The Dark Night of the Soul
The Dark Night of the Soul (John of the Cross):
"His axiom is that the soul must empty itself of self in order to be filled
with God, that it must be purified of the last traces of earthly dross before it is fit to
become united with God. In the application of this simple maxim he shows the most
uncompromising logic. Supposing the soul with which he deals to be habitually in the state
of grace and pushing forward to better things, he overtakes it on the very road leading
it, in its opinion to God, and lays open before its eyes a number of sores of which it was
altogether ignorant, viz. what he terms the spiritual capital sins. Not until these are
removed (a most formidable task) is it fit to be admitted to what he calls the "Dark
Night", which consists in the passive purgation, where God by heavy trials,
particularly interior ones, perfects and completes what the soul had begun of its own
accord. It is now passive, but not inert, for by submitting to the Divine operation it
co-operates in the measure of its power. Here lies one of the essential differences
between St. John's mysticism and a false quietism. The perfect purgation of the soul in
the present life leaves it free to act with wonderful energy: in fact it might almost be
said to obtain a share in God's omnipotence, as is shown in the marvelous deeds of so many
saints. As the soul emerges from the Dark Night it enters into the full noonlight
described in the "Spiritual Canticle" and the "Living Flame of Love".
St. John leads it to the highest heights, in fact to the point where it becomes
a"partaker of the Divine Nature". It is here that the necessity of the previous
cleansing is clearly perceived the pain of the mortification of all the senses and the
powers and faculties of the soul being amply repaid by the glory which is now being
revealed in it."
-- Taken from the Catholic Encyclopedia, "St.
John of the Cross" [Click
here for the full article.]
Geoffrey K. Mondello, "The
Metaphysics of Mysticism"--An article on John of the Cross' approach.