St John of the Cross
St. John of the Cross was born in 1542 in Spain. He learned self sacrificial love from a very young age. His father came from rich Nobility but fell in love with a commoner. His father married this common young daughter of a seamstress and in doing so gave up all of his wealth and titles of nobility. Unfortunately, his father died when John was quite young, and John’s mother had to work hard and sacrifice a great deal in order to feed her family. They lived a very poor existence.
John did well in school, but when sent to an apprenticeship, he didn’t do well. He then began working in a hospital for the poor and cared for patients with incurable illnesses and mental health problems. He ministered to these patients learning that from poverty and suffering he could find the beauty of God.
John joined the Carmelite order but desired a more prayerful place then they had. He desired to reform the order to its previous rules. He met St. Teresa of Avila and together they worked to reform the order. Unfortunately, some of his brother Carmelites felt threatened by this reform and they locked St. John in a cell and beat him regularly. There was only one tiny window in the cell but even in that unbearable dark, cold and desolation, his love and faith of God brought him comfort. He composed many poems in this cell. After some time, he finally escaped and went on to another monastery. Because of all the sufferings he had during his lifetime, he began calling himself John of the Cross. His love for Jesus and the Cross gave him the power to write many poems and books and other writings. Today the Church considers him a Mystic, and his writings reflect his mysticism. Some of his writings are, “The Ascent of Mount Carmel”; “The Dark Night of the Soul”; “The Spiritual Canticle”; “O Living Flame of Love”;”A Collection of Spiritual Maxims” and several letters and poems. All of these are considered spiritual classics.
I have put together some of his quotes:
“Strive to preserve your heart in peace; let no event of this world disturb it.”
“The endurance of darkness is the preparation for great light.”
“The soul that is quick to turn to speaking and conversing is slow to turn to God.”
“It is best to learn to silence the faculties and to cause them to be still so that God may speak.”
“Who teaches the soul if not God?”
“What we need most in order to make progress is to be silent before this great God with our appetite and with our tongue, for the language he best hears is silent love.”
Faith “is like the feet wherewith the soul journeys to God, and love is the guide that directs it.”
“Contemplation is nothing else but a secret, peaceful, and loving infusion of God, which if admitted, will set the soul on fire with the Spirit of love.”
“Take God for your spouse and friend and walk with him continually, and you will not sin and will learn to love, and the things you must do will work out prosperously for you.”