Saint John of the Cross
Feast Day is December 14
John was raised in an orphanage in Spain. He longed for solitude and the opportunity to be one with God in prayer. After he left the orphanage, John began training to become a carpenter and then a printer. He worked as a nurse assistant in a hospital and developed a great love for the poor and the sick. He sometimes felt that he was in the presence of Jesus when he was tending the patients. But, John wanted to become even closer to God. He became a Carmelite friar when he was almost twenty years old.
John was disappointed that the Carmelites no longer lived by the strict Rule that they were known for. Teresa of Avila, a Carmelite nun who became a famous saint and Doctor of the Church told John that she had been given permission to begin convents based on the original Rule. She asked John to join her in this work.
Teresa and Johnís reforms meet with anger and resistance. Some friars did not like the changes John suggested. They imprisoned John in a dark and dirty cell. It was in those terrible conditions that John wrote some of his most beautiful poetry and prayers. Through these nine months of being shut away, John became a mystic, a person who deeply experiences the spiritual presence of God in their lives.
Even though John lived many years ago, from 1541 to 1591, his spiritual writings and poetry are still read today by people who want to grow in their relationship with the Lord. One of Johnís most famous sayings is, ďIn the evening of life, we will be judged on love alone.Ē
The Church honors John of the Cross as a saint and, like St. Teresa, a Doctor of the Church. He taught us that love of God and neighbor is more important than anything else in life.
Saint of the Day, Lives, Lessons and Feast By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.