John of the Cross makes it clear that the life of the virtues begins in the Dark Night. Before that, one is not really living the theological, cardinal and moral virtues.
God gives to those whom He leads into this night humility and readiness, albeit with lack of sweetness, so that what is commanded them they may do for God’s sake alone; and thus they no longer seek profit in many things because they find no pleasure in them.
There is another very great benefit for the soul in this night, which is that it practices several virtues together, as, for example, patience and longsuffering, which are often called upon in these times of emptiness and aridity, when the soul endures and perseveres in its spiritual exercises without consolation and without pleasure. It practises the charity of God, since it is not now moved by the pleasure of attraction and sweetness which it finds in its work, but only by God. It likewise practises here the virtue of fortitude, because, in these difficulties and insipidities which it finds in its work, it brings strength out of weakness and thus becomes strong. All the virtues, in short—the theological and also the cardinal and moral—both in body and in spirit, are practised by the soul in these times of aridity.
Once the aridity disappears into the complete Illumination Stage, the virtues are practised without effort, all the time.
To be continued....