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Sayings of Light and Love 7 – Saint John of the Cross

January 18, 2014 by  
Filed under Dan Burke, John of the Cross

Sayings of Light and Love Number 7
from Saint John of the Cross

Sayings of Light and Love Number 7 from Saint John of the Cross, Doctor of the Church, Mystical Doctor:

The virtuous soul that is alone and without a master (a spiritual director) is like a burning coal; it will grow colder rather than hotter.

John of the Cross – New Advent Link

More “Sayings of Light and Love”


Saint John of the Cross, O.C.D. (1542-1591), a Spanish priest and Doctor of the Church, considered to be the Doctor of Mystical Theology, was a reformer of the Carmelite Order, along with Saint Teresa of Avila (Saint Teresa of Jesus), who founded the Discalced Carmelites. He is known as the Doctor of Mystical Theology and is particularly famous for his writings (especially his poetry), including: The Ascent of Mount Carmel, Counsels to a Religious, Dark Night of the Soul, Living Flame of Love, Precautions (Cautions), Spiritual Canticle, Spiritual Maxims: Words of Light, Points of Love and Other Counsels. He was very familiar with St. Thomas Aquinas' “Summa”. He was canonized in 1726 by Pope Benedict XIII. He was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1926 by Pope Pius XI, after consultation with Father Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange O.P.

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Divine Intimacy Radio and Divine Intimacy Radio - Resources Edition, Into the Deep Parish Programs, the Apostoli Viae (Apostles of the Way) Community, and the FireLight Student Leadership Formation Program, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep, Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux, and his newest book The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • guest

    I hope this online program counts. My possibilities of an actual face-to-face spiritual director are slim to none.

    • Well, unfortunately, we can’t substitute for a director. Why do you feel you are very unlikely to find one?

      • guest

        Priests here are stretched very thin, non-priest directors I have heard of are, to the best of my ability to describe, liberal or new-age. Being female myself, I wonder if a priest who might be available would be reluctant. If I ask and am turned away, then I’ve maybe gotten a rep that would make it difficult to approach the person/priest about anything else in the future. Oy.

        • Well – be encouraged. Many folks have been in your position in the past and have found themselves, after a great deal of effort and toil, in the hands of a good director. I get notes regularly from people about this. Here is a post that you might find helpful:

        • Pam H

          Similar situation. I have asked, quite a few (a dozen?) and basically been turned away. It is quite awkward, and for now I have quit asking. I am still friends with my former director who has moved half a continent away, and we pray for each other. Try a good seminarian (maybe one with a late vocation)? That’s how I found my former director.

          • Dear Pam, this is a common problem. Sometimes it can be rooted in the approach of the would-be directee. I have written a few posts on this site about that and then more in-depth in my book Navigating the Interior Life. How we approach a director can play a significant role in whether or not they agree to work with us. In fact, there are ways of doing it that will likely result in rejection every time. Conversely, there are ways that will rarely result in rejection…

          • LizEst

            So true!

  • LizEst

    Good reminder!

    Speaking of directors, are there signs for the directee when it looks like the director is in trouble, spiritually or otherwise? When would it be prudent to consider a change…for other than distance or some other practical reason?

    • This is a tough question. St. Teresa of Avila was quick to seek direction and change directors. Her fluidity in this regard helped her to come out of a serious spiritual drought. I personally have had direction from a number of priests and have found the diversity helpful. However, I have never left my original director. This helps with accountability and consistency. It is hard enough to bear your soul to another, let alone many. If you find a good director it is generally a good idea to stick with them even if it might be a challenge to do so. If you are wondering about the health of their spiritual life, ask (gently and respectfully of course).

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