The Dark Nights

I have tried, on one other occasion, to make it through the entirety of The Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross. It is, to put it bluntly, a laborious task. When I tried to read it last year, I gave up halfway through. I thought I had a pretty good idea of what St. John of the Cross was talking about. After all, I have read many commentaries on the Dark Night of the Soul. That’s pretty much the same as reading it all the way through, right?


Armed with the determination to fully understand my own spiritual plight, I plowed through the book again. I’m glad I did!

There is so much unenlightened blabbering about spirituality on the Internet. Everyone and their mother tries to tie the Dark Night into their own experience of spiritual growth. Chances are though, very few have actually read St. John’s exposition. Because, if they had, they would realize there are two Dark Nights. One of the soul, and one of the spirit. 

They do not occur together. Very few people get the ‘honor’ of being led by the Divine into the second Dark Night. Or so St. John of the Cross believed.

Im not going to try to apply any of St. John’s experience to my own. I think it would be spiritual hubris to attempt to do so. 

All that I know is that I’m convinced the trials I’m going through have a purpose and are part of Divine plan. So, I’m going to suck it up and bear with it all. 

If Prosperity Theology (or any theology of self-exaltation) has let you down, you may want to read some of what St. John of the Cross has to say about purgatio, and his experience with it. You may not be cursed by God, or utterly faithless, or succumbing to the temptations of the devil… You may just not recognize the work of God in your heart. If we love God, the Light of His Love will shine into our own darkness, and that process can be painful indeed!


6 thoughts on “The Dark Nights

  1. While I haven’t read it, I’m like you and tried but didn’t make it through. Probably will at some point, but I believe what most people (maybe all) call the dark night is really just their own inability to hear God in their situation. I’m not convinced the dark night actually exists, but if it does, it’s extremely rare.


    1. I think it’s one of those experiences that defy theological reason. Kind of like any and all experiences of human suffering. But, if you’ve been through one, you’ll recognize it instantly. Because the period of anguish and doubt is followed by an incredible, unprecedented spiritual understanding and intimacy with God. The difference is so profound, and the path to that point so clouded, it has to be the invisible work of God. No credit can be given to the sufferer, nor the Saint that emerges. And enduring a true Dark Night convinces one to such certainty of one’s own depth of sinfulness that there no longer is danger of confusing your own ideas for God’s…


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