This course is part of the Distance Learning Website of the Carmelite Institute of Britain and Ireland (CIBI)


This online course has been designed to introduce students to St John of the Cross. It is based on Iain Matthew OCD, The Impact of God – Soundings from St John of the Cross, London: Hodder & Stoughton,1995. The division of chapters into sections has been adapted to the requirements of a sixteen unit course. During it you will be looking at: 

  • John the man and the relationship between his life and his writings

  • John’s understanding of God as invasive and seeking encounter

  • his consequent understanding of the human person and relationship with God

  • his teaching about “all” and ”nothing”, making space within, the dark night

  • the centrality of Christ in John’s experience and teaching

  • John and prayer

Module Tutor: Heather Ward OCDS

Essential reading:

The teaching about John is to be found in the essential text for this module: Iain Matthew OCD, The Impact of God – Soundings from St John of the Cross, London: Hodder & Stoughton,1995.The activities you will find here are intended to ensure that you engage with the text and with key extracts from John’s writings in such a way that you both understand it for yourself and have thought about how you might convey this to others. 

Clearly you cannot read the whole of John’s works for this one module; you will be asked to read important poems and extracts from John’s prose works so that you will know where to find central aspects of John’s word for us and will have a mental framework in place for any future extended reading.  

Therefore you will need access to a copy of the Collected Works of St John of the Cross in either of the standard translations.

The Complete Works of Saint John of the Cross, translated and edited by E. Allison Peers, from the critical edition of Silverio de Santa Teresa, New ed., 3 vols. Westminster: Newman Press, 1953. Reprinted by Sheed & Ward, I vol. 1978.

The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, translated by Kieran Kavanaugh and Otilio Rodríguez, with introductions by Kieran Kavanaugh. Washington DC: I.C.S. Publications, 1979. Revised Edition 1991.

The course is divided into 8 blocks, each of 2 units, with 4 questionnaires, spread over the period of the module, and a final examination at the end.

Once posted, each unit will be available until the end of the module. The dates on which each of the units, and the other material for this module is available in the calendar in the Student Section.


Units 1 & 2

Units 3 & 4

Questionnaire 1

Units 5 & 6

Units 7 & 8

Questionnaire 2

Units 9 & 10

Units 11 & 12

Questionnaire 3

Units 13 & 14

Units 15 & 16

Questionnaire 4

Examination Questions

Please click HERE to access the STUDENT SECTION for module start and end dates

From the date corresponding to the relevant Monday (see main web page of, you can click on the relevant unit to access it. 

    Once you have successfully accessed and studied the material in each pair of units, please click on the relevant questionnaire to access it when it is launched. Read the questions and send your answers by email to the course administrator: [email protected]

One question must be chosen from the three final examination questions posted and the answer must be submitted by email on or before the date indicated to the administrator:

[email protected]


Copyright: CIBI and the author of the module hold the copyright to this material (text, graphic and other); distribution to family or friends, or publication (including on internet) of any part of the material is not permitted without the author’s explicit written permission.