We were talking of the imperfections of those souls who are about to enter the first dark night.
The defects, which the saint examines one by one, are the seven capital sins, which result in one of many imperfections in these beginners.
The souls, once selected by God, enter the first night. The pool from which these souls are selected are those that show an interest in God, meditate about spirituality, are already contemplative, and have been discussed in the first stage (postings 33-34).
Once they have c0mmitted themselves to the service for God, they are tenderly nurtured by God, just as a mother, takes care of a newborn baby. When the baby is hungry and cries, mother readily gives the baby nourishment. She rushes to alleviate his distress. She sings to the baby lullabies, gives him warmth from her bosom, caresses him, and changes his diapers. So far, these beginners were like babies. They were given spiritual nourishment readily. Sometimes for whole night they were given joys and bliss. Grace of God gave them pleasures in all things pertaining to God, free, without their own efforts. Even hardships such as fasts and penances were joyful.
As they enter into the purification process, things change. No more milk and honey. They have to give up baby food and learn to eat food with crust. They have to stand on their feet, and learn to walk. They have to endure falls and pain. Mother puts aloe over her breasts to give it a bitter taste. She lets the baby cry, without picking him up.
The first of the seven deadly sins is pride. Aspirants may develop secrete pride over their efforts and hardships, and be proud of the fervor in their hearts. There may develop a desire in them, which is vain desire, to talk about spiritual things in front of others. They want to be esteemed by others. They don’t like others being praised.
To increase their pride the devil may increase their enthusiasm to perform more of such actions which are a source of their pride, such as penances, fasts and prayers. Thus their virtues start turning into vices. Instead of being humble, which is a necessary requirement for spiritual travelers, (because God likes humility and dislikes pride and arrogance) they become proud. They like to teach others instead of learning from others.
Some of them realize their imperfection. They become angry and impatient with themselves, which is another fault. The correct attitude being meekness, , patience , loving fear of God, thinking little of their efforts , ascribing their virtues to God’s grace and not to their actions, holy envy of others, (whom, they think, are far better than them ) , and begging Him to remove their defects.
Second defect is spiritual greed. These seekers are not content with the spirituality that God gave them. They become dejected and irritable. They think that some other practice or some other article may be the answer to their troubles. Thus, to find the answer, they are forever reading books or listening to counsels. They may become strangely attached to crosses, images and rosaries. Leaving one, picking up another. They are like children with trinkets. Thus, instead of developing inner poverty of spirit, by mortifications, they use outer crutches.
To be continued.