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Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Ray Kaliss] #266800
12/06/07 11:39 AM
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Dear Ray,

You have contributed greatly. The dark night of the soul is difficult indeed...it can also be a time when the Providential hand of God, which may have consistently been present and obvious through a person's life, just seems to go away--seeming to leave the person alone in a tempest of confusion and dismay.

Alice


Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Alice] #266853
12/06/07 01:45 PM
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Dear Ray:

This dark night of the spirit/soul is, indeed, frightening. One seems to be utterly abandoned. Prayer comes with great difficulty. Often one is only left with parts of Psalm 50: "restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation" and "take not Thy Holy Spirit from me." Family and friends seem to be distant and cool.

But the other portion is the intense desire to pray for others and to do for others, even as one seems to feel that one's own need for both prayer and support is utterly limitless.

BOB

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Alice] #266895
12/06/07 05:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Alice
Dear Ray,
when the Providential hand of God, which may have consistently been present and obvious through a person's life, just seems to go away--seeming to leave the person alone in a tempest of confusion and dismay.


yes! Yes. In fact seem like Providence himself has turned against us.

Near to panic! but nowhere to turn!

Forced and driven deep into your own soul looking for refuge!

A terror to enter - but heaven itself when done.

(so I read).

-ray


Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Ray Kaliss] #266909
12/06/07 07:13 PM
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(I expaned my post but editing time elapsed)

Originally Posted by Alice
Dear Ray,
when the Providential hand of God, which may have consistently been present and obvious through a person's life, just seems to go away--seeming to leave the person alone in a tempest of confusion and dismay.


yes! Yes. In fact ... it may seem like Providence himself has more than abandoned us but has also turned against us.

Now .. I will tell you of some of the advise I have heard about from a few people who have experienced the night of the spirit. See if it is similar to what you have been told or read.

Here is what I have been told ....

One wonders "what is happening to me??" ... but if the person has been through it a few times the person can soon recognize, not the onset (that always sneaks up unless one has been warned in some way it is coming) - but when the event goes far deeper than ordinary life ... one recognize that it is far more than just a psychological depression.

Near to panic! but nowhere to turn!

Searching your soul for the wrong you had done ... finding nothing good ... and no reason why God should save you. Only in the center of this psychological cyclone .. is there even a hint of peace .. and so you know that is your refuge and that is where you need to go.

Forced and driven ... deep ... into your own soul looking for refuge! Looking for the smallest bit of peace.

A terror to enter ... but heaven itself ... when done. The result (when it is over) is always the most rest and peace which one can experience. Intellectual enlightenment may follow immediately – but most often comes days later out of nowhere.

While contemplation is voluntary on our part ... the dark night of the spirit is God forcing the person into a deep contemplation at the time and in the place where God chooses. In some sense it is true to call it 'involuntary contemplation' in as much as the person did not initiate it – but God did. When we go voluntarily into contemplation - we pick the time and the place ... but the night of the spirit is God picking the time and the place.

And knowing that (that God is actively forcing the person into deep contemplation by cutting off the senses and the mind) .. knowing that makes it easier. One should just accept that God has called out "Come to me - right now" and abandon one's self to this deep contemplation.

If one can ... it is good (when it comes upon the soul) it is good to set yourself aside and accept that it is 'time for contemplation' by sitting in a quiet room and letting contemplation take hold. It may not be easy ... but ... I know someone who has passed many a 'night' with a lot less panic that way. However – this cooperation – one must be aware – is an invitation to God to 'go ahead .. do it' and God may decide to deepen the whole experience ... near to what you can not stand.

One must try to remember that – it will pass – once God sees that what he intended to do ... is completed.

One person I know told me that when they first began to come ... he had no warnings and they were mentally very violent. But once he passed a few of these (he did not know how) ... he was given the gift of a Providential warning before others came. This was (in the beginning) the appearance of a single dove. You see – here in New England the type of doves here mate for life .. and so you always see two together and seeing a single dove is very rare and a sad thing. It means his mate has died. A single dove – alone and sick at heart longing for his mate. This would happen before a 'night' came.

Another person told me that he was warned of the coming dark nights by street lights mysteriously going out overhead as he passed by. Not just one (that would be coincidental) but several in the same night. They would go out just as he passed underneath and when he had gotten to the next street light .. that would go out too and the last one (now behind him) would light up again. A very dark night was on its way from God.

No matter any fore-warnings ... they do not come when you expect or are looking for them .. or wanting them. Inevitably your watching is fruitless – and bang – when your not looking – you find yourself deep into it. God does it this way so that the soul has no grounds whatsoever to think to himself that his own subconscious is somehow responsible for the occasion.

Now this is what I have been told by some people I know... or perhaps I read a few of these in a few books.

I have been told that Jesus once told a man ..”My people perish – for the lack of knowledge of me.” (meaning many Chritians do know know God works in a soul). Many people are called into this spiritual night – but – (unlike the night of the senses) it requires cooperation on the part of the person it is happening to. And so many begin these nights but mistake them for other things (normal depression and such) ... and do not know how to cooperate.

And it seems to me a great pity that most priests today – do not know anything about these things. They are trained in running the parish, and doctrines, and theology – but are not trained in mystical theology much at all. They really do not know how to help someone in these 'nights' and hardly know what these nights are. And so they may send those who are having spiritual nights – to social therapists.

Now I consider myself very lucky indeed to have spent so many years with a priest who was a genuine mystical director with good experience ... just in case such things might happen to me one day.


The best gift, left behind by such nights .. is a sensitivity to Providential actions taking place in the person's everyday life. A heightened awareness of occasional synchronism between the what is interior (in our conscience) and exterior (events that happen to the person). One has become more a tuned to the 'language' which God uses to speak to the soul. In the old days of the old telephone you used to be able to call the operator and tell her there was static on the line and she would - clear the line - so you could better communicate.

Dear Alice ... if you have heard about anything that might be beneficial ... or read anything on the subject. Please post it here because I would guess that Marian (as well as others) would be greatly interested.

Peace to us all.
-ray

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: theophan] #266916
12/06/07 07:31 PM
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Dear Bob...

If you have heard or read about things that might be useful to know on the subject .. please share with us.

It is very difficult for people who might have an interest in these things to find good knowledge ... and we would all be interested and perhaps learn something which might .. some day .. be useful.

-ray

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Ray Kaliss] #266948
12/06/07 09:40 PM
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theophan Offline OP
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Ray:

I cannot say that I have read much about this experience but have fumbled with dry periods where I could not pick up a prayerbook, could not open the Scriptures, could not even find the desire to do something kind for anyone or even myself.

But I have been lead over many such periods and many years to a faint understanding and some conclusions that seem to make some sense of it. The loneliness of this experience stems from a feeling of utter and complete abandonment--the sort of feeling that Jesus must have felt on the Cross, though never as intensely as that lest one give in to despair that can lead to self-destruction. It seems to me to be a feeling of being utterly alone--almost divorced from the whole remainder of creation, somehow without the will or means to move and no reason to do so in any event. At times the temptation is to give in to the thought that everything is an illusion, that everything is meaningless, that nothing is real, and that all of life and effort is worthless. It often can feel like some kind of oppression.

But the teaching here--and there is always a teaching in every situation if one calms one's soul and asks to be taught it--is that whatever discipline I may have undertaken, whatever I may have written, whatever I may have done IS NOT MINE BUT THE GIFT OF GOD GIVEN TO ME TO GIVE TO OTHERS AND BY WHICH HE ALLOWS ME A PARTICIPATION IN HIS DIVINE LIFE. When I cannot pray, it is to let me understand that the Holy Spirit has been close by and inspiring the prayer discipline that I have had for so long. When I cannot seem to pick up the Scripture, it is to let me know that it is the Holy Spirit Who moves me to study, to learn, and to incorporate it into my faith life and whole being. When I cannot seem to want to do anything for another or for myself, it is to remind me that "without Me you can do nothing."

And in every step of these periods, I have stayed ever closer to my spiritual father and poured out everything to him, asking always for his prayers, his encouragement, and some help. This is not a "do it yourself" walk through the spiritual life.

But this is beginning to be too much about me so let's go back to topic.

In Christ,

BOB

Last edited by theophan; 01/23/08 07:50 PM. Reason: punctuation error
Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: theophan] #266987
12/07/07 02:01 AM
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When we become so conscious of our frailty that our spirit despairs, somehow, in an unknown fashion, a wondrous light appears, proclaiming life incorruptible. When the darkness within us is so appalling that we are paralyzed with dread, the same light will turn black night into bright day. When we properly condemn ourselves to eternal infamy and in agony descend into the pit, of a sudden some strength from Above will lift our spirit to the heights. When we are overwhelmed by the feeling of our own utter nothingness, the uncreated light transfigures and brings us like sons into the Father's house. How are these contrasting states to be explained? Why does our self-condemnation justify us before God? Is it not because there is truth in this self-condemnation and so the Spirit of Truth finds a place for Himself in us?"

Archimandrite Sophrony (His Life is Mine)

Alexandr

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Slavipodvizhnik] #267000
12/07/07 03:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Slavipodvizhnik
When we become so conscious of our frailty that our spirit despairs, somehow, in an unknown fashion, a wondrous light appears, proclaiming life incorruptible.

Alexandr


Yes .. these statements by genuine mystics have always interested me. Some times there is a translation problem caused by the translator not really understanding what the saint is talking about . Another thing that sometimes shades the text is that back at that time in Christianity ... there was, what I would almost describe as, a competition to out-pious the other guy. Everyone was writing is a self-abasement mode – trying to express more humility than the next guy. So at times – reading the early mystics can be a bit tricky.

I am not being critical of this quotation .. I am just making comments in general about the genera .. this type of literature.

In later times (around the Middle Ages just before the Reformation) at the time when it became popular to write biographies about the lives of some of the current saints ... the biographers began to expand on mystical phenomenon as if its presence were the seal of a saint. And that caused two impressions which were misleading.

The first being an impression that the holiness of the person in whom God is working .. can be measured by the amount and flamboyance of phenomena in his life. And the second being that this phenomena and the depth of suffering the saint has – is always increasing and the saint lives mostly up in heaven and barely has any connection with earthly life anymore. Both impressions are wrong ... and people reading these books and trying to gauge their own spiritual life by them .. are mislead.

In a mostly good biography of Saint John of the Cross that I have ... I can detect that several legends became attached to his childhood years ... and that in the years after his imprisonment ... John had a bit of trouble keeping himself from going into exstacy(sp) when in public (as if God was always wanting to transport him into exstacy more and more. The biographer write that John had to do things like rap his knuckles on the wall in oder not to be transported into exctasy while with other people. However it seems to me that John rapped his knuckles on the wall in order to assist him to keep his concentration .. to be present in the here and now (while surrounded by distractions).

Sorry for going off into a muse smile

Thanks for the quote Alexandr

Peace be to you and to your church.
-ray

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Ray Kaliss] #267004
12/07/07 03:15 AM
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Ray, I am confused. Archmandrite Sophrony died in 1993, and wrote in English!

Alexandr

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: theophan] #267009
12/07/07 03:41 AM
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Originally Posted by theophan

And in every step of these periods, I have stayed ever closer to my spiritual father and poured out everything to him, asking always for his prayers, his encouragement, and some help. This is not a "do it yourself" walk through the spiritual life.

But this is beginning to be too much about me so let's go back to topic.

BOB


But I think - this is the subject smile

On the other hand Bob, having known several mystics and their directors, I have witnesses a few of them go to ruin - cause by their directors (priests mind you). Ruin of both types. In some cases the spiritual directors encourage phenomena (even if they do not do this our right) and to the other side of ruin - project a disgust at phenomena (as if the soul should entirely reject anything odd).

Two sad scenarios follow ... one is that the mystic 'goes public' thinking that he/she has some messages which God has commanded he/she cary out to the public ... and the second (when the director totally discourage any phenomena (that God is not given a free hand to accomplish what he wants to in the soul and the soul is in needless confusion.

I have also seen some who have progressed well - mostly because he/she had a very good director available. And I have seen some progress well all by themselves (Providence himself directs them) where any director would not have helped them and probably been a hindrance.

One of the saddest things is that there are so few directors who have any real experience or good grounding in mystical theology. Modern priests are simply not given good 'training' in how God works in a soul. The mystical life (how God works in us) is simply lacking in their formation. It seems to me that any priest who really does have good knowledge - has to get it himself - as his preistly formation had lacked it.

And so in total, I have found, that each case is individual (as far as if a director is doing any good or is actually hindering the soul). I have actually found it a rare case that a soul and his/her director ... are both doing very well.

However a director who is truly very humble (and very human and treats the soul as a true friendship) never hurts the soul. If the director admit that he doesn't know what God is doing ... but helps the soul to remain grounded in daily conscience and just to handle his normal life on a day to day basis - all goes well.

But I have found, that it is always best that the soul remain hidden and out of the public eye. Nothing will ruin a soul in whom God is working .. more and faster .. than his mystical life being taken out into the public.

It is rare case where God actually wants something (some message) or someone brought out into the public .. and in these cases ... the extra burden of having that done requires an added amount of suffering to that soul in order to keep it safe. The additional suffering of such as Padre Pio was being misunderstood and held to a measure (by the public) which is impossible for the soul to feel adequate to. It is a personal isolation from everyone including close friends. Very very difficult. Rarely desired by God and one can see that God has prepared the soul for this 'isolation' from childhood.

These are just my impressions from my long experience with people such as these.

I am not contradicting you Bod in anyway .. or trying to teach anyone ... I am just tossing the subject around a bit. If there is anything I have learned from being with a few of these saints-to-be over my years .. it is that I am not a director .. I am just a witness.

-ray






Last edited by Ray Kaliss; 12/07/07 03:44 AM.
Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Slavipodvizhnik] #267011
12/07/07 04:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Slavipodvizhnik
When we become so conscious of our frailty that our spirit despairs, somehow, in an unknown fashion, a wondrous light appears, proclaiming life incorruptible. When the darkness within us is so appalling that we are paralyzed with dread, the same light will turn black night into bright day. When we properly condemn ourselves to eternal infamy and in agony descend into the pit, of a sudden some strength from Above will lift our spirit to the heights. When we are overwhelmed by the feeling of our own utter nothingness, the uncreated light transfigures and brings us like sons into the Father's house. How are these contrasting states to be explained? Why does our self-condemnation justify us before God? Is it not because there is truth in this self-condemnation and so the Spirit of Truth finds a place for Himself in us?"

Archimandrite Sophrony (His Life is Mine)

Alexandr




That is such an excellent quote. Thank you, Alexandr, for sharing that. It is so true.

-- John


Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Ray Kaliss] #267016
12/07/07 05:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Ray Kaliss
One of the saddest things is that there are so few directors who have any real experience or good grounding in mystical theology. Modern priests are simply not given good 'training' in how God works in a soul. The mystical life (how God works in us) is simply lacking in their formation. It seems to me that any priest who really does have good knowledge - has to get it himself - as his priestly formation had lacked it.


Ray, I can emphatically agree with you on this point. The same was true in my experiences with priests and other ministers in the Western Churches. God bless them, they just didn’t seem to know about the Christian mystical way of life anymore -- except the few who, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, were self-taught or who rediscovered the ancient Western traditions about theosis.

I think the Eastern Church does a much better job of this because theosis remains at the core of Eastern Christianity. Being an Eastern Christian does not make the dark night of the soul go away. But it does increase the likelihood that a priest will be able to knowledgably advise someone on the mystical side of it and of life in general.

-- John


Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: harmon3110] #267314
12/08/07 05:41 AM
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Originally Posted by harmon3110

I think the Eastern Church does a much better job of this because theosis remains at the core of Eastern Christianity.

-- John



This has been my experience also. Eastern priests seem to treat the whole man and recognize that life is not cut and dry. I have been to Greek Orthodox and Russian Orthodox priests ... and never disappointed. Kind of like the old family doctors used to be (showing my age now!).

-ray


Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Slavipodvizhnik] #267316
12/08/07 05:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Slavipodvizhnik
Ray, I am confused. Archmandrite Sophrony died in 1993, and wrote in English!

Alexandr


No no .. apparently I am the one confused!

Well this is a whole other ball game!

In THAT case .. PLEASE point me to something of his to read. Is there anything on the web? Which book of his do you recommend? I will order it for Christmas.

-ray

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Ray Kaliss] #267319
12/08/07 06:37 AM
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http://sophrony.narod.ru/indexe.html

I found him.

Please tell me which book of his to get.

and my thanks for pointing him out!

-ray

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