Spiritual Desolation and the Dark Night

Whereas spiritual desolation is always a work of the enemy and must therefore always be rejected, the dark night is always a work of God and must therefore always be accepted.

  • Dark night = purifying experience of infused contemplative prayer that is felt as painful and dark.
    • Only some experience this.
    • Always accept this.
  • Spiritual desolation = discouraging lies of the enemy.
    • All experience this.
    • Always reject this.

Sometimes, the dark night can be an experience “to make the already purified soul work for the salvation of its neighbour” (Garrigou-Lagrange).

  • Example: Mother Teresa’s Long Dark Night (click here)

It’s okay to use the wider application of “dark night” to refer to “this unfathomable mystery of human suffering” (JP2).

(Click here for my summary of St. John of the Cross’ The Dark Night of the Soul).

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