Tuesday 30th June 2015

Home » saints » Currently Reading:

Catholic Heroes . . . St. John Of The Cross

December 3, 2013 saints No Comments

By CAROLE BRESLIN

Over 2,000 years ago a child was born into poverty. His advent would change the world to such an extent that even our calendars are numbered according to the days He walked on the earth. About 1,500 years after His death, another child was born into poverty. Although his significance is not nearly as important as the Christ Child’s, he left a great impact on the spirituality of the Catholic Church. The people of Spain have recognized him as the greatest Spanish poet in their history. St. John of the Cross, a man of God, denied himself, took up his cross, and followed Christ.
In 1542, a poverty-stricken weaver, Gonzalo de Yepes, who had been disinherited by his wealthy family for having married beneath his station, and his wife welcomed John into their lives with great joy. He was born in Fontiveros, about 100 miles southeast of Madrid. Not long after his father died, his mother left for Medina to try and provide for her young family. Since young John showed little promise of becoming a weaver, he became a servant to the head of the hospital in Medina.
While there, he studied at the Jesuit school where he was already practicing bodily penances.
In 1563 he took the habit of the Carmelites. Like St. Teresa of Avila, whom he would meet some years later, he sought to follow the original and much stricter rules of the Carmelites and received permission to do so. By 1567, he was ordained and considered joining the Carthusians to live as a hermit.
Providentially, St. Teresa of Avila arrived in Medina to set up a convent for her new Discalced Carmelites. She met with John — still a Carmelite priest — and persuaded him to join her in her endeavor to establish the reformed Carmelites. St. Teresa had received permission to found two reformed houses for men, for which he would be the “first instrument.”
The first house was established in Duruelo, where John took the name John of the Cross. In 1568 two men joined him. The sanctity of this reformed house of Carmelites spread, igniting a fire of holiness requiring the establishment of more houses in Pastrana, Mancera, and eventually a fourth in 1570 at Alcala.
St. Teresa soon made John the first master of novices. His austerity, sacrifices, and holiness drew many more men. He placed great emphasis on solitude, humility, and mortifications, which was a great motivation to his associates. Having experienced some consolations, he now experienced great trials of aridity. He was assaulted by the Devil, and learned the way of purification as a step on the Ascent of Mount Carmel.
St. Teresa was there with him during these trials, so similar to hers. As the number of houses increased, Teresa wrote about the rules in her Book of Foundations. John held his position as novice master for about five years before he was called to the convent of the Incarnation to serve as confessor for the Carmelites under St. Teresa in 1571.
As happens with all endeavors seeking to do God’s will, troubles were brewing. The confusion caused by having three different “superiors” — the officer general, the papal nuncio, and the prior general — resulted in resentment as well. The moderated Carmelites saw the work of John and Teresa as rebellion. They sought to put an end to their work, so they ordered John to return to Medina immediately. John refused, since he had the permission of the papal nuncio.
Hence, armed men came and carried him off to Toledo where he was put in a dark and dank cell. The men there beat him so severely that he bore the scars for the rest of his life. As his biographer noted, this treatment was a stage on the way to holiness and spiritual growth, as Teresa had written — insults, slanders, physical pain, agony of the soul, and the temptation to give in. Obviously, he suffered much, this John of the Cross.
Yet during this period, he wrote some of his most beautiful poetry. You can imprison the body, but never the soul. Perhaps his greatest suffering was not being able to celebrate the Mass. When he mentioned this to his prior, the prior responded that he would not let John say Mass as long as he lived.
Such sorrow was alleviated when the Blessed Mother appeared to John, revealing to him how she would help him escape from the prison. He did so by going through a window and lowering himself down by rags tied together. The circumstances surrounding this escape seem miraculous. He made his way to Monte Calvario, after staying briefly at the friary of Beas de Segura.
In 1579 he went to Baeza to become head of the college. Two years later, he was made prior of the Carmelites at Los Martires near Granada. During this time he began writing down his meditations on mystical theology, which have been so popular down through the centuries. So penetrating and profound, these writings resulted in his becoming a doctor of the Church. (The complete works of St. John of the Cross can be found in one volume — well worth our time.)
When St. Teresa died in 1582, conflicts intensified between the moderate and the extreme Carmelites. John did not favor the separation that some promoted. When he became vicar of Andalusia and sought to institute reforms, his enemies attacked again. Nevertheless, he founded more friaries before becoming prior of Granada. The success of the Discalced Carmelites was so pronounced that the Holy See ordered a separation of the two factions into two separate organizations.
Angered by this, his superior sent him to the friary of La Penuela in 1591. John found peace at La Penuela. It was isolated and far removed from many interactions with men, so that he remarked: “For I have less to confess when I am among these rocks than when I am among men.”
Are we surprised that his enemies still did not rest? John was again slandered and falsely accused so successfully that many burned any of his communications, fearing to be associated with him. He became ill, so he was sent to Ubeda where another antagonist was residing. The journey made the ill priest even worse. He suffered great pain, necessitating several surgeries.
The cruelty of the prior proved itself when he forbade John any visitors, kindness, or food sufficient for recovery. When the provincial learned of this, he brought the prior to repentance by his severe reprimand. John continued to fail and finally died on December 14, 1591.
Dear St. John of the Cross, you knew that God’s yoke was easy and His burden light. Teach us how we may find joy in this life through suffering, knowing that the pleasures are for this world, but joy is for the next. Amen.

+    +    +

(Carole Breslin home-schooled her four daughters and served as treasurer of the Michigan Catholic Home Educators for eight years. Mrs. Breslin’s articles have appeared in Homiletic & Pastoral Review and in the Marian Catechist Newsletter. For over ten years, she was national coordinator for the Marian Catechists, founded by Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ.)

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

Untitled 3

Pope FrancisAn Open Letter To His Holiness Pope Francis      Given the controversy and confusion surrounding the 2014 Synod on the Family, the staff of The Wanderer and its supporters thought it appropriate to address Pope Francis with an open letter . . .

Supreme Court upholds ObamaCare subsidies

The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld ObamaCare subsidies nationwide, in the second major court victory for President Obama on his signature health care law. In a 6-3 decision, the court ruled that subsidies are valid even in states that did…Continue Reading

Synod on the Family’s working document sets the stage for spirited discussion

Vatican City, Jun 24, 2015 / 12:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- That the discussion at October’s Synod on the Family is going to be a lively one is indicated by the fact that the most controversial paragraphs of the final report…Continue Reading

Abortion Drone Will Fly Dangerous Abortion Pills to Poland to Violate Its Pro-Life Laws

drone

The pro-abortion organization that formerly ran the abortion boat that distributed the dangerous abortion pill in international waters outside pro-life nations that protect unborn children has come up with a new marketing scheme to push abortion in pro-life nations: drones.…Continue Reading

St. Louis’ Catholic Archbishop Carlson discusses same-sex marriage, clergy sex abuse, racism, more

At their annual spring meeting held in St. Louis last week, U.S Catholic bishops discussed several issues currently facing the Catholic Church, including: the clergy sex abuse scandal, what the Church sees as challenges to marriage, and the pope’s upcoming…Continue Reading

Nienstedt resigns; New Jersey bishop named interim head of Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis

Archbishop John Nienstedt has resigned in the wake of criminal charges against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis for its “role in failing to protect children and contribution to the unspeakable harm” experienced by victims in priest sex-abuse cases. Nienstedt says…Continue Reading

Priests needed: As Church growth explodes worldwide, parishes can’t keep up

Washington D.C., Jun 12, 2015 / 05:11 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The global Catholic population is growing – so quickly, in fact, that priest and parish numbers cannot keep up, says a new study on trends in the worldwide Church. And…Continue Reading

Cardinal Kasper hints at new ‘Vatican II’ strategy to gain approval of Communion proposal

June 11, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – In the face of increasing opposition to his plan to approve giving Holy Communion to people who are in adulterous remarriages, Cardinal Walter Kasper is hinting at a new “Vatican II” strategy for accomplishing his…Continue Reading

No Law Can Be Based on Injustice

In 2010, the United States Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was designed by President Obama and Congressional leaders to expand access to affordable and comprehensive health insurance coverage in the United States. After the law…Continue Reading

Cardinal: Divorced and remarried Catholics need support for conversion, not changes on communion

Catholics who have divorced and remarried need help for the “difficult climb” of conversion and spiritual growth, not a change in Church practice on the reception of Holy Communion, a prominent cardinal said. Cardinal Ennio Antonelli summarized the advice of…Continue Reading

Obama: Without Catholic Nun We Would Not Have Gotten Obamacare Done

(CNSNews.com) – While addressing the Catholic Health Association Conference in Washington, D.C., yesterday, President Barack Obama said that the Affordable Care Act—AKA Obamacare—would not have been enacted had it not been for Sister Carol Keehan, the president of the Catholic…Continue Reading

Cardinal Kasper Backpedals on Papal Endorsement of Controversial Proposal

Almost single-handedly one cleric has turned the Church’s teaching on Communion, marriage and divorce into an international debate. For decades, German Cardinal Walter Kasper has promoted a proposal to allow divorced-and-civilly-remarried Catholics to receive holy Communion after a period of…Continue Reading

The Body God Gave Us Doesn’t Lie

The latest tragic twist in the “Bruce Jenner saga” (more on that below) illustrates yet again one of the great errors of our day: the rejection of the truth that our bodies have something to tell us about who we are and…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading

Today . . .

U.S. decision to legalize same-sex “marriages” godless, sinful – Russian Church

Moscow, June 29, Interfax – The Russian Orthodox Church has appealed to all Russian advocates of the American model of governance, asking them to think twice about the consequences of the United States’ decision to legalize same-sex “marriages”. “The people who are into ‘democracy the American way’ and trying to reconcile it with traditional values need to think hard after this decision,” the head of the Synodal Department for Church and Society Relations Archpriest Vsevolod…Continue Reading

Fr. Z Blog . . . Congratulations To His Eminence Cardinal Burke . . .

Today is His Eminence Raymond Card. Burke’s 40th anniversary of ordination to the sacred priesthood.  He was, I believe, ordained by Paul VI. That was a good day for the Church. Card. Burke is one of the kindest men alive and a great scholar of Holy Church’s law. I am sure that all of you will stop, right now, and say a prayer for him.

Saint John Paull II (2003) . . . Clear And Emphatic Opposition Is A Duty

johnp

Thanks to Lifesitenews for this graphic CONSIDERATIONS REGARDING PROPOSALS TO GIVE LEGAL RECOGNITION TO UNIONS BETWEEN HOMOSEXUAL PERSONS  

Alito Warns: Defenders of Traditional Marriage Now Risk Being Treated as Bigots by Governments, Employers, Schools

By Terence P. Jeffrey | June 26, 2015 | 1:53 PM EDT       CNSNews.com) – In his dissent from the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which declared that same-sex marriage is a right, Justice Samuel Alito said the court had falsely likened opposition to same-sex marriage to racism and that its decision “will be used to vilify Americans unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy.” Alito warned that in the wake of the court’s…Continue Reading

NATO-Russia Collision Ahead?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN “U.S. Poised to Put Heavy Weaponry in East Europe: A Message to Russia,” ran the headline in The New York Times. “In a significant move to deter possible Russian aggression in Europe, the Pentagon is poised to store battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and other heavy weapons for as many as…Continue Reading

The Myth Of Autonomy

By DONALD DeMARCO I Never Sang for My Father, a 1970 film based on Robert Anderson’s play by the same name, features a father who identifies himself as a “self-made man” who struggled hard for everything he achieved. Toward the end of the play, the father, now elderly and incapacitated, offers a desperate declaration of…Continue Reading

More On The Particular Judgment

By JAMES LIKOUDIS As pointed out in a previous article (The Wanderer, July 3, 2014, p. 8B), the “silence regarding this particular dogma from all too many pulpits together with funeral Masses that focus on celebrating the life of the deceased and are replete with eulogies (amounting to instant canonization) have tended to make the…Continue Reading

Cardinal Sarah Says . . . Allowing Communion For Divorced And Remarried “Insults Christ”

By MARY JONES ROME (LifeSiteNews) — Robert Cardinal Sarah, the highly respected prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments at the Vatican, appointed in 2014 by Pope Francis, has made it abundantly clear since last October’s Extraordinary Synod on the Family that any attempt to detach Catholic teaching from…Continue Reading

France’s Terri Schiavo . . . Shocks The Nation With Video Showing He’s Alive

By JEANNE SMITS (Editor’s Note: Jeanne Smits writes from Paris for LifeSiteNews, which made this commentary available. All rights reserved.) + + + The friends of Vincent Lambert — France’s Terri Schiavo — are true to their promise. Since the European Court of Human Rights ruled on June 5 that there is nothing wrong with…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

An Apologetics Course… Refuting Objections To The Spiritual Soul’s Existence

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 8 The reader will have noticed the progression of thinking in this new series of articles in The Wanderer: Instead of dealing with various topics rather randomly, the section consists of a series of articles in the format of lessons within a course. So, the first topic was the most basic one, that is,…Continue Reading

The Four Marks Of The Church — Holiness

By DON FIER For the past two weeks, we have been unpacking the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) on the first of her four marks, that she is one. Our Lord left no room for uncertainty when He said, “There shall be one flock, one shepherd” (John 10:16), nor did St. Paul when he proclaimed that…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: Commenting on the Bruce Jenner fiasco in his usually perceptive way, Fr. George Rutler of the Church of St. Michael in New York City said in a recent bulletin: “Anyone who can remain awake listening to the conversations of sedentary former athletes on ESPN is perhaps unable to think clearly on any subject of significance, but the declaration…Continue Reading

Prophets Among Us

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Fourteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR B) Readings: Ezek. 2:2-5 2 Cor. 12:7-10 Mark 6:1-6 In the Gospel reading today our Lord says that a prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin. The obvious problem is that those people know the prophet and have known him since he…Continue Reading

Pope Francis’ Address To Rome Conference . . . “The Gift Of Marriage…Is Also A Mission”

VATICAN CITY (ZENIT) — Here is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave Sunday evening, June 14 when he opened the Ecclesial Congress of the Diocese of Rome, held in St. Peter’s Square. The theme this year is: “‘We Deliver to You What We Have Received’ (cf. 1 Cor. 15:3) — We Parents, Witnesses of the Beauty of…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Josemaria Escriva

By CAROLE BRESLIN Part 2 With the outbreak of civil war in Spain and the attack on the Catholic Church, many priests and religious were martyred. The existing government changed the constitution to legalize persecution of the Church by closing Catholic schools, ceasing reparation payments, and suppressing religious discussion. Among other things, this helped lead to the secularization of society…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Josemaria Escriva

By CAROLE BRESLIN Part 1 God, in His loving Providence and perfect timing, gives the Church holy men and women to guide the Mystical Body of Christ. During the chaos of the Protestant revolt, he provided St. Ignatius and St. Teresa of Avila. At the beginning of the 20th century, as the lay faithful were being called to participate in…Continue Reading