Saint John of the Cross is the Church's premier teacher on contemplative prayer. Catholic tradition even calls him the Mystical Doctor. The sixteenth-century Carmelite priest not only wrote four massive treatises on the spiritual life, along with some of the finest poetry in the Spanish language, but also worked alongside Teresa of Ávila in renewing the Carmelite order. Thérèse of Lisieux claimed she found no other spiritual reading that could satisfy her soul like John of the Cross.
Yet the volume and intensity of Saint John's work can make his teachings seem daunting, even to trained theologians. This book by Father Donald Haggerty, author of The Contemplative Hunger and Contemplative Enigmas, offers readers a unique step-by-step introduction to the way of contemplation as Saint John understood it and taught it—a burning, transformative intimacy with the God who made us. Furnished abundantly with quotations from across the Mystical Doctor's writings, this guidebook confronts the mysteries, difficulties, and joys of prayer, showing how silent contemplation prepares our hearts for an unspeakable love.
For all his theological richness, Saint John gave practical, realistic advice on navigating the world of contemplation, and Father Haggerty—a spiritual director for decades—applies these principles to our lives today. Whether you are new to prayer or have been praying since childhood, you will find an illuminating and surprising companion in Saint John of the Cross: Master of Contemplation.
"As a young priest, I learned the treasures of Saint John of the Cross. Later, I was hardly surprised to discover that Pope Saint John Paul II had a deep devotion to this saint. Nor will you be, if you read Father Haggerty's latest gem."
— Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York
"A seminal work in the study of John of the Cross. Father Haggerty is one of the outstanding spiritual masters of our time. A profound and beautiful book."
— Father Peter John Cameron, O.P., Author, Why Preach?
"A clear and practical guide to Saint John of the Cross' most important and most often misunderstood teachings. I am aware of no better book in English on this topic than this one."
— Dan Burke, President, Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation
"A spiritual masterpiece. Father Haggerty is a radiant light in our Church today."
— Kathryn Jean Lopez, Senior Fellow, National Review Institute; Author, A Year with the Mystics
"The Mystical Doctor's teaching is not only for theologians or a supposed spiritual elite. With Father Haggerty's fine book, we can all discover the riches of the great Carmelite master."
— Father Sebastian White, O.P., Editor of Magnificat
"A bold, bracing, exhilarating book. Father Haggerty does not hide the challenge of Saint John of the Cross."
— Matthew Levering, James N. Jr. and Mary D. Perry Chair of Theology, Mundelein Seminary
"This introduction will reward even those who have read and reread St. John of the Cross."
— Sister Sara Butler, M.S.B.T., Mother Boniface Spirituality Center, Philadelphia
"A great spiritual work of mercy. Who does not need guidance to understand and apply St. John's teaching today? Father Haggerty provides it, deftly and surely."
— Msgr. Andrew McLean Cummings, Director of Spiritual Formation, Mount Saint Mary's Seminary
"A masterwork that lays out the meaning of deep contemplative prayer and the preparation needed to enter it. Precise, clearly written and discerning. Every spiritual director should read this book."
— Deacon James Keating, Professor of Spiritual Theology, Kenrick-Glennon Seminary
"Father Haggerty presents the reader with a wonderfully clear understanding of a wonderfully mysterious subject. An expert on St. John of the Cross, the author is also an experienced guide up the slopes of Mount Carmel."
— Mother Mary Angela, P.C.C., Poor Clare Monastery of Our Lady of Guadalupe