Still among the most widely read of all the great mystics St John was born in Spain in 1542 and became a Carmelite friar at the age of 25. He was a friend of Theresa of Avila and she encouraged him to undertake a reform of the Carmelite order.
However, it is for his writings and spiritual wisdom that John is best known. Three of his books have come down to us; the Dark Night of the Soul, the Ascent of Mount Carmel and the Spiritual Canticle.
While these books are definitely not for the beginner in the spiritual life they contain much wisdom and insight that even a lay person can understand.
One thing John teaches, which may not be very popular today, is that if we are to make real progress in the spiritual life then we must suffer greatly.
Are we to seek pain? No. But we are to accept all the little trails of life that are sent to us and to do so graciously. The breaking of self will would be a good place to start!