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Transcript of A Spiritual Canticle of the Soul and the Bridegroom Christ · PDF file 2006. 12....

  • A Spiritual Canticle of the Soul and the Bridegroom Christ

    by

    St. John of the Cross

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  • About A Spiritual Canticle of the Soul and the Bridegroom Christ by St. John of the Cross

    A Spiritual Canticle of the Soul and the Bridegroom ChristTitle: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/john_cross/canticle.htmlURL: John of the Cross, St. (1542-1591)Author(s): Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal LibraryPublisher: 2000-07-09Date Created: All; Classic; Mysticism;CCEL Subjects: BV5080LC Call no:

    Practical theologyLC Subjects: Practical religion. The Christian life

    Mysticism

    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/john_cross/canticle.html http://www.ccel.org/ccel/john_cross/authInfo.html

  • Table of Contents

    p. iiAbout This Book. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 1Title Page. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 2Introduction. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 7Prologue. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 9Song of the Soul and the Bridegroom. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 17Argument. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 18Explanation of the Stanzas. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 19Stanza I.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 27Stanza II.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 30Stanza III.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 34Stanza IV.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 36Stanza V.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 38Stanza VI.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 40Stanza VII.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 43Stanza VIII.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 45Stanza IX.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 48Stanza X.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 50Stanza XI.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 55Stanza XII.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 59Stanza XIII.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 64Stanza XIV, XV.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 71Stanza XV.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 75Stanza XVI.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 78Stanza XVII.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 82Stanza XVIII.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 85Stanza XIX.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 88Stanza XX, XXI.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 94Stanza XXII.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 97Stanza XXIII.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 99Stanza XXIV.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 103Stanza XXV.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 107Stanza XXVI.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 113Stanza XXVII.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 116Stanza XXVIII.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 120Stanza XXIX.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    iii

    St. John of the CrossA Spiritual Canticle of the Soul and the Bridegroom Christ

  • p. 123Stanza XXX.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 127Stanza XXXI.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 130Stanza XXXII.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 133Stanza XXXIII.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 136Stanza XXXIV.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 138Stanza XXXV.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 141Stanza XXXVI.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 145Stanza XXXVII.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 148Stanza XXXVIII.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 152Stanza XXXIX.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 157Stanza XL.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 160Indexes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 160Index of Scripture References. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 162Latin Words and Phrases. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    iv

    St. John of the CrossA Spiritual Canticle of the Soul and the Bridegroom Christ

  • A SPIRITUAL CANTICLE OF THE SOUL

    AND THE BRIDEGROOM CHRIST

    BY

    ST. JOHN OF THE CROSS

    TRANSLATED BY

    DAVID LEWIS

    WITH CORRECTIONS AND AN INTRODUCTION BY

    BENEDICT ZIMMERMAN, O.C.D.

    Prior of St. Luke’s, Wincanton

    June 28, 1909

    Electronic Edition with Modernization of English by

    Harry Plantinga, 1995

    This Electronic Text is in the Public Domain

    St. John of the CrossA Spiritual Canticle of the Soul and the Bridegroom Christ

  • INTRODUCTION

    THE present volume of the works of St. John of the Cross contains the explanation of the “Spiritual Canticle of the Soul and the Bridegroom Christ.” The two earlier works, the “Ascent of Mount Carmel” and the “Dark Night of the Soul,” dealt with the cleansing of the soul, the unremittant war against even the smallest imperfections standing in the way of union with God; imperfections which must be removed, partly by strict self-discipline, partly by the direct intervention of God, Who, searching “the reins and hearts” by means of heavy interior and exterior trials, purges away whatever is displeasing to Him. Although some stanzas refer to this preliminary state, the chief object of the “Spiritual Canticle” is to picture under the Biblical simile of Espousals and Matrimony the blessedness of a soul that has arrived at union with God.

    The Canticle was composed during the long imprisonment St. John underwent at Toledo from the beginning of December 1577 till the middle of August of the following year. Being one of the principal supporters of the Reform of St. Teresa, he was also one of the victims of the war waged against her work by the Superiors of the old branch of the Order. St. John’s prison was a narrow, stifling cell, with no window, but only a small loophole through which a ray of light entered for a short time of the day, just long enough to enable him to say his office, but affording little facility for reading or writing. However, St. John stood in no need of books. Having for many years meditated on every word of Holy Scripture, the Word of God was deeply written in his heart, supplying abundant food for conversation with God during the whole period of his imprisonment. From time to time he poured forth his soul in poetry; afterwards he communicated his verses to friends.

    One of these poetical works, the fruit of his imprisonment, was the “Spiritual Canticle,” which, as the reader will notice, is an abridged paraphrase of the Canticle of Canticles, the Song of Solomon, wherein under the image of passionate love are described the mystical sufferings and longings of a soul enamored with God.

    From the earliest times the Fathers and Doctors of the Church had recognized the mystical character of the Canticle, and the Church had largely utilized it in her liturgy. But as there is nothing so holy but that it may be abused, the Canticle almost more than any other portion of Holy Scripture, had been misinterpreted by a false Mysticism, such as was rampant in the middle of the sixteenth century. It had come to pass, said the learned and saintly Augustinian, Fray Luis de Leon, that that which was given as a medicine was turned into poison,1 so that the Ecclesiastical authority, by the Index of 1559, forbade the circulation of the Bible or parts of the Bible in any but the original languages, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin; and no one knew better than Luis de Leon himself how rigorously these rules were enforced, for he had to expiate by nearly five years’ imprisonment the audacity of having translated into Castilian the Canticle of Canticles.2

    1 ‘Los nombres de Cristo.’ Introduction. 2 Th