John of the Cross quotes

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John of the Cross

Birthdate: 24. June 1542
Date of death: 14. December 1591
Other names: San Giovanni della Croce

John of the Cross was a major figure of the Counter-Reformation, a Spanish mystic, a Roman Catholic saint, a Carmelite friar and a priest, who was born at Fontiveros, Old Castile.

John of the Cross is known for his writings. Both his poetry and his studies on the growth of the soul are considered the summit of mystical Spanish literature and one of the peaks of all Spanish literature. He was canonized as a saint in 1726 by Pope Benedict XIII. He is one of the thirty-six Doctors of the Church.

„On a dark night, Kindled in love with yearnings — oh, happy chance! —
I went forth without being observed, My house being now at rest.
In darkness and secure, By the secret ladder, disguised — oh, happy chance! —
In darkness and in concealment, My house being now at rest.“

—  John of the Cross

En una noche oscura,
con ansias, en amores inflamada,
¡oh dichosa ventura!,
salí sin ser notada,
estando ya mi casa sosegada;
One dark night, fired with love's urgent longings — ah, the sheer grace! —
I went out unseen, my house being now all stilled.
In darkness, and secure, by the secret ladder, disguised, — ah, the sheer grace! — in darkness and concealment, my house being now all stilled.
Variant translation by Kieran Kavanaugh and Otilio Rodriguez (1991)
Upon a darkened night the flame of love was burning in my breast
And by a lantern bright I fled my house while all in quiet rest.
Shrouded by the night and by the secret stair I quickly fled.
The veil concealed my eyes while all within lay quiet as the dead
Variant adapted for music by Loreena McKennitt (1994)
Dark Night of the Soul

„Hence the love of God in the pure and simple soul is almost continually in act.“

—  John of the Cross

The Sayings of Light and Love
Context: Souls will be unable to reach perfection who do not strive to be content with having nothing, in such fashion that their natural and spiritual desire is satisfied with emptiness; for this is necessary in order to reach the highest tranquility and peace of spirit. Hence the love of God in the pure and simple soul is almost continually in act.

„In a word, it is for this love that we are all created.“

—  John of the Cross

Note to Stanza 28 part 3
Spiritual Canticle of The Soul and The Bridegroom, Notes to the Stanzas
Context: When the soul, then, in any degree possesses the spirit of solitary love, we must not interfere with it. We should inflict a grievous wrong upon it, and upon the Church also, if we were to occupy it, were it only for a moment, in exterior or active duties, however important they might be. When God Himself adjures all not to waken it from its love, who shall venture to do so, and be blameless? In a word, it is for this love that we are all created. Let those men of zeal, who think by their preaching and exterior works to convert the world, consider that they would be much more edifying to the Church, and more pleasing unto God — setting aside the good example they would give if they would spend at least one half their time in prayer, even though they may have not attained to the state of unitive love.

„I have said that God is pleased with nothing but love; but before I explain this, it will be as well to set forth the grounds on which the assertion rests. All our works, and all our labours, how grand soever they may be, are nothing in the sight of God, for we can give Him nothing, neither can we by them fulfil His desire, which is the growth of our soul. As to Himself He desires nothing of this, for He has need of nothing, and so, if He is pleased with anything it is with the growth of the soul; and as there is no way in which the soul can grow but in becoming in a manner equal to Him, for this reason only is He pleased with our love.“

—  John of the Cross

Note to Stanza 27
Spiritual Canticle of The Soul and The Bridegroom, Notes to the Stanzas
Context: I have said that God is pleased with nothing but love; but before I explain this, it will be as well to set forth the grounds on which the assertion rests. All our works, and all our labours, how grand soever they may be, are nothing in the sight of God, for we can give Him nothing, neither can we by them fulfil His desire, which is the growth of our soul. As to Himself He desires nothing of this, for He has need of nothing, and so, if He is pleased with anything it is with the growth of the soul; and as there is no way in which the soul can grow but in becoming in a manner equal to Him, for this reason only is He pleased with our love. It is the property of love to place him who loves on an equality with the object of his love. Hence the soul, because of its perfect love, is called the bride of the Son of God, which signifies equality with Him. In this equality and friendship all things are common, as the Bridegroom Himself said to His disciples: I have called you friends, because all things, whatsoever I have heard of my Father, I have made known to you.

„My soul is occupied,
And all my substance in His service;“

—  John of the Cross

Spiritual Canticle of The Soul and The Bridegroom
Context: My soul is occupied,
And all my substance in His service;
Now I guard no flock,
Nor have I any other employment:
My sole occupation is love. ~ 28

„You will say that I am lost;
That, being enamoured,
I lost myself; and yet was found.“

—  John of the Cross

Spiritual Canticle of The Soul and The Bridegroom
Context: If, then, on the common land
I am no longer seen or found,
You will say that I am lost;
That, being enamoured,
I lost myself; and yet was found. ~ 29

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„When Thou didst regard me,
Thine eyes imprinted in me Thy grace:“

—  John of the Cross

Spiritual Canticle of The Soul and The Bridegroom
Context: When Thou didst regard me,
Thine eyes imprinted in me Thy grace:
For this didst Thou love me again,
And thereby mine eyes did merit
To adore what in Thee they saw. ~ 32

„O killing north wind, cease!
Come, south wind, that awakenest love!“

—  John of the Cross

Spiritual Canticle of The Soul and The Bridegroom
Context: O killing north wind, cease!
Come, south wind, that awakenest love!
Blow through my garden,
And let its odours flow,
And the Beloved shall feed among the flowers. ~ 17

„The little white dove
Has returned to the ark with the bough“

—  John of the Cross

Spiritual Canticle of The Soul and The Bridegroom
Context: The little white dove
Has returned to the ark with the bough;
And now the turtle-dove
Its desired mate
On the green banks has found. ~ 34

„Let us rejoice, O my Beloved!
Let us go forth to see ourselves in Thy beauty,
To the mountain and the hill,
Where the pure water flows:“

—  John of the Cross

Spiritual Canticle of The Soul and The Bridegroom
Context: Let us rejoice, O my Beloved!
Let us go forth to see ourselves in Thy beauty,
To the mountain and the hill,
Where the pure water flows:
Let us enter into the heart of the thicket. ~ 36

„All ceased and I abandoned myself, Leaving my cares forgotten among the lilies.“

—  John of the Cross

I abandoned and forgot myself, laying my face on my Beloved; all things ceased; I went out from myself, leaving my cares forgotten among the lilies.
Variant translation by Kieran Kavanaugh and Otilio Rodriguez (1991)
Dark Night of the Soul
Context: I remained, lost in oblivion; My face I reclined on the Beloved.
All ceased and I abandoned myself, Leaving my cares forgotten among the lilies.

„Since Thou hast regarded me,
Grace and beauty hast Thou given me.“

—  John of the Cross

Spiritual Canticle of The Soul and The Bridegroom
Context: Despise me not,
For if I was swarthy once
Thou canst regard me now;
Since Thou hast regarded me,
Grace and beauty hast Thou given me. ~ 33

„When the soul, then, in any degree possesses the spirit of solitary love, we must not interfere with it.“

—  John of the Cross

Note to Stanza 28 part 3
Spiritual Canticle of The Soul and The Bridegroom, Notes to the Stanzas
Context: When the soul, then, in any degree possesses the spirit of solitary love, we must not interfere with it. We should inflict a grievous wrong upon it, and upon the Church also, if we were to occupy it, were it only for a moment, in exterior or active duties, however important they might be. When God Himself adjures all not to waken it from its love, who shall venture to do so, and be blameless? In a word, it is for this love that we are all created. Let those men of zeal, who think by their preaching and exterior works to convert the world, consider that they would be much more edifying to the Church, and more pleasing unto God — setting aside the good example they would give if they would spend at least one half their time in prayer, even though they may have not attained to the state of unitive love.

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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