Dark Night of The Soul by St. John of The Cross
This is the sequel to Ascent of Mount Carmel by St. John of The Cross. St. John continues to describe the dark night in this sequel. Download the Dark Night of The Soul PDF for free from the above download link. The PDF has 96 pages.
Preface to Dark Night of The Soul
Somewhat reluctantly, out of respect for a venerable tradition, we publish the Dark Night as a separate treatise, though in reality it is a continuation of the Ascent of Mount Carmel and fulfils the undertakings given in it. And the second night, or purification, pertains to those who are already proficient, occurring at the time when God desires to bring them to the state of union with God. And this latter night is a more obscure and dark and terrible purgation.
Synopsis of Dark Night of The Soul
In his three earlier books he has written of the Active Night, of Sense and of Spirit; he now proposes to deal with the Passive Night, in the same order. He has already taught us how we are to deny and purify ourselves with the ordinary help of grace, in order to prepare our senses and faculties for union with God through love. He now proceeds to explain, with an arresting freshness, how these same senses and faculties are purged and purified by God with a view to the same end—that of union.
The combined description of the two nights completes the presentation of active and passive purgation, to which the Saint limits himself in these treatises, although the subject of the stanzas which he is glossing is a much wider one, comprising the whole of the mystical life and ending only with the Divine embraces of the soul transformed in God through love.
The Active Night has left the senses and faculties well prepared, though not completely prepared, for the reception of Divine influences and illuminations in greater abundance than before. The Saint here postulates a principle of dogmatic theology—that by himself, and with the ordinary aid of grace, man cannot attain to that degree of purgation which is essential to his transformation in God. He needs Divine aid more abundantly.
‘However greatly the soul itself labours,’ writes the Saint, ‘it cannot actively purify itself so as to be in the least degree prepared for the Divine union of perfection of love, if God takes not its hand and purges it not in that dark fire.’
The Passive Nights, in which it is God Who accomplishes the purgation, are based upon this incapacity. Souls ‘begin to enter’ this dark night when God draws them forth from the state of beginners—which is the state of those that meditate on the spiritual road—and begins to set them in the state of progressives—which is that of those who are already contemplatives—to the end that, after passing through it, they may arrive at the state of the perfect, which is that of the Divine union of the soul with God.