"God has no need of men."

St Philip Neri

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"Though the path is plain and smooth for people of good will, those who walk it will not travel far, and will do so only with difficulty if they do not have good feet, courage, and tenacity of spirit. "

St John of the Cross, OCD - Doctor of the Church

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"God gives us some things, as the beginning of faith, even when we do not pray. Other things, such as perseverance, he has only provided for those who pray."

St Augustine

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St John of the Cross (1542-1591)  -   Carmelite and Doctor of the Church


Ascent of Mount Carmel

by St John of the Cross, OCD


Introductory Material

Title Page
Preface to Electronic Edition
Translator's Preface to the First Edition
Translator's Preface to the Second Edition
An Outline of the Life of St John of the Cross
General Introduction to the Works of St John of the Cross:
1. Dates and Methods of Composition. General Characteristics
2. Outstanding Qualities and defects of the Saint's Style
3. Diffusion of the Writings of St John of the Cross --Loss of the Autographs -- General Characteristics of the Manuscripts
4. Integrity of the Saint's Work -- Incomplete Condition of the 'Ascent' and the 'Night' -- Disputed Questions
5. History of the Publication of St John of the Cross's Writings -- The First Edition
6. Denunciation of the 'Works' to the Inquisition -- Defence of them made by Fr. Basilo Pnce De Leon -- Editions of the seventeenth and eighteenth Centuries
7. New Denunciations and Defences -- Fray Nicolas de Jesus Maria -- The Carmelite School and the Inquisition
8. Further History of the Editions -- P. Andres de la Encarnacion -- Editions of the nineteenth and twentieth Centuries
Introduction (by Translator)



Book The First

1. Sets down the first stanza. Describes two different nights through which spiritual persons pass, according to the two parts of man, the lower and the higher. Expounds the stanza which follows.
2. Explains the nature of this dark night through which the soul says that it has passed on the road to union.
3. Speaks of the first cause of this night, which is that of the privation of the desire in all things, and gives the reason for which it is called night.
4. Wherein is declared how necessary it is for the soul truly to pass through this dark night of sense, which is mortification of desire, in order that it may journey to union with God.
5. Wherein the aforementioned subject is treated and continued, and it is shown by passages and figures from Holy Scripture how necessary it is for the soul to journey to God through this dark night of the mortification of desire in all things.
6. Wherein are treated two serious evils caused in the soul by the desires, the one evil being privative and the other positive.
7. Wherein is shown how the desires torment the soul. This is proved likewise by comparisons and quotations.
8. Wherein is shown how the desires darken and blind the soul.
9. Wherein is described how the desires defile the soul. This is proved by comparisons and quotations from Holy Scripture.
10. Wherein is described how the desires weaken the soul in virtue and make it lukewarm.
11. Wherein it is proved necessary that the soul that would attain to Divine union should be free from desires, however slight they be.
12. Which treats of the answer to another question, explaining what the desires are that suffice to cause the evils aforementioned in the soul.
13. Wherein is described the manner and way which the soul must follow in order to enter this night of sense.
14. Wherein is expounded the second line of the stanza.
15. Wherein are expounded the remaining lines of the aforementioned stanza.

Book The Second

1. Starts explanation of second stanza
2. Which begins to treat of the second part of cause of this night, which is faith. Proves by two arguments how it is darker than the first and then the third.
3. How faith is dark night to the soul. This is proved with arguments and quotations and figures from Scripture.
4. Treats in general of how the soul likewise must be in darkness, in so far as this rests with itself, to the end that it may be effectively guided by faith to the highest contemplation.
5. Wherein is described what is meant by union of the soul with God. A comparison is given.
6. Wherein is described how it is the three theological virtues that perfect the three faculties of the soul, and how the said virtues produce emptiness and darkness within them.
7. Wherein is described how strait is the way that leads to eternal life and how completely detached and disencumbered must be those that will walk in it. We begin to speak of the detachment of the understanding.
8. Which describes in a general way how no creature and no knowledge that can be comprehended by the understanding can serve as a proximate means of Divine union with God.
9. How faith is the proximate and proportionate means of the understanding whereby the soul may attain to the Divine union of love. This is proved by passages and figures from Divine Scripture.
10. Wherein distinction is made between all apprehensions and types of knowledge which can be comprehended by the understanding.
11. Of the hindrance and harm that may be caused by apprehensions of the understanding which proceed from that which is supernaturally represented to the outward bodily senses; and how the soul is to conduct itself therein.
12. Which treats of natural imaginary apprehensions. Describes their nature and proves that they cannot be a proportionate means of attainment to union with God. Shows the harm which results from inability to detach one self from them.
13. Wherein are set down the signs which the spiritual person will find in himself whereby he may know at what season it behoves him to leave meditation and reasoning and pass to the state of contemplation.
14. Wherein is proved the fitness of these signs, and the reason is given why that which has been said in speaking of them is necessary to progress.
15. Wherein is explained how it is sometimes well for progressives who are beginning to enter upon this general knowledge of contemplation to make use of natural reasoning and the work of the natural faculties.
16. Which treats of the imaginary apprehensions that are supernaturally represented in the fancy. Describes how they cannot serve the soul as a proximate means to union with God.
17. Wherein is described the purpose and manner of God in His communication of spiritual blessings to the soul by means of the senses. Herein is answered the question which has been referred to.
18. Which treats of the harm that certain spiritual masters may do to souls when they direct them not by a good method with respect to the visions aforementioned. Describes also how these visions may cause deception even though they be of God.
19. Wherein is expounded and proved how, although visions and locutions which come from God are true, we may be deceived about them. This is proved by quotations from Divine Scripture.
20. Wherein is proved by passages from Scripture how the sayings and words of God, though always true, do not always rest upon stable causes.
21. Wherein is explained how at times, although God answers the prayers that are addressed to Him, He is not pleased that we should use such methods. It is also shown how, although He condescend to us and answer us, He is oftentimes wroth.
22. Wherein is solved a difficulty -- namely, why it is not lawful, under the law of grace, to ask anything of God by supernatural means, as it was under the old law. This solution is proved by a passage from Saint Paul.
23. Which begins to treat of the apprehensions of the understanding that come in a purely spiritual way, and describes their nature.
24. Which treats of two kinds of spiritual vision that come supernaturally.
25. Which treats of revelations, describing their nature and making a distinction between them.
26. Which treats of the intuition of naked truths in the understanding, explaining how they are of two kinds and how the soul is to conduct itself with respect to them.
27. Which treats of the second kind of revelation, namely, the disclosure of hidden secrets. Describes the way in which these may assist the soul toward union with God, and the way in which they may be a hindrance; and how the devil may deceive the soul greatly in this matter.
28. Which treats of interior locutions that may come to the spirit supernaturally. Says of what kinds they are.
29. Which treats of the first kind of words that the recollected spirit sometimes forms within itself. Describes the cause of these and the profit and the harm which there may be in them.
30. Which treats of the interior words that come to the spirit formally by supernatural means. Warns the reader of the harm which they may do and of the caution that is necessary in order that the soul may not be deceived by them.
31. Which treats of the substantial words that come interiorly to the spirit. Describes the difference between them and formal words, and the profit which they bring and the resignation and respect which the soul must observe with regard to them.
32. Which treats of the apprehensions received by the understanding from interior feelings which come supernaturally to the soul. Describes their cause, and the manner wherein the soul must conduct itself so that they may not obstruct its road to union with God.

Continuation of Contents >>