Have you ever noticed how little children know how to get what they want? I remember hearing a story about a little girl who threw a tantrum because she wanted something…she wasn’t getting her own way. Her father, observed her jumping up and down screaming! He went up to her, took her by the hand and started doing the exact same thing she was doing: jumping and screaming…she was so embarrassed that her dad was doing that, she never threw another tantrum again. Obviously, he was trying to prove a point…to help her to see how ridiculous she is being by being so stubborn.
Sometimes when we don’t get what we want…or we just don’t understand if we want something that we know is good, why doesn’t God allow us to have it? Some things will remain a mystery…hidden… but in eternity we will know. Maybe what we did want was not the best thing for us at the time…or maybe God wants us to have that good thing, but He is asking us to be patient and wait…or maybe there is something even more wonderful just around the corner and God is whispering: “Wait until you see what I have for you!” But we can be so stubborn and needy…God challenges us to trust…and wait…but not just to wait…to wait in hope!
Waiting…that reminds me…Happy Advent everyone!!! We are so blessed to have a time of preparation and waiting for the Saviour, yet our waiting is with joy-filled hope! Jesus is our hope!
As we have been discussing in these blog posts the seven deadly sins and how to grow in our relationship with God through them, I hope that it has helped us to see that we are weak and that we need God. However, I hope that it has also instilled hope inside of you because if God allows you to pass through the dark night, it means He wants you to be a great saint! This is certainly a reason to hope!!
It is very important to be able to distinguish between the signs for discerning the dark night, and the signs of us just being stubborn!
First of all, we need to understand the need of three signs that we have entered the dark night. The first sign is that the soul experiences no satisfaction in creatures. In the dark night, prayer becomes hard, and performing works of mercy and charity becomes extremely hard. God is purging the soul of spiritual consolations and delights and so the soul does not find satisfaction in creatures. The soul seeks for God alone! The second sign is that the memory ordinarily turns to God with solicitude. This means that the soul may think and feel that it has turned away from God yet, this is not the case at all!! Their desire for God is so great…they do not feel like praying for example but are still committed to prayer. A stubborn soul (lukewarm) is one who does not feel like praying and then stops praying because they just don’t feel like it! A lukewarm soul does not long for God because God does not seem to be communicating through their senses. The third sign is that the soul will have an inability to meditate. They experience a type of “dry thirst” during meditation, yet the spirit is strengthened through it all! The soul must persevere and be content with just remaining in the presence of God and offering to God their poverty, and “empty hands” during meditation.
So how should a soul conduct themselves during the dark night? There are three ways that the saints explain how a soul can do this!
First, a soul must stop discursive meditation and remain in the presence of God. They must simply wait in the stillness of God. Secondly, a soul must persevere with patience. Prayer will seem like a trial and a cross, however perseverance is very pleasing to God! Thirdly, a soul must have a loving and peaceful attentiveness to God. The soul must lose any concern about how they feel and must learn to let go of control.
The saints know the dark night! Take hope in the words of St. Mother Teresa: “God speaks in the silence of the heart. Listening is the beginning of prayer.”