[1]Ascent, Bk. I, chap. i, sect. 2.

[2]Op, cit., sect. 3.

[3]Dark Night, Bk. 1, chap. iii, sect. 3.

[4]Op. cit., Bk. I, chap. i, sect. 1.

[5]Dark Night, Bk. 1, chap. viii, sect. 1.

[6]Op. cit., Bk. I, chap. viii, sect. 2.


[8]Dark Night, Bk. I, chap. x, sect. 4.

[9]Op. cit., Bk. II, chap. iii, sect. 1.

[10]Op. cit., Bk. II, chap. i, sect. 1.

[11]Dark Night, Bk. II, chap. xi, sect. 1.

[12]Dark Night, Bk. II, chap. xvi, sect. 2.

[13][On this, see Sobrino, pp. 159-66.]

[14]Cf. pp. lviii-lxiii, Ascent of Mount Carmel (Image Books edition).

[15]>[It contains a series of paradoxical statements, after the style of those in Ascent, Bk. I, chap. xiii, and is of no great literary merit. P. Silverio reproduces it in Spanish on p. 302 (note) of his first volume.]

[16]The 'first friar' would be P. Antonio de Jesús, who was senior to St. John of the Cross in the Carmelite Order, though not in the Reform.

[17]The longest of these are one of ten lines in Bk. I, chap. iv, [in the original] and those of Bk. II, chaps. vii, viii, xii, xiii, which vary from eleven to twenty-three lines. Bk. II, chap. xxiii, has also considerable modifications.

[18]The chief interpolation is in Bk. I, chap. x.

[19] St. Matthew vii, 14.

[20][More exactly: 'purificative.']

[21] St. Luke xviii, 11-12.

[22]St. Matthew vii, 3.

[23]St. Matthew xxiii, 24.

[24][Lit., 'Presuming.']

[25][The original merely has: 'and are often eager.']

[26][Lit., 'a thousand envies and disquietudes.']

[27]St. Matthew xxv, 8. [Lit., 'who, having their lamps dead, sought oil from without.']

[28][Lit., 'to have.']

[29][Lit., 'these fervours.']

[30][Lit., 'into something of this.']

[31]The agnusdei was a wax medal with a representation of the lamb stamped upon it, often blessed by the Pope; at the time of the Saint such medals were greatly sought after, as we know from various references in St. Teresa's letters.

[32][The word nómina, translated 'token,' and normally meaning list, or 'roll,' refers to a relic on which were written the names of saints. In modern Spanish it can denote a medal or amulet used superstitiously.]

[33][No doubt a branch of palm, olive or rosemary, blessed in church on Palm Sunday, like the English palm crosses of to- day. 'Palm Sunday' is in Spanish Domingo de ramos: 'Branch Sunday.']

[34][Lit., 'recreation.']

[35][Lit., 'recreation.']

[36][Lit., 'of everything.']

[37]All writers who comment upon this delicate matter go into lengthy and learned explanations of it, though in reality there is little that needs to be added to the Saint's clear and apt exposition. It will be remembered that St. Teresa once wrote to her brother Lorenzo, who suffered in this way: 'As to those stirrings of sense. . . . I am quite clear they are of no account, so the best thing is to make no account of them' (LL. 168). The most effective means of calming souls tormented by these favours is to commend them to a discreet and wise director whose counsel they may safely follow. The Illuminists committed the grossest errors in dealing with this matter.

[38]St. John iii, 6.

[39][Lit. 'they even do it.']

[40][Lit., 'spiritual road.']

[41][Lit., 'these persons.']

[42][Lit., 'and treat this as their God.']

[43][The Spanish is impersonal: 'immediately this is taken from them,' etc.]

[44][Lit., 'and opinion.']

[45][Lit., 'anyhow.']

[46][Lit, 'the other boldnesses are.']

[47][Lit., 'they strive to obtain this, as they say, by the strength of their arms.' The phrase is, of course, understood in the Spanish to be metaphorical, as the words 'as they say' clearly indicate.]

[48][Lit., 'who are not influenced, neither act by reason, but from pleasure.']

[49][Lit., 'which we shall give.']

[50][áspero: harsh, rough, rugged.]

[51][Lit., 'against all the sweetlessness of self- denial.']

[52][Lit., 'causing them to enter.']

[53][Lit., 'and, as they say, their eye (el ojo) grows'--a colloquial phrase expressing annoyance.]

[54]1 Corinthians xiii, 6. The Saint here cites the sense, not the

letter, of the epistle.

[55]St. Matthew xvi, 25.

[56][Lit., 'they are very weak for the fortitude and trial of perfection.']

[57]St. Matthew vii, 14.

[58][Lit., 'say.']

[59][Lit., 'say.']

[60][plática: the word is frequently used in Spanish to denote an informal sermon or address.]

[61][Lit., 'low'; the same word recurs below and is similarly translated .]

[62][Lit., 'to the better time.']

[63][Lit., 'And in this it is known very probably.']

[64]Numbers xi, 5-6.

[65][Lit., 'makes us to desire our miseries.']

[66][Lit., 'incommunicable.']

[67]Canticles vi, 4 [A.V., vi, 5].

[68][Lit., 'satisfactory and pacific.']

[69]Psalm lxxxiv, 9 [A.V., lxxxv, 8].

[70][The stress here is evidently on the transience of the distempers whether they be moral or physical.]

[71][Lit., 'spoiling themselves in the one.']

[72][Lit., 'because they seek their spirit.']

[73][Lit., 'without doing anything themselves.']

[74][Lit., 'which it may then wish to have.']

[75]Psalm lxxii, 21 [A.V., lxxiii, 21- 2].

[76][Lit., 'livingness': cf. the quotation below.]

[77]Psalm xli, 3 [A.V., xlii, 2].

[78][Lit., 'and chance': the same word as in the verse- line above.]

[79]St. Matthew vii, 14.

[80]Genesis xxi, 8.

[81]Exodus xxxiii, 5.

[82][Job ii, 7-8].

[83][Lit., 'the deep heights.']

[84]Isaias lviii, 10.

[85]Isaias xxviii, 19. [The author omits the actual text.]

[86]To translate this passage at all, we must read the Dios cómo of P. Silverio (p. 403, 1. 20), which is also found in P. Gerardo and elsewhere, as cómo Dios.

[87]Isaias xxviii, 9.

[88]Habacuc ii, 1.

[89]St. Augustine: Soliloq., Cap. ii.

[90]Psalm lxii, 3 [A.V., lxiii, 1- 2].

[91]Psalm xxxviii, 3 [A.V., xxxix, 2].

[92]Psalm lxxvi, 4 [A.V., lxxvii, 3- 4].

[93]Psalm lxxvi, 7 [A.V., lxxvii, 6].

[94]Psalm l, 19 [A.V., li, 17]

[95]>[The 'spirit of giddiness' of D.V., and 'perverse spirit' of A.V., Isaias xix, 14.]

[96]Ecclesiasticus xxxiv, 9-10.

[97]Jeremias xxxi, 18.

[98][Lit., 'for certain days.']

[99][Lit., 'from a narrow prison.']

[100][i.e., between sense and spirit.]

[101]Psalm cxlvii, 17 [D.V. and A.V.].

[102]Wisdom ix, 15.

[103][Lit., 'Continues with other imperfections.']

[104][i.e., 'deadening of the mind.']

[105]Osee ii, 20.

[106]1 Corinthians xiii, 11.

[107][Ephesians iv, 24.]

[108]Psalm xcvi, 2 [A.V., xcvii, 2].

[109][Lit., 'not attaining.']

[110]Psalm xvii, 13 [A.V., xviii, 12].

[111]Job vii, 20.

[112]Psalm xxxviii, 12 [A.V., xxxix, 11].

[113]Job xxiii, 6.

[114]Job xix, 21.

[115][There is a reference here to Job vii, 20: cf. sect. 5, above.]

[116]Jonas ii, 1.

[117]Psalm xvii, 5- 7 [A.V., xviii, 4- 5].

[118]Psalm lxxxvii, 6- 8 [A.V., lxxxviii, 5- 7].

[119]Psalm lxxxvii, 9 [A.V., lxxxviii, 8].

[120]Jonas ii, 4- 7 [A.V., ii, 3- 6].

[121]Ezechiel xxiv, 10.

[122]Ezechiel xxiv, 11.

[123]Wisdom iii, 6.

[124]Psalm lxviii, 2- 4 [A.V., lxix, 1- 3].

[125][i.e., purgatory.]

[126]Job xvi, 13- 17 [A.V., xvi, 12- 16].

[127]Lamentations iii, 1-20.

[128]Job xii, 22.

[129]Psalm cxxxviii, 12 [A.V., cxxxix, 12].

[130][Lit., 'like to the dead of the world (or of the age).']

[131]Psalm cxlii, 3 [A.V., cxliii, 3- 4].

[132]Psalm xxix, 7 [A.V., xxx, 6].

[133][Lit., 'and play his tricks upon it.']

[134]B. Bz., C, H. Mtr. all have this long passage on the suffering of the soul in Purgatory. It would be rash, therefore, to deny that St. John of the Cross is its author, [or to suppose, as P. Gerardo did, that he deleted it during a revision of his works]. An admirably constructed synthesis of these questions will be found in B. Belarmino, De Purgatorio, Bk. II, chaps. iv, v. He asks if souls in Purgatory are sure of their salvation. This was denied by Luther, and by a number of Catholic writers, who held that, among the afflictions of these souls, the greatest is this very uncertainty, some maintain that, though they have in fact such certainty, they are unaware of it. Belarmino quotes among other authorities Denis the Carthusian De quattuor novissimis, Gerson (Lect. I De Vita Spirituali) and John of Rochester (against Luther's 32nd article); these writers claim that, as sin which is venial is only so through the Divine mercy, it may with perfect justice be rewarded by eternal punishment, and thus souls that have committed venial sin cannot be confident of their salvation. He also shows, however, that the common opinion of theologians is that the souls in Purgatory are sure of their salvation, and considers various degrees of certainty, adding very truly that, while these souls experience no fear, they experience hope, since they have not yet the Beatific vision.

Uncertainty as to their salvation, it is said, might arise from ignorance of the sentence passed upon them by the Judge or from the deadening of their faculties by the torments which they are suffering. Belarmino refutes these and other suppositions with great force and effect. St. John of the Cross seems to be referring to the last named when he writes of the realization of their afflictions and their deprivation of God not allowing them to enjoy the blessings of the theological virtues. It is not surprising if the Saint, not having examined very closely this question, of which he would have read treatments in various authors, thought of it principally as an apt illustration of the purifying and refining effects of passive purgation; and an apt illustration it certainly is.

[135]Lamentations iii, 44.

[136][Lamentations iii, 9.]

[137]Lamentations iii, 9.

[138]Lamentations iii, 28.

[139][Lit., 'at the Divine things.']

[140]Psalm lxxii, 22 [A.V., lxxiii, 22].

[141]1 Corinthians ii, 10. [Lit., 'penetrates all things.']

[142]Wisdom vii, 24.

[143]p>2 Corinthians vi, 10.

[144][Lit., 'with a certain eminence of excellence.']

[145][Lit., '. . . sweetness, with great eminence.']

[146]Exodus xvi, 3.

[147]Wisdom xvi, 21.

[148][Lit., 'from every kind.' But see Tobias viii, 2. The 'deprived' of e.p. gives the best reading of this phrase, but the general sense is clear from the Scriptural reference.]

[149]Tobias viii, 2.

[150]Isaias lxiv, 4 [1 Corinthians ii, 9].

[151][Lit., 'be made thin.']

[152]Isaias xxvi, 17-18.

[153][Philippians iv, 7.]

[154][We have here split up a parenthesis of about seventy words.]

[155][Lit., 'and wept.']

[156]Lamentations iii, 17.

[157]Psalm xxxvii, 9 [A.V., xxxviii, 8].

[158][Lit., '. . . sees itself, it arises and is surrounded with pain and affliction the affections of the soul, that I know not how it could be described.' A confused, ungrammatical sentence, of which, however, the general meaning is not doubtful.]

[159]Job iii, 24.

[160]Job xxx, 17.

[161]Job xxx, 16.

[162]Lamentations iii, 17.

[163]Wisdom vii, 11.

[164]Ecclesiasticus li, 28- 9 [A.V., li, 19- 21].

[165][Lit., 'more delicate.']

[166][Lit., 'fury.']

[167][The sudden change of metaphor is the author's. The 'assault' is, of course, the renewed growth of the 'root.']

[168][Lit., '. . . from the soul, with regard to that which has already been purified.']

[169][Lit., 'not enlightened': the word is the same as that used just above.]

[170][The word translated 'over' is rendered 'gone' just above.]

[171]p>[Lit., 'in loves'; and so throughout the exposition of this line.]

[172][Lit., 'cling,' 'adhere.']

[173][Lit., 'shut up.']

[174][Here, and below, the original has recogidos, the word normally translated 'recollected']

[175]Psalm lviii, 10 [A V., lix, 9].

[176]Deuteronomy vi, 5.

[177]Psalm lviii, 15-16 [A.V., lix, 14-15].

[178]Psalm lxii, 2 [A.V., lxiii, 1].

[179][Lit., as in the verses, 'in loves.']

[180][For cievro, hart, read siervo, servant, and we have the correct quotation from Scripture. The change, however, was evidently made by the Saint knowingly. In P. Gerardo's edition, the Latin text, with cervus, precedes the Spanish translation, with ciervo.]

[181]Job vii, 2-4.

[182][No cabe: Lit., 'it cannot be contained,' 'there is no room for it.']

[183]Isaias xxvi, 9.

[184]Psalm l, 12 [A.V., li, 10].

[185][Lit., 'enamoured.']

[186]Lamentations i, 13.

[187]Psalm xi, 7 [A.V., xii, 6].

[188]The Schoolmen frequently assert that the lower angels are purged and illumined by the higher. Cf. St. Thomas, Summa, I, q. 106, a. 1, ad. 1.

[189][Lit., 'and softens.']

[190][More literally, 'is sick.']

[191]Psalm xxxviii, 4 [A.V., xxxix, 3].

[192][Lit., 'the beginnings.']

[193]The Saint here treats a question often debated by philosophers and mystics--that of love and knowledge. Cf. also Spiritual Canticle, Stanza XVII, and Living Flame, Stanza III. Philosophers generally maintain that it is impossible to love without knowledge, and equally so to love more of an object than what is known of it. Mystics have, however, their own solutions of the philosophers' difficulty and the speculative Spanish mystics have much to say on the matter. (Cf., for example, the Médula Mistica, Trat. V, Chap. iv, and the Escuela de Oración, Trat. XII, Duda v.)

[194]St. John i, 5.

[195][Lit., 'the yearning to think of it.']

[196][The word translated 'estimation' might also be rendered 'reverent love.' The 'love of estimation,' which has its seat in the understanding, is contrasted with the 'enkindling' or the 'love of desire,' which has its seat in the will. So elsewhere in this paragraph.]

[197]St. John xx, 1 [St. Matthew xxvii, 62- 6].

[198]St. John xx, 15.

[199][Lit., 'outskirts,' 'suburbs.']

[200]Canticles v, 8.

[201]Genesis xxx, 1.

[202]Ephesians iv, 4.

[203]Canticles viii, 1.

[204]St. Matthew x, 36.

[205][Lit., 'The line, then, continues, and says thus.' In fact, however, the author is returning to the first line of the stanza.]

[206][Lit., 'taste.']

[207]Some have considered this description exaggerated, but it must be borne in mind that all souls are not tested alike and the Saint is writing of those whom God has willed to raise to such sanctity that they drain the cup of bitterness to the dregs. We have already seen (Bk. I, chap. xiv, sect. 5) that 'all do not experience (this) after one manner . . . for (it) is meted out by the will of God, in conformity with the greater or the smaller degree of imperfection which each soul has to purge away, (and) in conformity, likewise, with the degree of love of union to which God is pleased to raise it' (Bk. I, chap xiv, above).

[208]Osee xiii, 9.

[209]Psalm xvii, 12 [A.V., xviii, 11].

[210]Psalm xvii, 13 [A.V., xviii, 12].

[211]p>Isaias v, 30.

[212]Psalm xxx, 21 [A.V., xxxi, 20].

[213]'Propter hoc Gregorius (Hom. 14 in Ezech.) constituit vitam contemplativam in charitate Dei.' Cf. Summa Theologica, 2a, 2ae, q. 45, a. 2.

[214]Jeremias i, 6.

[215]Exodus iv, 10 [cf. iii, 2].

[216]Acts vii, 32.

[217][Or: 'and they know not how to say it nor are able to do so.']

[218][Lit., 'to him that rules them.']

[219][Lit., 'that is set most far away and most remote from every creatures.']

[220]Baruch iii, 31.

[221]Psalm lxxvi, 19- 20 [A.V., lxxvii, 18- 19].

[222][Lit., 'of the roundness of the earth.']

[223]Job xxxvii, 16.

[224][Lit., 'rises to scale, know and possess.']

[225]Psalm lxxxiii, 6 [A.V., lxxxiv, 7].

[226]St. Luke xiv, 11.

[227]Proverbs xviii, 12.

[228]Genesis xxviii, 12.

[229][Lit., 'and annihilating oneself.']

[230]'Ut dicit Bernardus, Magna res est amor, sed sunt in eo gradus. Loquendo ergo aliquantulum magis moraliter quam realiter, decem amoris gradus distinguere possumus' (D. Thom., De dilectione Dei et proximi, cap. xxvii. Cf. Opusc. LXI of the edition of Venice, 1595).

[231]p>[The word translated 'step' may also (and often more elegantly) be rendered 'degree.' The same word is kept, however, throughout the translation of this chapter except where noted below.]

[232]Canticles v, 8.

[233]Psalm cxlii, 7 [A.V., cxliii, 7].

[234]p>Psalm lxvii, 10 [A.V., lxviii, 9].

[235][Lit., 'to enter (upon).']

[236]Canticles iii, 2.

[237]Psalm civ, 4 [A.V., cv, 4].

[238]St. John xx.

[239][The word in the Spanish is that elsewhere translated 'step.']

[240]Psalm cxi, 1 [A.V., cxii, 1].

[241][Lit., 'makes in him this labour of eagerness.']

[242]Genesis xxix, 20.

[243][Lit., 'how much God merits.']

[244]Canticles viii, 5.

[245]Jeremias ii, 2.

[246]Psalm lxxxiii, 2 [A.V., lxxxiv, 2].

[247]Genesis xxx, 1.

[248][Lit., 'On this hungering step.']

[249]Isaias xl, 31.

[250]Psalm xli, 2 [A.V., xlii, 1].

[251]p>Psalm lviii, 5 [A.V., lix, 4].

[252]Psalm cxviii, 32 [A.V., cxix, 32].

[253]1 Corinthians xiii, 7.

[254]Exodus xxxii, 31- 2.

[255]Psalm xxxvi, 4 [A.V., xxxvii, 4].

[256]p>Canticles i, 1.

[257]Canticles iii, 4.

[258][Lit., 'attain to setting their foot.']

[259]Daniel x, 11.

[260]'Dum Deum in ignis visione suscipiunt, per amorem suaviter arserunt' (Hom. XXX in Evang.).

[261][i.e., direct, not mediate.]

[262]St. Matthew v, 8.

[263]St. John iii, 2.

[264]St. John xvi, 23.

[265][Lit., 'that it dislocates the sight of all understanding.']

[266]p>1 St. Peter v, 9.

[267][Lit., 'a better undershirt and tunic.']

[268][Lit., 'this whiteness.']

[269]p>Osee, ii, 20.

[270]Psalm xvi, 4 [A.V., xvii, 4].

[271]1 Thessalonians v, 8.

[272]p>Psalm xxiv, 15 [A.V., xxv, 15].

[273]Psalm cxxii, 2 [A.V., cxxiii, 2].

[274]Canticles iv, 9.

[275]Lamentations iii, 29.

[276]Ibid. [For the quotation, see Bk. II, chap. viii, sect. 1, above.]

[277]Canticles i, 3. [A.V., i, 4.] [For 'chambers' the Spanish has 'bed.']

[278]Canticles iii, 10.

[279][Or 'health.']

[280]Romans viii, 24.

[281]p>i.e., in the original Spanish and in our verse rendering of the poem in The Complete Works of St. John of the Cross, Ed. by E. Allison Peers, Vol. II (The Newman Press, Westminster, Md.).

[282]p>i.e., in the original Spanish and in our verse rendering of the poem in The Complete Works of St. John of the Cross, Ed. by E. Allison Peers, Vol. II (The Newman Press, Westminster, Md.).

[283][The Spanish also admits of the rendering: 'remain shut off from it by darkness.']

[284]Matthew vi, 3.

[285]Canticles iii, 7-8.

[286]Canticles vi, 10 [A.V., vi, 11- 12].

[287]Job i, 1-11.

[288]Such is the unanimous opinion of theologians. Some, with St. Thomas (Pt. III, q. 57, a. 6), suppose that the appearance which converted St. Paul near Damascus was that of Our Lord Jesus Christ in person.

[289]Exodus vii, 11- 22; viii, 7.

[290]Job xli, 25.

[291][Lit., 'step.' Cf. Bk. II, chap. xix, first note, above.]

[292]p>Canticles i, 1.

[293]Canticles viii, 1.

[294]p>The word translated 'at rest' is a past participle: more literally, 'stilled.'

[295][Lit., 'twice repeats'--a loosely used phrase.]

[296]H omits this last phrase, which is found in all the other Codices, and in e.p. The latter adds: 'notwithstanding that the soul is not wholly free from the temptations of the lower part.' The addition is made so that the teaching of the Saint may not be confused with that of the Illuminists, who supposed the contemplative in union to be impeccable, do what he might. The Saint's meaning is that for the mystical union of the soul with God such purity and tranquillity of senses and faculties are needful that his condition resembles that state of innocence in which Adam was created, but without the attribute of impeccability, which does not necessarily accompany union, nor can be attained by any, save by a most special privilege of God. Cf. St. Teresa's Interior Castle, VII, ii. St. Teresa will be found occasionally to explain points of mystical doctrine which St. John of the Cross takes as being understood.

[297][Lit., 'twice repeated.']

[298]p>Wisdom xviii, 14.

[299]Canticles v, 7.

[300]Canticles iii, 1.

[301]p>Thus end the majority of the MSS. Cf. pp. lxviii- lxiii, Ascent of Mount Carmel (Image Books edition), 26-27, on the incomplete state of this treatise. The MSS. say nothing of this, except that in the Alba de Tormes MS. we read: 'Thus far wrote the holy Fray John of the Cross concerning the purgative way, wherein he treats of the active and the passive [aspect] of it as is seen in the treatise of the Ascent of the Mount and in this of the Dark Night, and, as he died, he wrote no more. And hereafter follows the illuminative way, and then the unitive.' Elsewhere we have said that the lack of any commentary on the last five stanzas is not due to the Saint's death, since he lived for many years after writing the commentary on the earlier stanzas.

Return to Contents