Doctor of the Church
† His father was disinherited because he married a woman from a lower class.
† His father died after three children were born, John the youngest. His mother was left destitute with her three children.
† He was taken in at a school for the poor where they tried to teach him how to become a weaver. He was not good at weaving, so then he was moved to a hospital where he would serve the governor. He stayed there for some time while simultaneously attending the Jesuit college nearby.
† He became a third order Carmelite (for lay persons) when he was 21. He took on the challenge of adhering to the stricter form for Carmelites. He wanted to remain a lay person, but those in charge convinced him to become an ordained priest. When he was 25, he became a priest.
† He came into contact with St. Teresa of Avila who asked him to begin a reformed Carmelite order (discalced) for men. This he took on eagerly.
† A couple of months after beginning this new course, he lost all sensible consolation from the Holy Spirit. With this spiritual dryness, he encountered interior troubles of the mind, scruples, and a strong distaste for any spiritual exercise. He was also feeling temptations for all sorts of things. On top of that, men began to ruin his reputation with gossip.
† On the other hand, there were many religious and secular people looking for direction from him specifically. Tensions rose between the two Carmelite orders because of his and St. Teresa of Avila’s spiritual favors and charisma.
† Confusion and errors arose in both orders. Since the Pope had told John to lead this new order, he did not want to leave, but part of the Carmelite order told him to return to his old job. Since he refused to leave, armed men carried him away to another town. There they tried to get him to renounce the reform. Since he would not, they put him in a small, dark cell.
† He was beaten by someone from the Spanish Inquisition. After nine months, he found a way to escape.
† Since there were still tensions as to who could lead the reform and how the reform was going to take place in the order, John removed himself to work on writing about his relationship with God.
† He was moved several times, was taken ill and beaten, and had many people who did not like him, but through it all, he grew in union with God.
Works by St. John of the Cross (considered to be one of Spain’s greatest poets): poetry, The Sayings of Light and Love, The Ascent of Mount Carmel, The Dark Night of the Soul, The Spiritual Canticle, The Living Flame of Love…
see “Authentic Masculinity, Lived” for references