Today is the feast of St. John of the Cross, a 16th century Spainard, who with Teresa of Avila reformed the Carmelite community. Teresa and John were a powerhouse of a friendship–exlporing the depths of the spiritual life and discovering the rich Catholic expression of contemplative prayer. Like many close firendships, Teresa and John were very different in personality. Teresa was extroverted, funny, and engaging, John was serious and introspective, to the point that Teresa reports, she had to tell him to “lighten up!”
The Dark Night of the Soul
John’s contribution to the spiritual life is the exploration of what we call the “dark night.” Many of us know well the expereince of coming to know God through recognizing his presence in our lives, experiencing moments of grace and knowing they are gifts from God. There is another way we deepen our faith, a way that is part of our maturing in faith and giving ourselves fully over to God’s love–it is the experience of absence. At times we feel the absence of God, we feel abandoned, like Job, we feel that we are being tormented and though crying out to God we hear nothing. Do we believe that indeed God has abandon us or failed us, or do we go on trusting that God is present and that all will be made well in God’s time? John helps us to navigate our way through the dark nights when all seems empty, only to experience a deeper union with our Lord.
The poetry of music and art
Loreena McKennit takes John of the Cross’s famous poem The Dark Night and sets it to the artwork of another famous Catholic, Salvator Dali. it is here for you to enjoy.
From today’s Morning Prayer, we pray in thanksgiving for all those who are learned and are as radiant as the sky in all its beauty; those who instruct the people in goodness and who will shine like stars for all eternity.