There are so many mistaken notions about St. John of the Cross (1542-91) that we might do well to clarify some of them at the outset. He is, of course, most identified with the phrase dark night of the soul, but in fact he never uses the term. John does speak of the dark night of the senses and the dark night of the spirit in his treatise titled simply The Dark Night.
I. St. John asked of God, in his first Mass, the grace of remaining free from all mortal sin; and at another time, he begged to suffer, to labor, and to be despised for Christ's sake. Oh! how different from this is the object of your prayers!
I shall lead her into solitude and there speak tenderly to her heart [Hos2:14] (F3.34).
Let Your divinity shine on my intellect by giving it divine knowledge, and on my will by imparting to it the divine love and on my memory with the divine possession of glory.
Let us so act that by means of this loving activity we may attain to the vision of ourselves in Your beauty in eternal life.
Dec. 14 is the liturgical memorial of Saint John of the Cross, a 16th century Carmelite priest best known for reforming his order together with Saint Teresa of Avila, and for writing the classic spiritual treatise “The Dark Night of the Soul.”
What we need most in order to make progress is to be silent before this great God with our appetite and with our tongue, for the language he best hears is silent love. –St John of the Cross
Advent is a time of waiting…waiting in the darkness where it is still and quiet. This season is also a time to establish the conditions I need to have in order to bring Christ into my life.
The first disciples of St. John of the Cross, unaffected by the scholasticism which was to prevail afterward, follow his Trinitarian schema. José de Jesús Maria (Quiroga) wrote Subida del alma a Dios (Madrid 1656-59) and Inocencio de San Andrés (d.1620) wrote Teologiá mística y espejo de la vida eterna. Cecilia del Nacimiento (1570-1646) wrote De la transformación del alma en Dios.
As Carmelites We live our life of allegiance to Jesus Christ and to serve Him faithfully with a pure heart and a clear conscience through a commitment to seek the face of the living God (the contemplative dimension of life), through prayer, through fraternity, and through service (diakonia). These three fundamental elements of the charism are not distinct and unrelated values, but closely interwoven.
All of these we live under the protection, inspiration and guidance of Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, whom we honor as "our Mother and sister."