14 Dec 2011

14th December - Feast of St John of the Cross


In order to arrive at having pleasure in everything,
Desire to have pleasure in nothing.
In order to arrive at possessing everything,
Desire to possess nothing.
In order to arrive at being everything,
Desire to be nothing.
In order to arrive at knowing everything,
Desire to know nothing.
Today is the feast day of St. John of the Cross, Doctor of the Church. Born in 1542, he was a contemporary of St. Teresa of Avila and a practitioner of contemplative prayer. He is considered one of the foremost poets of Spain. And yet, it is said that he only wrote about 2500 lines of verse. He died on this date at the age of 49 in the year 1591. Pope Pius the XI declared him a Doctor of the Church in 1926. His two great poems are entitled Spiritual Canticle and Dark Night of the Soul.

Over at Doctors of the Catholic Church their entry reads:

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.


Over at Word on Fire, Fr Barron has a reflection on John of the Cross as well as a short video:


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