26
Feb
13

Dark Night of the Soul, Lenten Observance, Day 26, 2013

Bk II, Ch. XII: Shows how this horrible night is purgatory, and how in it the Divine wisdom illumines men on earth with the same illumination that purges and illumines the angels in Heaven.
A quotation from the Psalms is given that the “wisdom of God is silver tried in fire…” Again the idea of a metalsmith working with metal and melting it so that any imperfections can become separated from the pure metal and removed. And that ties into the idea of fire or flames used to purge souls in Purgatory, or even in the purgatory of the Dark Night St. John describes in this essay.
This chapter uses another metaphor – that of a glass which refracts the light of the sun being like God’s Wisdom and Love. When such Wisdom and Love hit the angels, it goes through them without much refractive effect, as they are things of the spirit and of the spirit purified, and so, when one angel is so shone upon and through, so are they all, but when that light hits humans, the degree to which the light (wisdom, love) gets through depends on the spirit of the recipient, just as light moves easily and without much distortion through plate glass, but less so through thick and dark glass.
Again we get the metaphor of wood, of the log burning in fire until it takes on the qualities of fire itself and becomes pure energy. St. John notes that the soul eventually reaches a point (provided it stays with the program, I’m thinking) that it it becomes aware of the living fire within. And that changes things, for the soul is much more capable of withstanding the difficulties of the Dark Night when it sees some fruit.
The chapter ends with a statement by St. John that the soul sometimes feels the heat of the Divine Fire, but at other times it gets the light, and not the heat. I’m not sure I fully get this. With the heat comes pain, but with the light comes something else. Part of the process is the pain of knowing (or feeling) separation from God and a sense that God has abandoned wretched creatures like ourselves. But the light must be some understanding of the process (and so not just the blind sensation of the pain of the Fire, or the feelings of passion within), but some grasp of the bigger picture. And yet, I’m guessing you need to feel both the passion and have the understanding.

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