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Sayings of Light and Love 25 – St John of the Cross

March 6, 2014 by  
Filed under Dan Burke, John of the Cross

Sayings of Light and Love 25

Sayings of Light and Love 25:

Withdraw from creatures if you desire to preserve, clear and simple in your soul, the image of God. Empty your spirit and withdraw far from them and you will walk in divine lights, for God is not like creatures.

Saint John of the Cross

More “Sayings of Light and Love”


Saint John of the Cross, O.C.D. (1542-1591), a priest and Doctor of the Church, is considered to be the Doctor of Mystical Theology, and was a reformer of the Carmelite Order, along with Saint Teresa of Avila (Saint Teresa of Jesus), who founded the Discalced Carmelites … and who talked him into remaining a Carmelite instead of becoming a Carthusian. He was very familiar with both Holy Scripture and with Saint Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica. Known as the Doctor of Mystical Theology, he is also known 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 canonized in 1726 by Pope Benedict XIII and was named a Doctor of the Church in 1926 by Pope Pope Pius XI based on his eminent sanctity, eminent doctrine and the solemn declaration of the Roman Pontiff himself.

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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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  • Pamela

    These words hit home with me this morning, but probably not in the way intended! Where I live, the “snowbird” creatures have invaded our community and our church in droves, resulting in much more noise and cell phones going off during Mass and rude drivers in the parking lot. I’m finding them almost intolerable this year. At times, it is quite difficult to “preserve, clear and simple” the image of God in my soul! Just this morning, I told my husband that perhaps I need to retreat to the desert for 40 days 🙂

    • Jeanette

      Jesus said to His disciples: “Love one another even as I have loved you.”

      • Pamela

        Indeed. And as we all know, easier said than done!

        • Jeanette


  • MarcAlcan

    If we withdraw from creatures, how then do we follow the Great Commission?
    Are we not supposed to descend Tabor? Pitching a tent in the mountain is tempting but God is encountered in creatures for we are all stamped with His genius. Everything speaks of Him.

    Is our faith not Incarnational? Jesus did not withdraw from creatures and yet we who are His followers are supposed to?

    The statement should be qualified with “from time to time”. We withdraw and then draw once more to creatures to bring Him whom we have found in our sojourn away from creatures.

    • It is a matter of attachments

      Sent from my iPad

      • MarcAlcan

        In that sense, then the quote makes sense 🙂

  • jack g.

    I withdraw a few times a day, even for a minute or few in the car, driving. John of the Cross was a monk who could withdraw, especially when locked up. We are creatures who need the withdrawal time with Our Lord just to recharge the “spiritual batteries”, but I think that our Daddy knows whats needed, and if we are sincere He Blesses. I have small kids and busy day, so I am constantly sleep deprived, but when I tell my DAD, that I need a recharge to be more useful for my family responsibilities, He gives me strength in ways I can’t even notice, until the end of day when I reflect and smile with gratitude. Sometimes it’s an infusion of a signal grace, and fuzzy feeling, watery eyes, where the strenght comes in a visible way. I gues the key is constant awareness of The Tabor in our soul, where we can retreat instantaneously at every moment of our daily business.
    And some day count on more time to withdraw, when we are joined foe eternity. I believe that God never provided for retirement in the Bible, so we need to fight the good fight until we join Him.
    with love of Jesus in my heart, jack g.

    • MarcAlcan

      Wow! I love that – constant awareness of the Tabor in our soul

      And this from St Therese as paraphrased by Willcox?

      To live by love is not to make a dwelling
      On Tabor’s hill where Jesus shone in light
      But with Him here to climb up calvary’s hillside
      And see the cross as treasure and as hope

      But yes definitely, retreat into the Tabor in our souls is essential for the climb up Mt Calvary is long and difficult and we need to have a view of the glorious goal in mind to be able to keep keep walking with the Lord

      And yes, yes, yes to the signal grace, fuzzy feeling, watery eyes and the palpable presence of the God of consolation.

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