Tuesday, 14 December 2010

A True Christian Hero - St. John of the Cross

It is difficult to believe that St. John of the Cross was incarcerated in a room not much bigger than a walk-in wardrobe for around nine months! If that kind of thing happened today there would be an immediate outcry and we would hear the word "torture" mentioned.

When I was at seminary and in the years following my ordination (the 70's and 80's) it was not unusual to pick up spiritual reading which spoke of people going through the "Dark night of the soul". Some wise priest (I forget who) eventually poured scorn on much of this. Largely through the Church's love affair with psychology and psychotherapy - especially in the U.S. - during the 70's, the Carmelite charism at times got mixed up with Karl Jung (in spite of his occult connections!) and the so-called "dark night" became associated with everything from a desert experience to an anxiety attack. Hopefully we have moved on since then. I doubt that anyone reading the life of this saint, and realising where the "dark night" came from would have the courage to claim that he or she was going through something similar! Those who want the fame of having passed through the "dark night" need to know what comes before it, and it is certainly not about giving up chocolates or having a bad-hair day!


  1. Good post Father. I never knew that about Karl Jung etc. I've posted him up on my blog too. I was introduced to his writings by David from TLIG. His language is quite somber but once I got over that it was a good read. Very good book - Dark night of the soul - for someone who is finding it difficult to get a spiritual director.

    I definitely cannot claim to have passed through the dark night thats for sure.

    Pax et bonum.

  2. "If that kind of thing happened today there would be an immediate outcry and we would hear the word 'torture' mentioned."

    Unless psychiatry claimed they were doing a treatment.

  3. Father, you mentioned the Church's love of psychotherapy during the 70s. This reminded me of the disturbing testimony of a contrite Catholic psychologist, Dr William Coulson speaking to Dr William Marra in the early 90s. The testimony is entitled 'We overcame their Traditions, we overcame their faith' which says it all.