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re-posted from Dr. Taylor Marshall’s blog Canterbury Tales
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The Dark Night of the Soul

According to Saint Paul and Saint John of the Cross and the masters of Mystical Theology, such as John Tauler, the spiritual life consists in three ages:

Beginners (Purgative Way)
Proficients (Illuminative Way)
Perfect (Unitive Way)

Incidentally, by Perfect we mean not absolute perfection (like the saints in Heaven) but relative perfection. These three ages mirror natural human life: Childhood, Adolescence, Adulthood.

Just as these three stages are transitioned by a crisis, so also progress in the spiritual life is marked by crisis.

St. Jean de la Croix

Saint John of the Cross, the Doctor of the Church with regard to Mystical Theology, teaches that the transition from the Purgative to the Illuminative is occasioned by the “Dark Night of the Senses” and the transition from the Illuminative to the Unitive is occasioned by the Dark Night of the Spirit.

Beginners (Purgative Way) Dark Night – Senses
Proficients (Illuminative Way) Dark Night – Spirit
Perfect (Unitive Way)

The Dark Night of the Senses is the crisis in which God purposefully withdraws consolations of the senses. Warm fuzzies in prayer. Discursive pictorial visions in the imagination, physical comfort, lack of external distraction.

This is very difficult because the Christian begins to worry that he is regressing or has done something to lose God’s favor. Instead, God is preparing him to enter more deeply in the love of God. The soul learns to seek the God of consolation, but not merely the consolations of God. Perhaps this Dark Night of the Senses is one of the most misunderstood elements of daily Christian living.

Padre Pio with stigmata

The Dark Night of the Soul is a crushing desolation where the soul learns to love the cross of Christ. With a desire to be more like Christ and to share in His life, the perfect learn to love persecution, humiliations, disgrace, and other problems in life since they see in them a perfect conformity to God. Two well known modern examples are Saint Pio and Saint Therese.

We also see this is a state of perfection in the Apostles:

“And calling in the apostles, after they had scourged them, they charged them that they should not speak at all in the name of Jesus. And they dismissed them. And they indeed went from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were accounted worthy to suffer reproach for the name of Jesus.” (Acts 5:40–41, D-R)

Saints Peter and John rejoiced in their sufferings. This is not something naturally, but something utterly supernatural – it is a sign of the unitive way. The Apostles, we might say, went through the Dark Night of the Senses from Good Friday till Easter, [during which their Master Jesus was still with them in physical person, even though scourged and lying dead] and the Dark Night of the Spirit from the Ascension to Pentecost [after which Jesus physically left this earthly plane and only the Holy Spirit communicated through the disciples hearts and faith]. This, at least, is the position of Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange.

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I encourage anyone interested in learning more about these subjects, to check out the informative blog of Catholic author Dr. Taylor Marshall Canterbury Tales.

However, sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the dialectical polemics, and to lose sight of the original heart of the issue, which is that deep pit of despair, which is often one of the experiences of the human condition.

Tour guide Mara Vaughan in Luxor, Egypt has shared her discovery of Eckhart Tolle’s words on “The Dark Night of the Soul”. Let me repeat them:

Eckhart Tolle on the Dark Night of the Soul

Q: Have you ever experienced the dark night of the soul?

A: The “dark night of the soul” is a term that goes back a long time. Yes, I have also experienced it. It is a term used to describe what one could call a collapse of a perceived meaning in life…an eruption into your life of a deep sense of meaninglessness. The inner state in some cases is very close to what is conventionally called depression. Nothing makes sense anymore, there’s no purpose to anything. Sometimes it’s triggered by some external event, some disaster perhaps, on an external level. The death of someone close to you could trigger it, especially premature death, for example if your child dies. Or you had built up your life, and given it meaning – and the meaning that you had given your life, your activities, your achievements, where you are going, what is considered important, and the meaning that you had given your life for some reason collapses.

It can happen if something happens that you can’t explain away anymore, some disaster which seems to invalidate the meaning that your life had before. Really what has collapsed then is the whole conceptual framework for your life, the meaning that your mind had given it. So that results in a dark place. But people have gone into that, and then there is the possibility that you emerge out of that into a transformed state of consciousness. Life has meaning again, but it’s no longer a conceptual meaning that you can necessarily explain. Quite often it’s from there that people awaken out of their conceptual sense of reality, which has collapsed.

They awaken into something deeper, which is no longer based on concepts in your mind. A deeper sense of purpose or connectedness with a greater life that is not dependent on explanations or anything conceptual any longer. It’s a kind of re-birth. The dark night of the soul is a kind of death that you die. What dies is the egoic sense of self. Of course, death is always painful, but nothing real has actually died there – only an illusory identity. Now it is probably the case that some people who have gone through this transformation realized that they had to go through that, in order to bring about a spiritual awakening. Often it is part of the awakening process, the death of the old self and the birth of the true self.

Theology can be exciting, eh?! lol.

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words of wisdom!

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fashion, pretty girls, and other things with price tags

The Playground

I spend a lot of time criticising the boys who work on Wall Street, but if you’re not after anything too cerebral they can be quite good fun to hang out with. Fraser and Kathleen started spending a lot of time together in a weird sexless mini-clique. There had been rumours flying round that her job wasn’t as secure as it might be, and I think she was keen to get close to anyone who could help her career.

As a girl, you get used to bawdy comments from guy-friends. One of the things that really shocked me about the city guys was the number of them who had been with call-girls. Usually on foreign trips where nobody knew them, but sometimes at home in New York. “Their work builds up a lot of testosterone,” Lina would say, “they have to let off steam somehow.”

“Does your brother go with…

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The Patience Stone: “Sang-E Saboor”
by Atiq Rahimi

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“For far too long, Afghan women have been faceless and voiceless. Until now. With The Patience Stone, Atiq Rahimi gives face and voice to one unforgettable woman–and, one could argue, offers her as a proxy for the grievances of millions…it is a rich read, part allegory, part a tale of retribution, part an exploration of honor, love, sex, marriage, war. It is without doubt an important and courageous book.” from the introduction by Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns

In Persian folklore, Syngue Sabour is the name of a magical black stone, a patience stone, which absorbs the plight of those who confide in it. It is believed that the day it explodes, after having received too much hardship and pain, will be the day of the Apocalypse. But here, the Syngue Sabour is not a stone but rather a man lying brain-dead with a bullet lodged in his neck. His wife is with him, sitting by his side. But she resents him for having sacrificed her to the war, for never being able to resist the call to arms, for wanting to be a hero, and in the end, after all was said and done, for being incapacitated in a small skirmish. Yet she cares, and she speaks to him. She even talks to him more and more, opening up her deepest desires, pains, and secrets. While in the streets rival factions clash and soldiers are looting and killing around her, she speaks of her life, never knowing if her husband really hears. And it is an extraordinary confession, without restraint, about sex and love and her anger against a man who never understood her, who mistreated her, who never showed her any respect or kindness. Her admission releases the weight of oppression of marital, social, and religious norms, and she leads her story up to the great secret that is unthinkable in a country such as Afghanistan. Winner of the Prix Goncourt, The Patience Stone captures with great courage and spare, poetic, prose the reality of everyday life for an intelligent woman under the oppressive weight of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

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unusual weather inspires unusual activities!

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This is worth watching.

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via Elephant Journal

11 Reasons Why I’m Getting Married (Again). .

Warning: some adult language ahead.

I swore off marriage when I was 12-years-old.

I was a jaded preteen with a bit of a feminist streak who had witnessed the demise of her parents’ relationship a few years before. I decided that I was never going to fall prey that heteronormative, societal slave trap. I was going to make something of my life and no amount of schmaltzy, romantic bullshit was going to stand in my way.

Ten years later I was married. (Life has a funny way of taking our belief systems and packing them with dynamite.)

I was a good wife—or at least I tried to be. I cooked and cleaned. I was understanding and kind (sometimes). And I really, really cared about my husband. But admittedly, my heart was not in it. It was nobody’s fault. We simply weren’t the best fit for each other and hung on for much longer than was respectfully necessary.

So, I ended up joining the ranks of one of the real housewives who get to say fashionable things like “My ex-husband this,” or “My divorce settlement that”—all before the age of 30.

Joking aside, it was a pretty intense period of my life. Walking away from everything I had known about love and relating made me Feel like a total failure, a selfish, sick little girl with no stable ground to stand on. Even though through it all, I knew I was making the right choice, I was shaking with fear behind my mask of quiet bravery.

And with that mask came a resounding voice from the past: don’t ever get married again.

No really. You are not wife material. You are not a mother. Do you want to put another man (and possibly innocent children) though hell?

Then five months ago, he came along.

continue reading…

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