The Way to Ultimate Meaning in the Mystical Theology of St. John of the Cross

St. John of the Cross has a remarkable vision of the potential of human individuals for greatness. For him this potential lies in the faculties of memory, intellect, and will which he refers to metaphorically as the "the deep caverns of feeling." They are deep because "anything less than the infinite fails to fill them." Their depth lies in the fact that the object of their "capacity, namely God, is profound and infinite." It is this depth that lies at the core of the human dilemma. Since the capacities of the human memory, intellect and will are "in a certain fashion ...infinite, their thirst is infinite, their hunger is also deep and infinite, and their languishing and suffering [caused by their incapacity, on their own, to reach their object] are infinite death". This vivid description of human greatness and of the poignancy of human suffering can be stated in contemporary terms. In what follows I will attempt not only to present St. John's understanding of the human soul, its faculties and its discovery of ultimate meaning through union with God but also to transpose this understanding into Lonergan’s framework of intentionality analysis.

Dr. Larry Cooley