John of the Cross
Ascent of Mount Carmel
While imprisoned, St. John of the Cross (1542-1591) devoted himself to writing poetry depicting his spiritual struggles. Ascent of Mount Carmel
is an extended treatise on his poetry. While edited and modernized in this edition, the book retains the spirit and life of the original text. St. John believed that a soul wishing to reach divine union must actively submit itself to a dark night of the senses. In this night, the soul must willingly detach itself from sensual desires, and empty itself of understanding, memory, and will, all of which lead the soul away from the purity of union with God. During this purification, the soul is plunged into darkness, without the light of its senses or reason, and without the light of God's grace which it is preparing to receive. Because the treatise was never completed, the journey through the "dark night" is never completed. However, in Ascent of Mount Carmel
, St. John provides an illuminating and lyrical guide for the soul desiring to reach union with God. His writings are sure to resonate with all modern pilgrims seeking wisdom from the early saints.