Saturday, December 10, 2011
What John had foreseen came to pass. Doria saw his prestige and the reverence in which so many held him for his spiritual stature as a threat to his own authority and he left the Chapter a simple friar, stripped of any post. There were even plans to send him to Mexico, although this never materialised. Instead, he was sent to a remote friary at La Penuela. For John, it was a relief no longer to have all his administrative tasks, and to pursue the life of prayer for which he always yearned, whatever his outward activity over the previous years. As he remarked of those years, when he spent his journeys praying, singing psalms, 'I am well, but my soul lags far behind'. The letter he wrote to Mother Anne of Jesus shortly after the Chapter shows his state of mind: '[God] has arranged this that we may show it by our actions...this is not evil or harmful, neither for me nor for anyone. It is in my favour since, being freed and relieved from the care of souls, I can, if I want and with God's help, enjoy peace, solitude, and the delightful fruit of forgetfulness of self and of all things.' He made the most of the nature he so loved a Penuela, going for hours into the countryside to pray and be alone with his Beloved. Even so, he was not out of contact with the many people whom he had directed, and continued to guide them by letter. Even so, he would not have been human if he had not felt hurt by the antagonism and even hatred of which he had been the butt at the Chapter. As he wrote to Anne of Penalosa, he liked Penuela very much: 'The vastness of the desert is a great help to the soul and the body, although the soul fares very poorly. The Lord must desire that it have its spiritual desert.' He described his simple life to her, which suited him so much: 'This morning we have already returned from gathering our chick-peas, and so the mornings go by. On another day we shall thresh them. It is nice to handle these mute creatures, better than being badly handled by living ones.'