If all goes as planned in my world, today, Monday, March 12th, our pilgrimage group will travel from Madrid to Barcelona.
The first portion of the educational pilgrimage was spent exploring sites where Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) and St. John of the Cross (1542-1591) had unique spiritual encounters—experiences which continue to minister to folks navigating their own 21st Century faith journeys.
In my last post, I introduced you to Teresa. Today, I’d like you to meet a man who was mentored by and worked with Teresa, a man who came to be known as “John of the Cross” because of his suffering and deep commitment to Jesus.
I became familiar with both Teresa and John several years ago when I read Devotional Classics, the source from which I obtained most of the biographical information shared in my last two posts.
John studied philosophy and theology at one of the leading European universities, a Carmelite college in Salamanca, Spain. He met Teresa of Ávila when he was ordained in 1567.
John spent most of his life in the service of the Catholic Reform. He was arrested and put in confinement by those who opposed the reform. During his period of confinement, he wrote The Dark Night of the Soul, which described God’s work in his spirit during a dark and difficult season.
When I was first introduced to John of the Cross, I was traveling through a “dark night.” It was a difficult time and one I would not welcome back. Yet, through this season, I had a keen awareness God was with me and that a divine work was occurring in my soul—a place I could not see but one known by God. It was during this time that verses 11 & 12 from my favorite psalm—Psalm 139—came alive:
If I were to say, “Certainly the darkness will cover me,
and the light will turn to night all around me,”
even the darkness is not too dark for you to see,
and the night is as bright as day;
darkness and light are the same to you.
If you are experiencing a “dark night of your soul,” my prayer is that you’ll be encouraged by the words in this psalm and the life of St. John of the Cross. Even as God was very present with John—as well as with me over 430 years later—I feel certain God is also with you and will use this difficult time for a significant purpose.
Dios te bendiga!
- Devotional Classics, Selected Readings edited by Richard J. Foster and James Bryan Smith, A Renovare Resource for Spiritual Renewal ↑