February 5, 2017
I have been seeing more and more signs from the Holy Spirit, as though I am in a constant dialogue with Him, and this brings me in closer union with God the Trinity, for I see Him everywhere I look. It isn’t that I hear voices in my head. Rather, I hear and see words in my mind’s ear and my mind’s eye, and I know they emanate from Him, for “my sheep shall recognize my voice,” and their “fruit is love” (Gal. 5). And he speaks to me in symbols. It is like reading Shakespearian literature with all of its similes, analogies, symbolism and allegorical meanings containing higher truths about what is going on in the facts of the text. Only the meanings jump out at me from the ordinary facts which unfold around me every moment of the day, in colours, sights and sounds, names, numbers, texts, people, patterns, animals, songs, coincidences, and every other kind of thing, which ring in my mind with a striking note of significance when Spirit intends me to perceive it that way. I see as it were a higher narrative about what is going on all around me, imbued with the eternal meanings and truths of the Gospel. And I am compelled to share my faith and what I see as a testament to the living God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
We are cast in this world, but everything that happens here also happens in the spiritual realm, of which this world is a reflection, a parallel and a manifestation. And everything that happens in the spiritual world also happens here on Earth. Everything that happens to our bodies affects our spirits, which are as the negative to a photograph. And everything that happens to our spirits affects our bodies in reverse proportion. Command the body and the spirit reigns. Let the body’s desires get full reign and the spirit suffers. All is spiritual. What happens in this world has a spiritual significance in the great and timeless narrative of Spirit, of which we are a part, as the parts of one cloth. And the Kingdom of God therefore is brought about in our hearts, as Christ says, and from there into the world we inhabit, if we so choose.
This perception has accelerated over the past two days for me, and I have redoubled my commitment to sharing my faith with others. I have had my doubts and prideful worries about doing so, but these are disappearing further and further into the past as I grow in courage and in my relationship with Christ.
So it was that on Friday night while putting my son to bed, I listened to soft music on YouTube with him, as is our custom. One of the automatic suggestions was a song called Dark Night of the Soul. It is a poem by the Roman Catholic Spanish mystic St. John of the Cross set to music by Loreena McKennitt. The first time I heard this song was on a sidewalk in Victoria, British Columbia, being played by a harpist outside of an Irish shop. I was so taken by its beautiful melody that I stopped and listened, and when she was finished playing I asked her for the name of the song. It always stuck with me. That was the time I had begun hearing words of wisdom and acknowledging them as such, which I recorded in my piece entitled “Prodigal Son” on this blog. Here is what I found on Wikipedia about the poem Dark Night of the Soul.
The term “dark night (of the soul)” is used in Roman Catholicism for a spiritual crisis in a journey towards union with God, like that described by Saint John of the Cross.
The nights which the soul experiences are the necessary purgations (to purge, to clean) on the path to divine union, of which there are two: the first is of the sensory or sensitive part of the soul, the second of the spiritual part (Ascent of Mount Carmel, Ch.1.2). Such Purgations comprise the first of the three stages of the mystic journey, followed by Illumination and Union. There are several steps in this night, which are related in successive stanzas.
The main idea of the poem can be seen as the joyful experience of being guided to God. The only light in this dark night is that which burns in the soul. And that is a guide more certain than the mid-day sun: Aquésta me guiaba, más cierto que la luz del mediodía. This light leads the soul engaged in the mystic journey to divine union (Wikipedia).
Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, a 19th-century French Carmelite, wrote of her own experience. Centering on doubts about the afterlife, she reportedly told her fellow nuns, “If you only knew what darkness I am plunged into.” St. John of the Cross wrote two commentaries on his poem, one called The Ascent of Mount Carmel and the other, called The Dark Night.
Now this was all especially significant to me, given my accelerated journey towards God through my witness of signs and wonders lately, particularly last Sunday with the holy water font (see my earlier post, Holy water, holy font); and also because and I have consecrated myself to Mary and am myself a Carmelite.
Here is the poem in full:
On a dark night,
Kindled in love with yearnings–oh, happy chance!–
I went forth without being observed,
My house being now at rest.
In darkness and secure,
By the secret ladder, disguised–oh, happy chance!–
In darkness and in concealment,
My house being now at rest.
In the happy night,
In secret, when none saw me,
Nor I beheld aught,
Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart.
This light guided me
More surely than the light of noonday
To the place where he (well I knew who!) was awaiting me–
A place where none appeared.
Oh, night that guided me,
Oh, night more lovely than the dawn,
Oh, night that joined Beloved with lover,
Lover transformed in the Beloved!
Upon my flowery breast,
Kept wholly for himself alone,
There he stayed sleeping, and I caressed him,
And the fanning of the cedars made a breeze.
The breeze blew from the turret
As I parted his locks;
With his gentle hand he wounded my neck
And caused all my senses to be suspended.
I remained, lost in oblivion;
My face I reclined on the Beloved.
All ceased and I abandoned myself,
Leaving my cares forgotten among the lilies.
I have been seeing the signs and wonders more and more clearly, like a constant conversation and internal dialogue between me and our Heavenly Father, through the intercession of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. I feel I have been called to be one of His disciples, lowering myself and serving others always, with complete love in my heart. The signs and wonders I have been witnessing have been shedding light more than ever on the dark night of my soul, capable of turning doubt into faith in God and His presence in our lives. “If you do not see signs and wonders, says the Lord, “you will never believe!” (John 4:48).
I have feared for a long time what other people will think of my writings, of the words of knowledge and the words of wisdom that I receive; of my faith, and of my testament to God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. In this age it is in vogue to ridicule people who believe in such things, and my pride has often caused me to fear sharing my experiences and my faith openly with others. I feel the last vestige of acceptable bigotry is against those who believe, particularly Catholics. But I have decided to put my pride and worry behind me, for I know these come not from Christ, but from the evil one who tempts with bad things. I share in Christ’s crucifixion in whatever ridicule I am blessed to receive, for it is an opportunity to die in the flesh and to live in the Spirit, whose gift is love for all, including those who would persecute me.
Last night I was praying to Jesus after coming home from an evening with a friend. I told Christ that I saw the Holy Spirit’s narrative at work in my life and the world everywhere around me through His signs. I feel Christ must have seen the same things, but even more clearly. It is hard work to keep reading the symbolic meanings of Spirit every moment, and to write about them. But how divine and enriching it is! For it bears the fruits of the Holy Spirit: “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). I know that perceiving the signs and wonders of the Holy Spirit is a gift to be shared with others for their spiritual enrichment.
Christ was so strong that I believe He did not stop reading the signs all around Him, which He must have received with the greatest clarity possible, as He worked in tandem with God the Father and the Holy Spirit to make men better. I take inspiration from Him. I try to keep going even though my mind gets tired, and even though I sometimes feel low, insignificant and scared to share my faith. But since yesterday I have felt filled with the Holy Spirit, overflowing with joy and sensitivity, and a zealous desire to spread the Gospel.
Last night, when I had spoken to my friend about how I read the Holy Spirit’s signs, he said he thought this was a gift of higher perception. And all day I had been seeing references to the Holy Spirit, in mist and in fire where I went throughout my day.
At night, just as I finished praying to Christ and telling Him that I see the signs of the Holy Spirit, I closed my eyes for a second and He showed me the pattern of a giraffe’s hair. It was vivid. The vision flashed before my mind’s eye. I was prompted to search “giraffe meaning”. The first result I clicked on contained this and many other pertinent things:
“If the giraffe is your totem, you not only have a gift of higher perception, you’re also very sensitive about the information you see. Giraffe’s have a relatively gentle demeanor…, and this is reflected in the person who claims the giraffe as their totem… the giraffe has not two, but three horns… The third horn is situated right between and just above its eyes. This is symbolic of the “third eye” which talks about intuition, delicate perception, and heightened sensory awareness… It’s that giraffe energy that enables deeper perception and the ability to combine vision with empathy to gain grand views in life situations… The symbolic meaning of giraffe is also tied in with communication.” (http://www.whats-your-sign.com/symbolic-meaning-of-giraffe.html).
The parallel with my spiritual experience was undoubtable, and the meaning was striking. I felt Christ teaching me about myself, and encouraging me.
Furthermore, this morning, just before praying the rosary, I had a vision of a toucan in my mind’s eye. So I searched the meaning of it this morning and found out that the Toucan is also a “totem”, “symbolizing it is time to step forward and stand in the forefront instead of the shadows. The toucan is the representative of showmanship and communications. This bird totem can also help you boost your self esteem if you are feeling low about yourself” (http://native-american-totems.com/animal-totem-medicines/toucan-native-totem/). Given I am just getting over my nervousness about spreading the Gospel and my faith through the medium of this blog, again, this vision felt divine.
Then this morning I received the word “portico” a minute after praying the rosary. I’ll be honest, I did not know what this word meant, although I have heard it before. I researched it, and learned that it is “a porch leading to the entrance of a building, or extended as a colonnade, with a roof structure over a walkway, supported by columns or enclosed by walls (Wikipedia). Still unaware of what significance this could have for me, I researched “symbolic meaning of portico”. The first result I clicked on was an article about Solomon’s Porch, the namesake of this blog. Again, the parallel with my mission through this blog was unmistakable, and I took this as a word of encouragement from Jesus to keep up my public witness through this blog of His signs and wonders, which took place on Solomon’s Portico. Here is the article:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
PORCH, PORTICO, SOLOMON’S by W. Shaw Caldecott
por’-ti-ko, (he stoa he kaloumene Solomontos): This important element of Herod’s temple, preserving in its name a traditional connection with Solomon, is thrice referred to in the New Testament, namely, in John 10:23 Acts 3:11, “the porch that is called Solomon’s”; and Acts 5:12. In these passages the Greek word stoa is translated “porch” but in the Revised Version margin of Acts 3:11 more correctly “portico”. In architecture a “porch” is strictly an exterior structure forming a covered approach to the entrance of a building; a “portico” is an ambulatory, consisting of a roof supported by columns placed at regular intervals-a roofed colonnade. The portico bearing Solomon’s name was that running along the eastern wall in the Court of the Gentiles of Herod’s temple. It had double columns, while that on the South known as the Royal Portico had four rows (compare Josephus, Ant, XV, xi, 3; BJ, V, v, and see TEMPLE, HEROD’S). The portico was the scene of Christ’s teaching at the Feast of the Dedication (John 10:23), and was flocked to by the multitude after the healing of the lame man (Acts 3:11). There the apostles preached and wrought other miracles (Acts 5:12).
So if I can summarize the meaning of the last three words of knowledge I received today and last night, at a time of testing in my life, when I have felt particularly afraid of expressing my faith on this blog, they are: you have a gift of higher perception, so step out of the shadows and share it with others on Solomon’s Porch. This is how the Holy Spirit works! He gives us His children words of knowledge to encourage us in times of testing, of doubt, so that purified by the challenge in the dark night of the soul, we may rise above it like the Phoenix from the ashes, and become better people.
I see signs and wonders everywhere, and the given world of every moment is a great narrative in which timeless spiritual meanings from the Gospel unfold all around me. A bird sings. A child runs. The clock ticks. And in His solemn way, God speaks to our hearts in ways only we can understand, if only we open our hearts to His gentle voice, for He has counted every hair on our heads.
Solomon’s Portico is where great miracles, signs and wonders took place through Christ and His disciples. I believe Christ and the Holy Spirit have given me this word as a word of encouragement, telling me that I am not alone in seeing these signs and wonders, that they are true, and are not illusions; to encourage me as St. Paul encouraged the early churches he founded, to be steadfast in my mission of spreading the Gospel through this blog, which I have titled Solomon’s Porch; and that I will continue to witness many signs and wonders as happened in Solomon’s Portico to testify to our Saviour Jesus Christ and the work He wants to do for us.
I see God the Trinity everywhere I look. And I think of the refrain to the song by Reid White, which I want to sing to Him:
“If the whole world was watching I’d still dance with you
Drive highways and byways to be there with you
Over and over the only truth
Everything comes back to you.”
I want to share my faith for I have been called personally to do so by Christ Jesus. I learned after writing a first draft of this article that today’s Gospel reading was Matthew 5:13-16:
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘You are the salt of the earth. But if salt becomes tasteless, what can make it salty again? It is good for nothing, and can only be thrown out to be trampled underfoot by men.
‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill-top cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine in the sight of men, so that, seeing your good works, they may give the praise to your Father in heaven.’
The deacon spoke thus:
1. Know the assignment God has given you to be the light in the world;
2. Know your true identity, which God has given you. Hold to it and you will be the salt of the earth;
3. Jesus lays us a compliment today that we often deny is true. But it is true, hold fast to it and keep it true.
Up until today, I was having trouble accepting my identity as someone who truly was called to spread Christ’s Gospel. I had never envisioned myself this way, but who am I to deny God the Father, the Son, and the Paraclete?
Tonight, while opening the closet door I looked at my new coat and it held my attention in that way I always know it’s Him. He spoke to me in the quiet of my mind: “what do you see, Matthew?” “A coat,” I replied. “And what is it made of?” “Wool” I replied. “No, look at the tag” I heard Him say. So I did, which I had not done before, and on it were inscribed the words “Virgin wool”. And then I heard Him say to me “I am the pure, innocent lamb, be also mine.”