Wisdom from St. John of the Cross

What do you do when you’re going through a rough time? How do you respond to pressure and conflict? God can feel absent at these times. Prayer may feel dry. To help offer encouragement for times such as these, Dr. Edward Sri shares a story from the life of St. John of the Cross. This story reveals a time of intense suffering for St. John and his response to that suffering.

Snippet from the Show
God’s love pierces through all attachments and all suffering. God opens our hearts to be more receptive to him as he is the only one who satisfies.


About St. John of the Cross

St. John of the Cross was born in June 1542 in Avila, Spain. He grew up in significant poverty as his father died when he was only three years old. At the age of 25, St. John of the Cross was ordained a Carmelite priest. It was also at this time that he met Teresa of Avila. 

Some of St. John of the Cross’s primary work during his life was the reform of the Carmelite order. This was not easy work as there was significant division between the different sects. At one point, St. John of the Cross was even abducted and held in confinement for months due to this conflict. 

After the conflict was somewhat resolved, St. John of the Cross spent the remainder of his life establishing new houses for the Discalced Carmelites throughout Spain. St. John of the Cross died on December 14, 1591.

Confinement of St. John of the Cross

In December of 1577, St. John of the Cross was abducted by fellow Carmelites. They blindfolded him and hand-cuffed him. They locked him in a tower in a narrow room with only a very small window. He was confined in darkness for 7 months. 

In addition to being confined, St. John of the Cross was flogged and was psychologically tortured by his guards. The guards would have conversations that made it sound as though they planned to kill him.

After seven months, St. John of the Cross escaped. He was able to loosen the screws on the door and push it open. He then used sheets to create a rope and hoist himself down the side of the wall.

The Words that Moved St. John of the Cross to Tears

When St. John of the Cross found refuge at the convent, the nuns took him to the chapel to pray. When the nuns sang the following words, St. John of the Cross was moved to tears and wept for an hour:

“Whoever knows nothing of pain, knows nothing of love, since pains are the garments of love.”

When You Pray: A Clear Path to a Deeper Relationship with God

You know prayer is important but still find it challenging. Perhaps it’s hard to find time, or you’re unsure what to do when you pray. Or maybe you feel discouraged by your weaknesses and your inability to overcome them.

If you have any of these feelings, you are not alone. Many of the saints struggled in prayer. They were like us. But each time they fell, they got up again and learned to rely more on God’s grace.

What God did in the lives of countless saints, he wants to do in the lives of ordinary people like us. And that’s what this study is about: the journey of prayer God wants to take us on.

Authored and presented by Dr. Edward Sri, When You Pray also features Fr. Jacques Philippe, Fr. Josh Johnson, Fr. Gregory Pine, Sister Josephine Garrett, Fr. Donald Haggerty, and Sister Maris Stella.

Upcoming Events with Dr. Sri

  • Dec 2: St. Thomas More Parish Mens’ Retreat – Centennial CO
  • Dec 6-7: Immaculate Conception Parish – Columbus OH
  • Dec 8-10: Immaculate Conceptions Men’s Retreat – Malvern PA
  • Jan 1-5: SEEK Conference, St. Louis MO
  • Jan 12-13: Diocese of Evansville Eucharistic Congress – Evansville IN
  • Jan 18-28: Holy Land Pilgrimage
  • Jan 31: St. Thomas More Parish Marriage Talk – Centennial CO
  • Feb 9-10: St. Vincent de Paul Parish Renewal Weekend – Austin TX
  • Feb 15: St. Rita Parish Mission – Wellington FL
  • Feb 16-17: Archdiocese of St. Louis Men’s Conference – St. Louis MO
  • Feb 21: St. Anna’s Catholic Church – Parish Lenten Mission – Monroe GA
  • Feb 22: Holy Trinity Catholic Church – Parish Lenten Mission – Peachtree City GA
  • Mar 1-2: Annual Diocesan Conference – Laredo TX
  • Mar 8-9: Catholic Men’s Conference of Maryland – Baltimore MD
  • Mar 13-14: St. Michael Catholic Church Parish Mission – St. Michael MN
  • Mar 15: Bishop Lucker Lecture for Diocese of New Ulm – Redwood Falls MN
  • Mar 20-21: St. Louis Catholic Church Parish Mission – Miami FL
  • Apr 5-6: Diocese of Charleston Eucharistic Congress – Columbia SC
  • Apr 19-20: Diocesan Eucharistic Congress – Altoona-Johnstown PA
  • June 20-23: St. Patrick Catholic Church – Summer Summit – London, England
  • June 23-July 1: Rome Pilgrimage
  • July 19-20: 2024 National Eucharistic Congress – Indianapolis IN
  • Aug 10: Discipleship Conference – Oklahoma City OK
  • Aug 23-24: Diocesan Faith Formation Conference – Tulsa OK
  • Sept 21: 2024 Annual Meeting and Investiture of the Northern Lieutenancy of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem – Denver CO
  • Oct 3: Diocese of Harrisburg Annual Priest Workshop – Hunt Valley MD


  • Visit Dr. Sri’s website at www.edwardsri.com and to book online events with Dr. Sri email events.edwardsri@gmail.com
  • Find more of Dr. Sri’s episodes at www.ascensionpress.com/allthingscatholic 
  • Ascension is pleased to offer our new and improved online bible study programs and sacramental preparation programs digitally to help you minister with flexibility. Go to www.ascensionpress.com to view all our offerings

Dr. Edward Sri is a theologian, well-known Catholic speaker, and author of several best-selling books. His work with Ascension includes study programs such as A Biblical Walk Through the Mass, No Greater Love: A Biblical Walk Through Christ’s Passion and Mary: A Biblical Walk with the Blessed Mother. Several of Dr. Sri’s programs were filmed on-site in the Holy Land, and feature immersive video explorations of the sacred sites where Jesus, Mary, and the Apostles lived and died.

Dr. Sri is the host of the acclaimed Ascension podcast All Things Catholic with Dr. Edward Sri.  Together with Curtis Martin, Dr. Sri is a founding leader of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), of which he serves as senior vice president of Apostolic Outreach.

Dr. Sri lives with his wife Beth and their children in Colorado.

1 Comment

  1. Prayer is difficult.


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