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Dark Night of the Soul
by St. John of the Cross
In Dark Night of the Soul, Saint John of the Cross presents for us a portrait painted from his own experience of one who advances successfully through the struggles of the spiritual life. The night that St John describes is not abandonment by God but special consideration from Him for those who desire to purify and perfect their souls. With a soul purified from earthly attachments, we can advance through the much-quoted but oft-misunderstood night of the souls into unity with God. By accepting the desolation and difficulty of this process, the soul cooperates with God and opens itself to receiving and revealing more perfectly God's glory. Be not afraid- Dark Night of the Soul, though austere and exacting in its instructions for holy living, is laced with St John's charity and kindness, his love of all things beautiful and sacred- including you.
About the Author:
Born in 1542 in Spain, St John of the Cross entered the Carmelites in 1563 and received Holy Orders four years later. Soon after they met, St Teresa of Avila enlisted him to purify the Carmelite Order. When the strict observances of St John's Discalced (literally shoeless ) Carmelites sparked widespread reform, some disgruntled monks captured, imprisoned, and tortured him. During those nine months and beyond, St John of the Cross endured a night of the soul. This and other contemplative experiences inspired his mystical theology and earned him the title Doctor of the Church.
Item No: TC2212 (Grouped)
Publisher: Saint Benedict Press, LLC
Imprint: TAN Books
Release Year: 2010
Dimensions: 5.5" X 8.5" X 0.63"
Excerpts from this Book:
"Some beginners, too, make light of their faults, and at other times indulge in immoderate grief when they commit them. They thought themselves already saints, so they become angry and impatient with themselves, which is another great imperfection. They also importune God to deliver them from their faults and imperfections, but it is only for the comfort of living in peace, unmolested by them, and not for God; they do not consider that, were He to deliver them, they would become, perhaps, prouder than ever."
— St. John of the Cross, p. 9
"The soul, however, cannot be perfectly purified from these imperfections, any more than from the others, until God shall have led it into the passive purgation of the night, of which I shall speak immediately. But it is expedient that the soul, so far as it can, should labor, on its own part, to purify and perfect itself, that it may merit from God to be taken under His divine care, and be healed from those imperfections which of itself it cannot remedy. For, after all the efforts of the soul, it cannot by any exertions of its own actively purify itself to be in the slightest degree fit for the divine union of perfection in the love of God, if God Himself does not take it into his own hands and purify it in the fire, dark to the soul."
— St. John of the Cross, p. 14
"Others, again, seeing their own imperfections, become angry with themselves with an impatience that is not humble. They are so impatient with their shortcomings as if they would be saints one day. Many of these make many grand resolutions, but, being self-confident and not humble, the more they resolve, the more they fall, and the angrier they become; not having the patience to wait for God’s time; this is also opposed to spiritual meekness. There is no perfect remedy for this but in the night. There are, however, some people who are so patient, and who advance so slowly in their spiritual progress, that God wishes they were not so patient."
— St. John of the Cross, p. 24
"Many beginners, delighting in the sweetness and joy of their spiritual occupations, strive after spiritual sweetness rather than after purity and discretion, which is that which God regards and accepts in the whole course of the spiritual way. For this reason, over and above their imperfection in seeking after sweetness in devotion, that spirit of gluttony, which has taken possession of them, forces them to overstep the limits of moderation, within which virtue is acquired and consists. . . Inasmuch then as all extremes are vicious, and as in this course of conduct men follow their own will, the consequences are that they grow in the vice and not in virtue; at least they minister to their spiritual gluttony and pride, for they do not walk in the way of obedience."
— St. John of the Cross, p. 26
"These persons, when they [receive Holy Communion], strive with all their might for sensible sweetness, instead of worshipping in humility, and praising God within themselves. So much are they given to this that they think when they derive no sensible sweetness, they have done nothing, so meanly do they think of God; neither do they understand that the least of the blessings of the Most Holy Sacrament is that which touches the senses and that the invisible grace it confers is far greater; for God frequently withholds these sensible favors from men, that they may fix the eyes of faith upon Himself . . . All this is a very great imperfection, being against the purity of Faith, and directly at variance with the nature of God."
— St. John of the Cross, p. 28
"They who are bent on sensible sweetness, labor also under another very great imperfection: excessive weakness and remissness on the rugged road of the cross; for the soul that is given to sweetness naturally sets its face against all the pain of self-denial. They labor under many other imperfections, which have their origin here, of which our Lord will heal them in due time, through temptations, aridities, and trials, elements of the night."
— St. John of the Cross, p. 28
"There is another reason also why the soul has traveled safely in this obscurity; it has suffered: for the way of suffering is safer, and also more profitable, than that of rejoicing and action. In suffering, God gives strength, but in action and joy, the soul does but show its own weakness and imperfections. And in suffering, the soul practices and acquires virtue, and becomes pure, wiser, and more cautious."
— St. John of the Cross, p. 149
"The reason why the soul not only travels securely when in obscurity but also makes greater progress is this: In general the soul makes greater progress in the spiritual life when it least thinks so, yea, when it rather imagines that it is losing everything ...There is another reason also why the soul has traveled safely in this obscurity; it has suffered: for the way of suffering is safer, and also more profitable, than that of rejoicing and action. In suffering, God gives strength, but in action and joy, the soul does but show its own weakness and imperfections. And in suffering, the soul practices and acquires virtue, and becomes pure, wiser, and more cautious."
— St. John of the Cross, p. 149
"The freshness of living hope in God fills the soul with such energy and resolution, with such aspirations after the things of eternal life, that all this world seems to it—as indeed it is—in comparison with that which it hopes for, dry, withered, dead, and worthless. The soul now denudes itself of the world's garments and trappings by setting the heart upon nothing in it and hoping for nothing that is, or maybe, living only in the hope of everlasting life. Therefore, when the heart is lifted above the world, the world cannot touch it or lay hold of it or even see it. Thus disguised and clad in the vesture of hope, the soul is secure from its second foe, the world, for St. Paul calls hope the helmet of salvation. A helmet is an armor that protects and covers the whole head and has no opening except in one place, where the eyes may look through. Hope is such a helmet, for it covers all the senses of the head of the soul in such a way that they cannot be lost in worldly things, and leaves no part of them exposed to the arrows of the world."
— St. John of the Cross, p. 175