Saint John of the Cross Selected Writings
From General Introduction
by Kieran Kavanaugh
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Remembering his own experiences of poverty, he did not restrict himself to seeking the good of his penitents in spiritual matters but sought as well to assist them in their material needs. Sometimes he gave alms from the small funds of the monastery; sometimes he begged alms from devout people to help them. The poor, begging at the monastery entrance, he tried to assist concretely with food or money. His compassion for them merged with an intense sympathy for the needs and sufferings of the sick. They too, having lost their physical well-being, stood among the deprived.
His method for governing included a gentleness that was rare for the times. He taught that no one could be persuaded to the love of God through harshness, that severity only produced pusillanimity in the works of great virtue. Seeking to promote a positive spirit of cheerfulness and good humor, he was able to assist those inclined toward sadness and depression.
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In directing others, he focused on the life of faith, hope, and love, . . . [he] warned against excessive reliance on external practices and customs. Holiness came from God as His gift; you could not acquire it by some kind of prowess but only dispose yourself for it, particularly through detachment and the simplicity of contemplative prayer
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A lover of nature and the beauty of creation, he preferred the country to the city.