Fr Paul Gooley reads from the Gospel of Matthew (11: 11-15) in which Jesus spoke to the crowds saying ‘Of all the children born of women a greater than John the Baptist has never been seen, yet the least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he is’. Afterwards, Fr Paul shares a little about the life of St John of the Cross whose memorial we celebrated today. Fr Paul notes, John was born in Spain, around about the year 1542. He spent some time as a Carmelite friar before, in 1568, Saint Teresa of Ávila persuaded him to pioneer the reform of the Carmelite order. This was a difficult task and a dangerous one: he suffered imprisonment and severe punishment at the hands of the Church authorities. He died at the monastery of Ubeda in Andalusia on 14 December 1591. The monks of that monastery had initially treated him as the worst of sinners, but by the time he died they had recognised his sanctity and his funeral was the occasion of a great outburst of enthusiasm. His works include two major mystical poems (John is considered one of the great poets of the Spanish language) and detailed commentaries on them and the spiritual truths they convey. He was canonized in 1726 and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1926. So today, Fr Paul invites us to ask, ‘St John of the Cross… Pray for us!’