I’ve been a lay Carmelite for most of the twenty first century. For that reason St. John of the Cross, who along with St. Teresa of Avila co-founded the Discalced Carmelites in Spain during the second half of the sixteenth century, has always been quite a favorite patron saint and mentor of mine. The problem with Sanjuanist literature, though, is that he wrote in such a dry didactic manner that it’s always been quite difficult for the average individual to understand him. Unlike Saints Teresa of Avila, Therese of Lisieux and several other famous Carmelites, who wrote in every day language that can be understood by the common man, Saint John tended to write in a formalized style which only Carmelite Religious can be expected to recognize. I’ve read quite a lot both by and about Saint John so I know that he was quite an exceptionally easygoing and approachable man and that his writings were geared toward teaching each and every specific individual how he should live out the demands of his specific life and vocation. It provides much of the foundation for the Little Way of St. Therese of Lisieux. Saints such as Teresa and Therese, unlike John, wrote about common everyday occurrences and circumstances. Saint John, though, as a mystical theologian, always wrote in terms of God’s action upon the soul and his vocabulary is too thick do be dealt with except by way of extreme caution and attention to detail. In the prologue of Book I of “The Ascent of Mt. Carmel”, John writes about “love’s urgent longings”, saying that “Love is repaid by love alone”, and that “In the evening of our lives, we shall be judged by love alone”. Too many people have tried to understand John without a legitimate regard for text, context and subtext. Because of the complexity of John’s work, significant caution must be exercised in reading anything of his. Unfortunately Saint John is too frequently perceived as unapproachable and intimidating, although according to legitimate Sanjuanist scholarship he was quite a good natured gentleman. If I could have a chance to meet him in person he could teach me about all the legitimate practical application of his ideas. That way, I could really see firsthand exactly how he applied all the theory behind his ideas to his life in practice. People are too often repelled by misunderstandings of his writings but if I could meet him, he could show me exactly how it all works.