Dark Night of the Soul, Lenten Observance, Day 21, 2013

Bk.II, Ch. VII: Continues the same matter and considers other afflictions and constraints of the will.

Here St. John gives a long quote from Jeremias regarding his own punishments which seem a lot like Job’s. And he notes that the Dark Night of the Soul is such that, not only does the soul despair of ever coming through, but the Spiritual Director overseeing this process cannot convince the proficient that s/he will come through. The proficient believes that the Director does not speak the truth, or that the Director is trying to make it feel better, but does not know the suffering, and so speaks in ignorance.
St. John does say that there are periods of relative light in this process, so that the soul gets some relief (that seems a good and sensible thing), but the proficient sometimes takes this as permanent relief which it often is not. I wonder here what causes the relapse, if one does get the relief. And whence comes the relief? From a belief in God’s goodness? From God taking direct action on oneself? If so, why not simply make the whole thing easier?
And when the second wave of the Dark Night comes, it is much worse than the first wave, so that the soul, which was lulled into a sense of comfort and freedom from the pain, is cast into greater pain. The pain, as described by St. John here, is that of being abandoned by God. Again, this sounds like so much self doubt. There is a danger in being proud and believing in oneself as fully self-sufficient (“No man is an island…”), but I think there is also a danger in a conviction that 1) God has abandoned me, and 2) I deserve such abandonment.

1 Response to “Dark Night of the Soul, Lenten Observance, Day 21, 2013”

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