Living Flame of Love: St. John of the Cross


“Living Flame of Love”

Flame, alive, compelling,
yet tender past all telling,
reaching the secret center of my soul!
Since now evasion’s over,
finish your work, my Lover,
break the last thread,
wound me and make me whole!

Burn that is for my healing!
Wound of delight past feeling!
Ah, gentle hand whose touch is a caress,
foretaste of heaven conveying
and every debt repaying:
slaying, you give me life for death’s distress.

O lamps of fire bright-burning
with splendid brilliance, turning
deep caverns of my soul to pools of light!
Once shadowed, dim, unknowing,
now their strange new-found glowing
gives warmth and radiance for my Love’s delight.

Ah, gentle and so loving
you wake within me, proving
that you are there in secret, all alone;
your fragrant breathing stills me
your grace, your glory fills me
so tenderly your love becomes my own.

Translated by Marjorie Flower, OCD: “The Poems of St. John of the Cross”

[ Amazing poem from St John of the Cross. I first came across this particular translation in Larry Crabb’s book “Shattered Dreams” more than a decade ago, and loved it then, but think I’m only really beginning to ‘get it’ now, as the ‘flesh’ begins to loosen its hold on me a little as I approach 60!]


Follower: Cathal (Charles) Lagan


Mary of Magdala, the words spin easily off the tongue,
was seven times torn within, had no centre
from which the flag of self could fly: it was
in tatters Jesus found her, before he dealt
with seven demons and made way for her life.
And so it was she simply followed him,
God’s gosling taking to the air. She was
the night walker of the Song of Songs, searching
for him in the morning darkness,
and finding Him was the first to proclaim Him
to the frightened patriarchy, and continues still
today to ruffle starched minds embarrassed
by what great love gets up to next.

Cathal (Charles) Lagan