Faith, Hope and Love
Faith, Hope and Love are the 3 means for this union with God.
St. John of the Cross does not approach faith as we would perhaps do today, in reference to the problem of atheism. What interests him is to penetrate as deeply as possible into the depths of God. This explains the point of view that we find in his work: faith as the means of union of the soul with God. “The greater one’s faith, the closer is one’s union with God,” he writes in Ascent, Book 2, Ch. 9.
How is this possible?
Because Revelation, John of the Cross says, is Jesus in person. He is the Word of the Father to men (cf. Ascent, Book 2, Ch. 22).
This is the particular line of the mystical doctrine of the saint. Revealed truths are indeed given to the intellect, but it is Christ himself who is given [in faith], he, the life of Christians. God's manifestation to men is enclosed in him, as a model to be always imitated, always to be reproduced through love.”
Karol Wojtyla, Faith according to St. John of the Cross, 1980
It is by welcoming the person of Christ in faith and by reproducing Him through love that union with God becomes possible.
LOVE, THE "LIVING FLAME"
It is the means par excellence of our union with God - Love, which is called "charity" in the Christian vocabulary, in the sense specified by Benedict XVI in the first part of his encyclical, Deus Caritas Est.
It is love which impels one to gat out of oneself at the point of departure; it is love which makes us progress, and it is love which finally brings about the plenitude that John of the Cross describes:
There you will show me
What my soul has been seeking,
And then you will give me,
You, my life, will give there
What you gave me on that other day.
What the soul had always been seeking is to love God as purely and perfectly as he loves her in order to repay him by such love... Since she sees through her transformation in God in this life that she cannot, even though her love is immense, equal the perfection of God's love for her, she desires the clear transformation of glory in which she will reach that equality.
Spiritual Canticle, 38
The breathing of the air
The song of the sweet nightingale
The grove and its living beauty
In the serene night,
With a flame that is consuming and painless.
The breathing of the air is an ability that the soul states God will give her there in the communication of the Holy Spirit. By his divine breath-like spiration, the Holy Spirit 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. This spiration of love is the Holy Spirit himself. ... God created her in his image and likeness that she might attain such resemblance.
Spiritual Canticle, 39
We understand how the saints of Carmel, who caught a glimpse of this, could have such a strong sense of the dignity of the human person. Every person bears in himself the capacity to become, by his union with God in Christ, the equal and the companion of God, his "spouse", according to the original biblical comparison. The human person is a spouse who shares in the fruitfulness of God himself, because the Spirit has "taken" her in his movement.
All along the path that lead us to God, we continually risk being discouraged due to our weakness and the hardness of life that we endure daily. here the theological virtue of hope comes into play so that we may not doubt that we shall ever arrive at the end of our journey in spite of our fragility and the adversities that may overwhelm us. The motive that hope gives us for this happy end is God who is himself engaged in this adventure with us, and who is faithful to his promise. hope teaches us to rely uniquely on God in complete trust through every kind of trial. If we were to believe in the experience of St. John of the Cross and, closer to our context, in that of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, "one obtains from God all that one hopes for." (Dark Night, Book 2, Ch. 21).
It is therefore because of God that hope remains possible in the obscure and disconcerting unfolding of our history, both personal and collective.
Moreover, John emphazises that nothing should prevent us in our movement towards God - neither failures, nor even successes. God is greater than all. Not even one of the situations we may encounter on the road ought to turn us away from him.