Posts Tagged ‘John of the Cross’

Prayer and Meditation for Wednesday, December 21, 2016 — “If the Lord is to dwell in our hearts, we must make time for silence and prayer.”

December 20, 2016

Wednesday of the Fourth Week in Advent
Lectionary: 197

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Reading 1 SG 2:8-14

Hark! my lover–here he comes
springing across the mountains,
leaping across the hills.
My lover is like a gazelle
or a young stag.
Here he stands behind our wall,
gazing through the windows,
peering through the lattices.
My lover speaks; he says to me,
“Arise, my beloved, my dove, my beautiful one,
and come!
“For see, the winter is past,
the rains are over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of pruning the vines has come,
and the song of the dove is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines, in bloom, give forth fragrance.
Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one,
and come!“O my dove in the clefts of the rock,
in the secret recesses of the cliff,
Let me see you,
let me hear your voice,
For your voice is sweet,
and you are lovely.”

Or ZEP 3:14-18A

Shout for joy, O daughter Zion!
Sing joyfully, O Israel!
Be glad and exult with all your heart,
O daughter Jerusalem!
The LORD has removed the judgment against you,
he has turned away your enemies;
The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst,
you have no further misfortune to fear.
On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem:
Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged!
The LORD, your God, is in your midst,
a mighty savior;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
and renew you in his love,
He will sing joyfully because of you,
as one sings at festivals.

Responsorial Psalm PS 33:2-3, 11-12, 20-21

R. (1a; 3a) Exult, you just, in the Lord! Sing to him a new song.
Give thanks to the LORD on the harp;
with the ten-stringed lyre chant his praises.
Sing to him a new song;
pluck the strings skillfully, with shouts of gladness.
R. Exult, you just, in the Lord! Sing to him a new song.
But the plan of the LORD stands forever;
the design of his heart, through all generations.
Blessed the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people he has chosen for his own inheritance.
R. Exult, you just, in the Lord! Sing to him a new song.
Our soul waits for the LORD,
who is our help and our shield,
For in him our hearts rejoice;
in his holy name we trust.
R. Exult, you just, in the Lord! Sing to him a new song.

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law:
come to save us, Lord our God!
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

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The Visitation By Philippe de Champaigne.

Gospel LK 1:39-45

Mary set out in those days
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Most blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”

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From Living Space from The Carmelites

Commentary on Song of Solomon 2:8-14 and Zephaniah 3:14-18

We have a choice of two First Readings today. The second, which is from the prophet Zephaniah, is for those who may find the passionate love implied in the passage from the Song of Songs a little strong for a liturgical celebration. The Song of Songs (also known as The Song of Solomon) is a collection of about 25 poems or parts of poems about human love and courtship, suitable for singing at weddings. “The poetry is graceful, sensuous and replete with erotic imagery and allusions to the ancient myth of the love of a god and a goddess on which the fertility of nature was thought to depend. (The New Oxford Annotated Bible, loc. cit.). The pronouns (He, She…) imply that the speakers are a bridegroom (Lover), bride (Beloved) and chorus. Although it is called ‘The Song of Solomon’ the actual author is unknown. And, although dating from about the 3rd century BC, the symbols and motifs date from early mythology and have become the language of human love and courtship.

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Strangely enough, the book has no obvious religious content compared to other books in the Bible and it can only be given such an interpretation by finding a deeper symbolism in its highly graphic language. Its inclusion in the Old Testament can be explained by the Lord being called the “husband” of his people (Hos 2:16-19). In the Christian tradition, it has been understood as an allegory of the love of Christ for his bride, the Church (Rev 21:2,9), or as symbolising the intimate experience of divine love in the individual soul. The links between mystical experience and sexual ecstasy are not so far apart. We should be grateful that such a beautiful work has been included in our collection of God’s Word.
The choice of the reading for today is obviously linked to the Gospel account of the Visitation of Mary and Jesus to Elizabeth and John. The love expressed in the First Reading clearly points to a close, warm relationship between Jesus and John, where John represents each one of us. Perhaps we do not use this kind of passionate language when speaking to Jesus but there have been mystics who have not hesitated to do so. One thinks of John of the Cross or Ignatius of Loyola and even more of Teresa of Avila.

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As the passage opens, it is the Beloved, the girl who is speaking. She is living with her parents in the city. Not unlike the lover in one of Shakespeare’s most famous tragedies, the Lover appears at the Beloved’s window. The door is closed and there is a forbidding wall. “He looks in at the window, he peers through the lattice.” He urges her to come away with him to the countryside. “Come then, my love, my lovely one, come.”

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The cold of winter, which is also the rainy season is past. It is now spring, the time of new life. Nature is bursting out in leaf and flower and the migrant birds have returned to make their nests. The cooing of turtle doves is heard, the first figs are appearing and the vines are in fragrant flower. And, of course, for humans, too, it is the season of love.
The Beloved is hiding in the clefts of the rock, a euphemism for her home, a place inaccessible to the Lover. “Show me your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet and your face beautiful.”

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Jesus, too, is still hidden in the womb of his mother. His mother’s voice is enough to create a joyful reaction in John, in Elizabeth’s womb. He knows that where the Mother is, the Son must also be close by.

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It is important to realise that our Christian faith is not just a list of intellectual doctrines. Ultimately it is a life based on love, intimacy and affection for our brothers and sisters.

ALTERNATIVE  FIRST READING – from the prophet Zephaniah (Zephaniah 3:14-18)

Zephaniah was a prophet during the reign of King Josiah (640-609 BC) who did much to restore traditional Jewish religious customs. But his example was not followed and Zephaniah foretold disaster and this indeed happened with the collapse of the Assyrian empire brought about by the Babylonians who went to attack Egypt, an ally of Assyria. Josiah took sides with Egypt and was killed in a battle. It was to set the stage for one of Israel’s most painful memories – the Babylonian Captivity. While much of Zephaniah is a condemnation of religious infidelity, the last part from which today’s reading comes is a promise of better times to come for those who wait patiently for the Lord.

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Today’s passage consists of two psalms or hymns looking forward to the full restoration of Jerusalem to its former glory and religious faithfulness. The whole people (“daughter of Zion…daughter of Jerusalem”) are invited to celebrate the coming salvation. Words echoed in the words of the angel to Mary: “Rejoice! The Lord is with you.”

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In today’s celebration, it is the close presence of the Lord which is emphasised. “The Lord, the King of Israel, is in your midst; you have no more evil to fear.” And again: “The Lord your God is in your midst.”

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Again, “The lord your God is in your midst…
He will exult with joy over you,
he will renew you by his love;
he will dance with shouts of joy for you…”

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There is also an air of joy. “Shout for joy, daughter of Zion!.. Rejoice, exult with all your heart, daughter of Jerusalem.”

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All of this can fittingly be applied to Elizabeth as she welcomes Mary and Jesus and indicated by John jumping for joy in the womb of his mother. Let us too share their joy as we prepare to welcome the coming of our God among us in Jesus.

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Source: http://livingspace.sacredspace.ie/A1221r/

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Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606–1669). The Visitation, 1640

Rembrandt uses light and shadow to train the viewer’s eye through the canvas. The brightest light falls on Mary and then Elizabeth. Mary has just traveled to see her cousin, whom the angel told her would be with child in her old age. There they both stand, pregnant by divine intervention—Elizabeth with John the Baptist and Mary with the Christ.

Rembrandt’s light focuses on the two women like a spotlight coming down from the heavens. As our eyes adjust to the scene we see the two servants. Beyond them at the edges of the frame we see Elizabeth’s husband, Zechariah the priest, to the left and Joseph down and to the right.

A few years ago this Rembrandt traveled to my city as part of an exhibit about the Dutch Golden Age. I was struck by small size of the painting. It is just a little bigger than two by two and half feet. Still, Rembrandt doesn’t waste an inch of composition space, filling the dark background with an elaborate cityscape and the foreground with detailed foliage and architecture. The peacock looking on from the bottom left signifies Jesus’s royalty and immortality. Peacocks were regarded as kingly and there was a myth in Rembrandt’s day that their flesh never decayed.

The scene shows an ornate world in motion, but the meeting between these two women, though their pregnancies would transform that world forever, takes place with no fan-fare. As Isaiah said, there would be nothing about Jesus’s coming that would capture the world’s attention.

 

Consider

“When the angel Gabriel stood before Mary, the hypothetical gave way to the real. The ordinary stories all at once glistened under the extraordinary light of this celestial storyteller.

“As she listened, there rose inside her a sense that the glory of his tale was nothing new, but rather was older than time. She only needed uncommon light to see it. She had, Gabriel told her, found favor with God. She shouldn’t fear this visit or the message he brought.

“It must have been strange to stand before this seraph dressed in light, strong and otherworldly, and hear him tell her not to be afraid. Perhaps it was even stranger for Mary to discover that God had formed an overall impression of her. She was known by God, and he favored her. He liked what he saw?

“The angel then came to the reason for his visit. He told Mary she would conceive a son, who would rescue his people from their sins. God had already chosen his name— Jesus, which meant “salvation.”[1]

 

Examine

What do you think the angel means when he tells Mary she has found favor with God?

In what ways is the Christmas story globally epic? In what ways is it deeply personal? Are you drawn to one of those poles more than the other? Which one? Why?

Where are some places in your life where you need the help of a God who governs the cosmos? Where are some places in your life where you need a God who can cut into the deeply personal details of your heart?

http://russ-ramsey.com/day-19-the-ordinary-overshadowed-reflection-questions-and-art-during-advent/

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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21 DECEMBER, 2016, Wednesday, Weekday of Advent
JOY IS BORN OF THE PROMISE

SCRIPTURE READINGS: Song of Songs 2:8-14 or Zep 3:14-18a; Ps 32:2-3,11-12,20-21; Luke 1:39-45   ]

Christmas is often associated with joy.  One of the carols that we like to sing is “Joy to the world!”   What is the basis of this joy?  Namely, that the savior has come and that Christ has come to reign with His love and truth.  With Christ’s coming, there will be peace in our land and there will be love among men.  The thought of Christ’s coming therefore fills those without love and without peace with expectant joy.  This joy is born out of this promise.  This is the message of today’s scripture readings as we enter the 5th day of the “O” Antiphons that prepare us for the coming of Christ.

Indeed in the first reading from the Book of Songs, the mystical love and union between God and His bride, the Church is portrayed in terms of human love between two lovers.  The Book of the Song of Songs is really a compendium of love songs for a wedding.  Love is full of joy and admiration at the beauty of our loved ones.  “I hear my Beloved.  See how he comes leaping on the mountains, bounding over the hills. My Beloved is like a gazelle, like a young stag.”  She says, “My dove, hiding in the clefts of the rock, in the coverts of the cliff, show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet and your face is beautiful.”  Love is attentive, always paying attention and observing the details of our beloved.   “See where he stands behind our wall. He looks in at the window, he peers through the lattice.”   Where there is love, there is newness of life and we see things in a new perspective.  “For see, winter is past, the rains are over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth. The season of glad songs has come, the cooing of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree is forming its first figs and the blossoming vines give out their fragrance.”

Indeed, anyone who is in love with God is filled with joy.  When the love of God fills the person’s hearts, the things of this world pale in comparison with His love.  “If one offered for love all the wealth of one’s house, it would be utterly scorned.” (Songs 8:7b) Love gives us meaning and purpose in life.  To fall in love with God is the greatest thing on this earth.  When God’s love is in our hearts, we find deeper inner peace, joy and security.  St Paul says, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  (1 Cor 13:19b-20)

Secondly, the joy of Christmas comes from liberation.  In the optional reading from Zephaniah, the prophet said, “Shout for joy, daughter of Zion, Israel, shout aloud! Rejoice, exult with all your heart, daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has repealed your sentence; he has driven your enemies away.”   Indeed, the Lord has come to take away our shame.  He has come to take away all that harm and destroy us.  He will help us to overcome our inner enemies, that is our sins and selfishness; and He will liberate us from our external enemies, pain, suffering and injustices.  The prophet assures us that God is our warrior.  He will fight the battle for us.  We only need to rely on His strength and might.  “The Lord, the king of Israel, is in your midst; you have no more evil to fear. When that day comes, word will come to Jerusalem: Zion, have no fear, do not let your hands fall limp. The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior.”   Both in today’s acclamation before the gospel and at the Magnificat at vespers, we pray, “O Key of David, who open the gates of the eternal kingdom, come to liberate from prison the captive who lives in darkness.”

Truly, when the Lord is in us, we feel liberated from all fears, worries and anxieties.  All our sins come from fear and the desire to protect our self-interests.  We fear death, hunger and pain.  But the Lord shows us that love is stronger than death and selfishness.  So like the lover, we say to the Lord, “Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.”  (Songs 8:6-7a)

The Good News is that the Lord is coming and He has come.  “My Beloved lifts up his voice, he says to me, ‘Come then, my love, my lovely one, come.”  The Lord is saying to us, “Come then, my love, my lovely one, come.”  In a real way, the Lord comes to us in the Incarnation.  In the gospel reading, we read of how the Lord came to visit Elizabeth in the womb of Mary.  “Now as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.”   The coming of the Lord filled Elizabeth with joy and John the Baptist also leapt for joy.

The Lord comes to us again and again.  He comes to us when we receive Him in the Eucharist, just as our Blessed Mother carried the Lord in the tabernacle of her womb.  Whenever we receive the Eucharist with a pure heart, a clear conscience and a devout spirit, the Lord enters into our lives and renews the Holy Spirit given to us at our baptism.   If our disposition is right, the Lord comes, but most of the time we do not recognize His real presence in the Eucharist.  This explains why although many Catholics receive communion every Sunday, nothing is happening in their lives. They receive without reverence, without a conscious recognition of Christ’s presence in the bread and most of all, in the seriousness of their sins.

Still, the Lord can come to us anew if we receive Him in the sacrament of reconciliation.  The Lord wants to set us free from our prison of sin and misery.  Our pride, self-righteousness, egotism and anger often blind us to the reality of the truth.   If we want to be set free to find love and peace, then we need to seek His forgiveness; and then extend this forgiveness to our fellowmen and all those who have hurt us.  So if we have not yet frequented the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we will be losing a great opportunity of grace.  How can there be peace and joy at Christmas when one is not reconciled with God and with our loved ones and our fellowmen?  If we want peace, let us make peace with ourselves, with God and others.

The Lord comes especially also in the compassion and mercy that others show to us, or vice versa.  Mary, hearing that Elizabeth was pregnant in her old age immediately responded to her help.  She travelled a great distance to help her cousin.  We too like Mary are called to be channels of grace and love.  She not only literally brought Jesus to Elizabeth and John the Baptist but she herself became the presence of Jesus to them.  Through her kindness and graciousness, Elizabeth immediately sensed the divine presence in her heart and womb.  We too must do the same.  As we reach out to the lonely, the sick, the wounded, the hungry and the poor, we come to encounter Christ in them and they encounter Christ in us.

If the Lord were to dwell in our hearts, we must make time for silence and prayer.  “Give thanks to the Lord upon the harp, with a ten-stringed lute sing him songs. O sing him a song that is new, play loudly, with all your skill.”  This last week of Advent is an intense period of expectancy which is aroused and strengthened by prayer, meditation and contemplation.  We must seek and desire that our Lord comes into our lives.  Like the love who said, “Upon my bed at night I sought him whom my soul loves; I sought him, but found him not; I called him, but he gave no answer. I will rise now and go about the city, in the streets and in the squares; I will seek him whom my soul loves.” (Songs 3:1-2)  Let us wait for the Lord in prayer and good works.  “Our soul is waiting for the Lord. The Lord is our help and our shield. In him do our hearts find joy. We trust in his holy name.”  Let us not delay any longer but have faith.  “Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh
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Related:

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Edward Leen totally believes in the “indwelling of the Holy Spirit” in every human being. His book “Holy Spirit” works for everbody.

Karl Rahner also believed in the gift of the Holy Spirit in every human being. Rahner says, “To get more, give more.”

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Worrying claim: Professor Patrick Pullicino said doctors had turned the use of a controversial ¿death pathway¿ into the equivalent of euthanasia of the elderly

Worrying claim: In Britain, Professor Patrick Pullicino said doctors had turned the use of a controversial ‘death pathway’ into the equivalent of euthanasia of the elderly

St. John of the Cross Can Still Teach Us Today — We Need To Understand What Man Is Longing To Find — Or We Find The Wrong Things

January 27, 2014

When a young woman came very fearfully to his confessional at Avila, she told St. John of the Cross she though he was holier than her. He encouraged  her: “I am not so, but the holier the confessor, the gentler he is, and the less he is scandalized at other people’s faults, because he understands  man’s weak condition better.” Sometimes as superior in the monastery he coughed or rattled the rosary hanging from his belt, to warn an offending friar of his approach. This was St. John of the Cross, often and even commonly thought  of as the utmost in severity. He was really a very gentle man.

St. John of the Cross (1542-1591)

St. John of the Cross came to believe that in every man there existed an emptiness or longing for something more. Usually, while we are still young, this longing manifests itself as a tremendous longing for the “goods” of this world. Often time, man fills this longing with the worldly pleasures of wealth, fame, sex, travel, excitement, alcohol and drugs. But over time, John believed, every man must ultimately encounter what he is really longing for: that which will fill his soul.

Zurbarán St. John of the Cross.jpg

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Saint John of the Cross by Francisco de Zurbarán, 1656
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St. John Climacus says: “Sinners should preach and teach because hearing their words they will be shamed to improve.”
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Maybe this is why when we sin — we are always instructed by spiritual directors to “talk it though” or go to confession. Some sinners like to say, “When I confess to the same sin time after time, even if my confessor is asleep, I hear it and God hears it!”
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St. John of the Cross said that try as we might, we can never “fill ourselves” with the passions and pleasures of the world. We always want more — and many never discover what “more” they want and they end up drug addicts, obese or addicted to some foolish pleasures.
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The “more that we want” according to John and many other spiritual thinkers is this: we want and long for unity with God.
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We came from God. Our life is a gift from God. All our talents come from God. All the people in our lives are gifts from God to be loved and treasured.
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So we have an undeniable longing for God. Only God can “fill us up” — the obese man can eat and eat but never be filled.
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John’s philosophy teaches us to be thankful for our own selves and our skills, and to express gratitude for all around us that can (if we allow them)  bring us closer to Him.
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John ‘s philosophy says that we all must go through a period of change he (and many other spiritual teachers)  calls the “purgative way.”
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The active purification or “purgation” is usually only achieved through a thoughtful, meditative passage through a series of steps with actions guided by a spiritual director.
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These exists in many forms today — but most commonly people are familiar with the “Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius” or the “Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.”
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John Francis Carey
Peace and Freedom
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Among the teachings of St. John of the Cross:
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It is better to be burdened and in company with the strong than to be unburdened and with the weak. When you are burdened you are close to God, your strength, who abides with the afflicted. When you are relieved of the burden you are close to yourself, your own weakness; for virtue and strength of soul grow and are confirmed in the trials of patience.
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He who wants to stand alone without the support of a master and guide, will be like the tree that stands alone in a field without a proprietor. No matter how much the tree bears, passers-by will pick the fruit before it ripens.

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The virtuous soul that is alone and without a master, is like a lone burning coal; it will grow colder rather than hotter.

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He who falls alone remains alone in his fall, and he values his soul little since he entrusts it to himself alone.

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Although a monk that spent many hours in isolation or contemplation, John recommended a life of service to others in community to others in many of his works.

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It was at Toledo that St. John went through the greatest and most dramatic   crisis of his life. He underwent a severe test of his courage, endurance and   faith. He was caught in the vortex of a dispute between the Carmelites of the   Mitigated Observance and the Carmelites of the Reform. There were good men on   both sides of the disputed question, and the correct answer was not so clear   in the heat of the argument. The key to the trouble was a conflict of authority   between the Prior General of the Carmelite Order and the Papal Nuncio in Spain.   In 1575 at Piacenza in Italy, the General Chapter of the Order suppressed those   monasteries of the Reform which had been founded without authorization of the   General. Nothing was done to put this decree into effect, however, as long as   Ormaneto, the Papal Nuncio, who was friendly to the Reform, was in office. After   his death, however, and with the coming of Sega, a nuncio hostile to the Reform,   the Calced Carmelites (Carmelites of the Mitigated Observance), calling on the   civil arm of the law, had a number of the Reformed Carmelite Fathers arrested.

St. John of the Cross was taken prisoner in December, 1577, from his chaplain’s   house at the Convent of the Incarnation in Avila and brought to Toledo. He judged   rightly that the decrees of Piacenza, which were read to him, referred only   to houses founded without the Prior General’s permission. But he would not renounce   the Reform, as he was called on to do. Therefore, he was termed rebellious and   contumacious.

He was imprisoned in the monastery in Toledo in a room ten feet by six, with   a very small slit high in the wall being his only source of light. The room   was really nothing but a large closet. Here St. John was locked in for nine   months, suffering from the cold in the winter and the stifling heat in the summer.   When he was brought out, it was to take his meal of bread and water and sometimes   sardines, kneeling in the refectory, and to hear the upbraidings of the Prior.   After the meal on Fridays, he had to bare his shoulders and undergo the circular   discipline for the space of a Miserere. Each person present struck him in turn   with a lash. St. John bore the scars of these beatings throughout his life.

There were other cruelties, for the conversation outside the dark cell dwelt   on the complete crushing of the Reform. All the letters of St. Teresa of Avila   to the King of Spain, Philip II, and others were to no avail. No one even knew   where John was kept. “I do not know how it comes about that there is never   anyone who remembers this holy man,” she complained in one letter.

In the darkness of this cell, St. John of the Cross composed and committed   to memory some of his greatest poems, including most of his book, The Spiritual   Canticle, which is 40 stanzas in length. On August 14, when the Prior, the stern   Fray Maldonaldo, came to St. John’s cell and asked what he was thinking about   that he did not rise, St. John replied, “That tomorrow is Our Lady’s feast   and how much I should love to say Mass.” “Not while I am here,”   the Prior replied.

Later, after his incarceration was over, St. John of the Cross never said a   word against those who had treated him so badly. “They did it because they   did not understand,” he said in excuse. He bore no ill-feeling toward his   “jailers,” for his soul in its most inward part was unruffled and   at peace and dwelt with God.

A change in jailers after six months brought a more lenient friar to be his   keeper. But he was torn by doubt as to what was God’s Will: Should he try to   escape, or was it the will of God for him to die here? His searching prayer   was answered by the conviction that he should escape. So he began to plan. While   the others were at table, the more lenient young Father, Juan de Santa Maria,   allowed St. John to help clean the cell. This included the liberty of walking   down the corridor outside the room onto which his prison closet opened in order   to empty the night pail. The jailer had also given St. John a needle and thread   to mend his clothing. He tied a small stone to the thread and measured the distance   to the ground from a window in the corridor. Back in his cell, he sewed his   blankets together and found that they would, if used as a rope, reach to within   11 feet of the ground – close enough to permit a jump. Little by little he had   also loosened the screws in the padlock outside the cell. On the night he planned   to escape, two visiting friars happened to be sleeping in the room outside.   They awoke when the padlock fell when St. John shook it, but they went back   to sleep again, their sleepy eyes perhaps being closed by a wide-awake angel.

St. John stepped between the friars and silently let himself out through the   window and down on his improvised rope. Had he landed two feet farther out from   the building, he would have fallen to the rocky banks of the Tagus River below.   He next found himself in a court surrounded by walls; he was almost ready to   give up, but he finally succeeded in climbing one of the walls and was able   to drop into an alleyway of the city. After daybreak, he found the convent of   the Discalced Carmelite nuns, who sheltered him and later found a temporary   refuge for him in the Hospital of Santa Cruz, very close to the monastery from   which he had escaped. The friars from the monastery had come to the convent   looking for him while he was there, and now little knew that the emaciated,   nearly dead object of their search was being nursed back to life not a stone’s   throw away.

From Tan Books:

http://www.tanbooks.com/doct/john_the_cross.htm

Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_of_the_Cross

See also:

St. John of the Cross’ Spirituality: Love Transforms Suffering:

http://www.sfis.org/st-john.php

The “Ways”:

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14254a.htm

Book: Christian Social Order By Brian Mullady

“A person can only realize or achieve themselves fully in a disinterested gift of self to others.”

This teaching of service to others is emphasized in virtually all Christian teachings and organizations, from Vatican II to Alcoholics Anonymous.