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Dark Nights

dark night of the soul

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The “dark night of the soul” is a term coined by St. John of the Cross.

St. John of the Cross (1542-1591) is known for his writings. Both his poetry and his studies on the growth of the soul are considered the summit of mystical Spanish literature and one of the peaks of all Spanish Literature. He was canonized as a saint in 1726 by Pope Benedict XIII. He is one of the 36 Doctors of the Church -1

In layman’s terms and theologically speaking, it is a period of time in life where a soul is brought to the breaking point and forced to change.

It is like playing chess with God. He is the Master, so no matter what move you make He is already 10 moves ahead. In the dark night of the soul, He has anticipated each move and you can only make the moves He allows.

Why? Because He loves you as a Father loves His son. He knows you’re blind and fumbling in darkness. He knows that you’re suffering at the hands of the enemy… He knows how weak and lost you are… And so in the dark night, He reaches out and grabs your hand. Blindly, you are led through darkness into His Light.

Make no mistake, it is not without much suffering that you must pass through this Dark Night. There are interior infections that must be purified. There is looking in the mirror and seeing your soul, though darkly, seeing all that is detestable within, holding oneself accountable for the past moves we’ve made… There is the annihilation of all that you knew yourself to be, all the interior illnesses that have eaten away at your soul, the overshadowing of your light within…

It is the most beautiful gift a soul can receive… to be led into a dark night of the soul. It only takes as long as necessary. Because like the Good Father, He doesn’t let go of His son… He allows His son to make his own decisions and choices, but as the Chess Master, He will deliberately and lovingly manipulate your chess moves to where you best belong. He wants you to find your purpose and follow through making use of the gifts He has given you. He is in control, and the sooner one understands this the sooner one can begin to heal within and become the extraordinary soul they were designed to be.

It certainly isn’t easy. It is like climbing a mountain sometimes. Sometimes the only step you have is grasping onto a jutting rock and pulling yourself up to the next step. Sometimes it is so painful that we must sit and rest for awhile. The key is not to give up. Keep reaching for Him. You will not have run the race in vain.

When we are taken by the hand and led blindly through this dark night the sufferings we endure ultimately serve as the very salve to heal our troubled souls. Great change is wrought in our lives but even more so within our souls. We taste the light and it becomes the drug we crave. We chase what our soul was designed for and we longingly desire to acquire more of this light as we continue through the strange delight within the suffering.

We are faced with a crossroads. Standing at this intersection of life, we can not turn around and go back in life, we can’t change the past. We also know we can’t keep going on the same path… The same path of destruction we have been on. We must take a right or a left. The Chess Master has now reached out His Hand, He asks you to blindly take the right hand turn with Him. He provides the path to peace even though it doesn’t “feel” like it. To take a left turn is to deny Him and give yourself over to the enemy.
Of course He doesn’t wish to be a tyrant and force His Will upon you. He gives you the choice. But to have been given that moment… A moment of truth in the journey… He saves your life and your soul from destruction.

As humans we pay so much attention to feelings and emotions. We tend to trust and follow these feelings, we act upon emotions.

It is my most earnest suggestion that a soul who has come to endure the dark night, begin to study what is known as “Discernment of Spirits”. Once you begin to understand, through new eyes and ears, a whole new world opens up to you and you’re no longer spiritually blind and deaf.
Your thoughts are not always your own, my friend. Many times we act upon thoughts and feelings that have been suggested to us without our even realizing it. This is the purpose of the dark night of the soul. To cleanse and purify our lives, our hearts, our souls in order to see and hear. It is a great change wrought within which spills over into our life and actions.

Be assured that NOTHING goes unnoticed by Him. Every tear you’ve ever shed, every single suffering you’ve endured, every painful thought is known to Him. He has such an indescribable profound love right there within you waiting to heal all those wounds acquired throughout life.

Spiritual warfare is very real. Discernment is key. Thank God for your Dark Night of the Soul… For, how can one appreciate the light if they know not the darkness?

Amore e bene
-1 ref. taken from Wikipedia

Humility

You have heard of Faith, Hope, and Love… What about humility?

People mistake humility as thinking of themselves as not as good as others. They speak as all others are so much better than they are. But this is false humility…

Humility is thinking about self less, putting self last, sacrificing self for others, remaining silent about oneself.

Humility is not a virtue we are freely given, Unlike Faith, Hope and Love, at Baptism, along with the Gift of the Holy Spirit. Humility, instead, must be “practiced”. It takes effort to be humble in a selfish world. So much is instantaneously accessible that we don’t realize the opportunities for sacrifice of self. If you want a pizza, you order it. If you want information, you Google it. If you want something you buy it. It’s all about how self feels, what self wants, and appeasing self. Self wants to be A#1.

Have you ever chosen to deny yourself of something you want, and instead give something you hold precious away?

Or, when a family member calls needing an emergency favor of help but you had plans out with your friends for the night… Would you think less of yourself and put the need ahead of your pleasure?

Humility is taking the lowest place at the table. Luke 14:8-10 says “When you are invited to a wedding banquet, do not sit in the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then in disgrace you proceed to occupy the last place. But when you are invited, go and recline at the last place, so that when the one who has invited you comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will have honor in the sight of all who are at the table with you.”

This my friends is Humility. Not placing importance on oneself, choosing self desires less, and giving more to others instead.

Amore e bene

 

Suffering

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We need only to look at a crucifix to contemplate suffering.

There are so many questions that arise when we suffer through life. The child struck with cancer, the woman raped and murdered, the man jailed for a crime he did not commit…

Our Lord did nothing to warrant  suffering and dying on the cross of shame. His sufferings through His Passion are an example of how we might endure our own here in this life.

Suffering isn’t just difficult to bare, but also nearly impossible to understand. Often people blame God for them. They ask why a God could allow such things to happen. They complain against Him, as if He is an angry spiteful God, full of vengeance, choosing to make souls suffer.

Our Lord’s suffering has not ended, and continues even today. He continues to be mocked, scorned, scourged, spat on and ridiculed. He is deeply pained by being so misunderstood by the very souls He loves. He loves souls so much He accepted to suffer and die for them.

He does not wish suffering upon us, it is not something He creates, or finds happiness in.

This is why He underwent suffering Himself. His suffering became a means of expiation for us, and as an example of how we too might handle such interior & physical pains, financial difficulties, emotions and stress.

Although we are unable to bare suffering as He has, we have Him with us in such difficult times. We have the mystical ability to make use of our various forms of suffering here and now, to save souls, just as He used His to save ours.

The practice of offering up our sufferings and sacrifices, united to His, is called Co-Redemptive Suffering.

We will be met with pains in this life no matter how much we wish to avoid it.

The cause is directly rooted in the story of creation and Adam and Eve. Humanity chose to eat of the tree of suffering.

The enemy disguised the tree as having knowledge of all things, good and evil, and that we should seek to know all things like God. Pridefully, Eve chose to listen to the enemy and go against God, seeking for herself that which God did not intend for her. She also gave it to Adam and now the entire human race is subject to good and evil… suffering.

God did not intend for us to suffer.

The Good News is, despite the suffering we humans endure here in this place, we have Our Lord to turn to. He lovingly accepted His own so that we might have the opportunity to make it Home with our soul in tact. Had He chosen not to undergo His Passion, we would never have the ability to make it to Heaven in the next life.

The soul doesn’t die with the body. We must understand that the body is nothing, the soul is ALL. It is most imperative to have a healthy understanding of the value of suffering here and now, and how to make use of it for the next life.

We are called to be imitators of Christ… and so just as St. Paul proclaimed in Colossians 1:24: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions for the sake of His body, which is the church.”, we too have the very same ability to offer our sufferings to God in reparation for sins committed against Him. 

Rejoice? In suffering? How contrary that is to our human nature! How can one find any sense of happiness in suffering? For those who have eyes and ears in the Spirit, we come to understand how important enduring affliction can be, how transformation can take place within it, how grace flows through it, and how much love can be wrapped up in it.

The Father gave His Son the choice, and Our Lord chose to suffer for us, and along with us, even into today.

Suffering is not something anyone wants to undergo. But Christ can take all of it and make use of it for good. We can not escape our physical, emotional, or spiritual sufferings, but we can make use of them for ourselves and others in a mystical sense.

He can cause that which was meant for our fall, to lift us up. He can transform your soul within through grace in trials. Will you allow Him?

No tribulation is in vain. No suffering is too small. St. Therese often spoke of even the smallest difficulties and sacrifices having great value when united to His Suffering.  If we are faced with suffering today, why not make use of it? Why not put it into the Hands of the Almighty and ask Him to send grace to others who have far more difficult needs? Yes, I have found the way to Life! I can rejoice in my sufferings for the sake of others!

Amore e bene

Discernment of Spirits

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How aware are you of your thoughts?

Truly, throughout your day, if you pay attention to your own thoughts, you’ll find that there are generally 3 types of thoughts we have within.

This first type is our own personal thoughts. Self talk, planning our day, deciding what we must do or how something is perceived… For example, I am taking my morning shower and I know that I have several things to do this day… I run through those things in my mind and  among them think about what to have for dinner that night. I get out, dry off, choose my clothes, and determine what is next. This is our natural human thought process.

But then, I walk downstairs and my wife isn’t in a good mood. A comment that makes me feel hurt, angry or sad is made. Immediately you’ve come into spiritual warfare. Little thoughts start surfacing within. Sometimes we mistake these as our own thoughts. For example, “she just had to be a bitch this morning and now my day is off to a shitty start.” That thought in itself can cause you to act… That is exactly what the enemy is banking on too.

This thought that entered into your mind now can be fed on the way to work. Gnawing at you, pushing you further into a “bad day” and nudging you to react. Pretty soon you make a choice to carry that bad mood with you and put forth that energy and emotion toward others. Then your secretary interrupts your thoughts with a knock on your office door and announces that there was a problem with the report you turned in yesterday. “Great, another damn issue to deal with today… What a great start I’ve had to this day!” and now you’ve passed that same mood to her.

All because of one sneaky little thought.

The proverbial angel and demon on your shoulder… it is very real.

After work,  since your mood has been groomed all day with other negative thoughts it seems only natural to stop at the bar and numb the day. Pretty soon 2 beers turn into 6 and 4 shots, 2 hours later. Screw dinner, screw my wife, screw my job, screw life.

You come home trashed and say all kinds of hurtful, selfish things to your wife and she cries. You argue and just lay down and pass out. The next morning things are worse and you don’t even know how it happened or why. Now you get a shower and are filled with guilt. Another little thought crawls into your mind, “you’re always screwing up, you deserve nothing, look at what you did!” Ahhhhh, the enemy loves his favorite weapon: guilt. He will use doubt, fear, and especially guilt. He will rape you of any hope and goodness and beat you relentlessly with thoughts of unworthiness in order to animate you again and again.

This is just a tiny example, and likely not well explained, but I hope you get the gist.

Then there are those quiet, gentle, patient, understanding, loving thoughts. The ones that can make you walk over to your wife that morning and instead, look her in the eye and tell her how much you love and appreciate her (rather than allowing the initial thought of calling her a bitch)… kiss her on the forehead and hug her… turning negative energy into positive.

That gentle nudge thought direction has the power to change her day and make her smile. If you act on that thought, rather than the enemy’s, you win the battle. You’ve not only beaten the enemy with kindness, you’ve given much needed love to combat the enemy within her. Yet, it is so easy to hear and act on the enemy’s promptings instead. It is much harder to swallow our pride and humbly submit to the more peaceful way of reacting.

Pay attention to these thoughts within you… temptations to act or react to them. The enemy tries to drown out the gentle small voice within guiding you to love and peace.

On the road of life it is up to us to become a warrior and fight the good fight each moment, each day. It is up to each of us to discern who animates us. It is up to us to nourish ourselves with weapons of light to dispell such darkness. It is ultimately our own responsibility to discern which side we are fighting on.

“Be assured that all disturbing, upsetting thoughts do not come from God, Who is the Prince of Peace. They come either from the devil, or from our self-love, or from the high opinion we entertain of ourselves. These are the three fonts of all our troubles. When such thoughts come to our mind, we should banish them immediately and pay no attention to them.”

~ St. Francis de Sales

Amore e bene