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Memorial of St. John of the Cross

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Carmelite monk

St. John of the Cross (1542-1591) was a faithful priest and a faithful friend. Though we honor him as a doctor of the church and poet, he made many enemies among the Carmelites of his day. A Carmelite monastery in the 16th century could be a kind of men’s club with daily prayer. But John, like his sister Carmelite, St.Teresa of Avila, had a vision of a radical Christian life. He wanted to give up everything, like Andrew and Peter laying down their nets on the seashore, and follow Christ.

Teresa asked John to become the spiritual director of the Carmelite nuns at Avila, where she lived. It marked the beginning of an enduring friendship. They consoled and encouraged one another.

Pregnant Mary by Eichenberg

Honor John today by reading one of his poems. We recommend this one for Advent:

If you want, the Virgin will come walking down the road
pregnant with the holy, and say,
“I need shelter for the night,
please take me inside your heart, my time is so close.”
Then, under the roof of your soul,
you will witness the sublime intimacy,
the divine, the Christ, taking birth forever,
as she grasps your hand for help,
for each of us is the midwife of God, each of us.
Yes there, under the dome of your being
does creation come into existence eternally,
through your womb, dear pilgrim – the sacred womb of your soul,
as God grasps our arms for help:
for each of us is his beloved servant, never far.
If you want, the Virgin will come walking down the street
pregnant with Light and sing.