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Document Details :
Title: A Painless Christianity
Subtitle: A Response to Hans Urs von Balthasar's Criticism of Saint John of the Cross in The Glory of the Lord
Author(s): SZEJNER, Bohdan Jan
Journal: Studies in Spirituality
Volume: 16 Date: 2006
For John of the Cross, contemplation of God is a painful self-emptying and self negation necessary for the Christian moral growth and for the apostolic love to flourish. The crosses of self-denial teach us to shun evil and to love God, as demanded in Proverbs 8:13: [HEBREW].
God’s will must increase in us; and ours must decrease. We must possess less; and He must possess more. That is why, like Elisha, ‘we burn our plows and slaughter our oxen’ (1 Kings 19:21), stepping into the darkness and fear where the voice of Our Lord resounds, ‘Come, follow Me’ (Lk 9:23). Christ Himself blazed this trail for us, being wholly subject in His will to the Father, detached from things, and suffering the Cross. It is a necessary path and process – a way to ‘that holiness without which no one will see the Lord’ (Heb 12:14). Von Balthasar, however, questions the apostolicity of John, and raises the possibility of ‘a Christianity to different rhythms, without such contemplation [...] if we only let God’.196The purpose of this paper is to dispel such notions, and to show that the contemplation as envisioned by John must never be renounced, for it is a vital element for the attainment of that perfection of holiness without which no Christian can be an authentic apostle of charity for the world.