The Catholic Church celebrated the feast day of St. John of the Cross on December 14th. A feast day is a day, usually the date on which the saint died, that a particular saint is remembered in the Liturgy to honor the saint and his/her contribution to the Church. It is similar to the way in which we celebrate someone’s birthday.
St. John of the Cross is a Doctor of the Church, a distinction that he earned for his theological teachings and insights that have benefited the entire Church. He is a true spiritual master and St. Therese viewed him as such. St. John was one of the reformers of the Carmelite Order, the same Order as that of St. Therese. They were separated in time by three centuries, but St. John was a spiritual father to Therese and the other Carmelite nuns.
St. Therese observed, “Ah! how many lights have I not drawn from the works of our holy Father, St. John of the Cross! At the ages of seventeen and eighteen I had no other spiritual nourishment” (Story of A Soul, p. 179). One should not conclude that St. John’s writings are elementary because Therese devoured them at such a tender age! That is more a testament to Therese’s precocious spirituality. She loved to pray in unison with St. John, “I no longer tend the herd, nor have I any other work now that my every act is love” (Spiritual Canticle, Collected Works, p. 78). St. Therese was profoundly influenced by her spirtual father and I have been, too.