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By George P. Evans

Accessible biography of John of the Cross that helps readers understand the life and thought of this beloved Carmelite saint.

Saint John of the Cross was a Carmelite priest, poet, theologian, spiritual director, and a leader in his religious order. He became one of the world's foremost experts on the dynamics of making progress in faith, prayer, and love. John lived in our world with his own hopes and worries, stories and struggles, temptations and talents, and in so doing he let God's love fill him. By means of this biography readers will have the opportunity to learn about and perhaps experience God's grace in new ways.

John's early life was characterized by extreme poverty that led to malnutrition. At age 21, he entered a Carmelite monastery; from his few years of study, John advanced a view of the human person as created with the capacity to know and encounter God and grow in greater union with God.

After meeting Teresa of Avila, John began a foundation of reformed Carmelite friars and his life's work became the successful reform of Carmel, but unreformed Carmelites kidnapped John and whisked him away to a community where he was tortured physically and mentally. In the midst of this human harshness, John's awareness of the innocent, life-giving sufferings of Christ crucified led him to a deep trust that divine action was more forcefully at work.

As a poet, John had a deep awareness of images and their impact. He drew his favorite images from his everyday world. Immersing himself in the writings of the spiritual masters, John discovered how powerful images can speak of the Christian's efforts to follow Christ and seek union with God. Four images stand out prominently in his writing: night and its darkness, a log tossed into a flame, a romantic relationship leading to marriage, and a mountain climb. These images would become hallmarks of John's own later acclaimed contributions to Catholic spiritual tradition.