John Of The Cross: Doctor Of Mystical Theology

Along with St Teresa of Avila, St John of the Cross is another of my favorite saints. In fact whenever I think of one, I tend to think of the other. They lived during the same time period and were friends in faith. St John helped St Teresa in the reform of the Carmelite order.
The reason St John of the Cross is one of my favorites is not so much because I understand him or identify with him, but precisely because I do not. I have not read much from this saint, but the little I have read always leaves me with a sense of wanting to grow more in .y spiritual life.
I recently read this of St John: "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."
This great saint lived a life that imitated that of Christ. His writings reflect this and so much more.
Don't be afraid to read his writings or feel frustrated in trying to understand them. I find that taking his writings in small snipets works for me; there is so much in just a little of what he says. We should do as the above quote says and ask his help. He will lead us to what it is we need to read for the benefit of our spiritual growth and help us to understand it as well. In fact we should do this before any spiritual reading.
Here are a few quotes from John of the Cross for your reflection and meditation:

“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!-"


Mary333 said…
I tend to think of St Teresa and St John together, too. They both confuse me but I still like reading their works :) Thanks for the quotes!
"Very few people have the courage to be happy"...this is extremely profound.

I had a friend offer a reflection once on that sacred moment when Christ was on the cross and gave His Mother to John (and hence, to us all) friend said that this was Jesus' final act of earthly detachment...Mary was the one thing (person) that, in His "humanness", He was strongly connected to...and just before giving up His Spirit...He "gives her" to His disciple. Somehow, this thought resonates something from deep within what Saint John is saying here...don't you think?
Karinann said…
Mary-glad you liked the quotes.
Judy- the reflection and thoughts of your friend are as profound as St John's statement- Jesus giving John and us His Mother as a final act of earthly detachment- an act that yet again shows us how Jesus' humanity sanctifies our own.
Thank you for sharing these thoughts.
Colleen said…
Karinann, I love these two saints as well. St John of the Cross was St Teresa's spiritual director. Kinda blows my mind to think of what those sessions must have been like! Hugs!