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Saint John of the Cross


Spiritual quotes of Saint John of the Cross
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What , more do you want, 0 soul! And what else do you search for outside, when within yourself you possess your riches, delights, satisfactions, fullness, and kingdom -your Beloved whom you desire and seek? Be joyful and gladdened in your interior recollection with Him, for you have Him so close to you. Desire Him there, adore Him there. Do not go in pursuit of Him outside yourself. You will only become distracted and wearied thereby, and you shall not find Him, nor enjoy Him more securely, nor sooner, nor more intimately than by seeking Him within you.




Quote n° 3848 : , (Fontiveros, prov. d'Ávila, 1542 — Ubeda, 1591), founder (with St. Teresa) of the Discalced Carmelites, doctor of mystic theology, Christianity, Catholicism
Source : Spiritual Canticle, I.8; Kavanaugh & Rodriguez, 1973; p. 419  

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Having been made one with God, the soul is somehow God through participation. Although it is not God as perfectly as it will be in the next life, it is like the shadow of God. Being the shadow of God through this substantial transformation, it performs in this measure in God and through God what He, through Himself, does in it. For the will of the two is one will, and thus God's operation and the soul's is one. (1)

... When there is union of love, the image of the Beloved is so sketched in the will and drawn so vividly, that it is true to say that the Beloved lives in the lover and the lover in the Beloved. Love produces such likeness in this transformation of lovers that one can say each is the other and both are one. The reason is, that in the union and transformation of love, each gives possession of self to the other, and each leaves and exchanges self for the other. Thus each one lives in the other and is the other, and both are one in the transformation of love. (2)

...Thus, no one ... can disturb the soul that is liberated and purged of all things and united with God. She enjoys now in this state a habitual sweetness and tranquility which is never lost or lacking to her. (3)




Quote n° 3847 : , (Fontiveros, prov. d'Ávila, 1542 — Ubeda, 1591), founder (with St. Teresa) of the Discalced Carmelites, doctor of mystic theology, Christianity, Catholicism
Source : (1) The Living Flame Of Love, III.78, Kavanaugh & Rodriguez, 1973; p. 641 ; (2) Spiritual Canticle, 12 :7; Kavanaugh & Rodriguez, 1973; p. 455 ; (3) Spiritual Canticle, 24 :5; Kavanaugh & Rodriguez, 1973; p. 503  

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What God communicates to the soul in this intimate union is totally beyond words. One can say nothing about it just as one can say nothing about God Himself that resembles Him. For in the transformation of the soul in God, it is God who communicates Himself with admirable glory. In this transformation, the two become one, as we would say of the window united with the ray of sunlight, or of the coal with the fire, or of the starlight with the light of the Sun. (1)

... The soul thereby becomes divine, becomes God, through participation, insofar as is possible in this life. ... The union wrought between the two natures, and the communication of the divine to the human in this state is such that even though neither changes their being, both appear to be God. (2)




Quote n° 3846 : , (Fontiveros, prov. d'Ávila, 1542 — Ubeda, 1591), founder (with St. Teresa) of the Discalced Carmelites, doctor of mystic theology, Christianity, Catholicism
Source : (1) Spiritual Canticle, 26:4; Kavanaugh & Rodriguez, 1973; p. 512 ; (2) Spiritual Canticle, 22 :3-4; Kavanaugh & Rodriguez, 1973; p. 497  

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The soul, desiring to be possessed by this immense God, for love of Whom she feels that her heart is robbed and wounded, unable to endure her sickness any longer, deliberately asks Him ... to show her His beauty, His divine essence, and to kill her with this revelation, and thereby free her from the flesh since she cannot see and enjoy Him as she wants. She makes this request by displaying before Him the sickness and yearning of her heart, in which she perseveres suffering for love of Him, unable to find a cure in anything less than this glorious vision of His divine essence.




Quote n° 3845 : , (Fontiveros, prov. d'Ávila, 1542 — Ubeda, 1591), founder (with St. Teresa) of the Discalced Carmelites, doctor of mystic theology, Christianity, Catholicism
Source : Spiritual Canticle, I. 11:2; Kavanaugh & Rodriguez, 1973; pp. 448-449  

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The road and ascent to God, then, necessarily demands a habitual effort to renounce and mortify the appetites; the sooner this mortification is achieved, the sooner the soul reaches the top. But until the appetites are eliminated, a person will not arrive, no matter how much virtue he practices. For he will fail to acquire perfect virtue, which lies in keeping the soul empty, naked, and purified of every appetite.

... Until slumber comes to the appetites through the mortification of sensuality, and until this very sensuality is stilled in such a way that the appetites do not war against the spirit, the soul will not walk out to genuine freedom, to the enjoyment of union with its Beloved.




Quote n° 3844 : , (Fontiveros, prov. d'Ávila, 1542 — Ubeda, 1591), founder (with St. Teresa) of the Discalced Carmelites, doctor of mystic theology, Christianity, Catholicism
Source : The Ascent Of Mount Carmel, I.5.6; Kavanaugh & Rodriguez, 1973; p. 83  

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To deprive oneself of the gratification of the appetites in all things is like living in darkness and in a void. ... Hence, we call this nakedness a night for the soul. For we are not discussing the mere lack of things; this lack will not divest the soul., if it [still] craves for all these objects. We are dealing with the denudation of the soul's appetites and gratifications; this is what leaves it free and empty of all things, even though it possesses them. Since the things of the world cannot enter the soul, they are not in themselves an encumbrance or harm to it; rather, it is the will and appetite dwelling within it that causes the damage.




Quote n° 3843 : , (Fontiveros, prov. d'Ávila, 1542 — Ubeda, 1591), founder (with St. Teresa) of the Discalced Carmelites, doctor of mystic theology, Christianity, Catholicism
Source : The Ascent Of Mount Carmel, I.3-4; Kavanaugh & Rodriguez, 1973; pp. 76-77  

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Now a man may be striving for a perfect union in this life through grace ….. But, manifestly, the perfect union in this life through grace and love demands that he live in darkness to all the objects of sight, hearing, imagination, and everything comprehensible to the heart, that is, to the soul.




Quote n° 3842 : , (Fontiveros, prov. d'Ávila, 1542 — Ubeda, 1591), founder (with St. Teresa) of the Discalced Carmelites, doctor of mystic theology, Christianity, Catholicism
Source : The Ascent Of Mount Carmel, II.4.4; Kavanaugh & Rodriguez, 1973; pp. 113-114  

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In thus allowing God to work in it, the soul … is at once illumined and transformed in God, and God communicates to it His supernatural Being, in such wise that it appears to be God Himself, and has all that God Himself has. And this union comes to pass when God grants the soul this supernatural favour, that all the things of God and the soul are one in participant transformation; and the soul seems to be God rather than a soul, and is indeed God by participation; although it is true that its natural being, though thus transformed, is as distinct from the Being of God as it was before…




Quote n° 3469 : , (Fontiveros, prov. d'Ávila, 1542 — Ubeda, 1591), founder (with St. Teresa) of the Discalced Carmelites, doctor of mystic theology, Christianity, Catholicism
Source : Ascent of Mount Carmel. Trans. E. Allison Peers, Book 2, Chapter 5, Paragraph 7  

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God dwells and is present substantially in every soul, even in that of the greatest sinner in the world. And this kind of union is ever wrought between God and all the creatures, for in it He is preserving their being: if union of this kind were to fail them, they would at once become annihilated and would cease to be. And so, when we speak of union of the soul with God, we speak not of this substantial union which is continually being wrought, but of the union and transformation of the soul with God, which is not being wrought continually, but only when there is produced that likeness that comes from love; we shall therefore term this the union of likeness, even as that other union is called substantial or essential. The former is natural, the latter supernatural. And the latter comes to pass when the two wills -- namely that of the soul and that of God -- are conformed together in one, and there is naught in the one that repugnant to the other. And thus, when the soul rids itself totally of that which is repugnant to the Divine will and conforms not with it, it is transformed in God through love.




Quote n° 3468 : , (Fontiveros, prov. d'Ávila, 1542 — Ubeda, 1591), founder (with St. Teresa) of the Discalced Carmelites, doctor of mystic theology, Christianity, Catholicism
Source : Ascent of Mount Carmel. Trans. E. Allison Peers, Book 2, Chapter 5, Paragraph 3  

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If a man is to enter this Divine union, all that lives in his soul must die, both little and much, small and great, and that the soul must be without desire for all this, and detached from it, even as though it existed not for the soul, neither the soul for it.




Quote n° 3467 : , (Fontiveros, prov. d'Ávila, 1542 — Ubeda, 1591), founder (with St. Teresa) of the Discalced Carmelites, doctor of mystic theology, Christianity, Catholicism
Source : Ascent of Mount Carmel. Trans. E. Allison Peers, Book 1, Chapter 11, Paragraph 8  

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In order to arrive at having pleasure in everything, Desire to have pleasure in nothing. In order to arrive at possessing everything, Desire to possess nothing. In order to arrive at being everything, Desire to be nothing. In order to arrive at knowing everything, Desire to know nothing.




Quote n° 3466 : , (Fontiveros, prov. d'Ávila, 1542 — Ubeda, 1591), founder (with St. Teresa) of the Discalced Carmelites, doctor of mystic theology, Christianity, Catholicism
Source : Ascent of Mount Carmel. Trans. E. Allison Peers, Book 1, Chapter 13, Paragraph 11  

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This perfection consists in voiding and stripping and purifying the soul of every desire.




Quote n° 3465 : , (Fontiveros, prov. d'Ávila, 1542 — Ubeda, 1591), founder (with St. Teresa) of the Discalced Carmelites, doctor of mystic theology, Christianity, Catholicism
Source : Ascent of Mount Carmel. Trans. E. Allison Peers, Book 1, Chapter 5, Paragraph 6  

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For even as the visual faculty, by means of light, is nourished and fed by objects which can be seen, and which, when the light is quenched, are not seen, even so, by means of the desire, the soul is nourished and fed by all things wherein it can take pleasure according to its faculties; and, when this also is quenched, or rather, mortified, the soul ceases to feed upon the pleasure of all things, and thus, with respect to its desire, it remains unoccupied and in darkness. … So that the soul that has denied and thrust away from itself the pleasures which come from all these things, and has mortified its desire with respect to them, may be said to be, as it were, in the darkness of night, which is naught else than an emptiness within itself of all things.

We call this detachment night to the soul, for we are not treating here of the lack of things, since this implies no detachment on the part of the soul if it has a desire for them; but we are treating of the detachment from them of the taste and desire, for it is this that leaves the soul free and void of them, although it may have them; for it is not the things of this world that either occupy the soul or cause it harm, since they enter it not, but rather the will and desire for them, for it is these that dwell within it.




Quote n° 3464 : , (Fontiveros, prov. d'Ávila, 1542 — Ubeda, 1591), founder (with St. Teresa) of the Discalced Carmelites, doctor of mystic theology, Christianity, Catholicism
Source : Ascent of Mount Carmel. Trans. E. Allison Peers, Book 1, Chapter 3, Paragraph 1-2, 4  

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It is clear that the desires weary and fatigue the soul; for they are like restless and discontented children, who are ever demanding this or that from their mother, and are never contented. And even as one that digs because he covets a treasure is wearied and fatigued, even so is the soul wearied and fatigued in order to attain that which its desires demand of it; and although in the end it may attain it, it is still weary, because it is never satisfied




Quote n° 3463 : , (Fontiveros, prov. d'Ávila, 1542 — Ubeda, 1591), founder (with St. Teresa) of the Discalced Carmelites, doctor of mystic theology, Christianity, Catholicism
Source : Ascent of Mount Carmel. Trans. E. Allison Peers, Book 1, Chapter 6, Paragraph 6  

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Even as vapours darken the air and allow not the bright sun to shine; or as a mirror that is clouded over cannot receive within itself a clear image; or as water defiled by mud reflects not the visage of one that looks therein; even so the soul that is clouded by the desires is darkened in the understanding and allows neither the sun of natural reason nor that of the supernatural Wisdom of God to shine upon it and illumine it clearly.




Quote n° 3462 : , (Fontiveros, prov. d'Ávila, 1542 — Ubeda, 1591), founder (with St. Teresa) of the Discalced Carmelites, doctor of mystic theology, Christianity, Catholicism
Source : Ascent of Mount Carmel. Trans. E. Allison Peers, Book 1, Chapter 8, Paragraph 1  

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In order to reach the summit of this high mount, (the soul) must have changed its garments (resulting in) a new understanding of God in God, the old human understanding being cast aside; and a new love of God in God, the will being now stripped of all its old desires and human pleasures, and the soul being brought into a new state of knowledge and profound delight, all other old images and forms of knowledge having been cast away, and all that belongs to the old man, which is the aptitude of the natural self, quelled, and the soul clothed with a new supernatural aptitude with respect to all its faculties. So that its operation, which before was human, has become Divine, which is that that is attained in the state of union, wherein the soul becomes naught else than an altar whereon God is adored in praise and love, and God alone is upon it …




Quote n° 3461 : , (Fontiveros, prov. d'Ávila, 1542 — Ubeda, 1591), founder (with St. Teresa) of the Discalced Carmelites, doctor of mystic theology, Christianity, Catholicism
Source : Ascent of Mount Carmel. Trans. E. Allison Peers, Book 1, Chapter 5, Paragraph 7  

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Among all created things, and things that can be apprehended by the understanding, there is no ladder whereby the understanding can attain to this high Lord.




Quote n° 3460 : , (Fontiveros, prov. d'Ávila, 1542 — Ubeda, 1591), founder (with St. Teresa) of the Discalced Carmelites, doctor of mystic theology, Christianity, Catholicism
Source : Ascent of Mount Carmel. Trans. E. Allison Peers, Book 2, Chapter 8, Paragraph 7  

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In order to come to union with the wisdom of God, the soul has to proceed rather by unknowing than by knowing…




Quote n° 3459 : , (Fontiveros, prov. d'Ávila, 1542 — Ubeda, 1591), founder (with St. Teresa) of the Discalced Carmelites, doctor of mystic theology, Christianity, Catholicism
Source : Ascent of Mount Carmel. Trans. E. Allison Peers, Book 1, Chapter 4, Paragraph 5  

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And thus at this time the soul also suffers great darkness in the understanding, many aridities and afflictions in the will, and grievous knowledge of its miseries in the memory, for the eye of its spiritual self-knowledge is very bright. And in its substance the soul suffers profoundly from its poverty and abandonment.
Now, since this is the remedy and medicine that God gives to the soul for its many infirmities, that he may bring it health, the soul must needs suffer in the purgation and remedy, according to the nature of its sickness. For here its heart is laid upon the coals, so that every kind of evil spirit is driven away from it; and here its infirmities are continually brought to light and are laid bare before its eyes that it may feel them, and then they are cured. And that which aforetime was hidden and set deep within the soul is now seen and felt by it, in the light and heat of the fire, whereas aforetime it saw nothing. Even so, in the water and smoke that the fire drives out of wood are seen the humidity and the frigidity that it had aforetime, though this was realized by none. But now, being brought near to this flame, the soul clearly sees and feels its miseries, for - oh, wonderful thing! - there arise within it contraries against contraries against contraries, some of which, as the philosophers say, bring the others to light; and they make war in the soul, striving to expel each other in order that they may reign within it.
God, who is all perfection, wars against all the imperfect habits of the soul, and, purifying the soul with the heat of his flame, he uproots its habits from it, and prepares it, so that at last he may enter it and be united with it by his sweet, peaceful, and glorious love, as is the fire when it has entered the wood.




Quote n° 2847 : , (Fontiveros, prov. d'Ávila, 1542 — Ubeda, 1591), founder (with St. Teresa) of the Discalced Carmelites, doctor of mystic theology, Christianity, Catholicism
Source : Saint John of the Cross, taken from Saint John of the Cross: Poems, translated by Willis Barnstone (New York: New Directions, 1972).  

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Before this Divine fire of love is introduced into the substance of the soul, and is united with it, by means of a purity and purgation that is perfect and complete, this flame is wounding the soul, and destroying and consuming in it the imperfections of its evil habits; and this is the operation of the Holy Spirit, wherein he prepares it for Divine union and the transformation of its substance in God through love.




Quote n° 2846 : , (Fontiveros, prov. d'Ávila, 1542 — Ubeda, 1591), founder (with St. Teresa) of the Discalced Carmelites, doctor of mystic theology, Christianity, Catholicism
Source : Saint John of the Cross, taken from Saint John of the Cross: Poems, translated by Willis Barnstone (New York: New Directions, 1972).  

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