John of St. Samson

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"You and I, my love, you and I, you and I, and never another nor more!"

The Venerable John of St. Samson (15711636), also known as Jean du Moulin or Jean de Saint-Samson, was a French Carmelite and mystic of the Catholic Church. A leader of the Touraine Reform of the Carmelite Order, which stressed prayer, silence and solitude, John was blind from the age of three after contracting smallpox and receiving poor medical treatment for the disease. He insisted very strongly on the mystical devotion of the Carmelites. He has been referred to as the "French John of the Cross" by students of Christian mysticism.


  • "I beg everyone from the highest to the lowest to forgive me; I have given them all much very bad example."
    • Among his last words, after receiving the final Sacraments
  • Make use of this very simple aspiration: you and I, my love, you and I, you and I, and never another nor more! To which you could add some burning words like: "since you are entirely good and all goodness itself; since you are entirely glorious and all glory itself; since you are entirely holy and all holiness itself!
    • As quoted in Traditions of Spiritual Guidance (1987) by Michael Brundell.
  • This is what the Son of God desires of you: that he might be able to embellish, perfect and gain you lustre with the fullness of his gifts. Since he is so taken by your Beauty, which flows and gushes from him to you, as I have said, what he desires of you is that he might have the supreme pleasure of an eternity enjoying you and his gifts. Thus, everyone who proceeds to live in a way that is contrary to his own self, lives in God; his whole being is God-orientated; he sees nothing but God and himself.
    • From, A Letter to a Religious
  • My exercise consists in a total elevation of the spite above all created and sense-objects. By this exercise I am securely concentrated within myself and gaze steadily at God who in a simple manner draws me to the state of simple unity and nakedness of spirit, which is called “simple idleness.” In this state of simplicity of rest I am passively possessed and held above every sense-image. This rest remains mine, whether I am by myself doing nothing or whether I am engaged in activity that is exterior or interior and mental. This is what I can tell you about my interior life: my condition is simple, naked, darkened and without knowledge even of God, in nakedness and darkness of spirit. I am lifted above every kind of illumination existing below this level; in this state I cannot bring into play my interior faculties. They are all without exception drawn and held under the influence of this unique and simple “image.” This image, in fact, holds them in a state of naked simplicity above vision and essence at the highest level of spirit, beyond spirit. It is there that I find myself in the nakedness and darkness of the all-incomprehensible depths, incomprehensible because of their darkness, where everything of the senses, everything specific and created melts down and blend into the unity of spirit, or rather into the simplicity of essence or spirit.
    • From The Exercise of Elevation of the Spirit to God
  • Love does not always choose the same dwelling place, it makes many exploits in men here below; It has its night, its day, and its many levels: only the one who has overall happiness is content. It moves, it suffers in God, its first cause and the unique happiness of the celestial Spirits; It is there that it is always equally enraptured, by the Seraphic love which is above all things.
    • From The Holy Sepulchre Canticle
  • I have three homes here below, each very appealing: The Cross, Love, and the Sepulchre; all of them are to me as One, and raise me above nature, and above its wearisome hold.
    • From The Holy Sepulchre Canticle

From The Epithalamium[edit]

Quotes from The Epithalamium: of the divine and incarnate Bridegroom and of the divine bride in conjugal union with her Spouse, trans. by Br. Neil B. Conlisk, O.Carm. (Washington D.C. 2017)

  • Tell me, my Life and my Spouse, this whole ineffable mystery, is it not rather for the admiration of the Seraphim, than for the expression of one like me, your spouse, who doesn’t know what to do about this, except to babble.
  • In a word, frankly, I am in love with the love in my Spouse.
  • I don’t want anything more than to be one of your spouses employed by you to announce that they languish for your love.
  • Sing boldly, O spouses of a Bridegroom such as mine! you, I say, whom are my companions in this fate and enjoyment so happy as ours! Sing at my happy insistence as I will sing by yours, a new song containing endless praises of the infinitely excessive grandeur and love of our Bridegroom, coming to so admirably espouse us, to deiformly deify us of him and in him, and to make us oneself of oneself.
  • What is all this? Let him conceive it if he can, express it if he knows how, if he desires to; if one can it is licit, but it is better to shut up as one should; because it is here that our intuitive joy, respectively and mutually in us both, speaks, not of this nor anything like it, but something infinitely other than this, by its profundity, and perpetual and ineffable silence.
  • Of what sort is this truth in its accomplishment in us both, your spouses cannot lay their eyes on me without seeing that I am your cherished and unique bride, by the evident and manifest signs of your radiant and exuberant love, which manifestly flow from me to you, whether I perceive them or not, yet all my desire is to be perpetually within, hidden and known only to you who are my Bridegroom, my Life and my All.

From The Goad, the Flames, the Arrows and the Mirror of the love of God[edit]

These people become love itself — its spirit, its divinity — insofar as it is possible for any creature in this life.
Quotes of John of St. Samson from The Carmelite Tradition by Stephen Payne (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2011), "The Goad, the Flames, the Arrows and the Mirror of the love of God: designed to impassion the soul with the love of God within himself." trans. by Maurice Cummings, O.Carm.
  • Aspiring then is an expression of love: a love so purely and radically expressed that it transcends all loves that are comprehensible by the senses, the reason or the intellect. By the impetuosity and force of the Spirit of God, it arrives at union with God, not by chance but by a sudden transformation of the spirit in God.
  • Aspiration, practiced as a familiar, respectful and loving conversation with God, is such an excellent method, that, by means of it, one soon arrives at the summit of all perfection, and falls in love with Love.
  • The way to attain love is to love. A less excellent love leads to a greater love, and a greater love in turn leads to the highest love, as well as to the most excellent and ultimate fruits of active love. Each of these degrees has its own theory and practice. All of them, especially the last degrees, possess a simple, exalted, and singular contemplation of the divine Object, which constantly exerts a powerful influence on the soul and ravishes it with delight.
  • This love is so overpowering that the will alone enters the amorous bosom of love, where it savors an unutterable love beyond all understanding and expression. All the while, the dumbfounded intellect remains paralyzed at the gate.
  • Such is the effect of love's flood rushing into its lovers. It sweeps them away, ravishes them, and swamps them in its waves. These people become love itself — its spirit, its divinity — insofar as it is possible for any creature in this life.
  • The sight of the intuitive and ravishing Beauty of God holds her as if asleep in its delectable bosom...This state surpasses all human definition and comparison.
  • This path is so delightful and delectable that anyone who knows it will lovingly travel it at his own cost and expense. Such happiness is beyond words.

Quotes about John of St Samson[edit]

  • “God destined him to be the brightest flame in our little company as regards spiritual things. It is no exaggeration to say that in this respect he was the St. John of the Cross of the new reform.”
    • Fr. Donatien of St. Nicholas, Disciple, Editor and Biographer
  • John of Saint Samson insists very strongly on the mystical vocation of Carmelites. The active life should not have first place. Recalling that the rule demands a life of prayer; he chooses this prayer — "to be lost in the object of contemplation, God and the things of God." No doubt it is necessary to preach, study and work, but because of the dangers which exterior activity brings, it is necessary for young scholastics to exercise themselves intensely in the principal object of their vocation and establish themselves solidly in the practice of meditation and contemplation. Contemplation is still a pure gift of God; but it is important that we for our part remove all the obstacles and practice the virtues so that we may be found disposed in the way which God demands before giving his mystical favors. In this doctrine, human activity enjoys a considerable part; in its higher degrees, contemplation remains an absolutely gratuitous gift. Thus equilibrium is maintained between the school of acquired contemplation and that of infused contemplation. John is careful to note that perfection does not consist in ecstatic phenomena but in union with God who lives in us. This fire, which burns in us, sets us aflame, and the flame of our love is united to Divine Love which en flames our heart. It is necessary that Carmelites understand this vocation and prepare for it. As a means of arriving at the dispositions required by God, John counsels a form of prayer which the Francis can Henry Herp especially honored, namely, aspiration. It has four degrees: inhaling God, exhaling God, living in God, living by God. Entirely filled with God, we must hunger and thirst for God without ceasing and open our mouth to breathe God. We should start by offering ourselves and every creature to God.

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