Quote of the day, 12 November: St. John of the Cross

Son, do not let this grieve you, for they cannot take the habit from me save for being incorrigible or disobedient. I am very ready to amend all I may have done wrong and obey in whatever penance they may give me.

St. John of the Cross
Letter 32 to Padre Juan de Santa Ana

Nicolás Doria [the Vicar General of the Discalced Carmelites] called an extraordinary chapter in June 1590 for the purpose of undertaking two controversial moves.

First, he wanted to abandon jurisdiction over the nuns, a reprisal against Madre Ana de Jesús who opposed his plans; Doria had hoped both to make changes in Teresa’s constitutions and to govern the nuns through a body of councilors rather than through one friar appointed to the task.

Second, he proposed the expulsion of Teresa’s close collaborator, Father Jerónimo Gracián, from the Discalced Carmelites. Fray John of the Cross spoke in opposition to both moves.

In the chapter the following year, different councilors were elected to assist Doria, and John remained without an office, a fact that was more a problem for others than for himself.

When the news got about, some began raising strong protests. But John looked at things differently, as he so often did…

“I am very ready to amend all I may have done wrong.” #StJohnOfTheCross #humility #QOTD

Doria, in what seemed a rebuff, sent John of the Cross back into Andalusia, to an isolated monastery called La Peñuela, a solitude like Duruelo or El Calvario.

However, John was to stay there only in preparation for a mission to Mexico where he was to lead a group of 12 friars. He was happy in the solitude, but some ugly maneuverings began to disturb the peace of his friends [including Padre Juan de Santa Ana], whom he had helped as spiritual director, and shattered the impressive silence of La Peñuela.

Fray Diego Evangelista, with bitter resentment against his former superior, was going about threatening and intimidating, trying to gather information against the spiritual friar so as to have him expelled from the Discalced.

“Son, do not let this grieve you, for they cannot take the habit from me save for being incorrigible or disobedient.” #StJohnOfTheCross #humility #QOTD

Fray Diego never had time to proceed far with his designs.

St. John of the Cross receiving treatment in Ubeda for his deadly infection
18th c. Mexican artist José Joaquín Magón depicts St. John of the Cross receiving treatment in Ubeda for his deadly infection, erysipelas. One of the precious art treasures in the Discalced Carmelite Friars’ Church of de Nuestra Señora del Carmen, Puebla, Mexico.

In mid-September John began to suffer a slight fever caused by an inflammation of the leg. Thinking it nothing serious, he paid little attention, but when it persisted he was forced to make the journey to Ubeda for the medical assistance that was unavailable at La Peñuela.

Given the choice between Baeza and Ubeda, he chose Ubeda, “for at Baeza they know me very well, and in Ubeda nobody knows me.” It was the last journey of his life.

Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D.

General Introduction: Biographical Sketch, Final Years

Current roadmap showing the suggested route from La Peñuela, Spain to Úbeda, Spain. The fastest route by car takes 3 hours and 45 minutes.
If the fastest route today is 3 hours and 45 minutes by auto, how long do you suppose it took St. John of the Cross to travel to Ubeda in 1591?

John of the Cross, St. 1991, The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, Revised Edition, translated from the Spanish by Kavanaugh, K and Rodriguez, O with revisions and introductions by Kavanaugh, K, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

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