Editor’s Note: The following article was to be posted on Monday. Unfortunately, due to some difficulties, we were unable to post it at that time. However, given the significance of St. John of the Cross, we share this post written by our Managing Editor, Anne Louise Mahoney.
If you have ever gone through a time of spiritual struggles, you’re not alone. Over four centuries ago, St. John of the Cross wrote poignantly of “the dark night of the soul.”
This great Carmelite monk and mystic, who lived in Spain from 1542 to 1591, knew St. Teresa of Avila, who reformed the Carmelite order. He was imprisoned by members of his own order because of a dispute related to those reforms. After eight months, he escaped.
Many of his poems were composed during this difficult period. Later, he wrote spiritual commentaries on them. While he could have been angry and bitter at the way he was treated, instead the experience transformed him. He developed a rich spirituality around humanity’s union, through grace, with God through Jesus Christ. He speaks of a spiritual journey of three stages: the purgative, the illuminative and the unitive.
He became a great teacher through his writings; his masterpieces on spiritual growth and prayer include Ascent of Mount Carmel and Dark Night of the Soul, and continue to speak to us today. John was canonized in 1726 and was named a Doctor of the Church in 1926.
Today, and in the days ahead, carry these words of John of the Cross with you, finding comfort and nourishment for your spiritual journey:
“In tribulation immediately draw near to God with confidence,
and you will receive strength, enlightenment, and instruction.”
“In the dark night of the soul, bright flows the river of God.”
“In the evening of life, we will be judged on love alone.”
-Anne Louise Mahoney, Managing Editor