During evening prayers on Friday 3/17/17 at St. John’s in Aptos, CA — hear about another dynamic duo: St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross.
John of the Cross was asked by Teresa of Avila to follow her — which he did. Both Teresa and John were 16th century Catholic mystics living in Spain.
St. Teresa of Avila was a writer, reformer and mystic who started the Carmelite order.
St. John of the Cross, famous for Spiritual Canticle, wrote Dark Night of the Soul while he was locked in a 6′ by 10′ cell. Both of these were written in Spanish. At that time, the Bible was only available in Latin.
St. John of the Cross made a drawing of Christ from above was later was the basis of Dali’s famous painting.
At age 43, Teresa of Avila started her first convent and later several other convents for women. She created a rule for how the women were to live, committed to a simple life of poverty based on love.
“The important thing is not to think much but to love much and so do that which best stirs you to love. Love is not great delight but desire to please God in everything.” (1)
John of the Cross created a similar way of life in living together for men. John of the Cross served as Teresa’s spiritual director and confessor.
This following is based on an Evening Prayer service lead by Alliee DeArmond, Friday, September 16, 2016 at St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church in Aptos, CA. Alliee leads the Friday Evening Prayer services which start promptly at 5:30 pm and end around 6:00 pm. Come to 125 Canterbury, Aptos, CA.
As part of the service, Alliee discussed a book about the Freedom Writers and Erin Grunwell.
Included is how another woman helped: Miep Gies a Dutch woman …
As an idealistic twenty-three-year-old English teacher at Wilson High School in Long beach, California, Erin Gruwell confronted a room of “unteachable, at-risk” students.
One day Erin intercepted a note with an ugly racial caricature, and angrily declared that this was precisely the sort of thing that led to the Holocaust—only to be met by uncomprehending looks.
So Erin …. and her students, using the treasured books Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl and Zlata’s Diary: A Child’s Life in Sarajevos their guides, undertook a life-changing, eye-opening, spirit-raising odyssey against intolerance and misunderstanding.
Erin and her students … learned to see the parallels in these books to their own lives, recording their thoughts and feelings in diaries and dubbing themselves the “Freedom Writers” in homage to the civil rights activists “The Freedom Riders.”
With funds raised by a “Read-a-thon for Tolerance,” they arranged for Miep Gies, the courageous Dutch woman who sheltered the Frank family, to visit them in California, where she declared that Erin Gruwell’s students were “the real heroes.” Their efforts have paid off spectacularly, both in terms of recognition—appearances on “Prime Time Live” and “All Things Considered,” coverage in Peoplemagazine, a meeting with U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley—and educationally. All 150 Freedom Writers have graduated from high school and are now attending college.
With powerful entries from the students’ own diaries and a narrative text by Erin Gruwell, The Freedom Writers Diary is an uplifting, unforgettable example of how hard work, courage, and the spirit of determination changed the lives of a teacher and her students.
The authors’ proceeds from this book will be donated to The Tolerance Education Foundation, an organization set up to pay for the Freedom Writers’ college tuition. Erin Gruwell is now a visiting professor at California State University, Long Beach, where some of her students are Freedom Writers.