“In that day the LORD of hosts will be a crown of glory, and a diadem of beauty, to the remnant of his people…”
Toward the end of St. John of the Cross’s work The Dark Night, he writes about the three faculties of the soul being acted upon by God. He identifies these faculties as the intellect, the memory, and the will. Through the soul’s dark night, which can also be representative of the Christian’s earthly pilgrimage to his eternal belonging and reunion with Christ, and which was suffered most acutely by our Lord himself on Calvary’s cross, the intellect becomes faith, the memory becomes hope, and the human will is transformed into love. The theological virtues of faith, hope, and love are our present partaking in Christ by which Christians are given victory over every earthly enemy.
He pairs the heavenly gifts of faith, hope, and love with the Christian’s enemies; the devil, the world, and our sinful flesh. Against the devil we are given the gift of faith. When describing the armor of God, St. Paul identifies the shield of faith as the element by which we extinguish the flaming darts of the evil one. Faith comes by hearing the word, and the word of God is divine power to silence the devil in his temptations, words of condemnation, and terrors. Hope is the strength by which we now face the world. Looking beyond it’s meager pleasures and enticements, still residing in a world where death, decay, and corruption would only lead us to despair, hope is the turned renewal of forward vision toward the God who rich in mercy has promised to love us all the way home.
“This is the ordinary task of hope in the soul;” he writes, “it raises the eyes to look only at God…” He is the only one whose grace is sufficient to sustain us when life’s storms would swiftly destroy us. He kneels there beside us in trials and sorrows, and opens his hands to collect every tear. To look to God is to behold again the one who loves, knows, and created us, who does not hide his face when we need him but holds the treasures of life and peace before us of remaking and restoring our innermost being and raising up our flesh and bone. In him we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, a nightless hope laid up in heaven, a home in whom the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.