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This study of St. John of the Cross is a companion volume to Professor Allison Peers' portrait of St. Teresa of Jesus. It is written for those making their first acquaintance with one of the greatest Christian mystics, and particularly for those who have neither the time nor the training to study the three large volumes of the complete works of St. John of the Cross. Although it was first published more than thirty years ago, the comments made when it first appeared confirm its reputation as a spiritual classic. ...
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This study of St. John of the Cross is a companion volume to Professor Allison Peers' portrait of St. Teresa of Jesus. It is written for those making their first acquaintance with one of the greatest Christian mystics, and particularly for those who have neither the time nor the training to study the three large volumes of the complete works of St. John of the Cross. Although it was first published more than thirty years ago, the comments made when it first appeared confirm its reputation as a spiritual classic. 'Certainly the best beginner's guide to St. John ever written. . And there is much in it, too, which the advanced student will read with profit and delight. The Marne of Professor Peers' title is in all his pages' (The Tablet). 'A rare and exquisite piece of spiritual biography' (Christian World). 'Matter for real delight and gratitude' (Theology). 'Scholarly, clear and full of feeling, and shows a fine appreciation of the Saint both as a poet and as a Christian' (The Observer).
Principal Abbreviations xiii
Part I The Mystic in Sixteenth-Century Spain
I Early Life 3
Birth and antecedents
School and University
Meeting with St. Teresa
The first Discalced friars.
II From Duruelo to Avila 19
Life at Duruelo
Removal to Mancera
Pastrana, Alcalá and Ávila
Relations between St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross.
III Prison 34
Growth of dissensions between the Observance and the Reform
St. John of the Cross kidnapped and imprisoned at Toledo
Poems written in prison
First stanzas of "Spiritual Canticle"
IV Beas and Monte Calvario 57
Journey to Andalusia
"Dark Night" and its commentary, The Ascent of Mount Carmel.
V Baeza and Granada 70
Conclusion of "Spiritual Canticle": commentary on the poem
Dark Night of the Soul
"Living Flame of Love" and its commentary.
VI Last Days 87
Gracián and Doria
St. John of the Cross at Segovia
The Madrid Chapter: the Saint deprived of his offices
La Peñuela and Úbeda
VII Character 101
The Saint's character
A man of God
The Saint as a ruler of men
His lifework: the training of contemplatives
As a speaker: his eloquence that of love
Consideration for others
Resoluteness and austerity
Human traits: love of music and of Nature
The man in his letters: a life moulded by love.
Part II The Mystic and the World of To-Day
I Uniqueness of St. John of The Cross 121
St. John of the Cross has been described as unique, and is perhaps comparable only with St. Augustine and with Blessed John Ruys-broeck
His uniqueness is seen (i) in the unity, range and method of his work: (ii) in its intense subjectivity, which underlies an objectivity of form; (iii) in the variety of his attainments.
II The Poets' Poet 135
The Saint as a poet, in verse and in prose
A poet's poet
III The Mystics' Mystic 148
The Saint as a mystic
as "the mystics' mystic"
Others, however, can profit by reading him: he writes primarily, but not solely, for contemplatives
What message, if any, has he for the world of to-day?
IV Stumbling-Blocks (I) 154
To the formal, half-hearted Christian he makes no appeal at all
The genuine follower of Christ is at first repelled by: (i) the divergence of his standards from those of popular Christianity, (ii) his detachment from both material and spiritual things; (iii) his uncompromising conception of supposed insistence on physical penance; (iv) his supposed indifference to the good of others; (v) his teaching on passivity and on the transformation of the soul in God.
V Stumbling-Blocks (II) 176
To these objections it may be replied that, if measured by the standards of Holy Scripture, it is popular Christianity, not St. John of the Cross, that will be found wanting
His doctrine of the Being of God; his "hard sayings"; his views on aids to devotion; his language on transformation
His teaching on detachment: not meant for all; detachment is a means to an end; all creature-affections are not condemned.
VI Attractiveness of his Teaching 199
Attractiveness of the Saint's teaching to the Christian of today: (i) he restores a sense of Divine transcendence; (ii) he is a realist and presents things as they are; (iii) his severity is wholesome and bracing; (iv) he certifies us of the possibilities of Union; (v) he holds up to us high ideals.