St. John of the Cross

Updated: Nov 14, 2020

John of the Cross in poetry and other writing

John of the Cross inspired a poem in the “Queer Psalter,” a work-in-progress by Jim Wise, a queer poet based in Indiana. His poetry has been published widely, including in a previous post at

His poem “John of the Cross” combines sacred homoerotic longing for Christ with an affirmation of the holiness of gay love and sexuality. It is printed here in full:

John of the Cross

by Jim Wise

He was a true believer, but a Queer one. He wanted Christ as a lover or not at all.

No gentle antiseptic Jesus would do. He would settle for nothing less than flesh. A wafer was a tease. When he tasted Christ, he wanted to taste desert and sweat. When he prayed, he wanted to stink of heat and sand.

He wanted Christ, the Divine Top, to fill him up with God, and Christ, the Divine Bottom, a god begging to be filled up with our humanity. He wanted a Christ who would bind his hands with rosary beads before pushing him down to teach him the mystery of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Cruising was his act of pure devotion, for if God could be a Galilean peasant, God could be anyone.

He knew – To cry out a lover’s name is to scream the unknown hidden name of God.

Commentary on Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross

“He soars on the wings of Divine love . . .” “It is perhaps not an exaggeration to say that the verse and prose works combined of St. John of the Cross form at once the most grandiose and the most melodious spiritual canticle to which any one man has ever given utterance. The most sublime of all the Spanish mystics, he soars aloft on the wings of Divine love to heights known to hardly any of them. . . . True to the character of his thought, his style is always forceful and energetic, even to a fault. When we study his treatises–principally that great composite work known as the Ascent of Mount Carmel and the Dark Night–we have the impression of a mastermind that has scaled the heights of mystical science; and from their summit looks down upon and dominates the plain below and the paths leading upward. . . . Nowhere else, again, is he quite so appealingly human; for, though he is human even in his loftiest and sublimest passages, his intermingling of philosophy with mystical theology; makes him seem particularly so. These treatises are a wonderful illustration of the theological truth that graced far from destroying nature, ennobles and dignifies it, and of the agreement always found between the natural and the supernatural–between the principles of sound reason and the sublimest manifestations of Divine grace.”

Translated and edited, by E. ALLISON PEERS from the critical edition of P. SILVERIO DE SANTA TERESA, C.D.

The Dark Night of the Soul: Understanding Amidst the Absence of Meaning

“We rarely find people who achieve great things without first going astray.” ― Meister Eckhart

“There can be no rebirth without a dark night of the soul, a total annihilation of all that you believed in and thought that you were.”― Hazrat Inayat Khan

The hardest part of the dark night of the soul is to face your shadow which contains the repressed parts of yourself such as your fears, desires, traumas, and beliefs. Behind the Dark Night of the Soul is the treasure of the underworld. It is guarded by the dragon, but you must go into the belly of this beast. If you turn away it will slowly devour you. Because this is very difficult, there is a risk. One of the greater risks is to adopt an extreme ideology or other pathological complex. Instead of breaking boundaries within yourself, you strengthen them and try to tear down boundaries in the physical world.

Gay artist paints "Intimacy with Christ": Richard Stott reflects on sensual spirituality

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