The search for the truth of God and man does not prevent the Christian from being open to the world around him. In this respect, we can affirm that John of the Cross is a model of a Christian in dialogue, a man of cultural breadth who expresses well that openness proper to the men and women of his native region of Castilla in the era in which he lived, Spain’s Golden Age. For this reason, the Saint of Fontíveros has universal stature, as attested by the diffusion of his writings, translated into the major languages, and which are the object of study and research from the most varied fields of human knowledge and religious and humanistic culture.
And it is precisely the world of culture that is the recipient of one of the messages of St. John of the Cross, especially for his homeland. In our day, there is a risk of dissociating faith from culture, making the field of modern culture impenetrable to the values and language of faith, as if there were an unbridgeable gap between the two. On the other hand, today there is a danger – of which many people in Spanish society are also aware – of passing off as genuine cultural values a whole series of behaviors that are not in harmony with the dignity of the person, trying to impose attitudes which, being far removed from the Christian conception of life, can never be authentically human.
Such attitudes do not correspond to your most genuine cultural tradition, which has other imperishable values and other human riches. This is demonstrated by the cultural program that has found praiseworthy expression in Castilla y León in the exhibition “The Ages of Man”, which is having so much impact: ages of man that bear the marks of God and have left an indelible mark on the culture of your land and your people.
Saint John Paul II
Speech to the Planning Commission (excerpt)
IV Centenary of the death of St. John of the Cross
Friday, 16 November 1990
Featured image: The Vision of Saint John of the Cross is an oil on canvas painting executed by Jacob van Oost the Younger (Flemish, 1639-1713) in the 17th century. It is located in Saint Maurice Church in Lille, France, a former Discalced Carmelite parish.