Monday, September 29, 2014

The Dark Night of the Soul by John of the Cross

This week's devotional classic is based on excerpts from The Dark Night of the Soul by John of the Cross (1542-1591). John was a Spanish monk who wrote this, his most famous work, while imprisoned because of his work leading the Catholic Reform.  The concept of the "Dark Night" is an integral part of understanding the Christian journey.

In this excerpt the editors of Devotional Classics highlight parts of the work that point to how the Holy Spirit draws new converts from the beginning stages of their spiritual journeys to a more advanced stage. Often individuals at this stage of spiritual development experience a period when they experience a lessening of joy in their devotional life (referred to here as "the dark night of the soul.") This devotional classic is very deep theologically and cannot really be summarized. My attempt here to do that is woefully inadequate.  I found the following quote particularly insightful.

...God perceives the imperfections within us, and because of his love for us, urges us to grow up.  He is not content to leave us in our weakness...and takes us into a dark night....Through the dark night pride becomes humility, greed becomes simplicity, wrath becomes contentment, luxury becomes peace, gluttony becomes moderation, envy becomes joy, and sloth becomes strength. No soul will ever grow deep in the spiritual life unless God works passively in that soul by means of the dark night.
The editors point out that to expect spiritual maturity without the dark night is like an athlete hoping to become a champion without training.

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