Dark Night of the Soul, Lenten Observance, Day 16, 2013

Ch. XIV: Expounds this last line of the first stanza.

The final line is about my house being now at rest. As St. John expounds this, he equates the house with the beginner’s sensuality which is now tamed and put in order. And now the soul is ready to embark on the tougher journey, that of the Dark Night of the Soul, which is terrible.
St. John believes (as is taught also in the Catholic Church) that the soul must be purged – it is why there is an intermediate area in the afterlife in Catholic teaching, Hell for those who cannot be redeemed, Heaven for the saved, and Purgatory where a certain period of purging and suffering is necessary for the soul to proceed to Heaven, to union with God. This might be done with fasting and mortifying the flesh, but each person’s path has to be his/her own and may take different forms.
St. John does note that the souls that make it to union with God, often spend a very long time in the aridities and temptations of life prior to that union, even though they are on the path.
As I read this section, I thought a lot about what I recall from my Catholic upbringing about Purgatory. The concept of Purgatory is tied to the idea that our bodies are corrupted by sin, and that such corruption affects even people who are otherwise good. And that corruption lingers somewhat, and must be purged before union with God can happen. But St. John, though he seems to have a similar view over all, does seem to be talking about coming to some mystical union with God in this world. There still needs to be a purging, a purging of desires (associated with bodily weakness – our appetites, and our egos)which, once done, allows for the possibility of union. Though St. John does seem to believe in the possibility of union with God in the here and now, he seems to have a sense of the persistence of those desires, which he does assume to be bad (harmful anyway) to the soul.

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