(I expaned my post but editing time elapsed)
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.