Facing Our Enemies

Meditations on St. John of the Cross'
"The Precautions"


The Precautions of St. John of the Cross were written for the Carmelite sisters in the community of Beas near El Calvirio, Spain, around the year 1579. The work is a concise summary of doctrine regarding the three enemies in the spiritual life: the world, the devil, and the sensuality of the self. The Precautions are best understood in the larger context of the journey in the spiritual life to union with God. In the daily battle towards our goal of union with God, we are formed and strengthened in the struggle with these enemies.


Enemies Of The Spiritual Life

Against The World

Against The Devil

Against The Self

While The Precautions are written in a predominantly negative style, this series of meditations emphasizes the affirmative action to be taken in facing the enemies of the spiritual life. It is our hope that by meditating on the rich doctrine found in The Precautions and on the related Scriptural passages, that we may be better equipped for battle, and that we may be able to ally ourselves with the urging of St. Paul: "I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect." (Romans 12.1-2)

(c) Paul Buis, 2006