SpiritualDirection.com / Catholic Spiritual Direction

River of suffering – St. John of the Cross

February 28, 2012 by  
Filed under Dan Burke, Poetry, Suffering

River of Suffering

ZurbaranStJohnoftheCrossAnd I saw the river over which every soul must pass

to reach the kingdom of heaven

and the name of that river was suffering:

and I saw a boat which carries souls across the river

and the name of that boat was love.


PS: This poem is attributed to St. John of the Cross, Doctor of the Church, but I have not been able to find the source. If you know the source, please email me at RCSpiritualDirection@gmail.com and put “River of Suffering” in the subject line.  Thank you!

St. John of the Cross was born in 1542 in Fontiveros, Spain, and died in 1591. He was a religious priest who first joined the Carthusians and shortly thereafter became a Carmelite. He joined St. Teresa of Avila's reform of the Carmelite order. He was imprisoned during this time and produced beautiful works from his experiences. He is known as the Mystical Doctor for his classic mystical works: Ascent of Mount Carmel, Dark Night of the Soul, Living Flame of Love, Precautions (Cautions), Counsels to a Religious, Spiritual Canticle, Spiritual Maxims: Words of Light, Points of Love, and Other Counsels. He is one of the foremost poets in Spanish literature.


Art for this post on the river of suffering: John of the Cross, Zurbarán, Wikimedia Commons.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of SpiritualDirection.com, 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, the High Calling Seminary Preparation Program, 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. In 2018, he launched the annual Avila Summit held at Hanceville, Alabama. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband, father of four, and grandfather of one, the President and Chief Operating Officer of EWTN News, Inc., a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer, speaker and pilgrimage director 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.

please consider supporting our mission with a donation!