Rev. Mary McCue
Today, we celebrate thefeast of John of the Cross, a Spanish priest and Carmelite monk. Born Juan de Yepes y Alvarez in 1542, his parents lost their wealth while he was young. He attended a then-new Jesuit school and was ordained a priest in 1567. Thereafter, he was mentored by Teresa of Avila, who asked him to help reform the Carmelite order, conforming it to the“Primitive Rule” of devotion to the Liturgy of Hours, study, solitude and fasting. Which he did.
His efforts were controversial, and he was imprisoned by fellow monks. Despite torture and bad conditions, his creativity flowered. He began writing on his insights into Christ and the virtuous life – insights which would eventually become classic works in mysticism. It was during this time, that he wrote his Spiritual Canticle.
Eventually, John escaped from prison and formed a new monastery devoted to the Primitive Rule. There, he had a vision of Christ “from above” – a drawing that provided inspiration for Salvador Dali’s, Christ of John of the Cross. Inaddition to his Spiritual Canticle, his other writings include "Dark Night of theSoul" and "Ascent of Mount Carmel". All are based in scripture, and reveal his deeply spiritual attachment to Christ. He is often hailed as a poet for thequality and beauty of his writing. His work influenced later writers such as T.S. Eliot, Therese of Lisieux, Edith Stein and Thomas Merton.
Let us give thanks for the life and example of John of the Cross.
The Rev. Charles Hoffacker is a retired priest of the Diocese of Washington