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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The scientist of prayer
Yes, John of the Cross is hard to read. I have not read all translations, and have it in mind as a project, but I don't expect ever to take a book by him to the beach for a quick, entertaining read.
What John is, and the reason he is still read and studied and, in fact, treasured, is a scientist of prayer. If you are genuinely determined to climb Mt. Carmel, to...
Published on Oct. 30 2002 by Janet Knori

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3.0 out of 5 stars Good experience
The book arrived speedily and in good order. I haven't had time yet to dig into it, but look forward to doing that soon. The quality of the book is basic.
Published 6 months ago by Bruce Lungren


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The scientist of prayer, Oct. 30 2002
By 
Janet Knori (Eugene, OR USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Yes, John of the Cross is hard to read. I have not read all translations, and have it in mind as a project, but I don't expect ever to take a book by him to the beach for a quick, entertaining read.
What John is, and the reason he is still read and studied and, in fact, treasured, is a scientist of prayer. If you are genuinely determined to climb Mt. Carmel, to pray and live your way into God, you need to read and re-read John. Like the Gospels, his work is dense and allusive, and full of layer upon layer of meaning. It is well to read present day authors who write about his work, too. But by no means should you leave him aside in your search for information and inspiration. There is no one else like him. He is the real thing.
review by Janet Knori, author of Awakening in God
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars watershed in ascetical and mystical theology, Aug. 8 2002
By 
los desaparecidos (Makati City, Philippines) - See all my reviews
St. John of the Cross is unique in the history of Western mysticism. Before St. John of the Cross, at least ten centuries witness the development of ascetical and mystical theology without attaining the totality for which St. John of the Cross is justly celebrated. He achieves this wholeness because in his own life he manifests the ascent of Mount Carmel of which he speaks, the journey of the soul from departure to purgation to union with God in the perfection that precedes the immediate entry of the soul into eternal beatitude. Only too well does the Catholic Church assign St. John of the Cross the title of Mystical Doctor, "Doctor Mysticis." In the centuries that follow, the Church may honor great mystics--we may note, for example, the contemporary friar, Padre Pio, who has been graced with the sublime epithet of the "second St. Francis"--yet it must be argued that no one since St. John of the Cross has united to the same extent such a holy life with lofty theology.
What I would like to do is to highlight this work as a watershed in ascetical and mystical theology. There are important antecedents. The pattern of spiritual life as a journey toward God in progressively higher stages of perfection is found in the writings of the early Orthodox Church, for example, St. Isaac the Syrian. The Greek Fathers in particular are significant in developing the theology of negation or apophatic theology to which St. John of the Cross is indebted. As the High Middle Ages approaches, there takes place a flowering in individual mysticism, notably, beginning with the ardent intimations of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, then culminating in the charming, to some extent legendary accounts of St. Francis of Assisi. In the second Founder of the Franciscans, St. Bonaventure, we come across a more developed statement of ascetical and mystical life as it progresses in three stages--purgative, illuminative, and unitive. By the time we reach the Late Middle Ages, we find a mature statement of ascetical and mystical theology in England and the Low Countries, exemplified by Bl. John Ruysbroeck, The Seven Steps of the Ladder of Spiritual Love, with which St. John of the Cross was no doubt at least acquainted. None of these mystics, however, have had the same lasting impact on later generations as St. John of the Cross.
To the present day, an understanding of St. John of the Cross is a necessary part of the training of spiritual directors, even those who do not follow directly in the Carmelite tradition. This universal application bespeaks the clarity, accuracy, and depth by which he outlines the essential features of the soul's journey toward God. With St. John of the Cross, the spiritual director is provided with an impeccable map of the spiritual life. Purgation is indispensable, not merely of the senses, but above all, of the spirit. Divine union entails the unmitigated cleansing of the soul. If St. John of the Cross is uncompromising, the reader understands it is only as it should be. Hence, the famous "todo y nada" found in the Ascent of Mount Carmel, another important work:
Para venir a gustarlo todo,
no quieras tener gusto en nada;
para venir a poseerlo todo,
no quieras poseer algo en nada.
To reach satisfaction in all
desire its possession in nothing.
To come to possess all
desire the possession of nothing.
The Dark Night of the Soul further derives its power from the testimony of St. John of the Cross' life. Indeed, his life reads like his poetry.
In the quiet of sleeping hours, we see his pilgrim soul hearkening to the delicate call of religious life.
On a dark night,
Kindled in love with yearnings--oh, happy chance!--
I went forth without being observed,
My house being now at rest.
In his windowless 6' x 10' cell, imprisoned, abused, abased, hauled out every so often for public flogging by his brothers in religion, we see him crafting the exquisite lyrics by which he celebrates his divine transformation.
Oh, night that guided me,
Oh, night more lovely than the dawn,
Oh, night that joined Beloved with lover,
Lover transformed in the Beloved!
Ulcers afflicting his legs and back, we see him lying in his cell in destitution, abjection, and mortal distress, interiorly rapt in eager anticipation of his final union with God.
I remained, lost in oblivion;
My face I reclined on the Beloved.
All ceased and I abandoned myself,
Leaving my cares forgotten among the lilies.
St. John of the Cross is the paragon of Spanish Catholicism at its finest--fiery, soaring, impassioned, unconditional, all-consuming.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good experience, Sept. 29 2013
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This review is from: Dark Night of the Soul (Paperback)
The book arrived speedily and in good order. I haven't had time yet to dig into it, but look forward to doing that soon. The quality of the book is basic.
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5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT book, June 10 2013
By 
opinions4u - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: Dark Night of the Soul (Paperback)
This isn't just a book by or for saints, it's a book for EVERYONE and should be read by all. Makes things easier to understand when we're going through trials. Has God abandoned you? No! Is He punishing you? No! But He does love all, and there's a reason for everything, including those dark nights we all experience sooner or later.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Very deep and inspirational, April 12 2013
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This review is from: Dark Night of the Soul (Paperback)
Find the language difficult and requires several readings for comprehension but once absorbed it become a life changing force in ones life
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5.0 out of 5 stars Pain and spirituality, Feb. 8 2012
By 
Leanne D. Rickard "Leanne" (Saskatchewan, Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Dark Night of the Soul (Paperback)
This work is a classic in a dense, beautiful, and profound tradition. Anyone who wants to claim that suffering is not intimately linked to the depths and power of faith ought to reread the gospels, and especially Mark's account of Jesus' struggle in Gethsemane, as well as Christ's dying quotation of the Psalmist: "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mystical work of Art., Feb. 23 2002
St. John of the Cross is truly a superb Saint and Mystic. Through his writings You can see how your own spiritual journey may not always be easy. If you are looking for a book that will not only inform you of the dark night, but also give you a self evaluation of your own life, then this is the book for you. In parts it may seem that St. John is peering into your soul and speaking directly to you. The wonderful thing about this book is that no one will have the same experence of it. Everyone who reads it will read it in light of where they are in their own lives. the reflection and thoughts of this Holy man will force you to look inside yourself to find what you need to do to reach the Ultimate union with God. St John of the Cross...Pray For Us!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This is a book you'll want to read twice., Feb. 3 1999
By A Customer
The first time I attempted this book it was beyond me. After I had experienced a great tragedy in my life, however, I was more in tune with what St. John was talking about. Sometimes God must remove all of our props to get us to love Him, rather than the goodies He can give us. This may even include having to undergo a purging of the senses, and long periods of depression. My prayer to God for a long time has been, "Lord, whatever it takes, make me a man of God". Sometimes I have a hard time dealing with the "whatever it takes" part, but it's well worth it. Find a quiet place alone and read this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars beautiful, helpful book by a saintly man, April 28 2004
By 
Carl Johnson (Douglas, WY United States) - See all my reviews
this is a truly inspired book by a saintly man completely led by God. almost obligatory reading for Catholic devout. the only problem i had with this book was the meddlesome effort of the translator and/or editor to undermine the Churchs authority, and Christian truth in general. this book was written by a Christian, and a Catholic at that. a huge undertaking was made here to disgustingly warp that message, and that is unfortunate. if you dont agree with the underlying core of teaching with this book, please dont read it, and more than that dont try to convince others that your own interpretation of the text would be a better understanding than that of the Churchs and a man who is a saint, and professed to be such by the Catholic church.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An eloquent roadmap for excruciating agony, June 2 2004
By 
~St. John of the Cross is certainly not for those who take God as a pretty little ornament to the more superficial aspects of life, the kind of people who behave, more or less, as everyone else does--all the while encouraging those of us who actually think to "pray" in times of trouble with complacent, self assured smiles on their faces and no knowledge whatsoever of the unfathomable depths they refer to.
And he says as much in "the dark night of the soul". It is little more than a~~ novelty for many, but if one takes it's message to heart one realizes that a "dark night" is not a divorce, loss of a job, a bad day (although any of these could be a trigger for the genuine article) but a prolonged crisis of the inward self which either leads to destruction or rebirth.
Contrary to what John says, however, I would say that most of us experience our "dark night" when we are consciously WITHOUT belief in God. The world is a formless void and bare material reality~~ provides no real pleasure because it is essentially vain, paltry and repetitive; only an unbeliever can, paradoxically, have a "dark night of the soul" in any genuine sense. The deprivation of sensory pleasure and general malaise of this time is not all: a pervasive sense of meaninglessness and terror usually accompany the loss of interest in everything. John talks about believers or 'beginners' who search only for petty pleasure in matters of God, and we can apply this to most believers~~ (at least in the United States). "They might as well not practice at all," John says aptly. People going to TM's and Yoga twice a week for 'relaxation' fit neatly into this category. An exploration of the spiritual is not cute or pure encouragement but deep, painful questioning from which we often emerge with deep confusion, or worse, no answers at all. Anyone who has had a period of what one might term "abstract madness" will know precisely what John is describing in his experience~~ of the night: nothing is certain, there is nothing whatsoever ever to lean on, and even if one does go the mile and still believe in God he is a mere word. "Going into hell alive" is being unable to face a day without a million intuitive questions as to it's reality, importance and ultimate significance. Many I know who have been through this experience end up atheists or nihilists. Others have what they call a spiritual awakening. It is, to a certain extent, relative to temperament,~~ pre-existing subjective inclinations, etc. Our most sincere best wishes should not be for those like St. John who came out the other side but remain in the dark night their entire lives, unable to decide within themselves whether there is an eternal reality or benevolent force in the universe or not. THAT is hell, not struggling belief.~
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Dark Night of the Soul
Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross (Paperback - May 9 2003)
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