminare sui sentieri della mistica, in Toscana-Oggi, Settimanale Cattolico della Diocesi della Toscana, 11st January 2009.


GIOVANNI BALLINI, Il sentiero mistico di Giovanni della Croce. Mistica esplorativa nel nuovo millennio. Istituto di Spiritualità Santa Teresa di Gesù Bambino (Pisa), Edizioni Nerbini Firenze 2008; ID., San Juan de la Cruz, buscador de Dios en el nuevo milenio, in Monte Carmelo 3/2010, Revista de Estudios Carmelitanos, Burgos 2010, 485-520. 



As a reflection on a sheet of water, this work, changing the perspective, pays attention not only to the 'noche oscura' that leads along the 'senda oscura' towards the "alta unión con Dios (N, prologue)", but also, with a greater intensity, to the 'senda oscura' that leads - en una noche oscura -  towards new dimensions of the life of the spirit, "por nuevos caminos no sabidos ni experimentados" (2N 16,8) by those who are looking for God: the " unión con Dios" (N, prologue).

That is to say: in front of the spring, the sheet of water, the "cristallina fuente" of the objective contents of the faith, that is, posed in front of the intelligence of the faith involved in the 'Noche Oscura', the dyptich Ascent/Dark Night, the theological reflection catches a glimpse of those "silvery appearances" of that faith along the 'Senda Oscura', the Mystic Path.

The perspective is certainly different: 'senda' instead of 'noche'. The end is the same: "unión con Dios"; the evangelical way of Christ is exactly the same: 'senda' as the 'noche' is the dark but safe and totalizing guide, towards that hope that Pope Benedict XVI calls the true "Hope", "The eternity in which  the totality embraces us and in which we embrace the totality" (Spe salvi, n.12). 

- the drawing -

- the graphic -