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St. John of the Cross speaks to today's Christians, Pope tells audience

February 16, 2011

St. John of the Cross “has something to say to us, to every normal Christian today,” Pope Benedict XVI told his weekly public audience on February 16.

Continuing his series of talks on the doctors of the Church, the Holy Father traced the life of St. John of the Cross, from his birth in a poor Spanish family in 1542 through his entry into the Carmelite order, his friendship with St. Teresa of Avila—which was “decisive for both”—and his profound writings on the interior life.

A gifted poet and mystic, St. John of the Cross devoted himself to explaining how God had worked in his life. His life story is one of intense dedication and sacrifice, including even time in prison, where he “suffered incredible insult and physical abuse,” the Pope noted. Yet he saw it all as a process of purifying his soul.

This purification of the soul is a key theme in the writing of “the Mystical Doctor,” Pope Benedict said. Because of our “disordered dependence on things,” men cannot eliminate their own weaknesses and vices, the saint taught. “God’s decisive action is needed to purify human beings.”


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