San Juan de la Cruz

Ordinary Time 31/4th Week before Advent
Lesser Festival of Richard Hooker, Priest, Anglican Apologist & Teacher of the Faith (d. 1600)
Commemoration of Martin of Porres, Friar (d. 1639)

[ now playing? ]
Ennio Morricone, London Philharmonic Orchestra, London Voices & Barnet Schools Choir – The Mission OST
Feist – Let It Die

Been re-reading Dark Night of The Soul by St. John of the Cross again (the translation by Kieran Kavanaugh O.C.D. and Otilio Rodriguez O.C.D. published by the Institute for Carmelite Studies). This has been hitting me like a ton of bricks of late and being a checkpoint for myself. I like reading stuff by long-dead guys. Especially when I know that a lot of what they write about is of a similar experience that I am going through now. I hate this aridity in my spiritual life, but maybe this is what God has ordained for me at this period of my earthly existence (see Section 3, in Chapter 5 of Book 1 below). Here’s the main sections that I have been reading and ruminating over of late.

Book 1, Chapter 3

[Some imperfections of spiritual avarice commonly found in beginners.]

3. Yet until a soul is placed by God in the passive purgation of that dark night, which we will soon explain, it cannot purify itself completely of these imperfections or others. But people should insofar as possible strive to do their part in purifying and perfecting themselves and thereby merit God’s divine cure. In this cure God will heal them of what through their own efforts they were unable to remedy. No matter how individuals do through their own efforts, they cannot actively purify themselves enough to be disposed in the least degree for the divine union of the perfection of love. God must take over and purge them in that fire that is dark for them, as we will explain.

San Juan de la Cruz (John of the Cross in Spanish) isn’t saying that we must do something to merit God’s divine cure in terms of justification. This comes after justification when we know we have bad habits, thoughts, etc, etc that need to be killed off. We do not generally sit back and expect God to cure us like that in an instant (though for some, they have the good pleasure of receiving this divine providence). Some of the vices we have need our own attention and in certain things we may be able to do something to curtail these vices. But the really deep roots of the vices may still be present and it is these that God will heal us of.

For example, take alcoholism. A person may be an alcoholic and realize that overconsumption is bad for them. They can take steps to “cure” themselves of alcoholism. In some cases, they go cold turkey and battle with not have any alcohol at all. In others, they may reduce their alcohol intake to nothing gradually. Inside them, they may still have the impulse to go and get themselves sloshed. But in taking steps themselves, they have begun a process which God alone will finish and bring to completion through His own power.

Book 1, Chapter 4

[The imperfections of lust, the third capital vice, usually found in beginners.]

6. Sometimes, too, in their spiritual conversations or works, they manifest a certain sprightliness and gallantry on considering who is present, and they carry on with a kind of vain satisfaction. Such behavior is also a by-product of spiritual lust (in the way we here understand it), which generally accompanies complacency of the will.

7. Some spiritually acquire a liking for other individuals that often arises from lust rather than from the spirit. This lustful origin will be recognized if, on recalling that affection, there is remorse of conscience, not an increase in the remembrance and love of God. The affection is purely spiritual if the love of God grows when it grows, or if the love of God is remembered as often as the affection is remembered, or if the affection gives the soul a desire for God—if by growing in one the soul grows also in the other. For this is a trait of God’s spirit: The good increases with the good since there is likeness and conformity between them. But when the love is born of this sensual vice it has the contrary effects. As the one love grows greater, the other lessens, and the remembrance of it lessens too. If the inordinate love increases, then, as will be seen, the soul grows cold in the love of God and, because of the recollection of that other love, forgets him—not without feeling some remorse of conscience. On the other hand, as the love of God increases, the soul grows cold in the inordinate affection and comes to forget it. …

Book 1, Chapter 5

[The imperfections of the capital vice of anger into which beginners fall.]

1. Because of the strong desire of many beginners for spiritual gratification, they usually have many imperfections of anger. When the delight and satisfaction procured in their spiritual exercises passes, these beginners are naturally left without any spiritual savor. And because of this distastefulness, they become peevish in the works they do and easily angered by the least thing, and occasionally they are so unbearable that nobody can put up with them. This frequently occurs after they have experienced in prayer some recollection pleasant to the senses.
After the delight and satisfaction are gone, the sensory part of the soul is naturally left vapid and zestless, just as a child is when withdrawn from the sweet breast. These souls are not at fault if they do not allow this dejection to influence them, for it is an imperfection that must be purged through the dryness and distress of the dark night.

2. Among these spiritual persons there are also those who fall into another kind of spiritual anger. Through a certain indiscreet zeal they become angry over the sins of others, reprove these others, and sometimes even feel the impulse to do so angrily, which in fact they occasionally do, setting themselves up as lords of virtue. All such conduct is contrary to spiritual meekness.

3. Others, in becoming aware of their own imperfections, grow angry with themselves in an unhumble impatience. So impatient are they about these imperfections that they want to become saints in a day. Many of these beginners make numerous plans and great resolutions, but since they are not humble and have no distrust of themselves, the more resolves they make the more they break, and the greater becomes their anger. They do not have the patience to wait until God gives them what they need, when he so desires. Their attitude is contrary to spiritual meekness and can only be remedied by the purgation of the dark night. Some, however, are so patient about their desire for advancement that God would prefer to see them a little less so.

Honestly, forget about purgatory supposedly being a place you go to after you die. Purgatory is one’s life on earth.

+ 2151hrs


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