Dec. 14: ST. JOHN OF THE CROSS,
Priest and Doctor of the Church
Born in Hontoveros, Spain, St. John of the Cross (1542-1591), after a number of years as a Carmelite, was persuaded by St. Teresa of Jesus to lead the reform of his Order. He suffered many tribulations. He was a renowned mystic and wrote much on the mystery of the Cross. His body, still incorrupt, was transferred from Ubeda, where he died, to Segovia.
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
A Spiritual Canticle of St John of the Cross
Recognising the mystery hidden within Christ Jesus
Though holy doctors have uncovered many mysteries and wonders, and devout souls have understood them in this earthly condition of ours, yet the greater part still remains to be unfolded by them, and even to be understood by them.
We must then dig deeply in Christ. He is like a rich mine with many pockets containing treasures: however deep we dig we will never find their end or their limit. Indeed, in every pocket new seams of fresh riches are discovered on all sides.
For this reason the apostle Paul said of Christ: In him are hidden all the treasures of the wisdom and knowledge of God. The soul cannot enter into these treasures, nor attain them, unless it first crosses into and enters the thicket of suffering, enduring interior and exterior labours, and unless it first receives from God very many blessings in the intellect and in the senses, and has undergone long spiritual training.
All these are lesser things, disposing the soul for the lofty sanctuary of the knowledge of the mysteries of Christ: this is the highest wisdom attainable in this life.
Would that men might come at last to see that it is quite impossible to reach the thicket of the riches and wisdom of God except by first entering the thicket of much suffering, in such a way that the soul finds there its consolation and desire. The soul that longs for divine wisdom chooses first, and in truth, to enter the thicket of the cross.
Saint Paul therefore urges the Ephesians not to grow weary in the midst of tribulations, but to be steadfast and rooted and grounded in love, so that they may know with all the saints the breadth, the length, the height and the depth – to know what is beyond knowledge, the love of Christ, so as to be filled with all the fullness of God.
The gate that gives entry into these riches of his wisdom is the cross; because it is a narrow gate, while many seek the joys that can be gained through it, it is given to few to desire to pass through it.
℟. What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, things beyond our imagining – all that God has prepared for those who love him:* these are the very things that God has revealed to us through the Spirit.
℣. The Spirit reaches the depths of everything, even the depths of God:* these are the very things that God has revealed to us through the Spirit.
Let us pray.
O God, who gave the Priest Saint John an outstanding love of perfect self-denial and of the Cross, grant that by imitating him closely at all times we may come to contemplate for eternity your glory. Through our Lord.