28
Feb
13

Dark Night of the Soul, Lenten Observance, Day 28, 2013

Bk II, Chs. XIV and XV: Wherein are set down and explained the last three lines of the first stanza and Sets down the second stanza and its exposition.

When I first read the chapter heading for ch. XIV, I thought –weren’t we done with the first stanza already (after all, we are ¾ of the way through the book)? We get another take here, that the soul must leave the house, as there the soul is likely to be hindered by those within (the passions and desires). We also get the idea here that God must be found in solitude. I’m not sure that I believe that, as I think that God might very well be found in crowds as well.
Of course, the house might very well be seen as the body (which is the seat of passions and desires, and often seen in Catholic theology as an area of weakness that must be overcome). But then the idea of the soul leaving the body suggests death or some out of body experience, which St. John does not seem to be talking about elsewhere.
Our passions get in our way, so we cannot leave, or we find it difficult to do so. But the soul must leave freely, “going forth in freedom.” Of course, only the soul who is going through the Dark Night, can understand the servitude in which it once was.

Ch XV: Sets down the second stanza and its exposition.
In Ch. XV, we get the bit about going up the secret ladder. Of course, this is the way out that the passions don’t see. St. John defines this ladder as the “living faith.” In the dark night, it is possible for the soul to get free of the passions, as they are confused in the darkness, and so make its escape. For the passions are dumbfounded and even asleep, and so the soul can escape. Again, I’m not sure of the dichotomy here – one’s soul is part of who one is, and passions are part of the whole. Awareness of those passions helps control them, and discipline can help tame them, but the idea of escaping them – that I don’t get. Maybe later. Again I wonder if St. John is talking, in general, about experience after death, though elsewhere he does seem to be talking about a beatific experience in this life.

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