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Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Dark Night Posts Resuming

Well, it seems I cannot move away from this subject. And, I have amazed myself at all the Dark Night postings. I shall put SOME of the links in this post at the end.

Someone asked me if the Dark Night was marked by a feeling of spiritual emptiness.

Yes, yes, yes.

But, why?

St. John of the Cross gives us several reasons and I shall try and share a few points. Some of this is repetition.

Firstly, we are creatures who rely too much on our senses, even with regard to spiritual things. We crave consolations, and the stroking of our feelings and imaginations in prayer.  Without this purgation of the senses, the first part of the Dark Night, we shall not meet God as He really is.

We need to be separated from habits of self and relying on the senses. This means that God calls us into the desert, and a desert has few colors, few delights.

St. John writes this:

IT now remains to be said that, although this happy night brings darkness to the spirit, it does so only to give it light in everything; and that, although it humbles it and makes it miserable, it does so only to exalt it and to raise it up; and, although it impoverishes it and empties it of all natural affection and attachment, it does so only that it may enable it to stretch forward, divinely, and thus to have fruition and experience of all things, both above and below, yet to preserve its unrestricted liberty of spirit in them all. For just as the elements, in order that they may have a part in all natural entities and compounds, must have no particular colour, odour or taste, so as to be able to combine with all tastes odours and colours, just so must the spirit be simple, pure and detached from all kinds of natural affection, whether actual or habitual, to the end that it may be able freely to share in the breadth of spirit of the Divine Wisdom, wherein, through its purity, it has experience of all the sweetness of all things in a certain pre-eminently excellent way.144And without this purgation it will be wholly unable to feel or experience the satisfaction of all this abundance of spiritual sweetness. For one single affection remaining in the spirit, or one particular thing to which, actually or habitually, it clings, suffices to hinder it from feeling or experiencing or communicating the delicacy and intimate sweetness of the spirit of love, which contains within itself all sweetness to a most eminent degree.145

Remember the flesh pots of Egypt about which I have written here? These fleshpots, which were the memories of good food and comforts even under slavery, kept interfering with the minds and heart of the Israelites.

They were remembering sensual pleasures and comfort in the midst of the long walk around Sinai. This may seem normal to us, but remember also, that we cannot approach God with our imaginations and selves full of the ego and full of memory.

 The reason for this is that the affections, feelings and apprehensions of the perfect spirit, being Divine, are of another kind and of a very different order from those that are natural. They are pre-eminent, so that, in order both actually and habitually to possess the one, it is needful to expel and annihilate the other, as with two contrary things, which cannot exist together in one person. Therefore it is most fitting and necessary, if the soul is to pass to these great things, that this dark night of contemplation should first of all annihilate and undo it in its meannesses, bringing it into darkness, aridity, affliction and emptiness; for the light which is to be given to it is a Divine light of the highest kind, which transcends all natural light, and which by nature can find no place in the understanding.

Note that the Dark Night undoes sensual and spiritual bad habits, concupiscence and finally, even venial sin. 
The darkness, aridity, affliction and emptiness are all to be expected in the Dark Night.

Without this preparation, we are simply not holy enough to see God as He really is and to appreciate the opening up of the life of virtues which He wants to do in us.

To be continued...and more Dark Night posts.

And, there are more....