Sunday, February 22, 2009

42.Dark night of the soul, fourth installment

We were talking of spiritual gluttony

In Saint’s own words:

"These persons are most imperfect and unreasonable; for they set body penance over obedience, (which is penance according to reason and discretion)…….”

“For some of them kill themselves with penances, and others weaken themselves with fasts, by performing more than their frailty can bear”…… “... Avoiding their superiors whom they should obey.”

“But such one-sided penance is no more than penance of beasts, to which they are attracted, exactly like beasts, by the desires and pleasures which they find, therein. Inasmuch as all extremes are vicious………………….., they are acquiring spiritual gluttony and pride in this way, through not walking in obedience.”

“……better way is that of humble resignation...”

“They strive with every nerve to obtain some kind of sensible sweetness and pleasure……..and when they don’t receive it, they think they have accomplished nothing at all. This is to judge God very unworthily” The reason is that invisible part of grace, which does not come through senses, is better than the visible part, which comes through senses. Thus, their behavior denotes impurity of faith in God, which is a grave imperfection.

“But God, very justly, wisely and lovingly, denies it (pleasure) to them, for otherwise this spiritual gluttony ….would breed innumerable evils”

“…….they are very weak and remiss in journeying the hard road of Cross….” For they want pleasure, while that road is devoid of pleasure and consists of self-denial.

“They have many other imperfections. ……in time the Lord heals them, by means of temptations, aridities, and other trials, all of which are part of the dark night”

The last two defects ( 6th and 7th) are spiritual envy and spiritual laziness. If others outperform them, they are envious of them. They may dislike others being praised, may even dispute the praise, or may argue that they should be similarly praised. Whereas correct attitude should be one of holy envy: grief at not having the virtues of others, yet also joy that others have them, and strive to be like them.

These beginners may be so used to sweetness in spiritual acts, that the things that do not give pleasure tire them quickly. For instance if prayers do not give them satisfaction, they may abandon them. Thus due to this laziness they may give up the way to perfection.

In a similar vein, if they are ordered to do something which does not give them pleasure, it irritates them. They are in for sweetness, not for fortitude in denial of sweetness.

The seven imperfections of the soul are not the only imperfections in these beginners, there are others, but these are the most important root defects, others arise from them.

You may wonder why the other more grave weaknesses, from which most if not all humanity suffers, are not mentioned here. For instance, Sri Ramakrishna, one of the greatest mystic of all times, railed against the two cardinal temptations of lust and gold, which are not mentioned here

To be continued

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