Teresianum 43 (1992/1) 175-215



I. T h e P r o b le m

This article contains a discussion of the place of revelation in the theology of St. John of the Cross. I will argue that John holds a view of revelation which has striking affinities with the positions adopted by more recent authors, particularly . When one speaks of a Sanjuanist «theology of revelation», one is immediately confronted with major terminological difficulties. John uses the term «revelation» relatively rarely, and usually in the plural («revelaciones»), to refer to a certain class of «spiritual, intellectual apprehensions», which sometimes accompany mystical states of '.

First it should be understood that a revelation is nothing else than the disclosure of some hidden truth, or the manifes­ tation of some secret or mystery, as when imparts understanding of some truth to the intellect, or discloses one of His past, present, or future deeds. ( Ascent II, 25, i) 2

1 See the entries under «Revelaciones» in Luis de San José, OCD, Concordancias de las obras y escritos del Doctor de la Iglesia San Juan de la Cruz, (Burgos: El Monte Carmelo, 1948). John's discussion of revelations in this restricted sense is contained primarily in chapters 25 through 27 in Book II of The Ascent o f Mount Carmel, and again in chapter 14 of Book III. Hereafter I will use the following abbreviations in referring to John's major works: Ascent - The Ascent of Mount Carmel; Night - The Dark Night of the ; Canticle - The Spiritual Canticle (redaction B, unless otherwise noted). Flame - The Living Flame of Love (redaction B, unless otherwise noted); Roman numerals will be used to indicate the number of the book, in citations from the Ascent and N ig h t; arabic numerals indicate the chapter (in the Ascent and Night) or stanza (in the Canticle and Flam e), while lower case roman numerals refer to the paragraph number. Thus «Ascent II, 25, i» refers to The Ascent o f M ount Carmel, Book II, chapter 25, paragraph 1. 2 In this article I will be using the text and numbering of the Spanish edition of the Vida y Obras de San Juan de la Cruz, ed. Lucinio Ruano, 176 STEVEN L. PAYNE

In other words, John generally restricts his application of the term «revelation» to one of the many different kinds of extraordinary spiritual «communications» which are today usually grouped under the more inclusive category of «private revelations». Contemporary theologians often distinguish «private revelations» from the so-called «public revelation», the official self-communication of God by word and deed which reaches its completion in Christ, is testified to by the Scriptures, and is continually handed on in the «traditioning» of the Church. John never uses the expression «public revelation», but speaks instead of the «propositions», «articles», «secrets», or «mysteries» of the faith, thus to some extent adopting at least the terminology of the scholastic theology of revelation current at the time 3. Thus the past literature on the theme of revelation in John's writings has focused almost entirely on the subject of «private revelations». In the old scholastic manuals of there was an appeal to John's authority in developing an elaborate classification of visions, locutions, and other «» phenomena 4. Theologians generally agreed that John showed a healthy suspicion of extraordinary experiences, that he advised the recipient to resist them because of their inherent dangers (since even those from God achieve their intended effect without the of the recipient's will), and that he believed one should assent to the divine mysteries communicated in a only because and insofar as they are already sufficiently revealed to the Church 5.

OCD, 7th ed. (Madrid: Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos, 1973). For my English translations, I will use The Collected Works o f St. John o f the Cross, trans. Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD and Otilio Rodriguez, OCD, 2d ed. (Washington DC: ICS Publications, 1979), unless otherwise noted. 3 See, for example, Canticle 1, x-xi; 12, i-viii. Both of these passages will prove important in our later discussion. See also the Concordancias, under «Fe», «Mysteriös», and «Secretos». 4 See, for example, Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, C h ristia n Perfection and Contemplation, (St. Louis, Missouri: B. Herder Book Company, 1958), pp. 441-461; Adolphe Tanquerey, The Spiritual Life, (Tournai, Belgium: Desclée, 1930), pp. 700-711; Antonio Royo Marin, Teología de la perfección cristiana, (Madrid: Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos, 1958), pp. 813-824. 5 See the works mentioned in the previous footnote, as well as F a t h e r G a b r ie l, OCD, Visions and Revelations in the Spiritual Life, (Westminster, Maryland: Newman Press, 1950); Panakal, OCD, The Theology o f THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PUBLIC REVELATION 177

Little attempt was made beyond this, however, to determine the connection between public and private revelation in John's theology. Indeed, many theologians seemed content to say simply that private revelations «can add nothing to» and «have no bearing on» the deposit of Christian faith (i.e. the positive content of Christian revelation) 6. In my own view, the traditional sharp distinction between public and private revelation is in some respects misleading, and has had unfortunate consequences; since the so-called «private revelations» were seen as having nothing essential to do with the deposit of faith, such experiences tended to be relegated to the area of «spiritual theology», with which systematic theologians did not particularly concern themselves. And yet, as I will presently argue, many of the experiences classed as «private revelations» seem rather to involve a deeper personal appropriation of the «public revelation». Moreover, since the self-communication of God is never actualized until it is actually received, and is the more fully revealed the more completely it is appropriated, there seems to be an integral connection between public revelation and those «private revelations» which involve a deeper penetration and acceptance of the «deposit of faith». Such, at any rate, will be my argument in this study. The difficulty of determining John's views on revelation, however, go far beyond the terminological problem just mentioned. St. John, with his poetic temperament, often expresses himself in vivid and hyperbolic language, which

Private Revelations according to Saint John o f the Cross, (Kerala, India: Piusnagar, 1969); Laurent Volken, Visions, Revelations, and the Church, (New York: P. J. Kenedy & Sons, 1963), or any other standard commentary on John's doctrine. 6 See New Catholic Encyclopedia, s.v. «Revelation, Theology of», by Avery Dulles, and «Revelations, Private», by Prudent De Letter; the latter author writes that «private revelations have no bearing on the deposit of faith». K arl Rahner, in his Visions and , (New York: Herder and Herder, 1963), expresses reservations similar to my own about the traditional way of distinguishing private and public revelation. However, Rahner here deals primarily with what are sometimes called «prophetic» phenomena (where an individual is commissioned by God to undertake some activity or transmit some message for the good of the Church) rather than with the more «mystical» or «contemplative» revelations with which we are concerned in this article. 178 STEVEN L. PAYNE

has lent itself to the most extreme and contradictory interpretations of his doctrine. At one end of the spectrum are those authors who claim that John's mystical theology is fundamentally anti- cognitive, and that he adopts a narrowly fideistic approach to revelation. Thus Zwi Werblowsky insists that the Mystical Doctor advocates the rejection of every spiritual insight or feeling, in favor of a blind adherence to faith, which «does not impart any whatsoever» 7.

Faith is not the knowledge of heavenly things, but the nakedness of the soul bereft of all knowledge. Perhaps it is not going too far to suggest that this doctrine accounts, at least in part, for John's . As a mystic he could not possibly be a heretic, that is, by definition, one who holds deviant opinions, because it is not the mystic's business either to formulate or defend theological opinions. His business is the emptying of the soul of all discursive contents.... God himself is utter darkness to the soul in this world ...8.

And William Ralph Inge, along with many other Protestant commentators, sees John as the forerunner of the Quietism of Madame Guyon and Molinos.

He does not escape from the quietistic attitude of passive expectancy which belongs to this view of life; and it is only by a glaring inconsistency that he attaches any value to the ecclesiastical symbolism, which rests on a very different basis from that of his teaching. But St. Juan's brought him no intellectual emancipation, either for good or evil. Faith with him was the antithesis, not to sight, as in the , but to . The sacrifice of reason was part of the crucifixion of the old man 9.

7 R. J. Zwi W erblowsky, «On the Mystical Rejection of Mystical Illuminations», 1 (1966), p. 179. 8 Ibid., pp. 179-180. Werblowsky seems to suggest that John's doctrine really is as «quietistic» as the Quietists themselves claimed in their own defense. 9 W illiam Ralph Inge, , (New York: Living Age Books, Meridian 1956), p. 229. Inge likewise presents the idea that John avoided heretical views through his total subservience to Church tradition and authority. More recently, in Taking Leave of God (New York: Crossroad, 1981), Don Cupitt commends John as «a voluntarist» whose THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PUBLIC REVELATION 179

Now it cannot be denied that there are certain passages in John which seem to support the «anti-cognitivist» interpretation. Thus in the early chapters of Book II of the Ascent, John insists that the soul must be emptied of all its knowledge and feeling in order to attain union with God.

Insofar as he is capable, a person must void himself of all, so that, however many supernatural communications he receives, he will continually live as though denuded of them and in darkness. Like a blind man he must lean on dark faith, accept it for his guide and light, and rest on nothing of what he understands, tastes, feels, or imagines. All these perceptions are a darkness that will lead him astray. Faith beyond all this understanding, taste, feeling, and imagining. (Ascent II, 4, ii) John likewise notes that:

... however elevated God's communications and the experiences of His presence are, and however sublime a person's knowledge of Him may be, these are not God essentially ... Neither is the sublime communication nor the sensible awareness of His nearness a sure testimony of His gracious presence, nor is dryness and the lack of these a reflection of His absence. (Canticle 1, iii)

Moreover, John seems to reject all private revelations even if they merely repeat what is already contained in the deposit of faith.

Since there are no more articles to be revealed to the Church about the substance of our faith, a person must not merely reject new revelations about the faith, but he should out of caution repudiate other kinds of knowledge mingled with them. In order to preserve the purity of his faith, even if truths already revealed are revealed again, one should believe them, not because they are revealed again, but because they were already sufficiently revealed to the Church. Closing his intellect to them, he should rest simply on the doctrine of the Church and its faith. (Ascent II, 27, iv) 10.

«teaching has no informational content» about the divine, but «gives only spiritual directions, rules and instructions» (pp. 138-139). 10 Here I have departed slightly from the Kavanaugh/Rodriguez translation. John is talking specifically about a certain kind of purely 180 STEVEN L. PAYNE

And yet, John insists, «a person should be undesirous of knowing the truths of the faith clearly, that he may thereby conserve pure and entire the merit of faith, and also pass through this night of the intellect to the divine light of union» (.Ascent II, 27, v). This faith «affirms what cannot be understood by the intellect, and though it «brings certitude», it «does not produce clarity, but only darkness» (Ascent II, 6, ii).

If a person were told of objects he had never known or seen resemblances of, he would in the end have no more light regarding them than if nothing had been said to him... Such is faith to the soul - it informs us of matters we have never seen or known, either in themselves or in their likenesses; in fact nothing like them exists... Not only does it fail to produce and knowledge [noticia y sciencia], but, as we have said, it deprives and blinds a person of any other information or knowledge by which he may judge it. (Ascent II, 3, ii-iv) 11.

Taken at face value, then, such passages seem to be denying that either public or private revelation have a noetic value, and to be saying that union with God is not a matter of experience at all. Since feeling is not a reliable indicator of one's relationship with God, John is sometimes understood to be claiming that union with God occurs on the unconscious level, without entering awareness; any apparent insight and knowledge one might possess must be rejected in favor of a blind assent to the articles of faith, yet without attaching any meaning to the propositions one accepts. John's view would then be (to use Rahnerian terms) that growth in grace and the mystical life affects persons on the “ontic” but not the ontological, level, and that the content of public revelation has no essential significance except insofar as the articles of faith provide the occasion for a blind acceptance which empties the mind of all contents and allows the unconscious mystical union to occur; one has no better grasp of the «deposit of faith» at the end of spiritual communication, which he describes as «the disclosure of secrets and hidden mysteries», but his remarks presumably are intended to have g'-neral application. 11 Here again I have departed slightly from the Kavanaugh/ B )d r ig u e z translation. THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PUBLIC REVELATION 181 one's spiritual journey than one had at the beginning 12. But whether John holds such views on revelation or not, they are clearly unacceptable. First, if union with God cannot be experienced, it would seem to have little existential interest for anyone. Second, if one really has no understanding whatsoever of what the «articles of faith» mean, then nothing about God and God's salvific will is really communicated; the Scriptures, creeds, and dogmas remain ciphers which do not mediate any real knowledge. Faith becomes an empty absent without any clear notion of what one is assenting to, and therefore hardly admirable; if the mental vacuum which blind acceptance creates is all that is important, then it no longer really matters whether the «articles» are true or false, whether they claim has this character rather than some other. Finally, on such an account, advancement in the spiritual life would seem to require a destruction of human nature, the suppression of the natural operations of the faculties, particularly the intellect; faith would then (as Inge says) be contrary to reason, blinding it, rather than merely transcending what can be naturally known. And such a view seems clearly contrary to the traditional teaching of the Church 13. At the other end of the spectrum are those who see Sanjuanist mysticism as in some sense cognitive. These authors provide a necessary corrective to the narrowly fideistic interpretation just mentioned 14, but may go to the

12 As R a h n e r uses such terms, an ontological transformation affects human in some way, whereas a merely ontic change would affect one's being, without any corresponding change in awareness. When I use this terminology here, I am describing the extreme view that «union with God» occurs without one being aware of it in any way. On this view, the «deposit of faith» could serve as a kind of disciplinary norm, if it were precisely through assent to the C h ris tia n «articles of faith» that one achieved the appropriate degree of mental emptiness. Yet even so the «public revelation» would not itself communicate any real knowledge of God and God's salvific plan. 13 See especially Dei Filius, chapters 2-4, and Dei Verbum, chapter 1, both of which assert that we can know something of God through reason and through the Divine self-communication of «those divine treasures which totally transcend the understanding of the human mind». 14 Some authors present John's mysticism as fundamentally cognitive in a fully orthodox sense. See, for example, Dom Illtyd Trethowan's introduction to the abridged edition of W alter Hilton's The Scale of Perfection, (St. Meinrad, Indiana: Abbey Press, 1975), pp. 18-20; W illia m 1 8 2 STEVEN L. PAYNE opposite extreme, making John into what we might call, for lack of a better term, a «quasi-gnostic» or «theosophist» 1S. Some, for example, believe that the mystical states John describes provide a «higher knowledge» of the «real meaning» of credal and dogmatic claims, veiled from the minds of ordinary believers; thus Baruzi seems to hold that the «theopathic state» toward which John leads the soul gives one direct access to the metaphysical reality which the limited and mediocre categories of Christian doctrine only haltingly express.16 Others have even less use for traditional formulations of the faith; Walter Stace, for example, argues that the mystical experience is one of completely undifferentiated unity, transcending the Christian framework altogether, and that John gives the experience a theistic interpretation only out of deference to the ecclesiastical authorities.

[John] describes with great subtlety and wealth of detail how, in order to reach union, the mind has to suppress within

J o h n s to n , The Inner Eye o f Love, (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1978), pp. 32-39; Louis D u p r é , The Other Dimension, (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1972), pp. 532-543; M . D. K n o w le s , The Nature o f Mysticism, (New York: Hawthorn Books, 1966), pp. 96-97; Jacques M aritain, The Degrees o f Knowledge, (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1959), pp. 310- 351. Such , however, do not always agree about the nature o f this noetic dimension of mysticism, whether it is better described as the acquisition of new knowledge, or instead as simply a different way of understanding things already known. 15 I use these terms to designate someone who looks on mystical experience as an avenue to a higher, secret knowledge inaccessible to the less privileged, whether or not he or she accepts all the tenets of classical or Theosophy. Thus, according to my usage here, a fideist is (roughly) one who emphasizes faith at the expense of knowledge, while a gnostic is one who emphasizes knowledge at the expense of faith. 16 Jean B aru zi, Saint Jean de la Croix et le Problème de l'Expérience Mystique, (Paris: Librarie Félix Alcan, 1924), p. 234: «Toute sa démarche mystique est chrétienne... Mais, en même temps, sommes conduits en quelque sorte au delà du Christianisme. De tous les grands mystiques, Jean de la Croix est celui qui réalise le plus intimement les permanentes et universelles conditions de l'union divine... En ce Carme, strict défenseur d'une Règle aimée, en ce Chrétien de si authentique qualité se cache, sans qu'il en ait lui-même conscience, un être plus ample encore, attirant en sa solitude intérieure les hommes qui viendront à lui de toutes les Confessions ou qui, sans être liés eux-mêmes a un dogmatisme déterminé, pourront apprendre de lui une méthode de purification de leur pensée»; see also pp. 288, 463-471, 679ff. THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PUBLIC REVELATION 183

itself all sensations, images, thoughts, and acts of will. It is the same process of emptying the mind of all empirical contents as we find with Eckhart, with the Upanishadic mystics, and indeed with all mystics who have been sufficiently intellectual to analyse their own mental processes. This ridding the mind of all particular images and thoughts is precisely that obliteration of all multiplicity of which the Madukya Upanishad speaks. For the multiplicity referred to is nothing else but the manifold of sensations, images, and thoughts which usually flow through consciousness. And the only result of getting rid of all mental contents (if it does not produce unconsciousness) can only be an undifferentiated unity17.

Once again there are passages in John's works which, read in isolation, would seem to support the «quasi- gnostical» interpretation of his doctrine. Stace himself presents numerous quotations from the Spanish Carmelite in defense of his own reading of the texts. In addition, John repeatedly refers to contemplation as a «secret wisdom» without which it is impossible «to have a knowledge or experience of these divine things as they are in themselves» (Night II, 17, ii-vi); elsewhere he calls this wisdom «loving knowledge» («noticia amorosa») l8. Moreover, when giving

17 W .T. S ta c e , Mysticism and , (London: Macmillan, 1960), pp. 102-103; see also pp. 222-235, as well as his The Teachings o f the Misties, (New York: Mentor, 1960), especially pp. 126-130. In recent years other philosophers have subjected Stace's claims to very serious criticisms, especially his ostensible demonstration that mysticism is «everywhere the same»; see, for example, the essays in Mysticism and Philosophical Analysis, ed. Steven Katz, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1 9 78 ) and Steven Payne, «The Christian Character of Christian Mystical Experiences», Religious Studies 20 (1984), pp. 417-427. In spite of this, his works continue to exercise a surprising influence on other authors, particularly in the field of humanistic psychology of . See, for example, W a l t e r N . P a h n k e and W il l i a m A. Ri c h a r d s , «Implications of LSD and Experimental Mysticism», The Journal o f Transpersonal Psychology (Fall, 1969): 69-102, and the articles b y L e S h a n and W a p n ic k in the same issue; see also R. E. L. M a s t e r s and Je a n H o u s t o n , The Varieties o f Psychedelic Experience, (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1966), p. 253; and W a l t e r H o u s t o n C l a r k , Chemical Ecstasy, (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1969), passim. E ven I a n B a r b o u r , in his Myths, Models and , (New York: Harper and Row, 1976), appeals to Stace (p. 79). 18 See, for example, Ascent II, 13, iv-vii; 14, vi-xii; III, 33, v; Night II, 184 STEVEN L. PAYNE

the metaphysical basis of the experience of union, he several times offers an explanation in terms of God's direct action on the passive intellect. Thus, describing the effects of an intense contemplative experience of God through the metaphor of a delightful «whistling breeze», he writes:. The reason for the delight is that the already understood substance, stripped of accidents and phantasms, is bestowed. For this knowledge is given to that intellect which philosophers call the passive or possible intellect ... This knowing is the soul's main delight because it is pertinent to the intellect, and as theologians say fruition, the of God, is proper to the intellect... This divine whistling which enters through the soul's hearing is not only, as I have said, the understood substance, but also an unveiling of truths about the and a revelation of His secrets... These are pure spiritual revelations or visions, which are given only to the spirit without the service and help of the senses (Canticle 14 & 15, xiv-xv) 19.

But if, in such mystical experiences, God assumes the role usually played by the intelligible species in ordinary knowing (see below), then clearly mysticism (despite the quotations noted earlier) has a cognitive dimension. Finally, John suggests in several places that what the spiritual person comes to know in union is not just «the One», the abstract and totally undifferentiated unity of which Stace speaks, but rather the Triune God, with the various divine attributes and mysteries (including especially the «mysteries» of the and God's salvific will).

By His divine breath-like spiration, the elevates the soul sublimely and informs her and makes her capable of breathing in God the same spiration of love that the Father breathes in the Son and the Son in the Father,

10, i; Canticle 27, v; Flame 3, xxxii-xxxiv. 19 See also Ascent II, 32, iv; Night II, 13, iii; Canticle 39, xii. For an excellent discussion of John's remarks on the passive intellect , see J e a n O r c ib a l, «Le rôle de l'intellect possible chez Jean de la Croix; Ses sources scolastiques et nordiques», in La Mystique Rhénane: Colloque de Strasbourg 16-19 Mai 1961, (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1963), pp. 235-279. THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PUBLIC REVELATION 185

which is the Holy Spirit Himself ... There would not be a true and total transformation if the soul were not transformed in the three Persons of the Most Holy in an open and manifest degree. ... For, granted that God favors her by union with the Most Blessed Trinity, in which she becomes deiform and God through participation, how could it be incredible that she also understand, know, and love — or better that this be done in her — in the Trinity, together with it, as does the Trinity itself! ...... Although this participation will be perfectly accomplished in the next life, still in this life when the soul has reached the state of perfection, as has the soul we are here discussing, she obtains a foretaste and noticeable trace of it in the way we are describing ... (Canticle 39, iii-vi; see also Flame 1, xv; 2, i) One of the urging the soul most to enter this thicket of God's wisdom and know its beauty from further within is her wish to unite her intellect with God in the knowledge o f the mysteries of the Incarnation, in which is contained the highest and most savory wisdom of all His works... And both the bride and the Bridegroom will taste the savoriness and the delight caused by the knowledge of these mysteries together with the powers and attributes of God uncovered in them such as: justice, mercy, wisdom, power, charity, etc. ... The high caverns of this rock [i.e. Christ] are the sublime, exalted, and deep mysteries of God's wisdom in Christ, in the hypostatic union of the human nature with the divine Word, and in the corresponding union of men with God, and the mystery of the harmony between God's justice and mercy with respect to the manifestations of His judgments in the of the human race. (Canticle 37, ii- iii; see also the rest of the chapter, and Flame 3, i-xvii )

If one reads such passages, then, in conjunction with some of remarks on the «obscurity» of faith, one might think that John believed that mystical experience provides a higher, «theosophical» knowledge of Christian truths, which remain a closed book to ordinary, unenlightened who are trammelled by their gross, superstitious, and literalistic understanding of traditional dogmas; the mystic would then be the one who sees the absolute truth beyond the (perhaps misleading and certainly limited) Christian categories. 186 STEVEN L. PAYNE

But this «quasi-gnostical» interpretation of St. John, quite apart from the question of its accuracy, is surely no more acceptable than the fideistic one. First of all, such an account seems to obviate the need for faith; what function could faith serve once the «higher knowledge» is revealed? Second, this approach reduces public revelation to a rather incidental role, since the «real meaning» of the deposit of faith is communicated directly by private experience to the contemplative, without the mediation of historical words and events. Finally, if indeed prior to such exalted revelations no one has any real idea of what the «articles of faith» mean, it remains unclear how mystics could justify any claim to have penetrated their meaning; how could they know that the knowledge they receive really pertains to a particular faith-proposition, unless beforehand they already knew (at least dimly) what that proposition proposed? Thus both the «fideistic» and the «gnostic» readings of St. John of the Cross produce unacceptable accounts of revelation, partly because both approaches ultimately undermine the primary role of «public revelation»; for the «fideist», nothing is ever really revealed, either publicly or privately, whereas for the «quasi-gnostic» the significant revelation occurs in subjective experience alone. Yet both interpretations claim to represent John's views, and can appeal in their own defense to certain passages in his writings. What, then, did John really hold, and is his position on revelation perhaps different from either of these two extremes? The question is an important one, and in order to settle it, we must first examine the texts more closely to see what his concepts of public and private revelation, faith, and contemplation really are. I will offer an interpretation of John's doctrine which I believe is at once orthodox, faithful to his meaning, and of interest to theologians today addressing current questions in the theology of revelation. I hope to show as well that the issues raised in our analysis have far reaching consequences for many other areas of philosophical and theological investigation (e.g., the problems raised by a more ecumeni­ cal approach to non-Christian ) 20.

20 Thus, for example, one's understanding of John's doctrine has a lot to do with what one takes to be the nature and limits of human THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PUBLIC REVELATION 187

II. A Clo s e r l o o k a t t h e T e x t s an d T e a c h in g s

This second section will be divided into four parts, dealing with four different topics which, in my opinion, provide the key to a proper understanding of John's theology of revelation. The first contains a brief explanation of John's views on private revelations, their variety and significance. In the second part I will summarize his position regarding public revelation, as it is made available to us in Christ and in the Scriptures. The third part contains an analysis of the different meanings of the term «faith» in John's works, while the fourth shows the connection between John's concept of faith and his teaching on contemplation and union with God.

Private Revelations

In the first place, it is important to determine more precisely John's understanding of private revelations, especially since he does not use the term «revelación» in the same sense as do later spiritual authors. This will require a brief foray into the thickets of scholastic psychology. For the most part, John simply adopts the «faculty psychology» of his day, which, within the fundamental unity of the human person, draws a distinction between the consciousness. Again, one's approach to non-Christian mysticism will be shaped in part by whether one it to involve essentially the same experiences as John describes, or whether, by contrast, one holds that there are intrinsic differences among the mystical experiences of different individuals and religious traditions which are not totally attributable to the varying interpretations of the mystics themselves. Related to this is the important question of whether it is possible for the Christian mystic to have what is in some sense a direct experience o f the Christian God, i.e., an experience of God as triune, and not simply an experience of the One which the mystic then interprets as an experience of the Trinity. If one claims that the Christian mystic does enjoy trinitarian experiences, then one has to explain why non-Christians don't speak of them; one has to say either that they don't have such experiences or else that they don't realize that they do. But either alternative sounds arrogant if one thinks of the doctrine of the Trinity as the most profound truth about God. On the other hand, if one denies that the Christian has an explicitly trinitarian experience of God, one may be undercutting the experiential grounds for in the Trinity, or at least making it seem like a remote and uninteresting doctrine as far as the ordinary Christian is concerned. 188 STEVEN L. PAYNE sensory («low er») and spiritual («higher») components of the soul 2I. To the sensory «part» belong the body, the five external senses, «two interior corporeal senses of imagination and phantasy» (Ascent II, 12, iii), and various passions and appetites 22. The spiritual «part» — and here John parts company with Aquinas in favor of the tri-partite division of Augustine and Bonaventure — includes the three faculties of memory, will, and intellect (which has both an active and a passive aspect) 23. Part of the function of this psychological theory is to explain how human cognition ordinarily occurs. John simply accepts the scholastic dictum that, at least in the natural order, «there is nothing in the intellect which is not first in the senses».

... as the scholastic philosophers say, the soul is like a smooth tabula rasa when God infuses it into the body, so that it would be ignorant without the knowledge it receives through its senses, because no knowledge is communicated to it from any other source (Ascent I, 3, iii) 24.

21 On the fundamental unity of the human soul, see especially Night I, 4, ii; II, 1, i; 3, i; Flame 1, x. For the fundamental division into the «senso­ ry» and «spiritual» parts, see Ascent I, 1, i; II, 2, ii; Night, prologue; II, 2, v. 22 The quotation here is slightly altered from the Kavanaugh/ R o d r ig u e z translation. John seems to include the body among the constituents of the sensory part of the soul in Canticle 28, iv; see also 13, iv. For passages enumerating the various components of the soul, see, for example, Canticle 20 & 21, iv. For a fairly good explanation of Sanjuanist , see E. W. Trueman Dicken, The Crucible o f Love, (N e w York: Sheed and Ward, 1963), pp. 237-251. See also Federico Ruiz S a lv a d o r , OCD, Introducción a San Juan de la Cruz, (Madrid: Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos, 1968); and Henri Sanson, L'esprit humain selon saint Jean de la Croix, (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1953). 23 For explanations of the three faculties in John's thought, see the works mentioned in the previous footnote, as well as André Bord, Mémoire et espérance chez Jean de la Croix, (Paris: Beauchesne, 1971). Bord also explains John's teaching on the interior senses; whereas Aquinas believed there were four, John seems to hold that there are only two: imagination and phantasy. One also finds in the writings of the Mystical Doctor the notion of the «substance» of the soul, and traces of the idea of a «spiritual sense», analogous to the external senses. But since his remarks on these subjects are obscure, and don't really effect what is said in this article, I will not be dealing with them. 24 Slightly altered from the Kavanaugh/Rodriguez translation. Compare Ascent II, 3, ii. THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PUBLIC REVELATION 189

Thus knowledge arises through a process of successive «abstraction» operating on the data provided by the senses. For example, a knowledge of horses, on this theory, might be produced in the following way: first, there is an activation of the external sense organs, when one sees (hears, smells, touches, reads about, etc.) a particular horse. This input stimulates the internal senses to produce a «sensible species» (i.e., a mental image) of the horse; this species, however, is itself individual and specific, and does not yet represent all horses 25. But by illuminating this image or «phantasm», the active intellect produces the intelligible species (i.e., the universal concept «horse») in the passive intellect, resulting in true knowledge of horses. On such an account, the passive intellect serves as the analogue of «matter» to the «form » of the horse-concept; when one is actually thinking of horses, the knowledge consists in the «in-forming» of the mind with the horse-concept, so that it becomes, in some sense, «intelligibly (a) horse». We need not here consider at any greater length the details of this medieval epistemic theory, nor the difficulties associated with it. Our brief outline should suffice to show the framework within which John develops his own approach to «private revelations». The Spanish Carmelite suggests that, just as knowledge arises naturally through a gradual process of successive abstraction, so too knowledge may be produced «supernaturally» through the intervention of God, , , and demons at any point in the process. Furthermore, he distinguishes among these supernatural apprehensions according to the point at which the intervention occurs, and discusses each kind in turn. Thus, in describing his programme for Book II of the Ascent, he writes:

This supernatural knowledge is subdivided into corporal and spiritual. The corporal is made up of two kinds: knowledge originating from the exterior bodily senses; and that received from the interior bodily senses, including all the imagination can apprehend, form, or fashion. The

25 For example, the sensible species or phantasm is presumably the image of a horse of a particular color; but then it does not represent horses of a different color. 190 STEVEN L. PAYNE

spiritual is also made up of two kinds: distinct and particular knowledge; and vague, dark, and general knowledge. The particular knowledge includes four kinds of distinct apprehensions communicated to the spirit without the means of bodily senses: visions, revelations, locutions, and spiritual feelings. The dark and general knowledge (contemplation, which is imparted in faith) is of one kind only. We have to lead the soul to this contemplation by guiding it through all these other apprehensions, and, beginning with the first, divesting it of them. (Ascent II, 10, iii-iv) To explain this in more detail: a supernatural apprehension originating in the external senses would occur when God (or a saint, etc.) directly affects an individual's sight (hearing, touch, etc.); an individual having such an experience of the Blessed Virgin, for example, would actually seem to see a physical body, hear audible words, and so on. In a supernatural imaginary apprehension, however, the exterior senses would somehow be bypassed, and one might experience, for example, a vivid mental impression of «hearing» and «seeing» the Virgin while yet being aware that one's external sense organs were not involved. Supernatural intellectual apprehensions, however, appear to involve pure concepts and feelings, without any associated mental image or sense impression, and here John distinguishes four types: visions, revelations, locutions, and spirituai feelings. John's discussion of these purely intellectual apprehensions is extremely important for our subject, but also extremely confusing. On the one hand, this four-fold division is based on a certain analogy with the corporal senses, as John himself says (Ascent II, 23, ii-iii). Yet, on the other hand, from John's descriptions it is not always clear that there is any significant difference between some of the phenomena he describes under these headings, and he admits that, in some sense, they could all be called «visions» (Ascent II, 23, ii) 2\ To make matters worse,

26 John says that they may all be called «visions» inasmuch as all pertain to the intellect; «insofar as all these apprehensions are intelligible, they are called spiritually visible» (Ascent II, 23, ii). Yet speaking more properly, those apprehensions which are received «in a manner resembling sight» are called «visions», while those received «in a way similar to those of hearing» are called «locutions» (ib id ., iii). Revelations are those new THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PUBLIC REVELATION 191 whereas in some places he seems to indicate that such apprehensions should all be rejected, or at least not actively sought, in other places he indicates that revelations of «naked truths» about God, substantial locutions, and «spiritual feelings» can all be accepted without reservation, since they constitute an aspect of union itself (see Ascent II, 26, x; 31, i-ii; 32, iii-iv) 27. (And here, incidentally, we see the difference between John's terminology and that of later spiritual writers, for John tends to reserve the term «revelation» for certain purely spiritual communications, some of which are actually a dimension of the mystical union for which the soul is striving, whereas more recent spiritual manuals apply the expression «private revelations» only to those visions, voices, and other extraordinary phenomena which bear no essential relationship to union.) The solution to these difficulties seems to in John's distinction between «particular» and «general» knowledge of God. In various places, he indicates that natural knowledge is always «particular» knowledge; that is to say, it always involves the limited and specific concepts and sensory images to which the human cognitive powers are tied. Such knowledge is perfectly adequate for the

truths the intellect gains «as though by learning and understanding», and so it is unclear whether John thinks of them as analogous to sight or to hearing. «Spiritual feelings» are analogous to the other sensory apprehensions (presumably touch, taste, and smell). John distinguishes two types of intellectual visions (those of corporal substances and those of incorporeal substances), two types of revelation (the knowledge of naked truths and the disclosure of hidden secrets, both further divided according to whether they have to do with God or with creatures), three kinds of locutions (successive, formal, and substantial), and two kinds of spiritual feelings (those in the will and those in the substance of the soul). We need not go into these distinctions here, except to note that within each category John seems to use different criteria for differentiating among the phenomena. Thus the difference between a formal and substantial does not strictly correspond with the difference between spiritual feelings in the will and those in the substance of the soul, for example. See chapters 23 through 32 of Book II of the Ascent. 27 In this study we are focusing on the intellectual dimension of union. Yet it should be noted that John has a no less important treatment of the nature of union in terms of the conformity of the Divine and human wills through charity; see, for example, Ascent I, 11, ii-iii, and II, 5, ii-iv. Since we are dealing here with the noetic aspects of revelation, however, we will not be considering the significance of the will for union. 192 STEVEN L. PAYNE

understanding of ordinary sensible creatures, but not for the comprehension of God. Because God is not material, there is no direct sensory perception of God from which a concept of God could be naturally abstracted; moreover, as John repeatedly says, no idea or image of the same order as natural concepts can adequately represent God, even if it is supernaturally produced (Ascent II, 8, ii-v). Thus John writes:

Creatures, earthly or heavenly, and all distinct ideas and images, natural or supernatural, that can be the objects of a person's faculties, however lofty they may be in this life, are incomparable and unproportioned to God's being. God does not fall under the classifications o f genus and species, whereas, according to the theologians, creatures do. And the soul is not capable of receiving clearly and distinctly in this life what does not fall under the classifications of genus and species (Ascent III, 12, i) 28.

For example, it does not matter whether one's mental picture of God as an old man on a throne is a supernatural vision or merely the product of one's own imaginative powers; in either case, it fails to represent God as God is. Of course, as John elsewhere concedes, creatures do bear a «trace» of God and can thus provide a very distant and analogous knowledge of the Divine (see Ascent II, 8, iii, and stanzas 4 through 7 of the Canticle) 29. Clearly, then, the knowledge of God toward which he directs the soul in the Ascent is of a different order, and involves what can in some

28 Changed slightly from the Kavanaugh/Rodriguez translation. 29 John is often accused of dualism and acosmism, of being insufficiently Incamational; see, for example, Inge's Christian Mysticism, p. 225. While it is true that some of his extreme language lends itself to this interpretation, John was also deeply sensitive to natural beauty, and saw it always as a reflection of the divine beauty. In fact it is the beauty o f creation, rather than its metaphysical order, which speaks to him of God. It seems that John simply took for granted the traditional scholastic view that it is possible for reason to know God through created things, but focused his attention instead on the higher «mystical» knowledge of God which is not naturally attainable. John also admits in places that discursive prayer involving forms and images does in fact provide some limited knowledge of God; see, for example, Ascent II, 14, ii. Thus his attitude toward «particular knowledge» is not entirely negative. THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PUBLIC REVELATION 193 sense be described as a direct experience of God 30. We begin to see, therefore, why he insists on the necessity of the divestment of the intellect of all its particular concepts and ideas. The obscure mystical knowledge he seeks is, in fact, the intellectual dimension of union itself, in which God is somehow united with the passive intellect as its «form », assuming the role played by the intelligible species. And just as matter cannot receive two «forms» at the same time, so God cannot «in-form» the passive intellect until finite forms and species are removed (see Ascent I, 6, ii; II, 15, iv; 16, vi-vii; III, 2, iv; Canticle 15, xxvi). We are now in a position to say something further about John's general attitude toward what theologians today call «private revelations». In the first place, he recognizes that God does indeed produce such phenomena, as is evident from Scripture (Ascent II, chapters 17 and 19), and he says that these communications can, under certain conditions, be validly enjoyed and cherished, insofar as they produce a more intense {Ascent III, 13, vi) 31. What he is most wary of is rather the particular concepts and images in which these communications are clothed. The «inner

30 We cannot here deal with the question of whether, or in what sense, there could be an «immediate» experience of God in this life; I have therefore used the less problematic term «direct». Of course, there are many different senses in which we can say that an experience is «mediated». All our sensory experience is mediated by the external sense organs, and yet we can speak of an «immediate» experience of seeing a tree, for example. It may be true, as is sometimes claimed, that the «direct» mystical experience of God always occurs through a certain «impulse of love», but this does not settle the more interesting question of whether the experience is «mediated» by anything oth er than God which functions as a species; authors like Garrigou-Lagrange and M a r it a in claim that it is, and that John says as much, but more recent writers admit that this may not be John's view. Part of the problem with scholastic approaches to these questions is that they tend to read Thomistic ideas into mystical texts. For a useful discussion of these matters, see William Wainwright, «Two Theories of Mysticism: Gilson and Maritain», in The Modem Schoolman 52 (M ay, 1975): 405-426. 31 This comes out especially clearly in Book III of the Ascent, w here John is discussing the purgation of the memory. John notes initially that the doctrine for the intellect applies as well to the memory, since whatever apprehensions should not be sought by the intellect should not be retained by the memory either. But John insists that one can usefully remember those experiences which incite one to greater love of God. And, by implication, the will can remain «attached» to these to a limited degree. 194 STEVEN L. PAYNE substance» of supernatural apprehensions is the obscure knowledge, love, and sweetness they convey, uniting the will more closely to God according to the purpose for which they were given; the «forms, figures, and images» are merely the «outer rind» (Ascent II, 14, iii-iv; 16, x-xi; 17, v; III, iv-vi). Yet the mind is naturally accustomed to operating upon such «particular knowledge», and easily becomes attached to it, thus missing the point of the communications and failing to leave the faculties free to receive higher and more spiritual communications from God. That is why John insists that the individual must let go of the limited concepts which may form part of a «private revelation», and cling instead to the «general, loving knowledge» it evokes. In light of this understanding of John's teaching on «private revelations», we can offer a possible interpretation of the confusing passages in the last ten chapters of Book II of the Ascent. Throughout Book II, John has been pursuing a step-by-step analysis of the various kinds of supernatural apprehensions, distinguishing among them on the analogy of sensory apprehensions, and advancing from the less to the more spiritual. Thus he begins with the natural apprehensions of sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell, and says that these can also be supernaturally produced by the direct action of God on the external sense organs. And just as there are exterior visions (voices, touches, etc.), so too there are supernaturally-produced imaginary phenomena which can be called, by analogy, «imaginary visions (voices, touches, etc.)». The higher the apprehension, however, the more «general», «spiritual», and unlike sense impressions it becomes. Some purely intellectual apprehensions do bear a certain analogy to ordinary sensory vision, and hence can appropriately be described as a kind of «vision» 32.Yet when they seem to involve some direct apprehension of God, without the mediation of particular forms and concepts, then they cease to be visions in a distinctive sense, 33 and become rather an aspect of union itself; the same may be said of locutions, revelations, and feelings, which is why

32 John mentions, for example, St. Benedict's vision of the whole world (Ascent II, 24, i), as well as the temptation in which the devil shows Christ «all the kingdoms of the world and their glory» (Ascent II, 24, vii). 33 By this I mean that they cease to be obviously visions as opposed to feelings or locutions. THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PUBLIC REVELATION 195

John is not always sure within which category to place the highest communications, and speaks of them all as «visions» in some sense (Ascent II, 23, ii-iii). All of this might be represented schematically by the following diagram:


In other words, at the highest level the distinctions among the different kinds of «private revelation» becomes problematic; it is unclear, for example, how St. Benedict's intellectual vision of the whole world is supposed to differ from certain kinds of revelation 34. Moreover, in describing

34 As I understand it, «revelations», according to John's usage, tend to be somewhat more «conceptual» or informative than intellectual visions in the strict sense. Benedict simply «saw» the whole world, according to the tradition, whereas Solomon was given a more specific knowledge about the intrinsic workings of creation, «the changes of the seasons, the changes of customs, the division of time», etc. (see Ascent II, 26, xii). It should be noted that the first kind of intellectual revelations, the «disclosure of naked truths to the intellect», «cannot strictly speaking be called revelations, since in them God bestows clear and manifest understanding of naked truths» (Ascent II, 25, ii). Moreover, when John later speaks of revelations properly so-called (i.e., the disclosure of secrets and hidden mysteries), he says once again that those in which «spiritual 196 STEVEN L. PAYNE the most spiritual communications, it scarcely matters whether one speaks of «revelation of naked truths concerning God», «substantial locutions», «disclosures of divine mysteries», or «spiritual feelings»; these terms all refer to what is essentially the same reality, mystical union with God, and describe different aspects of it. Thus John here is no longer talking about «private revelations» in the contemporary, somewhat pejorative sense, but rather about experiences integrally linked to the summit of the spiritual life, toward which every Christian should aspire.

Public Revelation

In light of all we have said so far, what becomes of the so-called «public revelation» of the Church? After all, had a physical form, and the Scriptures and articles of faith contain particular concepts and images; when John tells the soul to divest itself of all particular knowledge, does this include knowledge from these external sources? Just what is the function of the external dimension of revelation? In the first place, John devotes comparatively little space to as such, but what he does say is extremely important. It is clear, for example, that Jesus serves as a model of the spiritual life, which one undertakes out of love for him (see, e.g., Ascent I, 13, iv; II, 7, viii-xii). Moreover, the union with God which the soul seeks is only made possible by the grace given through the death and resurrection of Christ (Canticle 23, i-vi). Christ is likewise the Spouse with whom the soul is united in Spiritual Marriage (Canticle, passim), and our brother, since through his merits we become «sons of God», and «possess the same goods by participation that the Son possesses by nature» (Canticle 39, iv-vii). All of this is admirably summed up in that celebrated passage from chapter 22 of Book II of the Ascent,

truths concerning the mysteries of the faith» are uncovered to the soul are not properly called revelations, but are instead «a manifestation or declaration of the already revealed» (Ascent II, 27, ii). These remarks seem quite confusing, and I know of no good way of explaining them unless John means to identify legitimate «manifestations of the mysteries of the faith» with «the disclosure of naked truths». THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PUBLIC REVELATION 197 where he criticizes the desire for special revelations and puts the following response in the mouth of God:

... If I have already told you all things in My Word, My Son, and if I have no other word, what answer or revelation can I now make that would surpass this? Fasten your eyes on Him alone, because in Him you shall discover even more than you ask for and desire. You are making an appeal for locutions and revelations that are incomplete, but if you turn your eyes to Him you will find them complete. For He is my entire locution and response, vision and revelation, which I have already spoken, answered, manifested, and revealed to you, by giving Him to you as brother, companion, master, ransom, and reward... Hear Him because I have no more faith to reveal nor truths to manifest. If I spoke before, it was to promise Christ; if they questioned Me, their inquiries were related to their petitions and longings for Christ in Whom they were to obtain every good (as is evidenced in all the doctrine of the Evangelists and Apostles) ...... Hence there is no reason to hope for doctrine or anything else through supernatural means (Ascent II, 22, v- vii) 35.

Thus John here rules out the possibility of any authentic Divine revelation which is not somehow ordered to the full and complete revelation given in Christ. But our knowledge of the historical Jesus is mediated to us through the Scriptures, as they are interpreted in the ongoing community of faith. Scripture plays a central role for John, and he points to it as the principle support for his own doctrine (see Ascent, prologue, ii; Canticle, prologue, iv; Flame, prologue, i), since, as he maintains, «the Holy Spirit speaks to us through it» 36. Yet John is no fundamentalist,

35 R a h n e r makes the same point in almost identical terms in «The Death of Jesus and the Closing of Revelation», Theology Digest 23 (1975), pp. 322-323, where he writes: «Then, of course, one can state that after Jesus nothing new is said, not as though there would still be much to say, but because everything has been said. Indeed, everything has been given in the Son of Love, in whom God and the world have become one». Compare the essay «The Development of Dogma», in Karl Rahner, Theological Investigations, vol. I (Baltimore: Helicon Press, 1961), pp. 48-49. 36 John often introduces Scriptural quotations with such expressions as «the Holy Spirit says», «the Holy Spirit asserts», and so on. See, for example, Ascent II, 16, viii-ix; 17, ii. 198 STEVEN L. PAYNE and he identifies the literal interpretation of revelations, even those contained in the Bible, with the «outer rind».

In this and many other ways are misled by imparting to God's locutions and revelations a literal interpretation, an interpretation according to the outer rind. As has been explained, God's chief objective in conferring these revelations is to express and impart the elusive, spiritual meaning contained in the words. This spiritual meaning is richer and more plentiful than the literal meaning and transcends those limits. (Ascent II, 19, v)

At the same time, John insists that a Christian must reject any «new knowledge» and accept only what is in harmony with «reason and the law and doctrine of the Gospel» (Ascent II, 21, iv); one must likewise always be guided in one's understanding of revelation by «the Church and her ministers» (Ascent II, 22, xi-xix), through whom the faith is «handed on» to the individual Christian (Ascent II, 3, v )37. John speaks in similar terms of the «articles (truths, propositions, etc.) of faith», which apparently express the same mysteries as are found in Scripture and passed on by the Church. These «articles» likewise contain the «substance» of Divine , but in a «covered and inexplicit» form.

For the likeness between faith and God is so close that no other difference exists than that between believing in God and seeing Him. Just as God is infinite, faith proposes Him to us as infinite; as there are Three Persons in the One God, it presents Him to us in this way; and as God is darkness to our intellect, so does faith dazzle and blind us. Only by means of faith, in divine light exceeding all understanding, does God manifest Himself to the soul. (Ascent II, 9, i; see also Canticle, 12, ii-vii)

Thus the same God who manifests himself to the soul in the deepest experiences of mystical union also reveals

37 It is interesting to note that John never mentions «tradition» explicitly as a «source of revelation». However, the role which tradition plays is to some extent implicitly accounted for by John's emphasis on the mediation of the Church and its official teaching. THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PUBLIC REVELATION 199 himself in the Scriptures, as they are interpreted in the dogmas and teachings of the Church, and accepted in faith. The clue to the relationship between private and public revelation in John's thought, then, would seem to lie in his conception of faith, about which a few words must now be said.


Early in the second book of the Ascent John defines faith as a «certain and obscure habit», by which we «believe divinely revealed truths which transcend every natural light and infinitely exceed all human understanding» (Ascent II, 3, i) 3S. Here John seems to be adopting the traditional «scholastic» position: faith is that by virtue of which we assent to revealed propositions on the authority of the revealer, God. And throughout most of the Ascent John speaks of the «articles» and «truths» of faith, suggesting that he continues to take the «prepositional model» of faith very seriously. Alongside such statements, however, one finds others which broaden the scope of the term «faith» so that it seems to refer to an integral, centered act of the whole person, and to imply the other theological virtues of hope and love (see, for example, Ascent III, 27, iv; Canticle, prologue, ii, Flame 3, lxxx). Thus faith becomes, for John, not just a theological virtue of the intellect, but the whole existential attitude of the Christian as he or she surrenders to God and advances along the «path of pure faith» {Ascent I, 2, i; N igh t I, 11, iv). Thus it becomes clear why John repeatedly maintains that faith «is the only proximate and proportionate means to union with God» {Ascent II, 9, i). Beyond this, John sometimes identifies faith with the object of the act of assenting, and with its effects, particularly the «obscurity» it causes.

The substance of the secrets is God Himself, for God is the substance and concept of faith, and faith is the secret and the mystery. And when that which faith covers and hides from

38 My discussion of faith depends heavily on Alain Délayé, «L a Fois selon Jean de la Croix», Carmel (1975), pp. 7-12. Delaye points to a «secret identification» of faith and contemplation in the works of St. John; see p. 8. 200 STEVEN L. PAYNE

us is revealed ... then the substance and mysteries of the secrets will be uncovered to the soul. (Canticle 1, x; see also Ascent II, 9, i-iv; 22, v). Faith darkens and empties the intellect of all its natural understanding and thereby prepares it for union with the divine wisdom. (Night II, 21, xi; see also Ascent I, 2, i-v; II, 1, i-iii; 2, ii)

These various uses create a certain ambiguity in John's writings, but also enrich his concept of faith by adding many layers of meaning to the term. But how does all of this help to explain the relationship between public and private revelation? As a first approximation, we might say this: Christians «journeying by faith» let go of their own particular religious images and preconceptions and assent to the «articles of faith» with their whole being, thus receiving the «content of faith», which is the loving Father revealed in the Incarnate Son. In other words, public revelation is the self-communication of God in Christ, as it is expressed in Scripture and handed on by the Church. The Christian assimilates this communication when the Gospel message is preached to him or her; as John is fond of repeating, «faith comes through hearing» (Romans 10:17; see Ascent II, 3, iii; 27, iv; III, 31, viii). Yet the words of the Scriptures and dogmas of the Church are not themselves the «substance» of the faith, but only the symbols through which God's self-communication is imparted. For John, the content of faith, God himself, is somehow given to the soul in this acceptance and surrender; John uses language which suggests that God in some way really «enters the heart» and «gets inside» the person through the hearing of the Gospel. At the beginning, of course, the significance of what is accepted in faith remains quite obscure. Yet somehow, as the soul commits herself ever more deeply to God in faith, she gains a deeper understanding and experience of the Christian «mysteries». This happens in a particularly vivid way in the higher stages of the mystical life, where the «veil» seems to be lifted slightly and one has an obscure but intense apprehension of the reality which the «articles of faith» symbolize. Thus private revelations have meaning only in relation to the self­ communication of God in Christ; they give one a deeper «taste» of the divine mystery, enabling one to appropriate THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PUBLIC REVELATION 201 the Christ-communication more fully and personally, to see its «existential» implications 39. Any other sort of extraordinary phenomenon which bears no relationship to Christ, whether one describes it as a «private revelation» or not, is to be rejected.

Contemplation and Union with God

We can now understand why John links faith and contemplation together, and how he can speak of the «obscure knowledge» or «secret wisdom» received in contemplation as an «enlightenment» of faith. in the life of prayer, for John, involves growth in the «experiential» or «loving» knowledge of the God already obscurely grasped and accepted through the «articles of faith». At this period the soul feels that she is rushing toward God as impetuously as a falling stone when nearing its center. ... She knows too that she is like a sketch or the first draft of a drawing and calls out to the one who did this sketch to finish the painting and image. And her faith is so enlightened that it gives her a glimpse of some clear divine reflections of the height of her God...... With this burning desire she exclaims ... : O faith of Christ, my Spouse, would that you might show me clearly now the truths of my Beloved, which you have infused in my soul and which are covered with obscurity and darkness ... , in such a way that, what you communicate to me in inexplicit and obscure knowledge, you would show suddenly, clearly, and perfectly, changing it into a manifestation of glory! ...... For in the next life we shall see and enjoy openly this very substance which, clothed and covered with the silver of faith, we now believe... Faith, consequently, gives us God, but covered with the silver of faith. Yet it does not for this reason fail to give Him to us truly...

39 We are here dealing with what Rahner classes as «mystical private revelations». Private revelations of a prophetic character (e.g., the «revelation» that God wants some specific action carried out) are likewise ordered to the Incarnation, but in the sense that they spell out the specific implications of the revelation in Christ for particular circumstances where God's will m ig h t not otherwise be so clear. See R a h n e r , Visions and Prophecies, pp. 26ff. 202 STEVEN L. PAYNE

... These truths are infused by faith into her intellect. And since the knowledge of them is imperfect, she says that they are sketched. [And] when they will be clearly visible they will be like a perfect and finished painting in the soul. (Canticle 12, i-vi)

This quotation is particularly intriguing because John seems to be pointing out the essential continuity between faith, contemplation, and the . What will be seen in glory is not a different reality than what we already vaguely know by faith and experience in contemplative prayer. John several times suggests that the person who reaches mystical union with God receives a «foretaste» of the life to come. In such passages John apparently parts company with other theologians who insist that mystical experiences are essentially different from the Beatific Vision, and that the soul can have no direct experience of God in this life. John does admit a difference between the experiences of God possible in this life, and those of the next, but the difference seems to lie primarily in the degree of clarity; what can only be experienced vaguely and obscu­ rely here below will be clear and manifest in heaven 40. A final point should be made about contemplation before we move into the final section. One might get the impression from what we have said that in John's view the self-communication of God always comes to the Christian from the «outside», from the external public sources. But there is another aspect to revelation; the God who enters «from without» through faith is also, in another sense, already present in the soul, not only through grace but also as creator, continually preserving the soul in existence.

... It should be known that God's presence can be of three kinds The first is His presence by essence. In this way He is present not only in the holiest souls, but also in sinners and in all other creatures. For with this presence He gives them

40 Here again John seems to agree with Rahner, who insists that «grace is the supernatural elevation of man and the formal beginning and ontological prerequisite of vision»: see «The Concept of Mystery in », in Theological Investigations, vol. 4 (Baltimore/ Helicon Press, 1966), p. 66. For passages in which John seems to indicate that the higher mystical experiences provide a «foretaste» of Beatitude, see, for example, Flam e 1, xxxii; 2, xxi; xxxiv; 3, lxxxiii; 4, vii. THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PUBLIC REVELATION 203

life and being... The second is His presence by grace, in which He abides in the soul, pleased and satisfied with it... The third is His presence by spiritual affection, for God usually grants His spiritual presence to devout souls in many ways, by which He refreshes, delights, and gladdens them... Since it is certain that at least in the first way God is ever present to the soul, she does not ask Him to be present to her, but that He so reveal His hidden presence, whether natural, spiritual, or affective, that she may be able to see Him in His divine being and beauty... Yet insofar as this soul is full of fervor and tender love of God, we should understand that this presence she asks the Beloved to reveal refers chiefly to a certain affective presence which the Beloved accords her. This presence is so sublime that the soul feels an immense hidden being is there from which God communicates to her some semi-clear glimpses of His divine beauty. ( Canticle 11, iii-iv; see also Canticle 1, vi-xi; Flame 1, ix-xv)

Thus there seems to be a two-fold self-communication of God, from within and from without, from the exterior world and from the interior of the soul. While «entering» through the individual's faith, God is aiso «revealing» a presence that was somehow «always already there». The former seems to build upon the latter; that is to say, the public revelation, when accepted by the Christian, helps the «presence by grace and essence» to intensify, and helps the soul to become more explicitly aware of it. There is a reciprocal relationship here as well, for it is this «inner presence» which enables one to identify the «substance» of the «articles of faith», because one recognizes that they are speaking, in a halting and partial way, of the reality one is experiencing within. Unfortunately, John does not work out any of this in detail, and we are left with only a few elusive passages to suggest how he might explain the relationship between the «external revelation» and the «inner presence» of God. But at this point we have enough data to attempt a rough sketch of the Sanjuanist «theology of revelation». In the following section, then, I will try to pull together the various piecesTof the preceding discussion, and present a more systematic summary of John's views on public and private revelation. 204 STEVEN L. PAYNE

III. T o w ard s a S o lu t io n

Though we cannot pretend to offer a definitive solution to the problems raised earlier in this study, the following, at least, seems clear: First, with respect to «private revelations, John unambiguously rejects anything which would «add to» or «transcend» what has already been sufficiently revealed in Christ; thus he would not accept Stace's or Baruzi's notion of a mysticism which «goes beyond» the limits of Christian faith. Moreover, he will have nothing to do with any «new information» about God and God's salvific will, since this would imply that the revelation in Jesus was only partial and incomplete. He is therefore not a «quasi-gnostic» in the pejorative sense outlined in the first section. On the other hand, however, John does accept and approve of those «private revelations» — if they can legitimately be called such — which impart a deeper insight into what has already implicitly been given in the «deposit of faith». The growth in insight does not necessarily mean an increase in the theoretical or systematic understanding of the truths of (though this could arise from further reflection), but rather a more profound experiential or «tacit knowledge, obtained by way of participation rather than conceptual objectification» Thus John is not an extreme fideist either; despite some of his hyperbolic language to the contrary, John realizes that the «articles of faith» do convey some knowledge to the Christian, and are, even at the beginning, at least partially understood 42. As one advances in one's response to God's offer of friendship (i.e.,

41 The expression «tacit knowledge» is from M ichael Polanyi, but the phraseology here is taken from unpublished lecture notes by Avery Dulles, who in recent years has been exploring the implications of Polanyi's thought for Catholic theology; see Avery Dulles, «Faith, Church and God: Insights from Polanyi», Theological Studies 45 (1984), pp. 537- 550; idem, Models o f Revelation (Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Co. 1983). 42 Thus Werblowsky is mistaken in describing Sanjuanist mysticism as essentially «anti-cognitive». John couldn't claim that faith « presents God as H e is» and « inform s us of things we have never seen» unless he believed that we vaguely understand what is meant by the articles, for otherwise nothing would really be «presented» or «communicated». THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PUBLIC REVELATION 205 grows in the «spiritual life»), this understanding continually deepens. Thus among the most valuable mystical experiences are those in which the «inner meaning» of the Scriptures and « articles o f faith» is more fully revealed. John, as we said, is no Biblical fundamentalist; and just as earlier Christian writers had understood mysticism in terms of the «mystical sense» of Scripture, so too John believes that the Bible expresses the same reality which the contemplative soul experiences within 43. Herein lies an important link between the public revelation and the private religious experience of the individual Christian. It is not entirely clear why John exempts the forms and concepts of the Scriptures and dogma from his general programme of purifying the intellect, but the following suggestions may help. John actually says, for example, that faith is «pure in its truths, and strong and clear, cleansed of errors and natural forms» (Canticle 12, iii). But of course the Bible does employ human concepts and images in order to express the Divine. Perhaps John is thinking that the symbols found in Scripture are understood to be symbols, and never mistaken for the Reality itself which they only partially reveal and articulate (see, for example, Canticle, prologue, i). Thus when Christians hear God described as a loving father or great king, they realize from the rest of Scripture and from the teaching of the Church that this is symbolic, evocative language, and that God is not literally and exactly a «loving father» or «great king» in the ordinary sense of those terms. And this would explain, further, what John means when he rejects the «literal understanding» of Scripture in favor of the «spiritual meaning». It is not that John thinks of the concrete events of «salvation history» as unimportant, or favors the fanciful allegorization of Biblical

43 See Jean Vilnet's article, «L'Écriture et les mystiques», part I I o f «Écriture Sainte et Vie Spirituelle», in Dictionnaire de Spiritualité-, the article contains a summary of the views defended at greater length in his Bible et mystique chez Saint Jean de la Croix, (Bruges: Desclée de Brouwer, 1949). For a discussion of medieval , see H e n r i D e L u b a c , Exégèse Médiévale: Les quatre sens de l'Écriture, 4 vols. (Paris: Aubier, 1959-1964). The main themes of this larger work can also be found in English, in his The Sources of Revelation, (New York: Herder and Herder, 1968); see the first chapter and the note on John on p. 69. 206 STEVEN L. PAYNE passages; on the contrary, he seems to have sided with the «scripturists», those in his own day who emphasized the search for what we now describe as the «literal meaning of the text» 44. The «literal» interpretation John rails against is rather a kind of which insists on reading Scriptural texts in the most gross and materialistic way, as if they were scientific descriptions of facts and events according to the modern notion of what constitutes science; this fundamentalistic approach actually fails to do justice to the intentions of the original authors, since it ignores the many different ways in which Scripture employs language and projects onto the Biblical writers a literary mentality which they certainly did not possess 45. Thus Scriptural and dogmatic concepts seem acceptable to John because there is some awareness of their symbolic nature. Beyond this, it seems that the inspiration of the Spirit makes it possible to accept the Biblical concepts as normative; because the Spirit speaks through Scripture, we can be sure that the images contained therein (e.g., God as Father, Jesus as Son), though by no means exhaustively capturing the divine truth, have at least a valid content, which we can expect to have gradually unveiled to us as we continue to «live in faith». With other kinds of revelations (supposed revelations about the childhood of Mary and Joseph, for example) we cannot be sure; God might be behind the revelation, or he might not, and even if he is, the point of the revelation is not to give new facts but to arouse greater love. Hence it is safer to reject new private communications not clearly related to the deposit of faith, and instead stick with what is already revealed in Scripture, since we can be sure this has salvific importance. The Scriptures, then, and in a secondary sense, the dogmas of the Church insofar as they further articulate Christian teaching, elicit faith and provide the norm for Christian living; but the other side of this is that, as one grows in the love of God, one grows in the «participatory knowledge» of what the Scriptural texts struggle to express. Indeed, John continually turns to Scripture for the most

44 See Kavanaugh's General Introduction to The Collected Works, p. 18. 45 In other words, the authors of the Bible did not intend to write scientific history in the modem sense. THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PUBLIC REVELATION 207 adequate descriptions of the contemplative's inner experience. John likewise recognizes the value of personal «revelations» which lead one to a deeper appreciation of the significance of Christ, the center and focus of the Scriptures. This is perhaps already implied by what we have just said about the Biblical texts, but is given special emphasis in certain Sanjuanist passages.

There is much to fathom in Christ, for He is like an abundant mine with many recesses of treasures, so that however deep men go they never reach the end or bottom, but rather in every recess find new veins with new riches everywhere... The soul cannot enter these caverns or reach these treasures if, as we said, she does not first pass over to the divine wisdom through the straits of exterior and interior suffering. For one cannot reach in this life what is attainable of these mysteries of Christ without having suffered much, and without having received numerous intellectual and sensible favors from God, and without having undergone much spiritual activity; for all these favors are inferior to the wisdom of the mysteries of Christ in that they serve as preparations for coming to this wisdom. (Canticle 37, iv; see also Canticle 1, v)

The norm of Christian living which the Bible presents to us is the imitation of Christ; contemplatives judge their own lives and experiences by the degree to which they are patterned on the life, death, and . It is through Christ and his merits that growth in friendship with God is made possible. But John goes even further than this, and seems to suggest that through one's religious experience a deeper insight into the «mysteries of Christ» is given. What could this mean? The key, I think, lies in the notion of adoptive sonship, and John's claim that, through «illumined faith», we come to share by participation in what Christ possesses by nature. John seems to suggest that the experience of union with God, particularly as it achieves a certain permanence in spiritual marriage, is an image of the hypostatic union of the two natures in Christ (see Canticle 37, iii; 39, iv-vi; 36, v). In other words, through the grace of Christ mystics receive a certain «participatory knowledge» of the Incarnation, by themselves becoming in some sense «other Christs» by 208 STEVEN L. PAYNE participation, and experiencing a vague analogue of Jesus' own self-consciousness; they are aware of somehow possessing a divine and human element within themselves “ .Their insight into grace grows as well, as they come to appreciate all that Christ has gained for them. The «dark nights» through which they have passed have given them a new and keener sense of their own finitude and sinfulness, making the total gratuity of God's gift all the more clear; they experience their happy state as that toward which the loving but hidden hand of God was always providentially guiding them (see Canticle 37, vi; 38, vi-ix). Again, John allows for a deeper «revelation» of the God Who is always already present within the soul, always available to consciousness, albeit in an «unthematic» way. We have seen quotations where John seems to suggest that every Christian, through baptism, enjoys the presence of God «by essence and grace», and is somehow vaguely conscious of this presence, yet without clearly reflecting upon i t 47. This awareness becomes sharper as one grows in faith, and one recognizes the «inner presence» as the same Who has also reached out to his people in the saving events of history. Here the Christian gains also a kind of participatory knowledge of the Trinity, of the Father who creates, of the Son who is given in history, and of the Spirit «poured forth in our hearts». One experiences what might be called the «subjective economic Trinity» in one's vague awareness of the different roles each Person plays in the and perfection of the soul (see Canticle 39, iii- vii; Flame 2, i-xx; 3, iiff.; lxxx-lxxxii) . Our summary of John's views on «private revelations» may itself seem quite obscure, and it would take an independent essay to begin to clarify more fully what is meant here by a «participatory knowledge» of Christ, grace,

46 See Georges M orel, Le Sens de VExistence selon S. Jean de la Croix, vol. 2: Logique (Paris: Aubier, 1960), pp. 216-228. 47 See, for example, Ascent II, 14, viii-xi, where John says that at the beginning stages of contemplation «this general knowledge is at times so recondite ..., spiritual, and interior that the soul does not perceive or feel it, even though employed with it», and thus «remains ... as though ignorant of all things, since it knows only God without knowing how it knows Him». This suggests the idea of a vague, unthematic, «transcendental» awareness of which one only gradually becomes reflectively conscious. THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PUBLIC REVELATION 209 and the Trinity. Yet to put it as briefly as possible, what I have been arguing is simply this: John has no use for religious novelties, for visions and voices which merely satisfy vain curiosity and have nothing essential to do with the Divine reality revealed in Christ. Yet he puts the greatest value on those personal graces — some of which he calls «revelations» — which produce, or are the result of, a deeper existential appropriation of God's self-communication. Indeed, without such «private revelations» in this latter sense, Christian doctrine would remain simply a dead letter; and it is difficult to see what the «public revelation» would then amount to, for nothing would then be received 48. In other words, one might say that public revelation requires such «private revelations» in order to be a genuine self­ communication of God. Here mystical theology and the contemporary theology of revelation join hands. In closing, I would like to mention briefly some of the parallels between John's doctrine and contemporary «transcendental» approaches to the theology of revelation, especially that of Karl Rahner. For Rahner, as we know,the human person «spirit-in-the-world», uniting within oneself a bodily presence in the material world with a presence to oneself and a transcendental openness to the Infinite. These two aspects of human nature are not unlike the «sensory and spiritual» dimensions of the soul which John identifies. Rahner says that God is related to the world (and to the individual) in a natural way, as the ground of its existence, and in this respect is unthematically experienced as transcendent mystery; this is what Rahner sometimes speaks of as «natural revelation». At the same time, however, God continually gives himself in a totally gratuitous offer of self-communication; this is another way of speaking about his universal salvific will, called by Rahner the «supernatural existential» 49. It is within this framework that Rahner develops his famous distinction between transcendental revelation and categorical revelation. The former is that general offer of God made to

48 Of course, there is still «public revelation» in some sense, for God really does offer himself even if no one accepts; still, no authentic communication would take place. 49 See Karl Rahner, Foundations o f Christian Faith, (New York: Seabury, 1978), pp. 141, 170-172. 210 STEVEN L. PAYNE all human beings, of which each is unreflexively aware, and which, as given and accepted, alters the «a priori horizon of consciousness» 50. That is to say, it is the «supernatural existential» insofar as it sheds a new light on things. In responding to this gift, always freely though in an unreflexive way, one becomes obscurely conscious of the Divine not only as transcendent mystery but also as an immanent spiritual dynamism within the soul moving it toward this mysterious goal. Categorical revelation, on the other hand, is a matter of «the necessary but historical and objectifying self­ interpretation of the transcendental experience which constitutes the realization of man's essence» 51. Because the human person is a spirit in the world, one's response to the general self-communication of God gets objectified in history. Human beings interpret their transcendental expe­ rience to themselves more or less successfully, depending on the effects of guilt and finitude; they reflect upon, conceptualize and concretely try to respond to the reality they unthematically grasp. The are those in whom:

... the self-interpretation of this supernatural, transcendental experience and its history takes place in word and deed. Hence something comes to expression in the prophets which fundamentally is present everywhere and in everyone, including ourselves who are not called prophets 52. The most successful objectification of transcendental revelation occurs in those words and deeds known as «biblical history», which climaxes in Christ, «who is the unsurpassable gift, acceptance, and objectification of revelation» 53. Through the Scriptures, this categorical revelation receives verbal expression and is handed down to later generations of believers. Now, without being able to defend my assertions in any detail here, I would like to suggest that the Sanjuanist

50 See R a h n e r , Foundations, pp. 150, 172. 51 R a h n e r , Foundations, p. 153. 52 Ibid., p. 158. It is worth noting that John shows a special fondness for the Biblical prophets, and would perhaps agree with Rahner that the prophetic light is not intrinsically different from the ordinary light of grace. See, for example, Ascent II, 26, xiff. 53 See R a h n e r , Foundations, pp. 157-158, 169, 174-175, THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PUBLIC REVELATION 211

«presence by essence» is akin to what Rahner sometimes calls «natural revelation», whereas the vague awareness of God's presence in the soul «by grace» (see Canticle 11, iii) corresponds in certain respects with transcendental revelation 5\ One could also say that the Scriptures and «articles of faith» function for John as verbal expressions of the categorical revelation which reaches its completion in Christ. That is to say, there is a similarity in the way Rahner and St. John of the Cross approach the Biblical words and events; both see them as (at least in part) objectifications of the inner experience of every human being as he or she responds to the Divine initiative 5S. One can make the same comparison of the two authors from the perspective of Trinitarian theology. Rahner writes:

Insofar as he has come as the salvation which divinizes us in the innermost center of the existence of the individual person, we call him really and truly «Holy Spirit» or «Holy Ghost». Insofar as in the concrete historicity of our existence one and the same God strictly as himself is present for us in Jesus Christ, and in himself, not in a representation, we call him «» or the Son in an absolute sense. Insofar as this very God, who comes to us as Spirit and Logos, is and always remains the ineffable and holy mystery, the incomprehensible ground and origin of his coming in the Son and in the Spirit, we call him the one God, the Father 56.

54 Throughout my brief comparison, I do not mean to suggest that Rahner and St. John o f the Cross hold identical views, or that Rahner expresses what John «really wanted to say». Such judgments are anachronistic. I do believe, however, that cne can find parallels in John to more contemporary approaches, which make a modern reading of his works theologically profitable. 55 This, incidentally, suggests the possibility of a Rahnerian retrieval of the notion of the «spiritual sense» of Scripture. I do not know whether he has written in any detail on the subject, but it seems to me one might develop such an approach along the following lines: if the words and events recorded in Scripture constitute an objectification of everyone's transcendental experience, then the texts have a «spiritual meaning» in the sense that behind the words and events are universal structures of human experience which they symbolize. This meaning would really be there in the text even if the Biblical author didn't explicitly intend it, and thought only in terms of the description of objective events; thus there could be a sense of Scripture in addition to what the author himself reflectively intended. 56 R a h n e r , Foundations, p. 136. See also the Third Lecture in «The 212 STEVEN L. PAYNE

Now it seems to me that this explanation of the Trinity in terms of the two-fold communication of the transcendent God (i.e., the «Father») to us, in history (through the Incarnation of the «Son» in Jesus Christ, the summit of categorical revelation) and in the depths of the soul (through the Holy Spirit, which, as uncreated grace, can be identified as transcendental revelation), corresponds very closely with the notion we found in John of a double «revelation» of God to the soul, from without (in Christ and Scripture) and from within (in the manifestation of His hidden presence). Like Rahner, John seems to hold that behind all the particular «mysteries of the faith» is the essential Mystery, God himself, who remains mysterious even in the Beatific Vision 57. Rahner insists that all of the «particular mysteries» can be derived from the three interconnected mysteries of the Trinity, the Incarnation (or hypostatic union), and the divinization of the human person in grace and glory, which themselves are simply «the articulation of the one single mystery of God» 58. It is therefore most intriguing that John likewise focuses on the Trinity, the hypostatic union, and salvation as the key mysteries of which the Christian in union with God gains a vague «participatory knowledge» 59. And the fact that John is willing at times to speak of the specific roles played by the different Persons in the «divinization» of the human person suggests in addition that John may have obscurely grasped Rahner's point that «the economic Trinity is the immanent Trinity», that the roles played by the Son and the Spirit in our growth are not simply interchangeable 60. Of course, if Rahner's theological views are correct, then it is not surprising that John should arrive at some genuine, though tentative, insights in these areas, since, according to Rahner, the mystic should actually experience the Trinitarian nature

Concept of Mystery in Catholic Theology», pp. 60-73. 57 See, for example, Canticle 36, x-xi; 37, iv; 14 & 15, viii; 7, viii, for the notion that God remains mysterious even in Beatitude. For remarks indicating the interconnection of all the particular mysteries, see, for example, Canticle 37, vii; Flame 3, ii-xvii. 58 R a h n e r , «The Concept of Mystery in Catholic Theology», p. 72. 59 See the passages from Canticle, 37 and 39, cited above. 60 See especially Flame 2, i-xvii, as well as Canticle 1, ii-xii; 39, iii-vi. THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PUBLIC REVELATION 213 of God and its intrinsic connection with the Incarnation and grace, though in an unthematic way. Even the principal shortcoming of John's theology of revelation reminds one of a criticism frequently made of Rahner: he does not seem to give sufficient place to the historical. Whereas both authors try to take account of the historical dimension of revelation — John talks in several places about the difference between the periods before and after Christ — there is the danger that, in viewing Biblical history as an objectification of transcendental revelation, one may reduce its significance. «If revelation were given in the immediacy of God to the human spirit», as John and Rahner sometimes seem to suggest, «no visible mediation through Christ would be necessary or essential» “ . John of the Cross, moreover, is further limited by the rather static world-view of scholasticism, and so it is harder for him than for Rahner to appreciate the significance of the historical. On the other hand, Rahner might say in his own defense that the «visible mediation» is only necessary a posteriori, because God wills it to be so; God could in fact have saved us in another way, although another way might not have been as «fitting» in view of our historical nature. This seems to me to be a perfectly orthodox claim. Nevertheless,one still feels that neither Rahner nor John give sufficient prominence to the salvific value of the concrete, historical Jesus; one wants to say that there may be more in the «public revelation» than what is already implicitly given in transcendental experience. In any case, if we were to attempt to express the Sanjuanist doctrine on private revelations in Rahnerian terms, we might say the following: John rejects extraordinary private experiences which merely offer new inconsequential information about the concrete ways in which transcendental revelation was objectified (for example, «revelations» about the names of Mary's parents or the color of Jesus' eyes). The categorical revelation preserved in the Scriptures, as they are interpreted by the Church, is sufficient. But John encourages personal «revelations»

61 Quoted, once again, from unpublished lecture notes by A v e r y D u l l e s . 214 STEVEN L. PAYNE

which involve a deeper grasp and appropriation of the transcendental revelation behind the objectification; it matters a great deal, for example, that we come to a deeper «existential» knowledge of what it means to be «another Christ», to experience the «divine adoption of the sons of God». Thus it seems to me that one can speak of a genuine growth in knowledge; mystics really learn something new, not in the sense that they discover new doctrines or gain new empirical data, but rather in the sense that there is a real acquisition involved, that they can gain important insights into what they believe, and arrive at a fresh understanding of the inner connections among the «mysteries» of their faith. Thus many mystics, including John, seem to have arrived, through reflection on their inner experience, at important theological insights which they were often unable to articulate fully, even to themselves, because of the limitations of their “ .

62 Thus, for example, John seems inclined to speak of the distinct roles played by the different Divine Persons in the transformation of the soul, even though he recognizes that, according to the scholastic theology of his day, these Persons were always supposed to act as one. This suggests that the inclination to speak in this way was based on personal experience; although his theological background told him that he should be experiencing the unity of God, he was somehow aware of his experience as having a trinitarian character. In a clearer example, St. Teresa describes in several places what she said was a more or less continual intellectual vision of the Trinity, and in one of her «Spiritual Testimonies» she notes with surprise that although the Father, and perhaps the Son, had «spoken» to her, the Holy Spirit had never done so; see The Collected Works o f St. Teresa o f Avila, trans. K ie r a n K a v a n a u g h , OCD, and O t il io R o d r ig u e z , OCD, vol. 1 (Washington, DC: ICS Publications, 1976), p. 360. Yet, according to Rahner's trinitarian theology, the «silence» of the Spirit is altogether appropriate and understandable, since He is not a «Person» in the same sense as is the Father and the Incarnate Son. (She likewise adds that the Second Person only spoke to her «in His humanity», which would again seem to fit nicely with Rahner's views.) Finally, in her Life (Collected Works 1: 121-122) Teresa explains how she came to realize, on the basis of her experiences, that God was present in every soul, even though ignorant confessors had tried to convince her that God was only present in those souls in a state of grace. These, it seems to me, are cases where mystics seem to grasp dimly certain realities which couldn't be fit into their own conceptual framework; they had experiences which went beyond the limits of what their own theology said was possible. Thus it is not entirely accurate to claim that the soul in union «knows nothing that it did not know before, THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PUBLIC REVELATION 215

Thus it seems to me that one can steer a middle course between fideistic and quasi-gnostical readings of St. John of the Cross; private revelations can give additional knowledge to the Christian, but only in the sense that they lead him to a deeper understanding of what is already objectively given in Christ (i.e., in «public revelation»). And since no matter how profoundly one grasps the Mystery of God, God always remains essentially mysterious, the need for faith is never lost. This completes our present discussion.

even with respect to Christian faith» (Dicken, The Crucible o f Love, p. 124). Many writers, including Dupre, Baruzi, Johnston and others, claim that the mystic gains, not new knowledge, but a new mode of awareness of what it always knew. W hile this is true to some extent, it may not give sufficient recognition to personal religious experience as the basis for fresh theological insights.