Sunday, April 19, 2009

50. Dark night of the soul, twelfth installment

We were discussing the changes in the person by the end of the first and second night and the mechanism of change.

God speaks to the soul during infused contemplation in a secret way. The soul cannot describe it even if it wanted to: “such a person can only say he is satisfied, tranquil and contented and that he is conscious of the presence of God, and that, as it seems to him, all is going well with him; but he cannot describe the state of his soul, nor can he say anything about it except in general terms”

This secret wisdom is like a ladder, up and down, not in a straight line. The reason is “as the state of perfection which consist in perfect love of God and contempt for the self, cannot exist unless it has these two parts, which are knowledge of God and of oneself…..soul experiences taste of one------that is exaltation-----and then the other----that is humiliation-----until it has acquired perfect habits, and then this ascending and descending will cease……since the soul will have attained God and united with Him”

What should be one’s attitude during this terrible and bitter ordeal? I quote from St John this eloquent passage:

“ Therefore , O spiritual soul, when thou seest thy desire obscured , thy affections arid and constrained, and thy faculties bereft of their capacity for any interior exercise, be not afflicted by this, but rather consider it great happiness, since God is freeing thee from thyself and taking the matter from thy hands.”

Ten steps of the mystic ladder of Divine love, according to St Bernard and St Thomas (taken from ‘dark night of soul' by St John):

First step .Soul loses the desire and taste for everything, like a sick person.

Second step. Soul seeks God without ceasing. It thinks of God, speaks of God. All it cares is about God

Third step. Soul acquires fervor and works for God. Great works are done at this stage

Fourth steps. Soul is in habitual suffering because of the Beloved, yet there is no weariness. This step is very lofty. The love for God is so true that God quite habitually grants it joy and visits it sweetly .

Fifth step. Soul desires and longs impatiently. Every delay is irksome. Soul must see the Beloved. Here men suffer hunger like dogs and go about the city of God

Sixth step. Soul runs swiftly to God and touches Him again and again

Seventh step. Soul becomes vehement in its boldness. Men like this obtain from God whatever they beg

Eighth step. Soul seizes Him and holds Him fast without letting Him go. On this step of union the soul satisfies her desire, but not continuously

Ninth step. Soul burns with sweetness. This step is that of the perfect, who now burns sweetly in God.

Tenth step. This is the last step. Soul is wholly assimilated in God. It goes forth from the flesh. These souls that are few do not go to purgatory, since they have already been wholly purged by love.

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