The fourth centenary of the death of St. John of the Cross inspired this revised edition of the English translation of his writings. The result is an edition that preserves the true meaning of the great mystic’s writings, presents them as clearly as possible, and at the same time gives the reader the doctrinal and historical information that will lead to a deeper understanding and appreciation of the teachings of the Mystical Doctor. Included in The Collected Works are St. John’s poetry, The Ascent of Mount Carmel, The Dark Night, The Spiritual Canticle, and The Living Flame of Love, as well as his letters and other counsels. There is a general introduction for the entire work and brief, enlightening introductions for each specific work, explaining theme and structure. Enhancing these are the new footnotes, glossary of terms, and index.
Almost every believer feels forgotten by God sometimes. Even Christ cried out on the cross, “Oh God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Dark Night of the Soul, a 16th-century mystical text written by the Carmelite monk St. John of the Cross, ranks among Christianity’s most helpful answers to this enduring question. In St. John’s vision of spiritual life, the pain of separation from God is to be embraced, not avoided. “The dark night is about being fully present in the tender, wounded emptiness of our own souls,” explains translator Mirabai Starr–although she grants that modern culture makes such acceptance hard to attain. “We tend to see difficult feelings as a form of illness, which we hope to conquer, cure, and expel. [St. John of the Cross] has a far greater imagination of human life: his goal is not health but union with the divine.” Several fine English translations of Dark Night already exist; Starr’s, however, is distinguished by its ecumenism. Minimizing the explicit scriptural references of the original text, she makes the treasures of Dark Night more accessible to readers of all religious traditions. –Michael Joseph Gross