Saint John of the Cross
By Melissa Gonçalves
St. John of the Cross was born on June 24, 1542 in Spain. John learned the importance of self-sacrificing love from his parents. His father gave up his possessions and wealth when he got married. After his father died, his mother replaced her husband as the head of the family. They were homeless and were looking for work to do. When the family finally got an opportunity, their son John was still hungry and needed more care. He decided to work for a hospital treating patients when he was only fourteen years old. These patients had severe mental and physical illnesses. He learned how to find happiness and beauty not only in the world but in God himself.
When he joined the Carmelite order, Saint Teresa of Avila asked him to help reform her movement. He agreed with her but many others disagreed with this movement; because of this St.John was imprisoned numerous times. He was locked in a very small cell and constantly beaten by the monks. In the cell that he was in there was only a tiny window up near the ceiling. Even through these horrible conditions John was still faithful to God. With the nine months he was there, John escaped by unlocking his cell door and then sneaking by the guards. While in the prison cell he was one to write poetry, but when he was escaping he only brought his metaphysical poetry along with him. He snuck out of the window using a rope that he made of some blankets. When he got out of the prison he had no idea where he was and had to follow a dog to civilization. He hid in a covenant where he read poetry to the nuns. From then on he shared his experience with others about the true love of God. He died on December 14th in 1591, which is also his feast day.
Since joy comes only from God, John believed that “someone who seeks happiness in the world is like a famished person who opens his mouth to satisfy himself with air.” He taught that “only by breaking the rope of our desires could we fly up to God.” Above all, he was concerned for those who suffered dryness or depression in their spiritual life and offered encouragement that God loved them and was leading them deeper into faith. During his lifetime he wrote several books. Some of these books included: Ascent of Mount Carmel, Dark Night of the Soul, and A Spiritual Canticle of the Soul and the Bridegroom Christ. He also taught that spiritual pleasures where just as dangerous as worldly pleasures. He taught that we shouldn’t be expecting favors from God all the time just as expecting things in real life all the time. To keep these ideals in our minds we should pray this prayer to him: “Saint John of the Cross, in the darkness of your worst moments, when you were alone and persecuted you found God. Help me to have faith that God is there especially in the times when God seems absent and far away. Amen”
Saint John of the Cross teaches us very important lessons for our lives, both spiritually and morally. Teenagers always expect what they want will be given to them. This isn’t always the case. Such an example would be someone wanting to get the new ipad. We shouldn’t always be attached to material possessions or less significant things that we demand. We should see the beauty in God himself. Like John the Cross even though he was beaten and imprisoned he still had faith in God. We should learn that even though things might not go our way, or we think that God isn’t there in the darkest moments, he is always there waiting for us.