Have you ever been in a house…alone?? For some of us, it is a really thrilling experience! You get to jump on the cozy bed of your parents and they don’t even know. You can blast the music and sing at the top of your lungs without fear…you can make as much popcorn as you want and eat it all just because you can…(not that I have done any of these things of course!)…yes being home alone can be a thrilling experience.
Being in a house by yourself can also have the opposite effect which I like to call the “spooky effect”…especially if you are in the house at night. All of a sudden you begin to hear sounds that you never heard before…little “pitter patter” and “creeky” sounds that just make your heart beat out of your chest. Then your imagination goes wild and you scream, cry or hide… or you do all three.
When we are experiencing a dark night, we have a tendency to think that we are alone. We are never alone! We have the whole army of angels helping us…our Blessed Mother, St. Joseph and Jesus Christ our Saviour and Redeemer.
Happy New Year to all of you and welcome back to our 2021 Blog posts. For those of you who are new to the blog welcome, and for those of you who have been reading you are awesome and keep reading! We are going to continue the study of the Dark Night of the Soul getting into our explanation of the Dark Night of the Spirit…so fasten your seatbelt…get cozy… and here we go!!
The purpose of the dark nights as we previously spoke about is really to purify our love and to help us have purity of soul ready for union with God. St. Therese says, “I know that He is better pleased to see you stumbling in the night upon a stony road, than walking in full light if day upon a path carpeted with flowers because these flowers might hinder your advance.” She makes a good point…when everything is sunshine and daisies, it is harder to grow in virtue…but when the way is paved with stones and thorns…that is when we learn how to love…really love. The dark nights are a mercy…God is permitting those who travel through the dark night to have their purgatory here on earth, so that we can be running into the arms of God when our time here has come to an end.
So now that we have spoken in detail about the night of the senses let us now talk about the night of the spirit! Are you ready?
St. John of the Cross points out in Book II of the Dark Night of the Soul that the soul does not go into the dark night of the spirit immediately after the aridities and trials of the first purgation. He describes the new state the soul is in as “proficient” (illuminative way) and it seems that in this new state, “the soul is liberated from a cramped prison cell, the soul goes about the things of God with much more freedom and satisfaction…” (Dark Night of the Soul. Bk II chapter 1. Par.1.). He goes on to say that at this stage, the soul readily finds in its a very serene and loving contemplation and spiritual delight. However, since the purgation of the soul is not complete yet, the soul still experiences certain aridities, darknesses, and conflicts.
So the senses are more purified at this stage, and prayer is simple, infused and consoling. There is occasional dryness and other weaknesses in the soul. At this stage there are other imperfections that need to be spoken of in the state of “proficient.” The imperfections are both habitual and actual.
The habitual imperfections are “imperfect affections and habits still remaining like roots in the spirit…” (Bk II Ch.2 par 1). The sensory purgation (night of the senses) could not reach the spirit and so, St. John of the Cross describes the differences of each purgation by saying that the difference between purgation of the senses and purgation of the spirit: it is like the difference between pulling up roots (purgation of the spirit) and cutting off a branch (purgation of the senses). (Bk II Ch.2 par 1). Have any of you ever planted a garden? I remember we were pulling up weeds in the garden and there was this one really hard weed to get out of the ground…I tried with all I had to get it out… and my whole body just flew back (you are probably hearing the Chariots of Fire music in your head right now…don’t worry it is in my head too!) It was pretty epic!
Roots are hard to pull out! St. John of the Cross describes the purgation of the senses as the gateway to the purgation of the spirit…meaning the purgation of the senses is like digging in the ground for the roots… (Bk II ch.2. par 1.). Yet, when the roots come out, that weed is gone and something new can be planted…something beautiful like roses…I love roses!
Now, let us talk about the actual imperfections. This is the time (do not be afraid) but this is a time where the devil can impress upon souls apprehensions and feelings where the soul needs to stand their ground and defend themselves through faith! There are times where the devil can tempt the soul to lose holy fear in God, be drawn by vanity arrogance, feeling too secure in oneself due to spiritual feelings… (Dark Night of the Soul Bk II. Ch 2. par.3) Just ask our Blessed Mother Mary to crush his head…she will!!
In order to reach union, the soul must enter the dark night of the spirit. In this night, the sensory and spiritual parts of soul are despoiled of all delights and the soul is made to walk in dark and pure faith which is the means to divine union…