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Influence of St. John of the Cross in the 17th Century

Carmelitana Collection

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.


There were others who did not depend as closely on John of the Cross but who were nevertheless outstanding and influential in their own right. Among these were Juan de Jesús Maria (Aravalles  d. 1609)  who redacted the Instrucción de Novicios for the Discalced Carmelites. The great mystic Juan de Jesús Maria (Sampedro 1564-1615)  played an important role in the spiritual formation in the Italian Discalced congregation.  His three volume Opera omnia, was edited by Ildefonso de S. Luis (Florence 1771-74). More eclectic and somewhat influenced by St. John of the Cross was Tómas de Jesús  (Díaz Sánchez de Avila 1564 -1627), author of numerous and profound mystical treatises, such as De contemplatione divina libri sex. (Jerónimo) Gracián de la Madre de Dios (d.1614), although without scholarly pretensions, was a most effective interpreter of Carmelite spirituality. He was devoted to the eremitical origins of Carmel and fond of the “cave” of Pastrana. To his contemplative fervor he added an indefatigable zeal in preaching and writing (Obras del p. Jerónimo Gracián de la Madre de Dios, 3 v., Burgos 1932-33). Driven from the Discalced by the Doria faction, he spent his final years in the Ancient Observance where, at the request of the Prior General, Enrique Silvio, he wrote Della disciplina regolare … dell perfettione e spirito con che si ha de osservare la regola…  particolarmente quella sotto la quale vive l’Ordine della gloriosa Vergine del Carmine (Venice 1600). This work had a wide diffusion among the Italian Carmelites, partly because of the interest Silvio took in it. For many years it was standard reading in the refectory.

St. John of the Cross also had eminent followers in the Ancient Observance, most notably Miguel de la Fuente (1574-1626), who borrowed his psychological structure in Las tres vidas del hombre: corporal, racional y espiritual (Toledo 1623). Another Carmelite of the Ancient Observance who showed himself a follower of St. John of the Cross was Pablo Ezquerra (1626-96), author of Escuela de perfección,  formada de espiritual doctrina de filosofía sagrada y mística theología (Saragossa 1675; new edition, Barcelona 1965).

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."