Saint John of the Cross (1542 – 1591), a Carmelite friar and priest of Marrano origin, was a major figure of the Spanish Counter-Reformation, a mystic and a Roman Catholic saint. St. John of the Cross is known especially for his writings. Known also as John Yepes, both his poetry and his studies on the development of the soul are considered the summit of mystical Spanish literature. Two of his poems, the Spiritual Canticle and the Dark Night of the Soul, are widely considered masterpieces of Spanish poetry. He was mentored by and corresponded with the older Carmelite, Teresa of Avila.
Quotations by St. John of the Cross…
Endeavour to be inclined always:
not to the easiest, but to the most difficult;
not to the most delightful, but to the most distasteful;
not to the most gratifying, but to the less pleasant;
not to what means rest for you, but to hard work;
not to the consoling, but to the unconsoling;
not to the most, but to the least;
not to the highest and most precious, but to the lowest and most despised;
not to wanting something but to wanting nothing.
On this road, therefore, to abandon one’s own way is to enter on the true way, or, to speak more correctly, to advance to the goal… for the spirit which has courageously resolved on passing, inwardly and outwardly, beyond the limits of its own nature, enters the limitless higher world.
In deepest solitude
I found the narrow way,
a secret giving such release
that I was stunned and stammering,
rising above all science.
To come to the pleasure you have not
You must go by a way in which you enjoy not.
To come to the knowledge you have not
You must go by a way in which you know not.
To come to the possession you have not
You must go by a way in which you possess not.
To come to be what you are not
You must go by a way in which you are not.