Tuesday Third Week Advent Mass and Reflections St John Of The Cross

Mass readings for today are here
Today the church celebratesThe Memorial of Saint John of the Cross, (St Juan del la Cruz), priest and doctor of the Church 1542- 1597.

The phrase dark night of the soul comes from this Spanish mystic and poet. 

John was a member of the discalced (without shoes) religious order or Carmelites, and along with St Teresa of Avila, tried to reform the order. 
Many were against reform and he was imprisoned in a monastery at Toledo for nine months, during which he wrote a series of remarkable poems.  Seven poems can be found here

This poem is my own tribute to this remarkable man



You’re a saint now John.
You found your place in the sun,
but I often wonder if you’d be more at ease
sitting in the darkness,
just singing the blues.

Your discalced order
kicked off their shoes.
You don’t need shoes
when you’re singing the blues.

St Juan de la Cruz,
you could be Jack Kerouac’s muse,
out on the road,
singing the blues.

You’re a saint now John.
You have paid your dues.
You’re the patron saint for those
with nothing left to lose.

You’re a saint now John,
all your dark nights have gone,
but if asked, you can never refuse,
to give your reasons for
singing those blues.

You’re a saint now John,
and though you’ve long gone,
your point of view still rings true,
to those of us left who can’t but help
singing those dark night blues.


"Let us be silent that we may hear the whisper of God." -- R.W. Emerson

Two videos based on writings of St John of The Cross

Christ of St John of the Cross by Salvador Dali (1904-1989).
Dali created this painting in the summer of 1951 at Port Lligat in Spain. It is a reworking of a drawing of the Crucifixion believed to have been made by Saint John of the Cross.

When bought by Glasgow Art Gallery in 1952 there was widespread condemnation. People cried out that it was insulting and frivolous. One critic described it as "sensationalist trickery". However, when the painting was put on display 50,000 people went to see it in the first two months.

Journalists responding to this phenomenon reported that a wide cross section of people went to see it, including "shop girls and students" ! One observer wrote "Men entering the room where the picture is hung instinctively take off their hats. Crowds of chattering, high spirited school children are hushed into awed silence when they see it."

The picture is shocking, and it is strange. `the viewer is not looking up as usual at the pained face of the crucified Christ. We are looking down-from above-at the body which hovers above and over the world. Christ is present and yet he is distant. This is a cosmic image of Christ crucified.

Although we can't see the face of Christ contorted in pain, we can see the body and it is a  beautiful, well lit and strong image. 

Dali said "My principal preoccupation was that my Christ would be beautiful as the God that he is." There is a transcendent aspect to this picture- we are constantly reassured that God the creator is present.


Anonymous said...

John of the Cross...a very special mystic. Truly a man of God. Love your poem, Phil. I also love the friendship between him and Teresa of Avila. Thanks for all of this.

Philomena Ewing said...

Hi Andie,
Great to have you visit.
Yes, I like these two very much along with Clair and St Francis.

Definitely on my dinner guest list !!
I can imagine the conversation would be sparkling.