Father Eugene McCaffrey (OCD) writes on the traps of attachment and consumerism, on the life giving potential of genuine contemplation and on 'travelling light' with St John of the Cross:
'One of the great insights of John of the Cross is that the best growth - perhaps the only growth - is downwards. It is one of the many paradoxes of his teaching: we grow, not by addition but by subtraction, not by having more but by having less, not by always saying ‘yes’ to ourselves but by learning to say ‘no’. ‘More’, ‘bigger’, ‘better’ may be the catchwords of the commercial world but they are not part of John’s vocabulary.
He speaks much more about ‘letting go’, about not desiring, about detachment; it is not the things we possess that hinder us, it is the things that possess us. John invites us to travel light and with freedom of heart. As he says and I quote ‘Even as a ladder has steps that we may go up, it has them also that we may go down. Of such is the nature of secret contemplation. For on this path the way down is the way up and the way up is the way down.’
But, once again, this growth downwards also has a collective character. The journey is not only personal, it is universal. When we truly find our own centre, we find the ‘still point’ of the turning world. Nothing is as life-giving as genuine contemplation. The contemplative gaze penetrates to the heart of all human reality; it is the deepest source of energy and compassion for the world. This is the greatest gift the contemplative can give to the world: to see clearly, and to share that vision with others.'