December 17, 2010

Saint John of the Cross

St. John of the Cross  -  (1542-1591), Spanish mystic, Carmelite friar and priest

Born in Spain in 1542, John learned the importance of self-sacrificing love from his parents. His father gave up wealth, status, and comfort when he married a weaver's daughter and was disowned by his noble family. After his father died, his mother kept the destitute family together as they wandered homeless in search of work. These were the examples of sacrifice that John followed with his own great love -- God. 

When the family finally found work, John still went hungry in the middle of the wealthiest city in Spain. At fourteen, John took a job caring for hospital patients who suffered from incurable diseases and madness. It was out of this poverty and suffering, that John learned to search for beauty and happiness not in the world, but in God. 

After John joined the Carmelite order, Saint Teresa of Avila asked him to help her reform movement. John supported her belief that the order should return to its life of prayer. But many Carmelites felt threatened by this reform, and some members of John's own order kidnapped him. He was locked in a cell six feet by ten feet and beaten three times a week by the monks. There was only one tiny window high up near the ceiling. Yet in that unbearable dark, cold, and desolation, his love and faith were like fire and light. He had nothing left but God -- and God brought John his greatest joys in that tiny cell. 

After nine months, John escaped by unscrewing the lock on his door and creeping past the guard. Taking only the mystical poetry he had written in his cell, he climbed out a window using a rope made of strips of blankets. With no idea where he was, he followed a dog to civilization. He hid from pursuers in a convent infirmary where he read his poetry to the nuns. From then on his life was devoted to sharing and explaining his experience of God's love. 

His life of poverty and persecution could have produced a bitter cynic. Instead it gave birth to a compassionate mystic, who lived by the beliefs that "Who has ever seen people persuaded to love God by harshness?" and "Where there is no love, put love -- and you will find love." 

John left us many books of practical advice on spiritual growth and prayer that are just as relevant today as they were then. These books include: Ascent of Mount Carmel , Dark Night of the Soul and A Spiritual Canticle of the Soul and the Bridegroom Christ

Saint John of the Cross is the mystical doctor. His writings on the soul united with God in prayer reveal the most profound mystical expressions, experiences and insights ever imagined. They are for those precise reasons often misunderstood or misinterpreted unless one has a wise spiritual director who is experienced in contemplative prayer and well versed in mystical and ascetical theology. This Carmelite saint writings are the most profound, literary masterpieces both in his gorgeous prose and poetry. "As a poet St. John of the Cross ranks with the greatest. Many literary critics consider him Spain's greatest lyric poet. He was a supremely great artist, endowed with a full measure of natural skill." (E. Allison Peers, The Tablet, July 4, 1942, p 6.) (Taken from Rengers-see below)

John has no peers when it comes to explaining and guiding others to a complete and total union with God in prayer through the mystical and contemplative life.

Juan de Yepes writings, example and witness to the gospels are extraordinary. He understood the mystery of God in Jesus Christ as far as it is humanly possible, lived it in intimate union with God and his Mother and wrote that mystery as it pertains to prayer life and the expression of God's charity in word and actions toward others.

St John of the Cross, 1542-1591. The Doctor of Mystical Theology, Feast Dec 14th.

When you sincerely desire inspiration to the fullest of your being, read John. Entreat him to guide you! He awaits your request. This particular doctor has a heavenly gift to bestow favors upon those who prayerfully petition him because he is so richly endowed.

Known before his religious life as Juan de Yepes, he is truly considered the mystical doctor not only by the Carmelite Order to which he wholeheartedly belonged but also for all posterity. His appeal and gifts are for the universal church and for all creatures who seek union with God in prayer and action. God poured his Spirit in him quite abundantly. John is a master and a marvel beyond description when it comes to the imitation of Christ. He lived a thoroughly, holy, prayerful life and expressed it with generous, Christian words and actions.

God leads us, generally, through the visible rather than the invisible. No better guide than the mystical doctor will you ever find. However, this saint is so subtle and profound that he is often misunderstood and misinterpreted. St John will marvelously lead you, usually, through someone else. John relied on others and allowed himself to be recruited by Teresa of Avila in her reform of Carmel. She sensed in him a holiness and wisdom that would help her in the renewal of the Order of the Virgin, especially with the men. John was one of the original founders of the new order that God inspired St Teresa to initiate and played a vital role in many important offices that he held.

When you are led by others, as John, you will become more humble and less susceptible to pride. In the spiritual ascent to God, there are many pitfalls, ambushes and spiritual traps for those who aspire for intimate union with God. When we allow God to completely purify us in this life and fully cooperate with God's Spirit, and those providentially selected for us, we will be in for such an awakening and amazement that we will not believe could be possible. This will normally happen ever so gradually.

God wants to inflame our souls. Thoughts of making spiritual acts of love become more acute, tangible and most consuming. The presence of God’s love becomes more alive, real and spiritually passionate. One becomes preoccupied in how to love more but the anxiety is gentle and not disturbing. In this stage of one’s life, there doesn’t seem enough time to love. One begins to long for eternity and is caught up in contemplation. One’s greatest sorrow will be focused on not having loved enough, more than, sorrow for past sins.

All Christians, no matter the division or denomination, have union with God if they possess charity. Charity is the life of love. It is the life of God. To be charitable is to be a Christian. There are many forms of love but the noblest is the love that shares, gives unstintingly and unreservedly. The Greek word for this love is called Agape. It is pure and perfect. It becomes transforming love when it is sacrificial for helping others at great cost to oneself. Jesus said it best: greater love than this no one has than to lay down one's very life for others-even if they are enemies or friends. Jesus wanted all to be his friends. This included his traitor, Judas. In Gethsemane, on the night of his arrest, he asked: Judas, have you come to betray me with a kiss? He did not shrink from being kissed by Judas to show that he desires all to approach him confidently if we can. Jesus is tenderly approachable to transform us. We can be sure that Jesus kissed his friends and love ones more frequently than is recorded in the gospels. Other books by reputable holy people also mentioned that Jesus shed more tears than the few occasions mentioned in scripture.

Jesus Christ’s leading human and divine characteristics were his extraordinary warmth and affection showed to all especially sinners who were truly sorry for bad deeds, those struggling with temptations and especially those who were eager to return to God’s friendship and belong wholly to him.

Our friar knew we could only give to others what we receive from God. John's charity was most generous. He will, usually, direct you to find a spiritual guide if you sincerely petition him. You should trust and submit to that person. God normally works through others although any holy and wise person on earth or in heaven can directly guide you. It does not matter who leads you to union. St John exhorts all to aim for union. Long for union. Pray for union. One has to be led to obtain union. It can come at the beginning, the middle or end of our spiritual journey. Pray that it may come soon. A unionized person is guided and is led as God ordains-with an almighty, spiritual power. Spiritual love becomes a consummate passion.

God may prefer to guide you by the Father, Son or Holy Spirit. Frequently God uses his Mother, Mary. Personally, God leads us through our own guardian angel. God leads most of us through the church. Remember that there is a price to be paid for union with God. Read St John of the Cross to discover the nature of union. His writings have the power to attract and excite you to a deeper union with God. Some of his books include:

The Ascent of Mt. Carmel,
The Dark Night,
The Living Flame of Love
and The Spiritual Canticle.

John was criticized, deprived, beaten, berated and even imprisoned by the very Religious Order he so earnestly hoped to help. He is perhaps the most misunderstood doctor of the church precisely because he is the most mystical. The signs, signals and proof of God's overwhelming endorsement of St John of Cross to aid us are too many to conceive. John's union with God was total and thorough.

The mystical doctor was quite ordinary, natural and down to earth. His virtues, gifts and holiness were extra-ordinary. His natural gifts were shown to become supernaturalized both in life and death. For example, after John’s death not even lime would destroy his bones. There was a deliberate attempt to hasten the decompositon of his bodily remains for specific reasons. However, John's purity, innocence and love of God exceeded all natural causes and God has perserved his remains even to this day, I believe. He is an exceptional incorruptible.

To understand this phenomenon about St John and others, read The Incorruptibles listed in the sources. To read additional information about these types of miracles in the lives of the saints, go to Joan Carroll Cruz's books listed in the sources or go to and type in Joan Carroll Cruz.

Lastly, one can explore this subject by opening the below link on this web site:


When it comes to the mystical life, everything is summed up by the "Beloved Apostle", St John the Evangelist, when he stated that God is Love. The "Mystical Doctor" added a dimension by saying that Love is repaid by Love alone and again: Love is only repaid by Love. The emphases here is that the Spirit of God within the Deity and within humans, as God's bounty and gifts allow, is the same Spirit. God alone repays Himself according to God's infinite wisdom in time and eternity.

John understood that all creatures were "robbers." Because of our human nature, weakness and sin, we theoretically "robbed" the Father of the Son for thirty-three years. Actually, the Son never left the Father because they are one. John's wisdom comprehended that God's love was effusive and eternally generous. However, for John, life had to have a payback to God because of the lavish gift of the Son from the Father not only in the Eternal Word, but also in the Word made Flesh-Jesus. Only Love is paid back by the Spirit of Love dwelling in our hearts and minds. John attempted to help everyone be aware of the union of our hearts with God in transformation to effect the payback. He lived, breathed, worked, wrote, and suffered in a perfect spirit of charity to reveal how God works and lives in us. He understood the seven gifts of the Spirit in all of God's tremendous splendor and glory.

The providence of the Father allowed him to be kidnapped and kept locked up away from his monastery. He understood and accepted. Those parents with missing children, those who have loved ones kidnapped or relatives who are separated have a commiserate friend they can identify and turn to with John of the Cross. He lived that desolation, isolation and separation. His intercessory powers are most extraordinary. John keenly sensed the separation of human and divine love. He was especially aware of the rarest intimacy of Jesus. John was fully empowered with all the fruits, favors, beatitudes, blessings, graces and gifts to share with us.

John received from God the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit in great abundance. Books have been written about these. They are wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord.

Living the beatitudes are the highest form of perfection possible on earth because Our Lord lived each for us so that we could imitate him. He did not give them to us only to know but to enjoy and take delight in each as he himself revealed to us.

The below quotes are from The Sanctifier by Luis Martinez, former archbishop of Mexico and found in the doctoral resources and links on this site.

“The beatitudes are a marvelous chain of mountains of which each peak is a steppingstone in the sublime ascent that leads to God. Each one of the beatitudes, St Thomas Aquinas says, is something perfect and excellent – a summit in itself; and at the same time it is a beginning of future happiness even in this life. The beatitudes are not remote presages of the eternal fruits, like the rich, full buds that cover the trees in the springtime and foretell the wealth of the coming autumn; they are the actual first fruits that begin to appear on the branches, awaiting the opulence of maturity. They are something divine that God wills to deposit on earth. They are ‘heavenly-colored hyacinths' brilliant in the muddy water of these mortal and transitory life."

"The first step to be taken by one who wishes to attain the mountaintop is to abandon the road that leads downward. Thus, the first thing we must do if we are to reach the blessed life described in the beatitudes is to renounce, sincerely and fully, the deceptive joy of that the world offers…”

“Very few people have the courage to be happy. It is difficult to tear the heart away from the things of earth, from riches, from honors. Yet happiness is not outside us, in these things: ‘The kingdom of God is within you’ For the kingdom of God does not consist in food and drink, but in justice and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit”.

“…tears either come from love or lead to it…The first three beatitudes teach us to die; they disclose the secret of the death – which gives sweetness and joy -… Fruitful tears that fall on the tomb of Lazarus, and like them, produce the prodigy whereby life comes from death!-"

John's fruits came from grace and long practice of holy prayer and sacrifice and included: charity, joy, peace, patience, longanimity, goodness, benignity, mildness, faith, modesty, confinency, and chastity.

The favors and blessings that John received from God are all clearly seen in his writings and actions listed in his writings and the legacy he has left. A partial list below is included from Carmelite Studies VI: John Of The Cross edited by Steven Payne, OCD

© Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc.1992

When you want to understand, explore, tour and completely comprehend what love is, read, and above all, pray with John. Our former Holy Father, John Paul II, acted in this manner when he decided to write one of his doctoral dissertations on St John of the Cross.

John's writings, example and witness to the gospel are extraordinary and subtle. John is matchless when it comes to the mystical life, contemplation and total submission to God in all things. John is a beloved lover and so caught up and absorbed in God that it would be impossible not to benefit from his moving, delicate and delightful words. Some samples of his palpable and celestial expressions includes: "That you may have pleasure in everything, seek pleasure in nothing. That you may know everything, seek to know nothing. That you may possess all things, seek to possess nothing. That you may be everything, seek to be nothing.”

Our Carmelite lover of prayer took many of the positive and divine elements of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainist, Muslim, Baha'i, Sikh, Shinto, Native Africanism, Zoroastrianism, Native Americans, Jewish, Christian, Taoism, and Confucianism and distilled them into the Judaic Christian science of love that Jesus spoke and lived. A description of most of these world popular beliefs are listed in the link below.


The principles, philosophies and system of thought in each of the above categories of belief differ distinctly from Christianity. Christianity is based upon a Person who had many titles. He is called the "Man of Contraditions", the "Transcendental Man" and the "Man of Sorrows". Jesus is more than philosophy or theology. He is nobler than a system of thought. He is the Eternal Word. However, more than that, Jesus is the Man-God. That makes Catholicism different and unique. The Man-God is for all humanity but faith is necessary to get to know and accept Jesus as God. Our eyes will not give us the answer to our faith. We need to go beyond what we see physically to the unseen spiritually. St. John told us never to trust or rely in visions-no matter what! Even if Jesus Christ himself appears, do not trust what you see. Faith is better, nobler, surer and more meritoriously pleasing to God. God remains invincible and invisible!

Jesus was a Jew. He was a transformed, renewed and humble Jew. He was a mystery to all especially the Jewish leaders. They thought he claimed to be greater than Moses. They were right. That was their stumbling block. Jesus claimed to be divine. The religious leaders thought he was possessed by Beelzebub, the prince of devils. He was the Prince of Peace! How could they get it all wrong? What kind of Spirit lived in Jesus? The Spirit that hovered over him at the beginning of his public ministry, in the River Jordan, testified as to who he was. God’s “Elijah”, John the Baptist, the greatest of the prophets, proclaimed him as the Lamb of God. His multiple miracles and his resurrection testify to his divinity.

Mohammad, the prophet, who lived after Christ and died in 632, according to Moslem traditions ascended to heaven. No one saw him die. I was recently made aware of another interesting connection about Mohammad.

What I wrote was a more narrow viewpoint. However, "This is actually combining another tradition with Muhammad's death. The tradition of his ascent to the heavens, known as the Miraj, is related by Sahih Muslim and took place during his lifetime. His death in 632 was a completely mortal death. He was said to have died with his favorite wife, Aisha, at his side and the whole community of Medina was aware of his passing."

Christ was crucified and identifies with all mortals as Savior who came back from the dead to prove he was God. The Islam religion has around one billion followers.

Who ever came back from the dead? St Thomas was puzzled at that time, seeing Jesus in front of him after the resurrection. It was too good to be true. It didn’t make sense. Thomas’ eyes did not give him the answer. Thomas found it difficult to trust in a person who he knew had died. But, was it a real body? Did he have bones? Jesus said that a ghost did not have bones as he had. Thomas had to trust in the words of Jesus more than his eyes. Were Thomas’ eyes controlling his belief or was his belief controlling his eyes? How does it work? How could a dead person be alive, Thomas mused? How could he believe it? Many people have said that they would believe it when they see it. Isn’t seeing believing? Not in this particular instance. Thomas was confronted with a stumbling block too-his eyes! Human vision is different from supernatural vision. Faith is supernatural vision. Thomas made the leap from reason to faith. He didn’t understand it. Who could? He uttered his famous cry: “My Lord and My God!” We need to do the same often!

Confucius never said he was a part of divinity. He was born before Christ probably around 200 B.C. The following two paragraphs are taken from Relics listed in the sources.

Confucius laid no claim to being more than a man. His system of ethics gradually assumed the aspects of a religious cult. His analects are wise sayings similar to the Proverbs in the bible. In accordance with tradition there are no statues of the sage, only tablets inscribed with his name. The followers of his teaching number more than 300 million with many paying homage at his tomb.

The Indian mystic and prophet, Buddha, died in 483 B.C.

He espoused noble causes in order to help liberate people from suffering by mental and moral self purification. Millions of pagodas in Asia containing some of his writings. Jesus embraced suffering. He was able to discern that suffering is sacrificial and infinitely meritoriously when united to the holy will of the Creator and when pain is unavoidable. He did not eliminate pain and was unafraid to challenge it. Jesus did not master hardships. He sanctified them with love and consecration. He is the Liberator because he cleanses, frees and liberates the soul, mind and heart through the innate seeds of faith, hope and charity that God infuses into our total being. Although Jesus never left any writings of his own, he imparted his Spirit to others as he promised to make known the kingdom of God on earth and in heaven. We are all made in the image and likeness of God despite our sinful inheritance.

We are incarnational trinities: possessing creativity with the Father, spirit with the Holy Ghost and communication with the Eternal Word. Exactly as the Father communicates with the one Word, we too, with our humanity in union with Jesus Christ, are able to express our minds, hearts and memories to our Father, Spirit and Son, the total Holy Trinity, by reason of the Trinity indwelling within us. Obviously we can't always be conscious of this inscrutable mystery. But through our baptism we are not only born again, we are reborn anew! The curse has been removed by the coming of the radiant Redemptor and Savior. The Messiah was promised and God always keeps his promises.

When you think you know what St John of the Cross said you realize it's more than you imagined. John's words will escape you often because he is so pure and deep. His words at times are puzzling and require a wise guide to help you grasp his remarkable message. Again, compare the below quote with the above quotation and reflect: "When you most seek, and most anxiously desire, you will never find if you seek for yourself-not even in the most profound contemplation but only in deep humility and submission of heart." Again: "seek in reading and you will find in meditation. Knock in prayer and it shall be opened in contemplation." Don't even think of trying to fully fathoming John. Rather, enjoy, celebrate and delight in his friendship, which the church extends through his writings and legacy. The entire and authentic collected works of St John of the Cross can be obtained by writing to the Institute of Carmelite Studies at 2131 Lincoln Rd. N.E., Washington, DC 20002.

John's words are for all creatures and especially members of the church. They do not have to live in monasteries or secluded settings or be contemplatives. For John, God wants to transform each and everyone regardless of their lifestyle. All have to give the payback. We are "bandits". Intentionally or unintentionally we keep or are stingy with God who wants our loving thoughts, feelings, aspirations and desperations. John understood that to give up these for God results in a giving back to him. John always reminds us that love is only repaid by love alone. We are spiritual thieves. We have imprisoned the Word made Flesh in God's many sanctuaries. God is more entrapped by his love for us than by our "stealing" him away from the celestial court. The kingdom of the heavenly court dwells in our midst, mystically and physically. Faith and love grasp this truth.

There is a mystic in each of us. It's God dwelling in us in a marvelous and invisible manner. God is absolute mystery. God told Moses "I am who I am". One can not say more about God's presence than what God told Moses. The mystical apostle, St John, described God's nature: God is love. The mystical doctor's message is where there is no love, put love and you will find love. He was absolutely convinced that nothing is obtained from God except through love.

John's maxims and counsels which can be obtain from the many Carmelites' convents and monasteries throughout the world remind us of this Trinitarian truth. The Father spoke one Word which was his Son and this Word he always speaks in external silence, and in silence must it be heard by the soul. Thus we see that genuine prayer without stillness and sincerity of spirit is not authentic prayer.

John was not so caught up in contemplation and union with God that he failed to mention the Virgin of Carmel. Listen to the fondness and intimacy of the concise yet tremendously sensitive lines in one of his touching Christmas poems: "If you meet the Virgin coming down the road, ask her into your home because she bears the word of God." John's life and writings exhort us to love Jesus and Mary as lover, husband, wife, brother and sister. He is telling us to be cordially inviting, respecting and assisting others when needed or necessary.

Although John has not written extensively about the Mother of God, there is according to the masters of the spiritual life, hardly anything that John has not said about Mary from a spiritual perspective. There are only sparse references about St Mary including 12 explicit and only 4 from John's major writings. However, from these profound, terse inclusions, an entire Mariology could be drawn. This information may be gained by going to the section marked "tapes" (from the link below) that Father Emmanuel Sullivan of The Mother of God, OCD, recorded. He did extensive research for the 400th anniversary on St John of the Cross and one will be amazed to know that hardly anyone in the entire history of the catholic church could said anything more fitting and excellently about the Mother of God in fewer words than what St John of the Cross expressed. In additions, there are many other excellent tapes by wise and holy Carmelites about St John of the Cross.

One arrives in a loving relationship with the heavenly court through self-denial, renunciation, fasting, penance, mortifications, asceticism, discipline and, above all, daily prayer. Surrender to God in all things if you want union. One needs to plunge in and trust. John's writings are like an ocean. He is deep. Deeper than the universe! Anyone who really wants to study, view and understand the stars needs a telescope. Those who want to understand God generally need a prayerful, wise guide to lead you where God reigns and dwells. Seek John and cry to him for any help. He is your friend and brother. He wants to share God's gifts with you.

John's craving for God is a gift but it can be anyone's gift. Don't be afraid to pray and seek God everywhere and non-stop. Naturally, you have to use common sense. Petition God to touch you with divine, common sense. God wants to supernaturalize your rational thinking with heavenly thinking (prayer). Remember that heaven is where the heart is. Ponder John’s blissful cry and reflect on this holistic, Hispanic healer. " Oh! thou most beautiful soul who longs to know where thy Beloved dwells. You, yourself, are that very tabernacle where He loves to take His delight". Jesus said it first: The kingdom of God is within you! We should not only stay near Jesus in the tabernacle but stay near all God’s creatures when they need us. God is there! Lovers, as John, always stay near and care for all with solicitude, sensitivity and affection whenever possible.

Christocentric men and women pray daily to live out the gospel message. They are people of prayer, adoration and action. Each, according to their gifts, attempt to share the fruits and favors of prayer. That is their calling and that is their gift to the church and to the world and all of its members.

To act kindly toward others is the mystical life. The true mystic is not caught up in asceticism. Being generous, patient and compassionate to all despite interruptions in one’s life requires heroic holiness. Penance and mortification are measures to check human nature that has been irreparably damaged. Only constant vigilance can contain the ever-present weakness of the flesh, which has its own laws and tendencies. One attempts to receive charity through penance and never to attempt to gain something through one’s effort. Charity is not only a gift but God’s greatest gift that is bestowed and not earned.

Sharing charity, acting charitable and sometimes keeping quiet when one feels like criticizing, complaining and getting angry can only be achieved by supernatural graces. Charity is one. There is really only one charity and it embraces God and all of God’s creatures. It is impossible to have only one half of charity. To profess to love God and not neighbor is a hoax. To say one loves neighbor and not God is a myth.

All people are mystics to some degree. Lovers of humanity reveal Christ. Lovers of Christ reveal their concern for all humanity. The mystic aims to find God not only in his soul but everywhere and especially in being nice and kind to people.

It has been said, “charity is but the most manifest and illustrious aspect of God. Of all of God’s attributes, charity is the sovereign and original one because all the other attributes originate from charity. What is God’s power but dynamic, active charity? What is God’s wisdom but a teaching-charity? What is God’s mercy but a forgiving charity? What is God’s justice but a ruling charity?”

As music can sometimes be described as the voices of angels, St John’s writings are music to the ear. They will make you soar with inspiration to share, desire and love. His words are eloquent, subtle and sonorous. His poetry will tenderly touch and move you. His profound words are found in the best musicals ever. The lyrics in the famous Broadway shows such as Les Miserable and The Phantom of the Opera and The Man from LaMancha are echoes of John’s words. Wherever you hear words of love, the meaning and shades of expressed love in song or expressions, you will find similarities in St John’s words. He is unquestionably the mystical doctor and the church and the "Doctor of Mystical Theology" because he expressed the inexpressible. He made them concrete as far as it is humanly possible with his superb prose and poetry. John asserts that love is a divine and delicate touch. It is also a wound that causes a glorious death in such a way that one dies while remaining alive. It strikes without a sound and one does not know how or why it is given.

From the mass on his feast:
God our Father, you have shown us the mystery of the cross in the life of Saint John. May this sacrifice make us strong, keep us faithful to Christ and help us to work in the Church for the salvation of all humankind. We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord.
John lived a life of the most personal, intimate life of unity of God through his imitation of Jesus Christ. As previously mentioned, St John of the Cross' life was, in part, a composite of all of the below beliefs:
Our union with John's union with God could include religions from the below for perfect love embraces all believers and lovers who embrace the adorable Creator who created all.

Native African
Native American

The following link and the many links within this main one, will allow one to view many aspects of these religions and beliefs and more. Included are Catholicism and Carmelite Spirituality, specifically, Institute for Carmelite Studies, in detail. You will find these by going to the section named explore beliefnet and then under the section: spiritual tools, and lastly click on: best links. This will take you to the section: Catholicism.

Some of St John of the Cross' excerpts are listed below. For more, click this link.

If you do not learn to deny yourself, you can make no progress in perfection.

In detachment, the spirit finds quiet and repose for coveting nothing. Nothing wearies it by elation, and nothing oppresses it by dejection, because it stands in the center of its own humility.

The Lord measures our perfection neither by the multitude nor the magnitude of our deeds, but by the manner in which we perform them.

I wish I could persuade spiritual persons that the way of perfection does not consist in many devices, nor in much cogitation, but in denying themselves completely and yielding themselves to suffer everything for the love of Christ. And if there is failure in this exercise, all other methods of walking in the spiritual way are merely a beating about the bush, and profitless trifling, although a person should have very high contemplation and communication with God.

Live in the world as if only God and your soul were in it; then your heart will never be made captive by any earthly thing.

O you souls who wish to go on with so much safety and consolation, if you knew how pleasing to God is suffering, and how much it helps in acquiring other good things, you would never seek consolation in anything; but you would rather look upon it as a great happiness to bear the Cross of the Lord.

Though holy doctors have uncovered many mysteries and wonders, and devout souls have understood them in this earthly condition of ours, yet the greater part still remains to be unfolded by them, and even to be understood by them.

We must then dig deeply in Christ. He is like a rich mine with many pockets containing treasures: however deep we dig, we will never find their end or their limit. Indeed, in every pocket new seams of fresh riches are discovered on all sides.

For this reason the apostle Paul said of Christ, "In him are hidden all the treasures of the wisdom and knowledge of God." The soul cannot enter into these treasures, nor attain them, unless it first crosses into and enters the thicket of suffering, enduring interior and exterior labors, and unless it first receives from God very many blessings in the intellect and in the senses, and has undergone long spiritual training.

The gate that gives entry into these riches of his wisdom is the cross; because it is a narrow gate, while many seek the joys that can be gained through it, it is given to few to desire to pass through it.

In giving us His Son, His only Word, He spoke everything to us at once in this sole Word -- and He has no more to say ... because what he spoke before to the prophets in parts, he has now spoken all at once by giving us the All Who is His Son.
The following information is paraphrased and taken from Fr Christoper Rengers who is listed in the sources and without which no body of knowledge about the doctors would be complete and justified. Rengers wisely calls St John the Doctor of Mystical Theology. John, the mystic, although given extra-ordinary insights, knowlegede and wisdom by God was also, keenly logical, practical and highly intelligent. This profound doctor understood like no others that sometimes the individual that tries to assist in the process of contemplation can only interfere sometimes. Great discernment is needed to be joined in perfect contemplative with God, and, at the same time, enjoy the free use of one's intellect, memory and imagination which can sometimes be an obstacle to union.

Christopher, the Capuchin, has a section that refers to John as the Doctor of Nothingness. Father hastens to indicate that as John, if one is to received the highest and loftiness enjoyment of God in perfect, prayful union, one must be stripped of everything earthly and every possible attachment, no matter how slight.

To scale a mountain that is nearly insurmountable, a wise guide is needed and necessary. To climb the highest spiritual heights, one must master the beatitudes, the commandments and be lead by the Spirit of God nonstop. St John is the surest, safest and wisest spiritual guide in the life of prayer and contemplation. He warns "very strongly against confessors and directors of souls who are ignorant and cannot distinguish between what is caused by sickness, the devil or the hand of God".

John's excellent discernment of spirits could only be obtained through his close union with God. John performed an exorcisism on one who was purported to have the stigmata of the Lord and deemed most holy. However, John would be the first to tell you that there were some opinions and choices of his that proved to be wrong. Perhaps that is why, he preferred to be silent when not necessary to speak. In addition to his strong loving devotion and prayerful life lived in close union with God's mother, Father adds that John had a strong devotion to Mary's Spouse, St Joseph, the Silent One.

No other doctor of the Church had the title 'of the Cross' following his name. Perhaps his love for Christ Crucified urged him to claim that name and "in line with this thinking," Father points out, that "the value of suffering and mortification" be clearly known. John always said: "Do not seek Christ without the cross". In the Introduction of this website I inserted John's famous lines that all the doctors would most certainly endorse wholeheartedly: "Suffering for God is better than working miracles." Father Christopher even points out that John urged others to mortify even good desires even to the point that certain souls once that they have reached a certain degree of union with God may be harmed by external works.

Christopher Rengers, OFM Cap. also points out that as a poet, St John of the Cross ranks with the greatest. Many literary critics consider him Spain's greatest lyric poet. "He was a supremely great artist, endowed with a very full measure of natural skill." "(E. Allison Peers, The Tablet, July 4, 1942, p6.)"

Father reminds us that all of John's works are now offered in English in one volume, translated and commented on by Fathers Kieran Kavanaugh and Otilio Rodriguez, O.C.D. (published by Institute of Carmelite Studies, Washington DC) see below links.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the below link will give you the most authentic translations of any and all Discalced Carmelite Saints. Current Carmelite authors will also provide and recommend excellent literature on Carmelite spirituality. This link will also provide the most comprehensive and best links for all Carmelite members both men and women around the world. It will also include other interesting and related links.

John of the Cross (The Ascent to Joy) by Marc Foley, O.C.D.(ed) "This is a very informative introduction to the message of St John of the Cross, first Carmelite Doctor of the Church. The passages from St John's writings are chosen with much insight." Rev Dr John Sullivan, OCD Institute of Carmelite Studies, Washington, DC. (see) for more information and sample pages.)

Medieval Women Mystics: Gertrude the Great, Angela of Foligno, Birgitta of Sweden, Julian of Norwich-Selected spiritual writings, introduction and edited by Elizabeth Ruth Obbard from

A fascinating link of St John of the Cross taken from the web site below from the ministry of Dr Marcellino D'Ambrosio plus much more.

Saint John of the Cross

New Information
The below web site contains comprehensive resources on our church, faith, the bible, saints, writings, apologetics, evangelization, family issues, links, and many pertinent services. This superior and highly organized web site (see Table of Content) is a most fascinating site with beautiful prayers, devotions, and really too much to enumerate. A truly universal catholic site.

For additional Carmelite links go to Sts Teresa and Therese at the below links:

A Spiritual Director For All Time For All

SOURCE :Summary of the "Collected Works of St John of the Cross"

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