Sunday, February 15, 2009

41.Dark night of the soul, third installment

We were talking of spiritual greed. Please read posting 40 first for better understanding

Saint John warns:
“For true devotion must issue from the heart, and consists in the truth and substance alone of what is represented by spiritual things; all the rest is affection and attachment…”

Compared with some others, who;
“……make good progress, attach themselves to no visible instruments, nor desire to know more than is necessary; for they set their eyes only in being right with God, and please Him”

Third defect is spiritual luxury. There may arise in them impure acts and motions, while they are engaged in spiritual exercises. These acts arise in sensual part of the soul, and may arise when the soul is in deep meditation. Both acts may be proceeding simultaneously; meditation on God satisfying the spiritual aspect, impure thoughts pleasing the sensual aspect. The aspirants have no control over their impure thoughts and are powerless to prevent them. They may visualize, most vividly, foul and impure actions. There are at least three reasons, cited by the saint, which are the cause of this distress. For the sake of brevity I will not discuss the causes.

Some aspirants are so weak and excitable that any spiritual reward, during prayer or penance, overwhelms them. They become inebriated with joy. Their senses are overly satisfied. They may later realize that certain inappropriate acts have taken place. All this is vain gratification and not good for the soul. Anger and grief raise similar exaggerated emotions in them.

Some other souls develop spiritual friendship with others, but its basis may be related to their sensual nature. A test of such spiritual luxury is that as the sensual love increases, the love with God decreases, and as the love for God rises, the other love falls. The two loves are contrary to each other.

Fourth defect is the sin of anger. These seekers have been deriving joy and consolation with spiritual practices. When they no longer derive any consolations from spiritual things they become bitter and angry. They become irritated over little things. They become like children whose favorite toy has been taken from them. Others may have difficulty in tolerating them. It is natural to be saddened by the deprivation of joy with spiritual practices, but it is not correct to indulge in it.

Some travelers have another kind of anger. They become angry with imperfections in others.

Another group recognizes their problem, but become vexed and irritated by it. They lose their patience. This is contrary to what is required; patience and meekness. They should strive hard to remove their faults, but still wait patiently for God’s grace to fall on them and remove their defects.

Fifth shortcoming is spiritual gluttony. These persons are never satisfied by what they have, they want more and more. They are most unreasonable. It appears that St John, as director of souls, encountered several of them. He has a lot to say about them

These souls used to derive great pleasure from spiritual exercise, now they don’t. They go to extremes to get these joys. Spirit of patience and moderation leaves them.

To be continued

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