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Love Awakened by Love: The Liberating Ascent of Saint John of the Cross

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Love Awakened by Love

The Liberating Ascent of Saint John of the Cross

Mark O'Keefe, OSB

A skilled moral theologian, Benedictine Father Mark O’Keefe leads God-seekers to focus attention on St. John of the Cross’s teaching in The Ascent of Mount Carmel: The essence of the spiritual journey is union with God through the practice of the virtues, especially faith, hope, and love. It‘s virtuous living that enables us to truly love God and be conformed to God in divine union.

CPA Ribbon 2015
  • ICS code: ICS-LA
  • Format: paperback
  • Pages: 190
  • ISBN: 978-1-939272-15-7

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For St. John, religious “experiences” are not the essence of the spiritual journey at all, nor is asceticism for its own sake. John’s emphasis on the nada is to lead us to liberating emptiness -- authentic human freedom-- that equips us to be filled with the divine life. At the journey’s summit, we find the God who is Love.

This book is an insightful companion to The Ascent of Mount Carmel. Ideal for personal and group study, Carmelite formation, college courses, and a must for every library.

About the Author

Fr Mark O'Keefe, OSBMark O'Keefe, OSB, is a Benedictine monk and priest of Saint Meinrad Archabbey in Indiana. He is associate professor of Moral Theology at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology and from 1996–2008 was its president-rector. He holds a doctorate in sacred theology, with specialization in moral theology, from The Catholic University of America. Father O’Keefe is the author of nine books on moral theology, Christian ethics, and the priesthood, as well as numerous other published works. He has also served as a pastor, and since 1987 has been a medical ethics consultant for Memorial Hospital in Jasper, Indiana. His interest in Carmelite spirituality, especially its great teachers, St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila, has led him to specialized studies in Avila, Spain, over the course of several years.


“Father O’Keefe’s background in moral theology comes through as he speaks powerfully of St. John of the Cross’s insistence that only through a virtuous life can we ascend the mountain leading to God. This book gives us an excellent guide to understand St. John’s teaching and motivates us to live out our “yes” to God’s invitation to love and to life, life to the full.”

—Bishop Robert Morneau

Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus
Green Bay, Wisconsin

“In this pivotal new book on the Ascent of Mount Carmel, Benedictine Father O’Keefe not only provides us great insights on the obstacles that have prevented us from making progress on the spiritual ascent to deeper to union with God, but through his detailed analysis of the role of the theological virtues, he also provides an answer to the inevitable question we all face along the spiritual journey: so what do I do now?

Father O’Keefe does not shy away from the unique cultural challenges we face in trying to live out St. John of the Cross’s teaching in our modern world. He acknowledges the potential for contemporary misunderstanding of or even genuine resistance to words like asceticism. At the same time he stresses that the work required for authentic human liberation is simply the fulfillment of our truest nature as human persons. It is designed to allow us to become more capable of both receiving God’s love and giving back that love in return.

St. John of the Cross was a masterful psychologist (before that science was acknowledged) and he was deeply familiar with the inner workings of the human heart. Similarly, in this book, the reader is left with the impression that he or she is in the hands of a compassionate and experienced master of the interior life.

Love Awakened by Love: The Liberating Ascent of St. John of the Cross
will serve as a useful guide to anyone wishing to develop a deeper understanding of the spiritual journey and the various stages of growth along the path. It should also prove very helpful in providing a much better understanding of the sometimes challenging but deeply profound works of St. John of the Cross.

Those involved in spiritual direction or pastoral ministry will discover how the work can serve as a readable and insightful tool for offering counsel to others. In more academic settings such as seminaries and undergraduate and graduate programs in theology, this text will make a significant contribution to the canon of literature in the study of Mystical Theology.

It should find a ready reception in any parish ministry focused on adult education, spiritual development, and the vitally important work of providing instruction on the life of prayer. Love Awakened by Love can contribute significantly to our parishes fulfilling the late Pope John Paul II’s vision of parishes truly becoming schools of prayer.”

—Mark Danis, OCDS

Our Lady of Good Counsel Community
Dayton, Ohio

In Context

Teresa of Ávila, John of the Cross, and Their World

Mark O'Keefe, OSB

St. Teresa of Ávila and St. John of the Cross are among the greatest teachers of prayer in the Christian tradition. For nearly five centuries... SEE FULL DESCRIPTION

The Way of Transformation

Saint Teresa of Avila on the Foundation and Fruit of Prayer

Mark O'Keefe, OSB

Offering a fresh perspective on St. Teresa’s thought in her classic, The Way of Perfection, Father Mark O’Keefe draws our attention to... SEE FULL DESCRIPTION