In John 10:10 Jesus promises His followers abundant life. This blog is about my life as His follower.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Dark night of the Soul

My mind needs opening. I have a void of thinking that causes me to benefit from the thoughts of others. Recently I’ve began to read some of the great Christian mystic writers.

One such author is St John of the Cross. This is a man who spent 9 months in a prison in 1577. When I read his writings I have to think really hard about what he’s saying because I don’t have a background that makes understanding of him easy. However, I found another author, Thomas Merton (A Trappist monk of the Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani in Kentucky who died in 1968), whose writings have helped me in my understanding of St John of the cross.

St John of the Cross, in his book The Dark Night of the Soul helps me understand transcendence. That experience that is beyond satisfaction brought by the physical things around me or from the praise of people. The experience of the presence of God and the all consuming desire to serve Him that brings a pleasure that can not be described.

I want to quote here from St John of the Cross as well as from Thomas Merton’s commentary on what St John said:

St John of the Cross - "These times of aridity cause the soul to journey in all purity in the love of God, since it is no longer influenced in its actions by the pleasure and sweetness of the actions themselves, . . . but only by a desire to please God. It becomes neither presumptuous nor self-satisfied, as perchance it was wont to become in the time of its prosperity, but fearful and timid with regard to itself, finding in itself no satisfaction whatsoever; and herein consists that holy fear which preserves and increases the virtues. . . . Save for the pleasure indeed which at certain times God infuses into it, it is a wonder if it find pleasure and consolation of sense, through its own diligence, in any spiritual exercise or action. . . . There grows within souls that experience this arid night (of the senses) care for God and yearnings to serve him, for in proportion as the breasts of sensuality, wherewith it sustained and nourished the desires that it pursued, are drying up, there remains nothing in that aridity and detachment save the yearning to serve God, which is a thing very pleasing to God. "(The Dark Night of the Soul, i, 13. Peers, op. cit., vol. I, p. 393.)

Thomas Merton – “The joy of this emptiness, this weird neutrality of spirit which leaves the soul detached from the things of the earth and not yet in possession of those of heaven, suddenly blossoms out into a pure paradise of liberty, of which the saint sings in his Spiritual Canticle: it is a solitude full of wild birds and strange trees, rocks, rivers, and desert islands, lions, and leaping does. These creatures are images of the joys of the spirit, aspects of interior solitude, fires that flash in the abyss of the pure heart whose loneliness becomes alive with the deep lightnings of God”.

“And thus St. John of the Cross not only makes himself accessible to us, but does much more: he makes us accessible to ourselves by opening our hearts to God within their own depths.”

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