Saint John of the Cross, born Juan de Yepes Álvarez

Saint John of the Cross, born Juan de Yepes Álvarez

Spanish Priest, Friar, Poet, Catholic Mystic, Major Figure in the Counter-Reformation

Author Quotes

Since, when the hour of reckoning comes, you will be sorry for not having used this time in the service of God, why do you not arrange and use it now as you would wish to have done were you dying?

Some of these beginners, too, make little of their faults, and at other times become over-sad when they see themselves fall into them, thinking themselves to have been saints already; and thus they become angry and impatient with themselves, which is another imperfection. Often they beseech God, with great yearnings, that He will take from them their imperfections and faults, but they do this that they may find themselves at peace, and may not be troubled by them, rather than for God's sake; not realizing that, if He should take their imperfections from them, they would probably become prouder and more presumptuous still. They dislike praising others and love to be praised themselves; sometimes they seek out such praise. Herein they are like the foolish virgins, who, when their lamps could not be lit, sought oil from others.

Preserve a loving attentiveness to God with no desire to feel or understand any particular thing concerning Him.

Pure contemplation consists in receiving.

Reflect how necessary it is to be enemies of self and to walk to perfection by the path of holy rigor, and understand that every word spoken without the order of obedience is laid to your account by God.

Pray in our secret chamber, or in the solitary wilderness, and at the best and most quiet time of night.

Preserve a habitual remembrance of eternal life, recalling that those who hold themselves the lowest and poorest and least of all will enjoy the highest dominion and glory in God.

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.

One hour of purgation here is more profitable than are many there.

One human thought alone is worth more than the entire world, hence God alone is worthy of it.

Our journey toward God must proceed through the negation of all. One should remain in emptiness and darkness regarding all creatures. He should base his love and joy on what he neither sees nor feels ? that is, upon God who is incomprehensible and transcendent.

Outward light enables us to see that we may not fall; it is otherwise in the things of God, for there it is better not to see, and the soul is in greater security.

Pay no attention to anything which your faculties can grasp. You should never desire satisfaction in what you understand about God, but in what you do not understand about Him Never stop with loving and delighting in your understanding and experience of God, but love and delight in what is neither understandable nor perceptible of Him.

Perfection does not lie in the virtues that the soul knows it has, but in the virtues that our Lord sees in it. This is a closed book; hence one has no reason for presumption, but must remain prostrate on the ground with respect to self.

Oh, how sweet your presence will be to me, you who are the supreme good! I must draw near you in silence and uncover your feet that you may be pleased to unite me to you in marriage [Ru. 3:7], and I will not rest until I rejoice in your arms. Now I ask you, Lord, not to abandon me at any time in my recollection, for I am a squanderer of my soul.

Oh, night that guided me, Oh, night more lovely than the dawn, Oh, night that joined Beloved with lover, Lover transformed in the Beloved!

Old friends of God scarcely ever fail him, for they stand above all that can make them fail.

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.

Oh, how happy is this soul that is ever conscious of God resting and reposing within its breast!

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.

O Lord, my God, who will seek you with simple and pure love, and not find that you are all one can desire, for you show yourself first and go out to meet those who seek you?

O Lord, my God, you are no stranger to those who do not estrange themselves from you. How do they say that it is you who absent yourself?

O Love?s living flame, tenderly you wound my soul?s deepest center! Since you no longer evade me, will you, please, at last conclude: rend the veil of this sweet encounter! O cautery so tender! O pampered wound! O soft hand! O touch so delicately strange, tasting of eternal life and canceling all debts! Killing, death into life you change! O lamps of fiery lure, in whose shining transparence the deep cavern of the senses, blind and obscure, warmth and light, with strange flares, gives with the lover?s caresses! How tame and loving your memory rises in my breast, where secretly only you live, and in your fragrant breathing, full of goodness and grace, how delicately in love you make me feel!

O mighty Lord, if a spark from the empire of your justice effects so much in the mortal ruler who governs the nations, what will your all-powerful justice do with the righteous and the sinner?

O my God and my delight, for your love I have also desired to give my soul to composing these sayings of light and love concerning you. Since, although I can express them in words, I do not have the works and virtues they imply (which is what pleases you, O my Lord, more than the words and wisdom they contain), may others, perhaps stirred by them, go forward in your service and love -- in which I am wanting. I will thereby find consolation, that these sayings be an occasion for your finding in others the things that I lack. Lord, you love discretion, you love light, you love love; these three you love above the other operations of the soul. Hence these will be sayings of discretion for the wayfarer, of light for the way, and of love in the wayfaring. May there be nothing of worldly rhetoric in them or the long-winded and dry eloquence of weak and artificial human wisdom, which never pleases you. Let us speak to the heart words bathed in sweetness and love that do indeed please you, removing obstacles and stumbling blocks from the paths of many souls who unknowingly trip and unconsciously walk in the path of error.

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Saint John of the Cross, born Juan de Yepes Álvarez
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Spanish Priest, Friar, Poet, Catholic Mystic, Major Figure in the Counter-Reformation