“Where there is no love, put love, and you will find love.”
As you may have noticed, it was St. John of the Cross who inspired the title of this blog. He has so much to teach those who are discerning their vocation! Over the years, he has had a tremendous influence on my prayer, and during my discernment journey, his poetry has often been the source of great consolation. Perhaps most importantly, he has taught me the true meaning of holy detachment: I seek to empty my heart not for emptiness’ sake, but rather for the sake of Christ, that He might have a dwelling place in me. I strive to love Christ alone not in order to deny my love to others, but rather in order to love them more fully in Christ. I desire to possess nothing – ¡nada! – because of an even greater desire to possess the Beloved.
If you’re interested in becoming a student of this great Doctor of the Church, be sure to begin with a good introduction to his work. Too many well-meaning people begin reading St. John without being introduced to him in the proper way, and without the necessary background, they often misunderstand his most crucial teachings. For starters, I would recommend the following books:
- The Impact of God: Soundings from St. John of the Cross by Iain Matthew (This book definitely has a place in my Top 10 Books for Spiritual Reading. Like Story of a Soul and Happy Are You Poor, it really did change my life!)
- Fire Within by Fr. Thomas Dubay, SM (All of Fr. Dubay’s books are fantastic, but this one is particularly helpful as a school of contemplative prayer.)
- The Poems of St. John of the Cross translated by W. Barnstone (I love how this volume presents the Spanish and English on facing pages. The sound and feeling of St. John’s Spanish is practically impossible to translate, but Barnstone has made an impressive attempt to capture the sense of the original poems.)
St. John of the Cross, pray for us!