Skip to comments.Church to celebrate feast of saint who wrote about the 'long dark night of the soul'
Posted on 12/13/2009 4:21:51 AM PST by NYer
On December 14, the church will commemorate the life of St. John of the Cross, the doctor of the Church who first wrote about the long dark night of the soul.
John of the Cross was born in the 16th century into a family which had fallen out of wealth. His father, a silk trader, had been disowned by his own family for marrying a woman of a lower social class. The family survived as silk weavers, but John's father died while John was very young. The boy began to work in a hospital while attending school part time. It is said that he seemed incapable of learning any trade.
He entered the Carmelite Order, but became disillusioned and thought of leaving. Then he met St. Teresa of Avila. Together with the saint, he reformed the Carmelite order by founding the Discalced (literallyshoe-less) Carmelites. At the time, many Carmelites had moved from a life of fasting, prayer and penance. They resented the reforms.
John was kidnapped by members of his own order and imprisoned in a small, cold and dark cell. He was beaten regularly. Yet in this time, he wrote some of his most profound poetry. Eventually, he escaped and was able to share some of his mystical writings with the world. He is famous for having written The Ascent of Mt. Carmel, The Dark Night of the Soul, and The Spiritual Canticle.
He died at the age of 49, and was canonized in 1726. In 1926, he was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XI.
Today he is considered one of the first, and greatest mystics.
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.
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