Wednesday, December 14, 2011

St John of the Cross


Today is the feast of St John of the Cross - Patris nostri, confessoris, atque Ecclesiæ Doctoris - in the Carmelite Order. He is considered one of the co-founders of the Discalced Carmelite Order.

There is a short collection of essays and articles here on St John that has much of interest. Did you know that he was apprenticed as a carpenter and stone-mason? He kept in practice throughout his monastic career and "spent more time building monasteries for the friars, and helping the nuns set up a wall here or a room there, than he did writing books. He spent more hours serving the poor souls who came to him than he did in the library."

The old Catholic Encyclopædia, as usual, has a fine life of St John here.

The old Matins hymn for his feast:

O John, rejoice this hallowed day
The triumpoh of the Cross to hail,
Whereon with Christ 'twas thine to stay,
Transfixed with pang of spear and nail!

Nor insults, scorn, nor cruel scourge,
Bondage, nor hunger can restrain
The love thy panting soul doth urge
To taste the bitter draught of pain.

Thine only joy, thy sole reward,
The boon for which thy spirit sighed,
To mirror here thy suffering Lord,
Like Him in anguish crucified.

While thou dost search the mystic night,
Through darkness gleams a radiant star,
And Carmel's camp is all alight,
With flame that leads to heights afar.

Let them that dwell in bliss above
Praise Thee, O Christ, with joyful lay,
Let them that run to Thee in love
Pursue, like John, the thorn-strewn way.
[-from Saints of Carmel: Proper Offices of the Saints Granted to the Barefooted Carmelites, Boston, 1896]

And the collect for his feast:

Deus, qui sanctum Ioannem Confessorem tuum atque Doctorem, Patrem nostrum, perfectæ sui abnegationis, et crucis amatorem eximium effecisti: concede; ut, eius imitationi iugiter inhærentes, gloriam assequamur æternam. Per Dominum nostrum. Amen.

O God, who didst give to blessed John, thy Confessor and Doctor, grace to shew forth a singular love of perfect self-denial and of bearing thy Cross: grant, we beseech thee; that we, cleaving stedfastly to his pattern, may attain to everlasting glory. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.