Thursday, 15 August 2013
In 1999, in Washington D. C., I saw the first day of the relics of St. Therese of Lisieux in the world journey of the beautiful remains throughout the U.S.A. I had a profound experience of this Little Flower, after waiting out in the rain for several hours, while the special guests had a private Mass. I also had a fantastic discussion with the Carmelite friar who was in charge of the eastern journey of these relics from Washington to the Mississippi River.
At that time, I had been visiting Seton Home Schooling for a perspective job, which did not happen, but I met many saints while I was in Front Royal. The trip to Washington to see the relics was icing on the cake.
St. Therese is one of my personal patrons. The list gets longer as I get older, but she accompanied me from childhood, and was the first biography of a saint I read as a child.
Now, a relic of hers is coming to Dublin, to Whitefriar Street Church on Aungier Street from August 22-24th. I am so excited.
St. Therese is one reason why I am in Europe. She is loved by so many because of her little way of love which speaks to the heart of the laity.
From 10:30 to 6:00 for those three days, one may come and honour this saint of our times.
I am so excited.
In the purification of the senses, all pleasure is denied to the body and the mind. The reason for this is not that God hates the body or the imagination the He created, but that one has sinned and turned away from God over and over again, creating patterns of sin which must be cleansed.
Remembering that only the perfect see God, one must cooperate with this purification of the senses.
Eating becomes a duty, not a pleasure. Normal things which use to bring a natural joy no longer do so. Some people begin to hate shopping, which use to bring them pleasure. One may find no pleasure in reading Scripture and meditation is impossible, as the imagination is cleansed.
One's memory dims except when God wants one to remember something for His Glory.
Nothing exterior causes comfort. And, if one keeps seeking comfort, one falls back out of the Dark Night until one decides to accept the pain of such sensual emptiness.
One prefers silence to music, even favourite composers.
Art, which delighted one in the past, just is. The beauty of one surroundings either is taken away or one no longer derives pleasure from such. Even the loss of one's own physical beauty is part of the movement of the purification. An illness, like cancer, or a look in the mirror as one ages, brings the reality of this loss forward into one's consciousness.
I have asked God to take away the desires I have for things, places, people. This is happening slowly. But, He took the initiative and removed so much from my life that I had to give up. This isolation and purging are graces. What the nuns and monks do willingly, some of us do at first, not willingly, but then so. All I want is to experience Him for His Own Sake and not for mine or any one else's
Why must one endure such pain? All is arid. One is in the desert.
John of the Cross has the answer. He calls this el sentido. The reason is concupiscence, which we inherit from original sin, pulls us down again and again, away from God and into ourselves.
St. Paul writes in Romans,
I find then a law, that when I have a will to do good, evil is present with me. For I am delighted with the law of God, according to the inward man: but I see another law in my members, fighting against the law of my mind, and captivating me in the law of sin, that is in my members. Unhappy man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? (Romans 7:21-25)
Here is St. John again, from a different point of view....
...the imperfections from which the soul frees itself in this dark night with respect to the fourth sin, which is spiritual gluttony, they may be found above, though they have not all been described there, because they are innumerable; and thus I will not detail them here, for I would fain make an end of this night in order to pass to the next, concerning which we shall have to pronounce grave words and instructions. Let it suffice for the understanding of the innumerable benefits which, over and above those mentioned, the soul gains in this night with respect to this sin of spiritual gluttony, to say that it frees itself from all those imperfections which have there been described, and from many other and greater evils, and vile abominations which are not written above, into which fell many of whom we have had experience, because they had not reformed their desire as concerning this inordinate love of spiritual sweetness. For in this arid and dark night wherein He sets the soul, God has restrained its concupiscence and curbed its desire so that the soul cannot feed upon any pleasure or sweetness of sense, whether from above or from below; and this He continues to do after such manner that the soul is subjected, reformed and repressed with respect to concupiscence and desire. It loses the strength of its passions and concupiscence and it becomes sterile, because it no longer consults its likings. Just as, when none is accustomed to take milk from the breast, the courses of the milk are dried up, so the desires of the soul are dried up. And besides these things there follow admirable benefits from this spiritual sobriety, for, when desire and concupiscence are quenched, the soul lives in spiritual tranquillity and peace; for, where desire and concupiscence reign not, there is no disturbance, but peace and consolation of God.
This purgation is painful. It involves a struggle. Even the usual comforts of the pleasures of the Mass and prayer are denied to one. But, one WILLS to love, which is the whole point of the Dark Night. One wills to love despite no warm fuzzies. A person can experience victory over concupiscence.
Those who seek spiritual comforts will not be perfected on earth.
John of the Cross and others state that many endure the purification of the senses, but few that of the spirit. I shall move on to that state in the next post on the Dark Night. Here is a glimpse of that state:
In this purgation [of the spirit], these two portions of the soul (estas dos partes del alma espiritual y sensitiva) will undergo complete purification, for one part is never adequately purged without the other. The real purgation of the senses begins with the spirit. Hence the night of the senses we explained should be called a certain reformation and bridling of the appetite rather than a purgation. The reason is that all the imperfections and disorders of the sensory part are rooted in the spirit and from it receive their strength
And, (todas las imperfecciones y desórdenes de la parte sensitiva tienen su fuerza y raíz en el espíritu). All good and evil habits reside in the spirit and until these habits are purged, the senses are not completely purified of their rebellions and vices.
The next step is more painful, and one cannot see where one is going, but lives totally by Faith. One fights this purgation, which is part of the suffering, but the roots of desire must be destroyed for God to come to the person in Union. Here is John again....
God divests the faculties, affections, and senses, both spiritual and sensory, interior and exterior. He leaves the intellect in darkness, the will in aridity, the memory in emptiness, and the affections in supreme afflication, bitterness and anguish, by depriving the soul of feeling and satisfaction it previously obtained from spiritual blessings (gusto que antes sentía de los bienes espirituales). For this privation is one of the conditions required that the spiritual form, which is the union of love, may be introduced in the spirit and united with it. The Lord works all of this in the soul by means of a pure and dark contemplation (todo lo cual obra el Señor en ella por medio de una pura y escura contemplación), as is indicated in the first stanza [of the poem, En una noche oscura]. Although we explained this stanza in reference to the first night of the senses, the soul understands it mainly in relation to this second night of the spirit, since this night is the principal purification of the soul.
We have, besides Christ, two who did not endure this Dark Night, as they were with God, one from conception and one from six months in the womb. Mary, Our Mother and Queen can help us through her prayers. St. John the Baptist, born in union with God, can also help us. Pray to them.
I may add that one can force a delay in this process by not accepting suffering and contemplation. I did this for years, running away from the call into purgation. One can start the process and then leap back into the life of the senses, which moves one away from perfection. Do not do this...but God is Faithful, and will call one back.
I know the month and year I ran away the first time from deep contemplation and this Dark Night, April of 1987. But, God allowed me my free will and led me to other paths before I was willing to join Him again in the Dark Night. Even that running away from suffering was part of His Will for my life. There is a mystery in all of this. He blessed me with His Love and kept calling me. That was a long time ago. God chipped away at my ego and sinfulness until I was ready to accept the journey again. Do not run away, but let God work all this good in you. One cannot move into union with God in any other way. One cannot.
Also, remember Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta was in the Dark Night for at least 45 years. No complaints...only walking in Faith constantly, daily.
To be continued....