“If ye love me, keep my commandments.”—John 14:15
“Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”
(St.) John of the Cross (1542 to 1591)
John of the Cross was born in a small village near Avila, Spain. Because of family circumstances, John was sent to the poor school. He seemed incapable of learning anything when apprenticed to an artisan, so the governor of the hospital of Medina took him into his service. For seven years, John both waited on the poorest of the poor, and went to a school established by the Jesuits. “It has been recorded that during his studies St. John particularly relished psychology…” (from newadvent.org/cathen/08480a.htm)
John became a Carmelite monk at 21, and four years later he was ordained a priest. When John was 26, he met 53 year old Teresa of Avilla, who had come to Medina to found a convent of nuns. She persuaded John to remain in the Carmelite Order and the two of them worked for Carmelite reformation. “Their personal correspondence between each other is intensely mystical, describing in terms of human love the ecstasy and the agony of their struggles for personal spiritual perfection, and specifically the mystical experience of the union of the human soul with God.”
At age 35, John was ordered by the unreformed Carmelites to return to Medina. John refused to do so, and was kidnapped and imprisoned in Toledo. He was put in a narrow, stifling cell, and kept under a brutal regimen that included public lashing before the community at least weekly. He escaped after 9 months.
Some time after John escaped from prison, he and Teresa of Avilla founded the Discalced Carmelites. Due to internal politics John was put in one of the poorest monasteries, where he fell seriously ill…As his illness increased he was removed to the monastery of Ubeda where he eventually died.
sources: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_of_the_Cross newadvent.org/cathen/08480a.htm
Ascent of Mount Carmel and The Dark Night of the Soul
Ascent of Mount Carmel and The Dark Night of the Soul were written by John of the Cross soon after his escape from prison, and, and are accepted as a full treatise on mystic theology. “The poetic genius of St. John of the Cross stems from his Jesuit training and his familiarity with the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas, which allowed him to embody scholastic theology and philosophy in his verse. In The Spiritual Canticle he describes the “Spiritual Marriage” of God and the human soul.
The Dark Night of the Soul describes ten steps on the ladder of mystical love, which had been described by Thomas Aquinas and in part by Aristotle. The writings describe the supposed soul’s journey toward God, and details three stages of mystical union with what he thought was God: purgation, illumination, and union. Detachment and suffering are presented as requirements for the purification and illumination of the soul.
The term “dark night of the soul” refers to a state of intense personal spiritual struggle, including the experience of utter hopelessness and isolation prior to attaining mystical transcendence. Instead of devastation, the dark night is perceived by Mystics as a blessing in disguise, whereby the individual goes from a state of contemplative prayer to an inability to pray. It is this purgatory, a purgation of the soul, that brings purity and union with God, it is believed. Such blessings cannot be perceived while the soul suffers this “night.” Thus, the Dark Night of the Soul is perceived as a severe test of ones faith that leads to deeper understanding and greater love. But there is no biblical passage to back any of this up.
“Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:”
“This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”—1 John 1:5
“Who is among you that feareth the LORD, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God.”—Isaiah 50:10
“Sit thou silent, and get thee into darkness, O daughter of the Chaldeans: for thou shalt no more be called, The lady of kingdoms.”—Isaiah 47:5
“But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.”—Jude 1:17–19
“He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.”—Psalm 40:2
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”—Psalm 23:4
Teresa of Ávila (1515 to 1582)
Teresa of Ávila, known in religion as Saint Teresa of Jesus, was a prominent Spanish mystic, a Contemplative Catholic, a Carmelite nun, a reformer of the Carmelite Order and is considered to be, along with Saint John of the Cross, a founder of the Discalced Carmelites.
Although her father initially disapproved, Teresa secretly left home at 20 or 21, to become a Carmelite nun in Avila. Teresa’s was sick much of her life. At one point, she was in a coma for three days and not able to walk for three years. It was during this time of illness and convalescence that she took to daily mental prayer, which led to her experiences with mystical prayer. She credited her recovery to St. Joseph.
“Teresa …spent long hours in meditation that she called the “prayer of quiet” and the “prayer of union.” During such prayers she frequently went into a trance, and at times entered upon mystical flights in which she would feel as if her soul were lifted out of her body. She said ecstasy was like a “detachable death” and her soul became awake to God as never before when the faculties and senses are dead.
Teresa claimed to have levitated at a height of about a foot and a half for an extended period somewhat less than an hour, in a state of mystical rapture. She called the experience a ‘spiritual visitation’.
“Teresa being a contemplative is well known for her discussion on the grades of prayer through which the soul is focused upon the love of God…She distinguished sharply between the essence of mysticism… and the tangential phenomena that may accompany the contemplative life, such as visions, audible sensations, ecstasy, levitation, and stigmata…”
Teresa “was determined to establish a small community that would follow the Carmelite contemplative life, especially unceasing prayer” and “dedicated herself to reforming the Carmelite order.” It was John of the Cross, who helped reform the male Carmelite monasteries.
In 1565, Teresa wrote here autobiography, Life. She describes how she experienced a spiritual marriage with Christ as bridegroom to the soul on November 18, 1572. Teresa died, October 14, 1582.
Where is this in the Bible? St. Joseph got credit for her healing? It would seem she didn’t serve the God of the Bible.
“For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”—1 Corinthians 2:2
“Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.”
“Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.”—Psalm 143:8
“That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.”—Ephesians 3:16–19