St John of the Cross, O.C.D. was a major figure of the Counter-Reformation, a Spanish mystic, a Carmelite friar and a priest, and a Doctor of the Church. St. John of the Cross was a reformer of the Carmelite Order and is considered, along with Saint Teresa of Ávila, as a founder of the Discalced Carmelites. He is also known for his writings. Both his poetry and his studies on the growth of the soul are considered the summit of mystical Spanish literature and one of the peaks of all Spanish literature.
Works by St John of the Cross:
Ascent of Mount Carmel (pdf)
One of St. John of the Cross’ most important and insightful works, Ascent of Mount Carmel is a brilliant work of Christian mysticism. Considered one of the great Spanish poets, St. John depicts the soul’s ascent to Mount Carmel–allegorically, the place of God–and the “dark night” that the soul must endure to reach it. St. John describes the different mystic experiences the soul encounters on its way to union with God through the dark night. Although St. John continues to describe the dark night in Dark Night of the Soul, the sequel to Ascent of Mount Carmel, this book provides a hauntingly beautiful, profound, and mystical account of Christian spirituality.
Dark Night of the Soul (pdf)
A sequel and continuation of Ascent of Mount Carmel, the Dark Night of the Soul is a spiritually moving and mystical book. In it, St. John of the Cross continues his description of the soul’s journey–the “dark night”–to the “divine union of the love of God.” A poet at heart, St. John describes the journey and the union with beautifully rich and deeply symbolic language. However, St. John does not simply describe the journey; he seems at times to be offering encouragement and comfort directly to readers as they too struggle with the excruciating dark night. Offering hope to the downtrodden and discouraged, the Dark Night of the Soul is one of the most difficult books a person can read, but its difficulty is surpassed by its reward. One of the most profound works of Christian mysticism, this book is highly recommended for those seeking union with God.