December 14: St. John of the Cross

Published December 14, 2015 by Unprodigal Daughter

Monday

“I did not know you, My Lord, because I still desired to know and relish things.” -St. John of the Cross

Today is the memorial of St. John of the Cross. Many of the feast days and memorials celebrated in December seem like they were picked specifically for Advent. John of the Cross’s memorial might be the most appropriate for Advent, perhaps second only to the Immaculate Conception, where we celebrate the conception of the Blessed Mother.

St. John of the Cross is the epitome of what we should strive to be during Advent. Christmas has become associated with materialism, consumerism, indulgence, etc. St. John of the Cross was all about getting rid of the extras in life that keep us from listening to the voice of God. 

As a contemplative who engaged in many ascetic practices, he felt that we attempt to fill the empty hole in our soul with earthly goods–pleasure, food, money, etc. Eventually, these earthly goods, which are typically good in moderation, become addictive, they distract us, and they make us turn away from our Creator. St. John of the Cross said that we need to purge these goods in order to better commune with God. 

This Advent season, let us consider getting rid of one extra thing, whether it means donating what you do not need, avoiding that Christmas sugar cookie, or simply not purchasing extravagant items. We are used to purgation during Lent, but denying something we enjoy during Advent will allow for us to celebrate Christ’s birth in a more focused way. Less distractions, more Jesus. 

Opening Prayer

O glorious St. John of the Cross, through a pure desire of being like Jesus crucified, you longed for nothing so eagerly as to suffer, to be despised, and to be made little of by all; and your thirst after sufferings was so burning that your noble heart rejoiced in the midst of the cruelest torments and afflictions. Grant, we beseech you, O dear Saint, by the glory which your many sufferings have gained for you, to intercede for us and obtain from God for us a love of suffering, together with strength and grace to bear with firmness of mind all the trials and adversities which are the sure means to the happy attainment of all that awaits us in heaven. Dear Saint, from your most happy place in glory, hear, we beseech you, our prayers, so that after your example, full of love for the cross we may deserve to be your companion in glory. Amen.

(taken from http://www.meditationsfromcarmel.com/content/novena-st-john-cross-0)

Daily Readings

Reading 1: NM 24:2-7, 15-17A

When Balaam raised his eyes and saw Israel encamped, tribe by tribe,
the spirit of God came upon him,
and he gave voice to his oracle:

The utterance of Balaam, son of Beor,
the utterance of a man whose eye is true,
The utterance of one who hears what God says,
and knows what the Most High knows,
Of one who sees what the Almighty sees,
enraptured, and with eyes unveiled:
How goodly are your tents, O Jacob;
your encampments, O Israel!
They are like gardens beside a stream,
like the cedars planted by the LORD.
His wells shall yield free-flowing waters,
he shall have the sea within reach;
His king shall rise higher,
and his royalty shall be exalted.

Then Balaam gave voice to his oracle:

The utterance of Balaam, son of Beor,
the utterance of the man whose eye is true,
The utterance of one who hears what God says,
and knows what the Most High knows,
Of one who sees what the Almighty sees,
enraptured, and with eyes unveiled.
I see him, though not now;
I behold him, though not near:
A star shall advance from Jacob,
and a staff shall rise from Israel.

_______________________
Responsorial Psalm: PS 25:4-5AB, 6 AND 7BC, 8-9

R. (4) Teach me your ways, O Lord.
Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my savior.
R. Teach me your ways, O Lord.
Remember that your compassion, O LORD,
and your kindness are from of old.
In your kindness remember me,
because of your goodness, O LORD.
R. Teach me your ways, O Lord.
Good and upright is the LORD;
thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice,
he teaches the humble his way.
R. Teach me your ways, O Lord.

_____________________

Gospel: MT 21:23-27

When Jesus had come into the temple area,
the chief priests and the elders of the people approached him
as he was teaching and said,
“By what authority are you doing these things?
And who gave you this authority?”
Jesus said to them in reply,
“I shall ask you one question, and if you answer it for me,
then I shall tell you by what authority I do these things.
Where was John’s baptism from?
Was it of heavenly or of human origin?”
They discussed this among themselves and said,
“If we say ‘Of heavenly origin,’ he will say to us,
‘Then why did you not believe him?’
But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we fear the crowd,
for they all regard John as a prophet.”
So they said to Jesus in reply, “We do not know.”
He himself said to them,
“Neither shall I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

_______________________________

Multimedia

St. John of the Cross is a very complex saint with beautiful theology. That is why he is considered a doctor of the Church. Enjoy these clips about him to learn more about his work.

Additional Activities

For extra activities today, read this person’s story about a special kind of prayer that may be the most difficult to say. There are also links to books on the site. Another activity to check out is an interactive Lord’s Prayer. Enjoy!

Closing Prayer

O blessed Jesus,
give us stillness of soul in You.
Let Your mighty calmness reign in us.
Rule us, O King of Gentleness,
King of Peace.

-St. John of the Cross

(taken from http://www.catholicdoors.com/prayers/english3/p02226.htm)

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