Santuário San Rafael Ascension Catholic church

An independent ministry in the Catholic Tradition


     The Mysticism of St. John of the Cross


     This Rosary or chaplet prayer is a meditation on the famous poem of St. John of the Cross “The Dark Night,” which describes the journey of the soul, through apparent darkness, to the union with God which is the Spiritual Marriage or Bridal Chamber.  The entire manuscript of St. John’s most famous work, the Ascent of Mt. Carmel/Dark Night is in reality a commentary on these eight simple stanzas. 

    Written while imprisoned for heresy by the more fundamentalist elements of the Spanish Catholic Church, St. John narrowly escaped the Inquisition, but through his sufferings produced one of the deepest mystical writings of all time.  He eventually escaped his enemies, and went on to be canonized as a great saint and Doctor of the Church. 

     Steeped in Holy Scripture as well as the rich spirituality of the middle ages, John writes from a mystical tradition which owes a great debt to the writer of the Pseudo-Dionysian works, as well as St. Augustine, St. Bernard, and the rich spiritual tradition of Mt. Carmel.

     His poetry, however, owes a great deal to the Moorish romances which he must have heard as a poor child growing up among the relatives of his mother who were conversos, or new Christians forcibly converted from either Islam or Judaism.  Indeed, like the heretical alumbristas who preceeded him, St. John owes much to the mysticism of both the Sufi Muslim and Jewish Qabalah. 

     Many centuries before, Christian mystics in the Syrian desert generously passed on their spiritual treasures to both Christian and Muslim seekers.  In St. John of the Cross, we see Islam returning the favor and passing on the legacy of light and union with God to a Christianity sorely in need of such grace.  Through careful editing and a profound insight into the universality of the message of love and transcendence, St. John escaped the fate of the heretic to pass on this precious, living flame of love. 


The Rosary of the

Dark Night of the Soul



Santuário San Rafael 

Antiochene Catholic Church

Rev. Robert J. Foss, bishop and Pastor

San Rafael independent ministry in the Catholic Tradition

Based on the writings of St. John of the Cross

Prayed on a seven decade rosary

(or Franciscan Crown)


Make the Sign of the Cross and pray on the Cross:


+Holy God

Holy Mighty One

Holy Immortal One

Have mercy on us.



Lord God my Beloved

Illuminate my soul with Love

That I may be gentle, peaceful,

patient, and humble;

Soften my heart with love.

O Good Jesus, help me to know you

By abandoning the desire to know;

help me speak to you

by the practice of holy silence.   Amen.


On the first  Large BeadOur Father


On the next three beads:


Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with you, blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.  [pause and say the name of Jesus in your heart]  Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us now and at the hour of death.  Amen. 


On the chain:


Glory to you O God, Living One, Word and Spirit, now and for all ages and aeons. Amen. 


Read the First Stanza and pause for a moment to quietly let the words sink in:


The First Stanza: Dark Night of the Senses

 One dark night,

fired with love's urgent longings

- O happy chance! -

I went out unseen,

my house being now at rest.

On the Large Bead:  Our Father….

On each of the next ten beads:  Hail Mary...

On the chain at the end:  Glory to you…



The Second Stanza:  Ascension to the

Dark Night of the Spirit

In darkness, and secure,

by the secret ladder, disguised,

O, happy chance! -

in darkness and concealment,

my house being now at rest.

On the large bead:  Our Father…

On the ten beads:  Hail Mary...

On the chain:  Glory to you...Continuing in the same manner for each Stanza.


The Third Stanza:  The Illumination of

Deepest Darkness

On that glad night

in secret, for no one saw me,

nor did I look at anything

with no other light or guide

than the one that burned in my heart.


The Fourth Stanza:  The Hidden Path of

Strength and Grace

This light guided me

more surely than the light of noon

to where the Lover was awaiting me

well I knew who! -

in a place where no one appeared.


The Fifth Stanza:  Consciousness of  Impending Union

O guiding night!

O night more lovely than the dawn!

O night that has united

the Lover with the Beloved,

the Beloved into the Lover transformed.


The Sixth Stanza:  The Intimacy of Silence and Spirit

Upon my flowery breast,

which I kept wholly for the Lover alone,

 who lay sleeping,

under my caress

there in a breeze from the fanning cedars.


The Seventh Stanza: The Consoling

Wound of Divinity

When the breeze blew from the turret,

as I parted my Lover’s hair,

my neck wounded

by a gentle hand,

suspending all my senses.


(here concludes the recitation of the prayers)


Eighth Stanza:  Mystical Union

of the Bridal Chamber

I abandoned and forgot myself,

laying my face on my Beloved;

all things ceased; I went out from myself,

leaving my cares

forgotten among the lilies.


(A long period of silence and detachment follows the reading of the eighth stanza)



Prayer of a Soul Taken with Love

             Lord God, my Beloved, do not remember my failings, I beg of you, grant me the light of your will, my God, which is what I most desire, and impart your goodness and mercy. And since you desire my opening to you through love,  hear my prayer, grant my desire, and infuse your love in me, as I accept the sufferings of this life.  Let your will be done in me, as I long to do your will for others. Out of the depths I cry unto you, O God, what is it that makes you wait, my most clement Lord? Why do you delay? For if, after all, I am to receive the grace and mercy that I entreat of you, take my life as an offering to you, since you desire it, and grant me this blessing, since you are my light and my love.


Glory to you O God, Living One, Word and Spirit.  Now and for all ages and aeons.  Amen.


Holy God

Holy Mighty One

Holy Immortal One

Have mercy on us.






Sayings of Light and Love

by St. John of the Cross

· O Lord, my God, who will seek you with simple and pure love, and not find that you are all one can desire, for you show yourself first and go out to meet those who seek you?

· Though the path is plain and smooth for people of good will, those who walk it will not travel far, and will do so only with difficulty if they do not have good feet, courage, and tenacity of spirit. 

· God desires the smallest degree of purity of conscience in you more than all the works you can perform. 

· Those who do not allow their appetites to carry them away will soar in their spirit as swiftly as the bird that lacks no feathers.

· The fly that clings to honey hinders its flight, and the soul that allows itself attachment to spiritual sweetness hinders its own liberty and contemplation. 

· Mine are the heavens and mine is the earth. Mine are the nations, the just are mine, and mine the sinners. The angels are mine, and the Mother of God, and all things are mine; and God  is mine and for me, because Christ is mine and all for me. What do you ask, then, and seek, my soul? Yours is all of this, and all is for you. Do not engage yourself in something less or pay heed to the crumbs that fall from your Father's table. Go forth and exult in your Glory! Hide yourself in it and rejoice, and you will obtain the supplications of your heart.

· The very pure spirit does not bother about the regard of others or human respect, but communes inwardly with God, alone and in solitude as to all forms, and with delightful tranquility, for the knowledge of God is received in divine silence.





O glorious St. John of the Cross, through a pure desire of being like Jesus crucified, you longed for nothing so eagerly as to extinguish all desire; and your thirst for light was so burning that your noble heart rejoiced in the midst of the cruelest darkness. Grant, I beseech you, O dear Saint, by the glory of your holy emptiness, to intercede for me and obtain from God for me a love of abandonment, together with strength and grace to bear with firmness of mind all the darkness which is the sure means to the happy vision of the celestial realm. Dear Saint, from your most happy place in glory, hear, I beseech you, my prayers, so that after your example, full of love for the Christ I may deserve to be your companion in stillness. Amen.

St. John of the Cross

San Juan de la Cruz

St. Juan de Yepes


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