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Sunday, 26 December 2021 07:00

450th Anniversary of John of St. Samson

450th Anniversary of John of St. Samson Ven. John of Saint Samson, oils on canvas by artist Warren J. Borg Ebejer, TOCS, Carmelite Priory Mdina, Malta

This year, on December 29, is the 450th anniversary of the birth of Ven. John of St Samson. He was christened the following day in Sens. He had a very difficult childhood. He was blinded by an incompetent physician after contracting chicken pox and was orphaned at a young age.

He was introduced to the Parisian Carmelites in Place Maubert in 1603 and joined the Order at Dol-de-Bretagne three years later. When he was transferred to Rennes in 1612, he became the spiritual soul of the Touraine reform.

His deep mystical life made him a seasoned teacher of the spiritual life. His teachings, dictated to novices and disciples, have come down to us in over 4000 manuscript folios.

A lover of solitude made fruitful by his encounters with God, he was aflame with ardent love for humanity especially the poor and the sick to whom he ministered through his charism of healing.

He died in the odor of sanctity on September 14, 1636 at Rennes. His last words were: “With Christ, I am affixed to the cross.”

Of the Ineffable Incarnation of God made Man

But let us now, my Love and my Life, look at Your ineffable Love and Your ineffable Incarnation. It is from here on and in this vein that I am lost in an abyss within the innermost depths of all Your Deity. There I do not know where to start to reason about you, in all humility.

For, seeing Your resolution to save us, and your Love and its order to effect it, and the means which you hold fast to, that is what totally enraptures me in admiration outside of myself, where, being fixed in the enjoyment of this admirable mystery above admiration, I would not like to break into speech. And what can we say of a mystery so ineffable, which contains and comprehends contraries so opposite and so distant one from the other as are the all and the nothing, immensity and infinity and nothingness, Deity in itself and nothingness?

This is what has already detained us, occupied more in admiration of such an ineffable Mystery, than in speaking as a result of my ardent love. 

What is this? The Word is made flesh. Behold You whom all creatures cannot comprehend cut short in human nature, in the form and manner of an infant enclosed within the maternal prison of a mother made Mother of God, of the flesh with which you clothed Yourself, elevating it and uniting it to Your infinite Subject!

It is the perpetual subject of profound astonishment of all creatures. For to see You so much changed without change, so far off without distance, so much cut short and so great, so contained and so containing, so enclosed and so free, indeed so enclosed and so universal in all and by all, so high and so low, so wide and so narrow, so strong and so weak, so powerful and so powerless, so much more than all and above all and so next to nothing; all that, I say, my Love and my Life, is an eternal cause to creatures high and low, not only of eternal admiration and astonishment at the contemplation of this sight, but also of annihilating them by itself and reducing them to nothing in the action and act of their astonishment.

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