The feast day of St John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor of the Church, is celebrated by the Carmelite family and the whole Church on 14th December.

John was born in 1542. He became a Carmelite friar in his youth but considered leaving the Order to pursue a more contemplative way of life. He was thinking of joining the Carthusians when he met St Teresa of Avila, who persuaded him instead to become one of the first friars of her reform. He became one of her closest and most loyal collaborators in her work of reforming the Carmelite Order. They met much opposition and John was even imprisoned by friars opposed to reform. After Teresa’s death, John’s loyalty to her vision for the Discalced friars and nuns brought him into disagreement with the new leaders of the reform, who sent him into exile. He died in 1591.

John was a mystic and is known for his teaching on contemplative prayer, and especially for his poetry which expresses the union of the soul with God. It is considered some of the most beautiful lyric poetry in the Spanish language. He also wrote four major theological commentaries: The Ascent of Mount Carmel, The Dark Night, The Spiritual Canticle and The Living Flame of Love.

Lord, you endowed our Father St John of the Cross
with a spirit of self denial and love of the Cross.
By following his example
may we come to the eternal vision of your glory.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

More about St John of the Cross:

Discalced Carmelite Generalate: Biography
Anglo-Irish Province of Discalced Carmelites: Biography
Australian Province of Discalced Carmelites: Biography