Fr. Georges Morel – The Meaning of Existence in St. John of the Cross (1961) [Excerpt]


[There is very little about Fr. Georges Morel online. From what I was able to find, he was a Catholic theologian and philosopher who ran a Hegel study group. Apparently this group was very influential for the French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy. Likewise, there appears to be some connection between Morel and Henri de Lubac as well.]
[Original source: G. Morel, S.J., Le sens de l’existenee selon saint Jean de la Croix (Paris: ed. Aubier, 1961), III, 156-158.] 
[Translation found in The Catholic Avant-Garde: French Catholicism since World War II – edited by Jean-Marie Domenach and Robert de Montvalon, pg. 126-128]

It is evident that the mystical expression of St. John of the Cross presupposes not only natural gifts but also an education and other advantages which most men do not have. But since mystical life is not definable simply by its conditions, it would be a Gnostic view to make it an essentially cultural phenomenon reserved to a certain intellectual or social aristocracy: every human being, no matter how anonymous, bears in his heart, even if he does not know it, the heart of a God which he can hear throbbing from the depth of distress. Love does not single out anybody; it does not belong to anyone by priority. It is not tomorrow, in the future, reserved to other generations, that men can begin to live and love, but here and now: the Sovereign Presence did not wait for our effort before offering himself, untiringly, in the obscurity of man’s soul.

Only those who consider mysticism simply one form of human existence among others will take this as an alibi for laziness or cowardice in the task of transforming the universe. As St. John of the Cross has reminded us, love (mystical life) is not a substitute for nothingness. This does not mean the annihilation of structures and differences. Being infinite, God cannot present himself directly; this justifies nature and history, and therefore the phenomenal world. The historical becoming of humanity within nature will not restrict the place of love, but will extend its presence as much as possible in all the particular conditions of life. . . .

The limitations of St. John’s teaching can be explained partially by the perspective of his time. We have a keener awareness today of inevitable determinations within empirical history, from the economic understructure to the ideological superstructure. We see clearly that the metamorphosis of these determinations is a necessary condition for the expression of each individual’s genuine freedom (that is to say, love) and for its realization according to its own originality in the phenomenon.

Such a transformation requires effective recognition of the divine presence in the human flesh. The passage from darkness to light, if it is not simply an automatic process, cannot be reduced to economic or political liberation; it means the genuine creation of humanity. We have to begin again, in different conditions, and each in his own way, the enterprise announced periodically by the great mystics: to descend together toward the heart of beings and things, and after crossing the threshold of death, reappear in the true light. For those who do not think of themselves exclusively, this day is already dawning, however dimly: “Lord God, you are not distant from one who does not make himself distant from you. How can anyone say that you are ever away?” (St. John of the Cross).