Saint Rafael Arnaiz was born in Burgos, Spain, on April 9, 1911. When he was twenty-one years old, he left behind the comforts of his wealthy family and an unfinished degree in architecture to join the Trappist-Cistercian abbey of San Isidro de Dueñas. A sudden onset of diabetes and the beginning of the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939) turned his monastic journey into an unusual one.
In these unfavorable circumstances and despite the shortness of his life (he died soon after his twenty-seventh birthday), Rafael developed a solid spirituality, which in its simplicity is a straight path to holiness. He has been compared to mystics like Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, whose writings inspired him, and his theology of the cross, born from his prayer, places him in continuity with the best of the monastic tradition. In his letters and journals, compiled in this volume, his heart speaks of the joys and struggles of striving to live for God alone.
Catherine Addington, PhD, is a translator and scholar of Catholic writing in the Spanish-speaking world. She earned her doctorate in Spanish literature and translation from the University of Virginia in 2021.
Sr. María Gonzalo-García, OCSO, is the novice director at the Trappist-Cistercian monastery of Our Lady of the Angels (Crozet, Virginia). She is originally from Madrid, Spain, where she completed degrees in social work and theology. She has benefited from Saint Rafael Arnaiz´s spiritual message since the beginning of her monastic journey and hopes to help spread this blessing to others through the English edition of his works.