SAINT JOHN OF THE CROSS: TEN LESSONS
The Church invites us to love the
saints. The saints are our brothers and sisters now in heaven. They can teach
us especially two lessons:
A) Intercession. They have a great
power to intercede and pray for us before the throne of God. Let us often pray
to them so that we can experience their powerful intercession in our time of
B) EXAMPLE. Furthermore, the saints
serve as powerful, brilliant, models for us to imitate in our lives. Like us
the saints were born as sinners, suffered much and went through many trials,
but they clung to the love of Jesus and Mary. May their example spur us on to
love God and to do great things for the honor and glory of the Father, the Son,
and the Holy Spirit.
THE CROSS. This great saint teaches us that to arrive at
true depths in prayer we must pass through the sufferings of the cross. As
Venerable Fulton Sheen teaches: “No Good
Friday, no Easter Sunday.”
MYSTICAL THEOLOGY. St. John of the Cross is known as “The Doctor
of Mystical Theology”. The Mystical life can be summed up in three stages: the
Purgative Way, the Illuminative Way, and the Unitive Way.
DETACHMENT. The saint is known for this one-line
classic: “A bird cannot fly if it has a
chain around his leg or even a thread.”
To soar high in the spiritual life we must cut and sever our disordered
attachments and affections.
SPIRITUAL CANTICLE. One of the classical writings of the 16th century mystic. God
is the true lover and He loves those who want to love Him completely, totally
ASCENT TO MOUNT CARMEL. The spiritual life is analogous to climbing and scaling a high
mountain. To reach the top of the spiritual mountain we must have a determined
determination and if we fall to rise quickly. The summit of the mountain is
heaven! May the thought of heaven spur us on to win the victory!
DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL. God is a burning fire that
ardently desires to purify our mind, memory, heart and soul so that He can be
all and all. The process of purification is painful and exacting but worth the
prize of full union with God, in this life and forever in the next!
MERCY AND FORGIVENESS. St. John of
the Cross suffered incredibly at the hands of his own religious. Like St. the
Baptist, he was unjustly incarcerated, scourged and humiliated. Never did St. John utter an unkind word
against those who unjustly condemned in imitation of the Lord Jesus who was
like a lamb led to the slaughter.
REFORMATION. St. John of the Cross
and St. Teresa of Avila were the chosen instruments
that God chose for the Reformation of the Religious life of the Carmelite Order—masculine
and feminine. True and authentic reform must always start with one’s own
personal conversion of life to the love of Christ.
LOVE FOR THE POOR. St. John of the Cross, as is common in the
lives of the saints, had a great love for the poor. One beautiful quality of
this great saint that he shared with St. Ignatius of Loyola was to encourage
those who found themselves in profound desolation or depression. St. John would
try to cheer them up by words, gestures and kindness! What a beautiful quality
that we should all try to imitate!
10. LOVE FOR OUR LADY! St.
John of the Cross had a great love for Our Lady. He escaped imprisonment on
August 15th—the Assumption of Our Lady. As a Carmelite he had great
love for Our Lady of Mount Carmel as well as St. Joseph. Love for Our Lady of
Mount Carmel also includes the wearing of the Scapular. For St. John of the
Cross and St Teresa of Avila their Scapular was part of their Religious Habit.