Fr. Iain Matthews’ book, The Impact of God – Soundings from St. John of the Cross, manages to bring this mysterious saint right home to us. One of the most intimidating saints to try to understand, John is most well known for his poetic work “The Dark Night of the Soul”. The title of this one work of his deterred me from reading anything at all by him for many years. I didn’t even want to think about dark nights of the soul.
Then my priest gave me The Impact of God to read after a time of reconciliation a year or so ago. I was immediately enthralled by what I read, reading and rereading portions of it, and finally giving into marking in it, promising myself I’d buy my priest another copy. That was about when I noticed that his name was embossed in a seal on the title page... oops.
Far from being a super-hero saint with a grip on God that I could only dream of having, Fr. Matthews reveals St. John as a frail human through whom God’s grace was made evident by the love He was able to ignite in John’s heart, even through great trials and testings. John fell so in love with God, that he was loath to even try to put it into words. His original writings were poems that might seem to come across vague and insubstantial to those not inclined to wrest the meaning out of allegory and description. He was asked to write further, which he didn’t want to do, to elucidate the meaning of his poems. Even then, I, at least, needed Ian Matthews to really put it into plain words for me.
Fr. Matthews tells John’s story in a way that sheds great light on the writings that came from him. I believe he really grasped what John wanted desperately to convey through his poems, shows us a beautiful picture of a man who really loved God and who very much wanted others to know this Beloved One as well. And in keeping with the beautiful and vital truth of God’s individual love for each of us, Fr. Matthews makes sure to emphasize that St. John was not seeking to show people the way to get closer to God, but to assure us that the way is there. But he wants us to realize that each of us must find our own way to His heart according to how He draws us to Him, and to therefore seek Him with an open heart, and diligently.
I highly recommend this book to those who would like to see, perhaps for the first time, how human are the things that go on in even a saint’s head, and to be assured that it isn’t about our circumstances, but about the passion of the God who loves us to draw us closer to Himself.
Here's the Amazon link if you'd like to read it!
Hi! I am married to Don and have been with him on this crazy adventure of following Jesus for almost 40 years! Yikes! That's a long time! I am always learning every day and every way that it is Ok to trust Jesus.with every detail of my life and the lives of those I love.