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Dark Night of the Soul

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Overview

All Christians experience dark nights-times when everything seems to be "going wrong with them." Some wallow in despair, others learn in darkness.

St. John of the Cross explains the four benefits of the dark night: 1. Delight of peace, 2. Habitual remembrance and thought of God, 3. Cleanness and purity of soul, 4. Practice of the virtues.

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Overview

All Christians experience dark nights-times when everything seems to be "going wrong with them." Some wallow in despair, others learn in darkness.

St. John of the Cross explains the four benefits of the dark night: 1. Delight of peace, 2. Habitual remembrance and thought of God, 3. Cleanness and purity of soul, 4. Practice of the virtues.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780768424560
  • Publisher: Destiny Image Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/28/2007
  • Series: Authentic Original Classic Ser.
  • Pages: 247
  • Sales rank: 978,220
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author


Born in 1542 in what is now Spain, St. John of the Cross entered the Carmelites in 1563 and received Holy Orders four years later. Soon after they met, St. Teresa of Avila enlisted him in her efforts to purify the Carmelite Order. When the strict observances of St John s Disclaced ("shoeless") Carmelites sparked widespread reform, some disgruntled monks captured, imprisoned, and tortured him. During those nine months and beyond, St John of the Cross endured a dark night of the soul. This and other contemplative experiences inspired his mystical theology and thereby earned him the title Doctor of the Church.
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Dark Night of the Soul


By T. N. R. ROGERS, E. Allison Peers

Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 2003 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-11553-5


CHAPTER 1

Sets down the first line and begins to treat of the imperfections of beginners.

INTO THIS dark night souls begin to enter when God draws them forth from the state of beginners—which is the state of those that meditate on the spiritual road—and begins to set them in the state of progressives—which is that of those who are already contemplatives—to the end that, after passing through it, they may arrive at the state of the perfect, which is that of the Divine union of the soul with God. Wherefore, to the end that we may the better understand and explain what night is this through which the soul passes, and for what cause God sets it therein, it will be well here to touch first of all upon certain characteristics of beginners (which, although we treat them with all possible brevity, will not fail to be of service likewise to the beginners themselves), in order that, realizing the weakness of the state wherein they are, they may take courage, and may desire that God will bring them into this night, wherein the soul is strengthened and confirmed in the virtues, and made ready for the inestimable delights of the love of God. And, although we may tarry here for a time, it will not be for longer than is necessary, so that we may go on to speak at once of this dark night.

2. It must be known, then, that the soul, after it has been definitely converted to the service of God, is, as a rule, spiritually nurtured and caressed by God, even as is the tender child by its loving mother, who warms it with the heat of her bosom and nurtures it with sweet milk and soft and pleasant food, and carries it and caresses it in her arms; but, as the child grows bigger, the mother gradually ceases caressing it, and, hiding her tender love, puts bitter aloes upon her sweet breast, sets down the child from her arms and makes it walk upon its feet, so that it may lose the habits of a child and betake itself to more important and substantial occupations. The loving mother is like the grace of God, for, as soon as the soul is regenerated by its new warmth and fervour for the service of God, He treats it in the same way; He makes it to find spiritual milk, sweet and delectable, in all the things of God, without any labor of its own, and also great pleasure in spiritual exercises, for here God is giving to it the breast of His tender love, even as to a tender child.

3. Therefore, such a soul finds its delight in spending long periods—perchance whole nights—in prayer; penances are its pleasures; fasts its joys; and its consolations are to make use of the sacraments and to occupy itself in Divine things. In the which things spiritual persons (though taking part in them with great efficacy and persistence and using and treating them with great care) often find themselves, spiritually speaking, very weak and imperfect. For since they are moved to these things and to these spiritual exercises by the consolation and pleasure that they find in them, and since, too, they have not been prepared for them by the practice of earnest striving in the virtues, they have many faults and imperfections with respect to these spiritual actions of theirs; for, after all, any man's actions correspond to the habit of perfection attained by him. And, as these persons have not had the opportunity of acquiring the said habits of strength, they have necessarily to work like feeble children, feebly. In order that this may be seen more clearly, and likewise how much these beginners in the virtues lack with respect to the works in which they so readily engage with the pleasure aforementioned, we shall describe it by reference to the seven capital sins, each in its turn, indicating some of the many imperfections which they have under each heading; wherein it will be clearly seen how like to children are these persons in all they do. And it will also be seen how many blessings the dark night of which we shall afterwards treat brings with it, since it cleanses the soul and purifies it from all these imperfections.

CHAPTER 2

Of certain spiritual imperfections which beginners have with respect to the habit of pride.

AS THESE beginners feel themselves to be very fervent and diligent in spiritual things and devout exercises, from this prosperity (although it is true that holy things of their own nature cause humility) there often comes to them, through their imperfections, a certain kind of secret pride, whence they come to have some degree of satisfaction with their works and with themselves. And hence there comes to them likewise a certain desire, which is somewhat vain, and at times very vain, to speak of spiritual things in the presence of others, and sometimes even to teach such things rather than to learn them. They condemn others in their heart when they see that they have not the kind of devotion which they themselves desire; and sometimes they even say this in words, herein resembling the Pharisee, who boasted of himself, praising God for his own good works and despising the publican.

2. In these persons the devil often increases the fervour that they have and the desire to perform these and other works more frequently, so that their pride and presumption may grow greater. For the devil knows quite well that all these works and virtues which they perform are not only valueless to them, but even become vices in them. And such a degree of evil are some of these persons wont to reach that they would have none appear good save themselves; and thus, in deed and word, whenever the opportunity occurs, they condemn them and slander them, beholding the mote in their brother's eye and not considering the beam which is in their own; they strain at another's gnat and themselves swallow a camel.

3. Sometimes, too, when their spiritual masters, such as confessors and superiors, do not approve of their spirit and behavior (for they are anxious that all they do shall be esteemed and praised), they consider that they do not understand them, or that, because they do not approve of this and comply with that, their confessors are themselves not spiritual. And so they immediately desire and contrive to find some one else who will fit in with their tastes; for as a rule they desire to speak of spiritual matters with those who they think will praise and esteem what they do, and they flee, as they would from death, from those who disabuse them in order to lead them into a safe road—sometimes they even harbour ill-will against them. Presuming thus, they are wont to resolve much and accomplish very little. Sometimes they are anxious that others shall realize how spiritual and devout they are, to which end they occasionally give outward evidence thereof in movements, sighs and other ceremonies; and at times they are apt to fall into certain ecstasies, in public rather than in secret, wherein the devil aids them, and they are pleased that this should be noticed, and are often eager that it should be noticed more.

4. Many such persons desire to be the favorites of their confessors and to become intimate with them, as a result of which there beset them continual occasions of envy and disquiet. They are too much embarrassed to confess their sins nakedly, lest their confessors should think less of them, so they palliate them and make them appear less evil, and thus it is to excuse themselves rather than to accuse themselves that they go to confession. And sometimes they seek another confessor to tell the wrongs that they have done, so that their own confessor shall think they have done nothing wrong at all, but only good; and thus they always take pleasure in telling him what is good, and sometimes in such terms as make it appear to be greater than it is rather than less, desiring that he may think them to be good, when it would be greater humility in them, as we shall say, to depreciate it, and to desire that neither he nor anyone else should consider them of account.

5. Some of these beginners, too, make little of their faults, and at other times become over-sad when they see themselves fall into them, thinking themselves to have been saints already; and thus they become angry and impatient with themselves, which is another imperfection. Often they beseech God, with great yearnings, that He will take from them their imperfections and faults, but they do this that they may find themselves at peace, and may not be troubled by them, rather than for God's sake; not realizing that, if He should take their imperfections from them, they would probably become prouder and more presumptuous still. They dislike praising others and love to be praised themselves; sometimes they seek out such praise. Herein they are like the foolish virgins, who, when their lamps could not be lit, sought oil from others.

6. From these imperfections some souls go on to develop many very grave ones, which do them great harm. But some have fewer and some more, and some, only the first motions thereof or little beyond these; and there are hardly any such beginners who, at the time of these signs of fervour, fall not into some of these errors. But those who at this time are going on to perfection proceed very differently and with quite another temper of spirit; for they progress by means of humility and are greatly edified, not only thinking naught of their own affairs, but having very little satisfaction with themselves; they consider all others as far better, and usually have a holy envy of them, and an eagerness to serve God as they do. For the greater is their fervour, and the more numerous are the works that they perform, and the greater is the pleasure that they take in them, as they progress in humility, the more do they realize how much God deserves of them, and how little is all that they do for His sake; and thus, the more they do, the less are they satisfied. So much would they gladly do from charity and love for Him, that all they do seems to them naught; and so greatly are they importuned, occupied and absorbed by this loving anxiety that they never notice what others do or do not; or if they do notice it, they always believe, as I say, that all others are far better than they themselves. Wherefore, holding themselves as of little worth, they are anxious that others too should thus hold them, and should despise and depreciate that which they do. And further, if men should praise and esteem them, they can in no wise believe what they say; it seems to them strange that anyone should say these good things of them.

7. Together with great tranquillity and humbleness, these souls have a deep desire to be taught by anyone who can bring them profit; they are the complete opposite of those of whom we have spoken above, who would fain be always teaching, and who, when others seem to be teaching them, take the words from their mouths as if they knew them already. These souls, on the other hand, being far from desiring to be the masters of any, are very ready to travel and set out on another road than that which they are actually following, if they be so commanded, because they never think that they are right in anything whatsoever. They rejoice when others are praised; they grieve only because they serve not God like them. They have no desire to speak of the things that they do, because they think so little of them that they are ashamed to speak of them even to their spiritual masters, since they seem to them to be things that merit not being spoken of. They are more anxious to speak of their faults and sins, or that these should be recognized rather than their virtues; and thus they incline to talk of their souls with those who account their actions and their spirituality of little value. This is a characteristic of the spirit which is simple, pure, genuine and very pleasing to God. For as the wise Spirit of God dwells in these humble souls, He moves them and inclines them to keep His treasures secretly within and likewise to cast out from themselves all evil. God gives this grace to the humble, together with the other virtues, even as He denies it to the proud.

8. These souls will give their heart's blood to anyone that serves God, and will help others to serve Him as much as in them lies. The imperfections into which they see themselves fall they bear with humility, meekness of spirit and a loving fear of God, hoping in Him. But souls who in the beginning journey with this kind of perfection are, as I understand, and as has been said, a minority, and very few are those who we can be glad do not fall into the opposite errors. For this reason, as we shall afterwards say, God leads into the dark night those whom He desires to purify from all these imperfections so that He may bring them farther onward.

CHAPTER 3

Of some imperfections which some of these souls are apt to have, with respect to the second capital sin, which is avarice, in the spiritual sense.


MANY OF these beginners have also at times great spiritual avarice. They will be found to be discontented with the spirituality which God gives them; and they are very disconsolate and querulous because they find not in spiritual things the consolation that they would desire. Many can never have enough of listening to counsels and learning spiritual precepts, and of possessing and reading many books which treat of this matter, and they spend their time on all these things rather than on works of mortification and the perfecting of the inward poverty of spirit which should be theirs. Furthermore, they burden themselves with images and rosaries which are very curious; now they put down one, now take up another; now they change about, now change back again; now they want this kind of thing, now that, preferring one kind of cross to another, because it is more curious. And others you will see adorned with agnus-deis and relics and tokens, like children with trinkets. Here I condemn the attachment of the heart, and the affection which they have for the nature, multitude and curiosity of these things, inasmuch as it is quite contrary to poverty of spirit, which considers only the substance of devotion, makes use only of what suffices for that end and grows weary of this other kind of multiplicity and curiosity. 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 proceeding from imperfection; and in order that one may pass to any kind of perfection it is necessary for such desires to be killed.

2. I knew a person who for more than ten years made use of a cross roughly formed from a branch that had been blessed, fastened with a pin twisted round it; he had never ceased using it, and he always carried it about with him until I took it from him; and this was a person of no small sense and understanding. And I saw another who said his prayers using beads that were made of bones from the spine of a fish; his devotion was certainly no less precious on that account in the sight of God, for it is clear that these things carried no devotion in their workmanship or value. Those, then, who start from these beginnings and make good progress attach themselves to no visible instruments, nor do they burden themselves with such, nor desire to know more than is necessary in order that they may act well; for they set their eyes only on being right with God and on pleasing Him, and therein consists their covetousness. And thus with great generosity they give away all that they have, and delight to know that they have it not, for God's sake and for charity to their neighbor, no matter whether these be spiritual things or temporal. For, as I say, they set their eyes only upon the reality of interior perfection, which is to give pleasure to God and in naught to give pleasure to themselves.

3. But neither from these imperfections nor from those others can the soul be perfectly purified until God brings it into the passive purgation of that dark night whereof we shall speak presently. It befits the soul, however, to contrive to labor, in so far as it can, on its own account, to the end that it may purge and perfect itself, and thus may merit being taken by God into that Divine care wherein it becomes healed of all things that it was unable of itself to cure. Because, however greatly the soul itself labors, it cannot actively purify itself so as to be in the least degree prepared for the Divine union of perfection of love, if God takes not its hand and purges it not in that dark fire, in the way and manner that we have to describe.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Dark Night of the Soul by T. N. R. ROGERS, E. Allison Peers. Copyright © 2003 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Principle Abbreviations     9
Introduction     11
Prologue     25
The First Book
Sets down the first line and begins to treat of the imperfections of beginners     33
Of certain spiritual imperfections which beginners have with respect to the habit of pride     37
Of some imperfections which some of these souls are apt to have, with respect to the second capital sin, which is avarice, in the spiritual sense     43
Of other imperfections which these beginners are apt to have with respect to the third sin, which is luxury     47
Of the imperfections into which beginners fall with respect to the sin of wrath     53
Of imperfections with respect to spiritual gluttony     55
Of imperfections with respect to spiritual envy and sloth     61
Wherein is expounded the first line of the first stanza, and a beginning is made of the explanation of this dark night     65
Of the signs by which it will be known that the spiritual person is walking along the way of this night and purgation of sense     69
Of the way in which these souls are to conduct themselves in this dark night     77
Wherein are expounded the three lines of the stanza     81
Of the benefits which this night causes in the soul     85
Of other benefits which this night of sense causes in the soul     93
Expounds this last verse of the first stanza     101
The Second Book
Which begins to treat of the dark nights of the spirit and says at what time it begins     109
Describes other imperfections which belong to these proficients     113
Annotation for that which follows     117
Sets down the first stanza and the exposition thereof     121
Sets down the first line and begins to explain how this dark contemplation is not only night for the soul but is also grief and torment     123
Of other kinds of pain that the soul suffers in this night     129
Continues the same matter and considers other afflictions and constraints of the will     135
Of other pains which afflict the soul in this state     143
How, although this night brings darkness to the spirit, it does so in order to illumine it and give it light     149
Explains this purgation fully by a comparison     159
Begins to explain the second line of the first stanza. Describes how, as the fruit of these rigorous constraints, the soul finds itself with the vehement passion of Divine love     165
Shows how this horrible night is purgatory, and how in it the Divine wisdom illumines men on earth with the same illumination that purges and illumines the angels in Heaven     171
Of other delectable effects which are wrought in the soul by this dark night of contemplation      177
Wherein are set down and explained the last three lines of the first stanza     187
Sets down the second stanza and its exposition     191
Explains how, though in darkness, the soul walks securely     193
Explains how this dark contemplation is secret     205
Explains how this secret wisdom is likewise a ladder     213
Begins to explain the ten steps of the mystic ladder of Divine love, according to Saint Bernard and Saint Thomas. The first five are here treated     217
Wherein are treated the other five steps of love     223
Which explains this word 'disguised,' and describes the colours of the disguise of the soul in this night     227
Explains the third line of the second stanza     235
Expounds the fourth line and describes the wondrous hiding place wherein the soul is set during this night. Shows how, although the devil has an entrance into other places that are very high, he has none into this     237
Completes the explanation of the second stanza     247
Wherein is expounded the third stanza     249
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 47 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 47 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 2, 2012

    highly recommend

    a true classic,something to ponder

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 1, 2010

    Not a good book unless you are a scholar.

    The Spanish to English translation needs further translation into modern English. It includes sentences that take a paragraph to finish, as well as quotes in Latin that she fails to translate into English. This book is not readable by an average reader.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 4, 2009

    Who was St.John of the Cross

    I have been seeing references to and quotes from the writings of St. John of the Cross for years, especially in writings in Yoga, Mindfulness Meditation, and poetry.

    Finally, curiosity got the best of me and I purchased this fascinating book. St. John of the Cross was an amazing character. It fascinates me to peek inside the mind of someone so different from myself. Also his statements about the development of a more spiritual mind are right on.

    People with his singleminded religious zeal have made huge impacts on the way we live. Think Plymouth Rock, the Crusades, the Salem witch hunts, the generosity of The Salvation Army, the fearlessness of the Jihadists, etc.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2013

    Highly Recommended. Literally.

    Astonishing. Humbling.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2012

    FBI;usa

    If you speak english you can understand that we are going to sue the people that creat this book.

    Att . FBI;usa

    0 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

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