December 14: St. John of the Cross
John was born in Spain in 1542. He was the son of a weaver. He went to a school for poor children and became a servant to the director of a hospital. For seven years, John worked as a servant while also studying at a Jesuit college. Even as a youth, he liked to do penance. He understood the value of offering up sufferings for the love of Jesus. When he was twenty-one, his love of God prompted him to enter the Carmelite order. With St. Teresa of Avila, St. John was chosen by God to bring a new spirit of fervor among religious. But his life was full of trials. Although he succeeded in opening new monasteries where his holy way of life was practiced, he himself was criticized. He was even thrown into prison and made to suffer terribly. At one time, too, he had fierce temptations. God seemed to have left him alone, and he suffered greatly. Yet when these storms of trouble passed, the Lord rewarded his faithful servant. He gave him deep peace and joy of heart. John was very close to his God. In fact, the Blessed Mother herself showed John how to escape from his prison cell.
St. John had a marvelous way with sinners. Once a beautiful but sinful woman tried to make him do wrong. He talked to her so that she was led to change her life. Another lady, instead, had such a temper that she was nicknamed "the terrible." Yet St. John knew how to calm her down by his kind manners.
St. John of the Cross asked God to let him suffer every day for love of Jesus. To reward him, Our Lord revealed himself to St. John in a special way. This saint is famous for his spiritual books which show us how to grow close to God. He died on December 14, 1591. John of the Cross was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XI in 1926.
"The gate which gives entrance to these riches of his wisdom is the cross; because it is a narrow gate, while many seek the joys that can be gained through it, it is given to few to desire to pass through it."