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Posted September 10, 2014

Book: The Ascent of Mount Carmel: Saint John of the Cross -- Reflections
Author: Marc Foley, O.C.D.
ICS Publications, Washington, DC. 2014. Pp. 238

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

Saint John of the Cross, revered as one of Christianity's greatest poets and mystics, is nevertheless often intimidating to those who want to read his works. His subject matter and writing style, coupled with his use of Scholastic terminology, make his contemplative prayer and practice, difficult to understand. And although our era is witnessing a growing interest in contemplative prayer and practice, many suspect that this 16th-century Carmelite is just too demanding and harsh to appeal to ordinary Christians.

With the Ascent of Mount Carmel: Reflections, Father Marc Foley shares his seasoned wisdom, gleaned from years of reading and teaching John of the Cross, with contemporary spiritual seekers. He deftly weaves together insights from psychology, theology, and great literature to make The Ascent of Mount Carmel both understandable and relevant to daily life.

An Excerpt from the Book:

John puts before us a vicious cycle. When our minds ruminate over an event, the images and emotions that thinking generates are stored in the memory. Because these memories are emotionally charged, they are easily triggered to the conscious mind. . . To use John's language, when "the memory focuses on (revuelve)" what the will desires, we keep the past alive. Revuelve, derived from revolver, means to turn over in one's mind or to retrace. The more we chew upon the past, the greater the intensity of emotion that clings to and contaminates our soul.

. . Resentment lingers in the soul because it sounds like the voice of reason and justice, sweet with the morose pleasure of self-pity. Over time, the emotion no longer clings to us; we cling to it.

Table of Contents:

Book One

Appetite and appetites


Denial of gratification


The threshold of consent

To exit is to enter

Counsel one: growing in habitual desire

Counsel two: renouncing sensory satisfaction

Counsel three: having contempt for self

Counsel four: to have all, renounce all

The fatal pause

The sweet breast of God

Book Two

The withdrawal of consolation

The passive night of sense

The transition from discursive meditation to contemplation

By their fruits you will know them

The obscure certainty of faith

The voice of faith and the voice of reason

Like trying to explain color to a blind man

Visions and revelations

Just talking

The atmosphere we create

The wisdom of the community

Book Three

The memory

Do not store up memory

The hair trigger of memory

The stomach of the mind

Tranquility of soul

Supernatural knowledge in the memory

Remembrance of things past

The will

Joy in temporal goods

Joy in natural goods

Joy in sensory goods

Joy in moral goods

Joy in supernatural goods

Joy in spiritual goods