Sacred Darkness: Encountering Divine Love in Life's Darkest Places

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Overview

Before there was light, God was. In fact, darkness is the medium God worked in to create the world, the universe, and all material things. Certainly, God lives in the warmth of sunlight and within our happiest days--but God also dwells in darkness.

In Sacred Darkness, Paul Coutinho, SJ, examines how many Christians are fearful of dark times and struggles, yet it is often darkness that sheds light on our world and helps us live more effectively and more fully in the painful ...

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Sacred Darkness: Encountering Divine Love in Life's Darkest Places

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Overview

Before there was light, God was. In fact, darkness is the medium God worked in to create the world, the universe, and all material things. Certainly, God lives in the warmth of sunlight and within our happiest days--but God also dwells in darkness.

In Sacred Darkness, Paul Coutinho, SJ, examines how many Christians are fearful of dark times and struggles, yet it is often darkness that sheds light on our world and helps us live more effectively and more fully in the painful situations of our lives. Throughout the book, Coutinho shares powerful stories of how darkness can empower us--from a self-destructive alcoholic, to St. Ignatius, to the author himself.

Ultimately, Sacred Darkness encourages us to overcome our "fear" or the dark by exploring the legitimate role of darkness on the spiritual journey. By learning to embrace darkness rather than run from it, we can experience God's love in ways and in places where we would least expect it.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"In this thought-provoking paperback, Coutinho focuses on the important and pervasive role of darkness in the lives of spiritual people. As it shapes many of our primal experiences, its power lies in its mysterious qualities that defy reason."
--Spirituality & Practice
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780829433531
  • Publisher: Loyola Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/2012
  • Pages: 184
  • Sales rank: 303,077
  • Product dimensions: 4.90 (w) x 6.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul Coutinho is an internationally recognized Ignatian scholar, author, and speaker who brings an Eastern flavor to Western spirituality. A native of India, he frequently leads retreats, gives spiritual direction, and trains people to lead the Spiritual Exercises.

He holds master’s degrees in both clinical psychology and religious studies, and he has a doctorate in historical theology from Saint Louis University, where he specialized in Ignatian spirituality and is now a visiting theology professor.

Coutinho currently creates and runs programs in Ignatian identity and mission for Saint Louis University’s Mission and Ministry office, he is the editor of Ignis—the South Asian Ignatian spirituality journal—and also shares his gifts as the director of Ignatian Spirituality Programs for South Asia. He resides in St. Louis and divides his time between India and the United States.

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Table of Contents

Part 1 Universal Darkness 1

1 In the Beginning… 3

2 Darkness and the Purer Vision 5

3 Darkness, Word, and OM 7

4 Darkness as the Source of Life 10

5 Death and Darkness 12

6 The Darkness in Which We Worship the Divine 16

7 God of the Israelites Dwelt in Darkness 20

8 Treasures in Darkness 23

9 Fading to Silence, Becoming Children 28

10 The Sacred Power of Darkness 32

11 Be Still and Know That I Am God 37

12 Stillness and St. Ignatius 43

Part 2 Personal Darkness 49

13 The Powerful Experience of Darkness in the Retreat 51

14 Seeing God Face-to-Face 54

15 Seeing Gods Face Is an Invitation to Die 58

16 Power in Weakness 61

17 The Darkness of Addiction 66

18 Saved by Her Son 69

19 The Power of Forgiveness 72

20 Sparks in the Darkness 76

21 Life in the Darkness of My Religion 81

22 Failure and the True Self 85

23 Healed but Not Cured 92

24 Lost and Found 97

25 "Wealth in Poverty 101

26 How to Live, How to Die 104

27 Chaos and Tension toward Integration 107

28 The Transition from Xavier to Ignatius 110

Part 3 Darkness and the Journey of Life 113

29 Reverence: Key to the Treasures of Darkness 115

30 Hero's Journey and Hindu Stages 120

31 Journey of the Feminine 125

32 The Feminine Face of God 131

33 Mary: God's Feminine Face in Christianity 138

34 Life's Deeper Mysteries: A Conversation 143

35 Old Age, Fear, and Love 149

36 Creation and Sin: Two Views Make the Whole 153

37 Being Set Apart 160

38 What the Darkness Brings 164

39 Hating Father and Mother 166

40 Spiritual Repose: Culmination of the Spiritual Journey 169

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 7, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Finding light within

    Paul Coutinho, a native of India, is a Jesuit priest who holds a doctorate in historical theology. His early days were spent in a Catholic ghetto where his family was ostracized because of their poverty, and Church teaching was heavily weighted toward avoiding hell. The young Coutinho distinguished himself in academics and sports. At the same time, following the example of his parents, he reached out to others. When Paul was 12, the family moved to a neighborhood of three Christian families and a majority of Hindus. "I had to live my traditional Catholic values in a very Hindu atmosphere. The contrast was obvious and incredible," he writes.

    Early sections of the book examine ways in which Buddhists search for enlightenment including the Darkness Retreat--extended time in a dark cave, sitting alone with no expectation of light from the outside. They look for light from within as their life experiences surface "in the form of sounds, lights, and rays that rise from the depth of their subconscious or their deep unconsciousness." Coutinho describes a personal darkness experience readers can try at home. "...as the real darkness begins to enter you, you will experience profound soothing," he writes. Through darkness, all the negativity within us is replaced by the source and energy of life. "All fear is consumed by darkness, and the only experience we have is love."

    For example, he looks at Old Testament instances of God's use of darkness, the two creation stories in Genesis, and separate elements in Matthews's gospel that produce anxiety and hopefulness. In the Genesis 3 material, Coutinho points out that Adam and Eve were ignorant, not proud or disobedient, and that the serpent "drew them to knowledge and consciousness through the feminine quality of intuition." He explains that the original text of Genesis introduces the serpent as a creature wise beyond all others. "Until the fifth century, the serpent was never equated with Satan but was a symbol of wisdom, mystery, and healing."

    Coutinho also writes of addiction, aging, using acts of charity to win points for heaven, and of God's wanting us for who we are not what we do.

    For me, this is a "little book"--fits in pocket or purse, only 172 pages--to be re-viewed time and again.

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  • Posted May 14, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    The Worst "Catholic" Spiritual Book that I've Ever Read

    The publisher mailed me this book since I’ve already read and reviewed several of their other books and generally really liked them. The title of this short book – “Sacred Darkness” – seemed provocative in a good kind of way. Christians do not generally hold darkness in a high esteem, but I thought that with a skill and theological nuance it could be possible to rethink this concept and appropriate it in a spiritually constructive way. However, to my dismay, this book managed to do the exact opposite. It is a vacuous, incoherent, and disorganized treatment of several topics and ideas, pretty much randomly chosen by the author and without much overall coherence. It is filled with the inane new-age pseudo-spirituality, Jungian psychology, therapeutic psychobabble, and feminist mysticism. There are parts that are actually decent – the author’s description of his life growing up in a Christian family in India – but these short chapters are by far outweighed by the sheer inanity of the rest of the book. But inanity and incoherence, bad as they are, are not the reason why I think that this book is truly awful. No, the worst part are the clearly heretical and statements that any Christian ought to be ashamed of putting in print, little less someone who is a Jesuit Priest. The book contains the denial of the redemptive nature of Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross, pietist ramblings, pantheistically colored views, and finally the exuberant exclamation “I am God!” which stands squarely at the root of all that is evil in the world.

    This is indeed a dark book and there is absolutely nothing sacred about it. All faithful Christians ought to avoid it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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