Ascent of Mount Carmel

Front Cover
Courier Corporation, Mar 6, 2012 - Religion - 352 pages
He was called "the greatest of all mystical theologians" by spiritual teacher Thomas Merton. And when St. John of the Cross was proclaimed to be a Doctor of the Church, Pope Pius XI praised his work as "a guide and handbook for the man of faith who proposes to embrace a life of perfection." The writings of the pious Carmelite priest, as well as those of St. Teresa of Avila, are regarded as the peak of Spanish mysticism. This remarkable guide to the spiritual life stands as his most popular work.
Imprisoned in Toledo during the sixteenth century, St. John wrote about his spiritual struggles with a unique poetic vision, illuminating a path for the faithful to grow closer to God. He believed that a spiritual union was open to us, but not before experiencing the confusion and despair of a dark night of the soul. Yet John's words are uplifting, lyrical, and filled with hope for any soul who aspires to the Divine union. By emptying ourselves of earthly distractions—memory, will, and sensual desires—we can make room for the pure light of God's grace. A primer to his Dark Night of the Soul, this acclaimed translation will resonate with modern pilgrims searching for wisdom.

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About the author (2012)

St. John of the Cross represents the pinnacle of Spanish mysticism. In contrast to St. Teresa's works, which refer frequently to things of this world, St. John's poetry works on a purely spiritual, abstract plane. His poems consist of allegorical descriptions of the journey of his spirit through mortification of earthly appetites, illumination, and purification of the soul to union with God. In his prose commentaries on his own poems he laments the insufficiency of language to communicate his mystical experiences and his interior life. A disciple of St. Teresa, he became the spiritual director of her convent at Avila in 1572 and was responsible for carrying out many of her rigorous new programs for the Carmelite Order. Objections to his extreme reforms led to a period of imprisonment and torture in Toledo. During this time, according to tradition, he wrote Spiritual Canticle. His concentrated symbolic poetry has been studied with enthusiasm by such modern poets as T. S. Eliot, Paul Valery, and Jorge Guillen.

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