Quote of the day: 21 September

Tarde de tormenta en Úbeda
Tarde de tormenta en Úbeda | Juan de la Obra / Flickr

 

To Doña Ana del Mercado y Peñalosa

Jesus be in your soul, my daughter in Christ

I received here in La Peñuela the packet of letters the servant brought me. I greatly appreciate your concern.

Tomorrow I am going to Ubeda for the cure of a slight bout of fever [probably erysipelas]. Since it has been returning each day now for more than a week and does not leave me, it seems I shall need the help of medicine. Yet I plan to return here immediately, for I am indeed very happy in this holy solitude. And thus in regard to what you said about being careful not to accompany Padre Fray Antonio, be sure that in this matter and in all else that may require it, I shall be as cautious as possible.

I am very happy to know that Señor Don Luis [Doña Ana’s brother] is now a priest of the Lord. May he be so for many years and may His Majesty fulfill the desires of his soul. Oh, how blessed a state this is for leaving aside cares and speedily enriching the soul! Congratulate him for me. I dare not ask him that he might some day remember me at the sacrifice of the Mass, and I as a debtor will ever remember him. Even though I am forgetful, I will not be able to forget him, since he is so close to his sister whom I always remember.

Greetings in the Lord to my daughter Doña Inés [Doña Ana’s niece]. And may both of you pray God to prepare me that he may bring me to himself. I cannot think of any more to write now and I am also closing on account of the fever, for I would like to write at greater length.

From La Peñuela, September 21, 1591
Fray John of the Cross

You say nothing about the lawsuit, whether it is being tried or still to come up.


Letter 31 to Doña Ana del Mercado y Peñalosa, the “sister whom I always remember”, is the laywoman and directee for whom St. John of the Cross wrote the Living Flame of Love. This would be his last letter to her.

 

Kavanaugh, K, Rodriguez, O & John of the Cross 1991, The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

Jesus be in your soul.

Although I have sent a letter by way of Baeza concerning the outcome of my journey, I am happy that these two servants of Señor Don Francisco are passing because of the opportunity it affords of sending these lines, which I am more certain will reach you.

I mentioned in the other letter how I desire to remain in this desert of La Peñuela, where I arrived about nine days ago and which is about six leagues north of Baeza. I like it very much, glory to God, and I am well. The vastness of the desert is a great help to the soul and body, although the soul fares very poorly. The Lord must be desiring that it have its spiritual desert. Well and good if it be for his service; His Majesty already knows what we are of ourselves. I don’t know how long this will last, for Father Fray Antonio de Jesús threatens from Baeza that he will not leave me here for long. Be that as it may, for in the meanwhile I am well off without knowing anything, and the life of the desert is admirable.

This morning we have already returned from gathering our chickpeas, and so the mornings go by. On another day we shall thresh them. It is nice to handle these mute creatures, better than being badly handled by living ones. God grant that I may stay here. Pray for this, my daughter. But even though I am so happy here, I would not fail to come should you desire.

Take care of your soul and do not confess scruples or first movements or imaginings in which the soul does not desire to be detained. Look after your health, and do not fail to pray when you can.

I already mentioned in the other letter, though this one will reach you first, that you can write to me by way of Baeza since they have mail service there. You can address the letters to the Discalced Fathers in Baeza; I have notified them to send the letters on to me.
Regards to Señor Don Luis and to my daughter, Doña Inés.

May God give you his Spirit as I desire. Amen.

From La Peñuela, August 19, 1591
Fray John of the Cross

[Letter 28 to Doña Ana del Mercado y Peñalosa]


Saint John of the Cross wrote Letter 28 to Doña Ana “about nine days” after he arrived from Segovia. Translator and editor Father Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. notes that it was for Doña Ana that John of the Cross wrote The Living Flame of Love. Read more about Saint John’s stay in La Peñuela here.

 

pasture near La Peñuela dehesa jiennense rufo_83 flickr
Pasture near La Carolina at the El Centenillo junction, near the location of the desert of La Peñuela | Dehesa Jiennense | rufo_83 / Flickr

 

Kavanaugh, K, Rodriguez, O & John of the Cross 1991, The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, ICS Publications, Washington DC.
Crossroads between Centenillo and La Carolina, Jaen, Andalucia 14513925649_9c136c4e49_o rufo_83 Flickr
This dehesa, a type of pastureland or meadow typical of the Iberian peninsula, is located near the road that leads from La Carolina to Centenillo in the province of Jaén. It was in this region where the convent of la Peñuela was located at the time of St. John of the Cross. | rufo_83 / Flickr

 

God desires the least degree of obedience and submissiveness more than all those services you think of rendering him.

Saint John of the Cross
Sayings of Light and Love, No. 13

 

On 10 August 1591 Saint John of the Cross transferred from the friars’ convent in Segovia to the solitude of La Peñuela, where at last he was relieved of all offices in the order; once again he was a humble friar, forgotten, despised, and neglected… as he had always desired.

His superior was the Provincial, Father Antonio de Jesús, with whom he had begun the reform under the guidance of Saint Teresa many years earlier in their humble abode in Duruelo.

Although John was able to pray gloriously in the solitude of rocks and forest, difficulties lay ahead; within weeks he would develop erysipelas, a skin infection on his foot that would lead to septicemia. By December, consumed by penances, trials, and his disease, Saint John of the Cross would be dead.

[Source: El médico interactivoEfemérides Carmelitanas]

 

Kavanaugh, K, Rodriguez, O & John of the Cross 1991, The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

Advent 9: Desert

I mentioned in the other letter how I desire to remain in this desert of La Peñuela, where I arrived about nine days ago and which is about six leagues north of Baeza. I like it very much, glory to God, and I am well. The vastness of the desert is a great help to the soul and body, although the soul fares very poorly. The Lord must be desiring that it have its spiritual desert. Well and good if it be for his service; His Majesty already knows what we are of ourselves. I don’t know how long this will last, for Father Fray Antonio de Jesús threatens from Baeza that he will not leave me here for long. Be that as it may, for in the meanwhile I am well off without knowing anything, and the life of the desert is admirable.

Letter 28

 

jeremy-liew-339290-unsplash
Wadi Rum, Jordan | Photo by Jeremy Liew on Unsplash

 

Allí decía cómo me había querido quedar en este desierto de La Peñuela, seis leguas más acá de Baeza, donde habrá nueve días que llegué. Y me hallo muy bien, gloria al Señor, y estoy bueno; que la anchura del desierto ayuda mucho al alma y al cuerpo, aunque el alma muy pobre anda. Debe querer el Señor que el alma también tenga su desierto espiritual. Sea muy enhorabuena como él más fuere servido; que ya sabe Su Majestad lo que somos de nuestro. No sé lo que me durará, porque el P. Fray Antonio de Jesús, desde Baeza, me amenaza diciendo que me dejarán por acá poco. Sea lo que fuere, que, en tanto, bien me hallo sin saber nada, y el ejercicio del desierto es admirable.

Epistolario: 28

 

Letters: Letter 28 to Doña Ana del Mercado y Peñalosa, in Granada; sent from La Peñuela, August 19, 1591
The Collected Works of Saint John of the Cross, Revised Edition
Translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. and Otilio Rodriguez, O.C.D.
With Revisions and Introductions by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D.
ICS Publications
Copyright © 1976 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc.

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