"Wisdom enters through love, silence, and mortification. It is great wisdom to know how to be silent and to look at neither the remarks, nor the deeds, nor the lives of others." -- St. John of the Cross
St. John of the Cross teaches about desire for union with God. This desire leads one into the darkness and silence where God is found within the depths of one’s soul. It is a journey of detachment from all that keeps us from seeking and finding the face of God.
St. John, along with St. Teresa of Avila, speaks of the solitude of one’s own heart where Silence is found. John asks us to be not afraid to journey into the night of solitude and to live there with God. It is not a solitude of isolation from people nor a disconnection from the world in which we live. It is a solitude of peace, joy and an embrace of God’s will in our lives, especially when that involves suffering and dryness in prayer.
In solitude she lives, and there in solitude has built her nest;
in solitude He gives her guidance, love and rest, wounded like her,
in solitary quest.
--The Spiritual Canticle--
John of the Cross lost his father and his brother Luis at an early age. He was raised by his impoverished mother Catalina and brother Francesco in central Spain. Catalina kept their love for God and one another strong and vibrant despite the hardships of their lives. St. John’s family helped develop the characteristics for which he became known: gentleness, patience, simplicity, and a love of poverty and the poor.
He received his schooling from the Jesuits in Medina del Campo. It was here that he received the Carmelite habit at the monastery of Santa Ana of Carmel and the name “Juan de Santo Matia” in 1563. He was sent to Salamanca for his studies and was ordained there about 1567. He then returned to Medina de Campo, where, as Providence would have it, he met St. Teresa who was in the city establishing her second convent for the nuns of the new reformed order of Carmelites. She persuaded John to join her in the reform of the Carmelite order. He was instrumental in the foundation of the first monastery for men in Duruelo, at which time he changed his religious name to John of the Cross.
For the remainder of his life, St. John traveled thousands of miles throughout Spain in service to the new order of Discalced Carmelites. On December 14, 1591, he died at the monastery in Ubeda. The Church celebrates his Feast Day on December 14.