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Saints of Carmel

+ St. John of the Cross

“What more do you want, O soul!  And what else do you search for outside, when within yourself you possess your riches, delights, satisfaction, and kingdom---your Beloved whom you desire and seek?  Desire Him there, adore Him there.  Do not go in pursuit of Him outside yourself.  You will only become distracted and you won't find Him, or enjoy Him more than by seeking Him within you.”

St. John of the Cross, co-reformer of the Carmelite Order, was born in Spain in 1542 to a loving but extremely destitute family.  His father died when John was still young, but his mother managed to keep the family together.k.  John was a brilliant student, but could not learn any artisan skills.  At the age of fourteen, John took a job at the hospital of Median caring for the poor and incurable.  He spent the rest of his time learning at a nearby Jesuit school.  From an early age, John practiced penance.

John eventually joined the Carmelites of Medina.  He was given permission to follow the rule of Carmel without any of the relaxations that had been granted by previous popes.  He was ordained a priest in 1567, but John became overwhelmed at the idea of fulfilling the duties of the priesthood, and decided to join the Carthusians instead.

St. Teresa of Avila who had come to Medina to found a convent for her Carmelite nuns convinced John to stay with the Carmelites, and he began to help her in the reform of the order.  But his fellow Carmelites were against his attempts at reform and they went so far as to kidnap and lock him up in a small cell.  During this time, John wrote much of his mystical poetry, for which he is well known.  After nine months, John managed to escape.

John spent the rest of his life establishing monasteries, spreading his reform, and writing many spiritual works, which are now treasured by the Church.  He died in 1591 - his body is still incorrupt to this day.  He was canonized on December 27, 1726, and was also named a Doctor of the Church.  St. John of the Cross is one of the Church's most beloved mystics, known for his compassion and deep understanding of the inner workings of the soul.

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