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30 review for Dark Night of the Soul

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bill Kerwin

    Although I received some insight from reading this treatise on spirituality, I feel I am too much of a beginner to comprehend many of the interior experiences that are touched upon here, particularly in the latter part of the work. I suspect my own darkness and aridity--which is at times considerable--is neither as dark, nor as potentially luminous, as the darkness that lies in the heart of this great saint. I would however recommend it anyway; there is much here for even a beginner to treasure. Although I received some insight from reading this treatise on spirituality, I feel I am too much of a beginner to comprehend many of the interior experiences that are touched upon here, particularly in the latter part of the work. I suspect my own darkness and aridity--which is at times considerable--is neither as dark, nor as potentially luminous, as the darkness that lies in the heart of this great saint. I would however recommend it anyway; there is much here for even a beginner to treasure. But the poem of which this treatise is a commentary is something else again. Inspired by the "Song of Solomon," it is a lyrical, passionate cry, the yearning of a human heart for the Divine that any lover can understand. This new translation by Mirabai Starr is clear, modern and accessible.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Keleigh

    I took this book up on my 10-day Mount Shasta retreat and it became the reverberating background of my whole experience. In the translation by mystic scholar Mirabai Starr, St. John of the Cross's description of the phases of the soul as she ('el alma') nears unity with God far transcends any traditional definitions of Catholicism. The 'Dark Night of the Soul' is not merely a period of intense depression -- it is the annihilation of the ego, the final stage when spiritual rituals, symbols and be I took this book up on my 10-day Mount Shasta retreat and it became the reverberating background of my whole experience. In the translation by mystic scholar Mirabai Starr, St. John of the Cross's description of the phases of the soul as she ('el alma') nears unity with God far transcends any traditional definitions of Catholicism. The 'Dark Night of the Soul' is not merely a period of intense depression -- it is the annihilation of the ego, the final stage when spiritual rituals, symbols and beliefs no longer suffice and there is no comfort but emptiness: the awareness that 'I Am Nothing.' In every major religion from Buddhism to Judaism, enlightenment or spiritual union or perfect consciousness is described as the ultimate Nothing. Zero. The dissolution of self into Oneness. Like Rumi's devotional poetry to the eternal presence within, St. John of the Cross posits the soul as lover and God as Beloved. "In the darkness of night, the wounded soul rises up in response to the affections of the will. Like a lioness or a she-bear that goes looking for her lost cubs, the wounded soul goes anxiously forth in search of her God. In darkness, she feels only his absence. She feels like she is dying with love for him." Mind, body and soul are purified and illuminated in preparation for total union -- and the process, according to John, is excruciating. The price, as Rumi says, is your life. But to know God means to know yourself, and as Jung said, "The way to light is through the darkness." For anyone who is "inflamed by love-longing," this book is a beautiful and validating guide. "Love is like a fire. It rises perpetually upward, yearning to be absorbed at its very center."

  3. 5 out of 5

    ♥ Ibrahim ♥

    First edition, it appears, came out in the fifties. Today I got my own copy in Arabic from the Carmelites of Lebanon. It is a sheer delight to read. In the first chapter he draws a beautiful image of the loving mother who is God likened to. She has to wean her child. I just loved this paragraph and we are fortunate that the book is also online for reading and on the Carmelites's site themselves, straight from the mouth of the hourse! Here is what John of the Cross says, 2. It should be known, the First edition, it appears, came out in the fifties. Today I got my own copy in Arabic from the Carmelites of Lebanon. It is a sheer delight to read. In the first chapter he draws a beautiful image of the loving mother who is God likened to. She has to wean her child. I just loved this paragraph and we are fortunate that the book is also online for reading and on the Carmelites's site themselves, straight from the mouth of the hourse! Here is what John of the Cross says, 2. It should be known, then, that God nurtures and caresses the soul, after it has been resolutely converted to his service, like a loving mother who warms her child with the heat of her bosom, nurses it with good milk and tender food, and carries and caresses it in her arms. But as the child grows older, the mother withholds her caresses and hides her tender love; she rubs bitter aloes on her sweet breast and sets the child down from her arms, letting it walk on its own feet so that it may put aside the habits of childhood and grow accustomed to greater and more important things. The grace of God acts just as a loving mother by re-engendering in the soul new enthusiasm and fervor in the service of God. With no effort on the soul's part, this grace causes it to taste sweet and delectable milk and to experience intense satisfaction in the performance of spiritual exercises, because God is handing the breast of his tender love to the soul, just as if it were a delicate child [1 Pt. 2:2-3].1 http://www.karmel.at/ics/john/dn_2.html Now, this concept is so special to me as it reminds me of Psalm 131 as it says: 1 My heart is not proud, O LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. 2 But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me. 3 O Israel, put your hope in the LORD both now and forevermore.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Neil

    One fine day in the fourth grade at Immaculate Conception School, one of my classmates raised her hand and asked how were your sins cleaned out of you in Purgatory. The old nun sneered, "They're burned out of you!" Now I know where she heard that. It's all right here in this book. According to St. John of the Cross while your soul is in Purgatory the love of God ignites it like a log. And, like a log, its composition changes as the fire burns. The entire month or so that it took me to read this One fine day in the fourth grade at Immaculate Conception School, one of my classmates raised her hand and asked how were your sins cleaned out of you in Purgatory. The old nun sneered, "They're burned out of you!" Now I know where she heard that. It's all right here in this book. According to St. John of the Cross while your soul is in Purgatory the love of God ignites it like a log. And, like a log, its composition changes as the fire burns. The entire month or so that it took me to read this difficult book I kept asking myself the same question of St. John of the Cross that I asked (secretly) about Sr. Gertrude Margaret's answer: How do you know? Did you visit Purgatory and come back to tell us? So why did I read this book? One fine Saturday morning during Advent I went to mass. It wasn't Sunday, but I wanted to appreciate that Advent is different from the rest of the year and clean my spiritual house for the arrival of Jesus. That particular Saturday just happened to be the Feast of St. John of the Cross. In his sermon, the priest told of how St. John of the Cross struggled to found a religious order against heavy opposition from the church hierarchy, and that he wrote this book. I immediately went to the library, anticipating that this would be a story of his personal struggles and would be inspirational. The next day I told the priest I had borrowed this book from the library and he just rolled his eyes. I should have put it back on the shelf when I saw the word "mysticism". The only mystic I ever knew of was Pete Townsend of the Who and mysticism is a word that I just can't comprehend. It's like "partnership" and "passive activities" in accounting. WHAT THE HELL IS IT?? Apparently, mysticism is the state of transcending human existence to be one with God. That's a beautiful thought, so I read the book. Ultimately, what I gleaned from it is that in order for the soul to be united with God it must free itself of all earthly chains. This occurs in the Dark Night. According to St. John, the Dark Night could last for years. And to prevent the soul from becoming complacent, God will test it and try it to the point of despair. Fast forwarding 40 years to a nun I know now: Sr. Jane says that in her opinion - and she adds the disclaimer that her opinion is hers alone and not representative of official church doctrine - you suffer Purgatory right here on earth in your lifetime. I had a hard enough time reading Fulton J. Sheen last year. I'm done with 16th Century Spanish mystics.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Emma Bolden

    I finally managed to make my way through this. It's remarkable reading, but it sure ain't easy reading. This book was so heavy I might only be able to read blogs by the Real Housewives for the rest of my life. I finally managed to make my way through this. It's remarkable reading, but it sure ain't easy reading. This book was so heavy I might only be able to read blogs by the Real Housewives for the rest of my life.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rick Davis

    There are two ways of thinking and speaking of God. The first is the apophatic way, or the via negativa, the way of negation. This way of thinking and speaking focuses on the transcendence of God and the inability of human language and experience to encompass all that God is and does. The second is the kataphatic way, or the via affirmativa, the way of affirmation. This way of thinking about God focuses on His immanence and His presence with us in and through His creation. Charles Williams has r There are two ways of thinking and speaking of God. The first is the apophatic way, or the via negativa, the way of negation. This way of thinking and speaking focuses on the transcendence of God and the inability of human language and experience to encompass all that God is and does. The second is the kataphatic way, or the via affirmativa, the way of affirmation. This way of thinking about God focuses on His immanence and His presence with us in and through His creation. Charles Williams has rightly pointed out that each Christian must approach God through both ways to some degree or risk falling into heretical beliefs. If God were ultimately transcendent, then we would become Gnostics, shunning matter and the material world as evil. If God were ultimately immanent, then we would become pantheists, unable to separate God from His creation. With that in mind, I recently read The Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross, a practitioner par excellence of the apophatic way. I intend to wrestle with this tough little book and its author and perhaps come to fisticuffs before it’s all over. We’ll see how it turns out. First of all, some background. St. John of the Cross wrote of the “dark night of the soul,” a time when the first excitement of conversion and service to God wanes, and the believer is left with a sense of emptiness, a sense of God’s absence. He may continue to practice the same spiritual exercises as before, but the joy in them is gone. It seems that he takes no pleasure in the things of God, and this leads to a spiritual depression. Most if not all believers will experience this at some point in their lives. St. Augustine, St. Francis, Martin Luther, G.K. Chesterton and C.S. Lewis all experienced these dark nights. It is the goal of St. John to show that when this occurs it is God’s instrument to empty us of our pride and selfishness and focus us more fully on Him, drawing us closer to Divine Love. So far so good. St. John open with an excellent discussion of the various manifestations of pride, including prideful things such as the desire to be teachers rather than learners, the desire to experience a spiritual high (a sort of spiritual gluttony), and the desire to be recognized for one’s great learning/humility/holiness. St. John stresses total reliance on Divine Grace and the inability of humans to stir up within themselves these experiences of God. God alone must give a sense of His presence as a gift. St. John is also very concerned with articulating a theology of suffering as an aid to those who suffer in their Christian walk. All of these things are good, and I appreciated them greatly. That being said, and I feel a bit guilty saying this, I didn’t like this book overall. The whole of the book is permeated with an ascetic sort of dualism. The goal of salvation in the mind of St. John of the Cross is for the soul to become one with God, to enjoy unity with its Creator. In order for this to happen, the person must be emptied, first of every physical desire and pleasure and then of every spiritual desire and pleasure. A perfect emptiness is necessary before the soul may enjoy unity with God. Biblically the ultimate end of salvation is the resurrection of the body and eternal life in the new heavens and new earth. St. John’s method, like the entire ascetic project, finds some sort of sharp division between body and soul and holds the soul up as the better of the two. In the ascetic scheme we come closer to the Giver and embrace Him by scorning His gifts. This whole way of thinking misses the fact that creation is charged with the presence of God. Through sacraments and scripture, we see God everywhere and His truth proclaimed throughout the universe. An author would be puzzled if I claimed to be his biggest fan and then proved it by refusing to read his books. If we love an author, we will generally love his books, and it often works the other way as well; if we love the books we will develop a love for the author. This in essence is the kataphatic way, the way of affirmation. St. Francis revered nature and found God; Dante loved Beatrice and found God; Chesterton embraced the world and found God; Lewis loved Balder and found God. How do we balance this, though, to avoid having idolatrous thoughts of God? One theme that is abundantly clear throughout The Dark Night of the Soul is that God is far more than we see of Him in Scripture and far more than we see of Him in creation. Because He is transcendent all that we know of Him through His world and Word are still but part of the whole. Our finite minds and language cannot properly conceive the full majesty and glory of God. In St. John’s logic this leads us to the obvious conclusion that we ought to mortify the flesh and spirit in order that our souls may peel back the veil and see God as He truly is. However, not only is this not the only conclusion, I believe it is the wrong conclusion. Martin Luther himself recognized the transcendence of what he termed the Hidden God. He recognized all the same problems as St. John. His solution however was that we will never be creatures that will be able to penetrate that veil for we will always be finite creatures. God would be totally unknowable to us except for the fact that He condescended to meet us where we are. This means that we should look at the things God has revealed about Himself in order to know Him, physical things like the Word and Sacraments. Only through these things can we know God, for we cannot peel back the veil and see the ineffable nature of God. By this the two ways, the apophatic and kataphatic are reconciled in a way that St. John can’t quite reach. St. John says that many who devote themselves to the contemplation of God that he encourages find it repugnant to speak of the things they have learned in secret for human language cannot tell of what they experience. However, we are told in Scripture that Jesus is the Word of God. God has chosen to reveal Himself in words. Language is God’s divine creation. It is true that we may not know God as He really is, but that is because we cannot comprehend Him as He is. We can only know Him as He reveals Himself, and therefore through special revelation. In other words, words! In fact I may go as far as to say that God does not want us to contemplate His nature or thoughts apart from what He has revealed to us (Deut. 29:29). Overall I had a hard time with this book. I really wanted to like it. I absolutely loved The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, but this was as different from the world-affirming Lawrence as possible. Often throughout Church history Christians have held that the way of affirmation, of knowing God through His creation and revelation, is the beginning which will eventually lead to the way of negation, knowing God in a contemplative fashion apart from the things revealed. Charles Williams reverses the two saying that we may start with contemplation, but we must move on to affirmation as we mature. I believe that this is more Biblical in light to the great emphasis in the Scriptures on resurrection, material blessings, and the creation in general. As Williams writes, “It [is] necessary first to establish the awful difference between God and the world before we [can] be permitted to see the awful likeness. It is, and will always remain, necessary to remember the difference in the likeness. Neither of these two Ways indeed is, or can be, exclusive.”

  7. 5 out of 5

    Skylar Burris

    I've been wanting to read St. John of the Cross for some time, and awhile ago I happened to have picked up this little hardcover cheaply. I finally began digging into it, and after reading about half, I have decided to read it later in a different translation. It seems Mirabai Starr has taken it upon herself to take a few liberties with the text, two of which are bound to annoy me. The first is that she has "minimized" all "direct Christian references." The second is that she has translated "El I've been wanting to read St. John of the Cross for some time, and awhile ago I happened to have picked up this little hardcover cheaply. I finally began digging into it, and after reading about half, I have decided to read it later in a different translation. It seems Mirabai Starr has taken it upon herself to take a few liberties with the text, two of which are bound to annoy me. The first is that she has "minimized" all "direct Christian references." The second is that she has translated "El Diablo" as the "fragmented self" and has replaced "all references to evil, sin, hell, and the devil, as states and entities" with other such psychobabblish terms. If you want to interpret these Christian terms as metaphorical, fine, but by all means, use the original metaphors; don't attempt some bland substitution that kills the poetry and in all likelihood butchers the sense. Of course the poet can speak to people of other religions, but let's not pretend St. John of the Cross didn't have a specifically Christian understanding of God and humanity and sin. I certainly don't want to read Rumi with all references to Mohammed replaced by some nonspecified prophet-figure either. If readers can't take away truth from a writing without being catered to by having an author's original vocabulary replaced with terms they find more appealing…never mind, rant over.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Nelly Husz

    To be truthful, I think I was not “spiritually advanced” enough to read this book. I will need to reread in five or ten years.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    This is not a book for everyone. Well, it's potentially for everyone. Anyone who not only believes in Christ, but desires to be as close to God through Him as possible. The trick is that it comes at a terrible price few are willing to pay. Yet, for those who will, the rewards are infinite. This is a work of classic mystical theology from the Catholic Reformation period by a Spanish mystic popularly known as "St. John of the Cross." Read this book, and you'll find what an appropriate nickname that This is not a book for everyone. Well, it's potentially for everyone. Anyone who not only believes in Christ, but desires to be as close to God through Him as possible. The trick is that it comes at a terrible price few are willing to pay. Yet, for those who will, the rewards are infinite. This is a work of classic mystical theology from the Catholic Reformation period by a Spanish mystic popularly known as "St. John of the Cross." Read this book, and you'll find what an appropriate nickname that really is. It's a truism of mystical piety that the closer one comes to God, the greater one struggles with his or her "demons." For those who desire to step into the light of union with God (defined by John of the Cross as perfect love), the way is through the dark night of the senses and the dark night of the spirit. If you don't know what I mean, read Mother Teresa's "Come Be My Light," in order to see what the dark night of the soul looks and feels like in an actual human being. John of the Cross does not hold up union with God or the dark night in a judgmental sense, suggesting that Christians who never go through such experiences are less than true Christians. It is simply a way provided for those desiring to "go deeper" in their faith, as the cliche goes. You have no idea how deep until you take the dive for yourself. This is a painfully honest, authentic, ultimately hopeful and deeply inspiring book by a challenging soul from the Christian tradition.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mary Overton

    Songs of the Soul On a dark night, Inflamed by love-longing - O exquisite risk! - Undetected I slipped away. My house, at last, grown still. Secure in the darkness, I climbed the secret ladder in disguise - O exquisite risk! - Concealed by the darkness. My house, at last, grown still. That sweet night: a secret. Nobody saw me; I did not see a thing. No other light, no other guide Than the one burning in my heart. This light led the way More clearly than the risen sun To where he was waiting for me - The one I knew Songs of the Soul On a dark night, Inflamed by love-longing - O exquisite risk! - Undetected I slipped away. My house, at last, grown still. Secure in the darkness, I climbed the secret ladder in disguise - O exquisite risk! - Concealed by the darkness. My house, at last, grown still. That sweet night: a secret. Nobody saw me; I did not see a thing. No other light, no other guide Than the one burning in my heart. This light led the way More clearly than the risen sun To where he was waiting for me - The one I knew so intimately - In a place where no one could find us. O night, that guided me! O night, sweeter than sunrise! O night, that joined lover with Beloved! Lover transformed in Beloved! Upon my blossoming breast, Which I cultivated just for him, He drifted into sleep, And while I caressed him, A cedar breeze touched the air. Wind blew down from the tower, Parting the locks of his hair. With his gentle hand He wounded my neck And all my senses were suspended. I lost myself. Forgot myself. I lay my face against the Beloved's face. Everything fell away and I left myself behind, Abandoning my cares Among the lilies, forgotten.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    not for the faint of heart

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jocelyn

    "He who aspires to being joined with God in perfect union must not walk by the way of understanding, nor lean on either joyful sensations, or inner feelings, or imagination, but he must believe in God's Being, which is hidden as much from the understanding as from desire, imagination, and any sensory apperception, nor can it be known at all in this life in its essential nature. Even the highest concerning God that can be felt and perceived in this life is infinitely remote from Him and from the "He who aspires to being joined with God in perfect union must not walk by the way of understanding, nor lean on either joyful sensations, or inner feelings, or imagination, but he must believe in God's Being, which is hidden as much from the understanding as from desire, imagination, and any sensory apperception, nor can it be known at all in this life in its essential nature. Even the highest concerning God that can be felt and perceived in this life is infinitely remote from Him and from the pure possession of Him. The goal which the soul pursues is thus beyond even the highest things that can be known or perceived. And the soul must therefore pass beyond everything to a state of unknowing." Far out.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    This was a hard, slooow read. I remember liking it in college, though. Basically, I think the metaphor is to get closer to God we have to die to ourselves, whether consciously or mostly by letting it happen/God do it for us, and that puts us in a very lonely, dark position. See, the author evens looks sad on the cover. The end result of this is very glorious as you are united with divine love. Christian mystics are very emotional. There's not a lot of deductive reasoning, but I think a lot of pe This was a hard, slooow read. I remember liking it in college, though. Basically, I think the metaphor is to get closer to God we have to die to ourselves, whether consciously or mostly by letting it happen/God do it for us, and that puts us in a very lonely, dark position. See, the author evens looks sad on the cover. The end result of this is very glorious as you are united with divine love. Christian mystics are very emotional. There's not a lot of deductive reasoning, but I think a lot of people can recognize this "night", although they mostly run from it because it's so hard and so not fun, as the author fully attests.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    This classic, written by Spanish monk St. John of the Cross, is a feast of spiritual insight by a man whose heart was burning in love with Jesus. It is masterfully written and proved to ignite my own devotional life time and time again. Except for a few places where his exegesis gives way to excessive allegory and a few false Catholic premises, this is a wonderful book and I encourage anyone who is wanting to be led into devotional maturity to engage with this book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Bonita

    It was a challenge to read St Johns thought that becoming like Christ means going into the fire. Which happens many times. At some point when a log is in the fire the log and the fire start to look the same. Our deep desire as people of God. That we would reflect Christ.

  16. 4 out of 5

    booklady

    Set this aside when I learned I am supposed to read Ascent of Mount Carmel first. Set this aside when I learned I am supposed to read Ascent of Mount Carmel first.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    To think that this was written during one of the most trying times of his life. The work flows like river and is filled with such passion....

  18. 5 out of 5

    Dawn

    Interesting.

  19. 5 out of 5

    K.D. Absolutely

    This book is said to be one of the Top 10 Best Catholic books ever. This is composed of the analysis of two poems by St. John of the Cross (1542-1591). He was a friend to Saint Theresa of Avila and they were both mystics as they were both gifted and saw supernatural visions. St. John of Cross was known for his poems that talk about the spiritual journey including the journey to the dark (the necessary dark that we need to go through to see the light). His favorite book in the Holy Bible is the So This book is said to be one of the Top 10 Best Catholic books ever. This is composed of the analysis of two poems by St. John of the Cross (1542-1591). He was a friend to Saint Theresa of Avila and they were both mystics as they were both gifted and saw supernatural visions. St. John of Cross was known for his poems that talk about the spiritual journey including the journey to the dark (the necessary dark that we need to go through to see the light). His favorite book in the Holy Bible is the Song of Solomon not because of what people now say as that it contains sexual connotations but because he interpreted those as his relationship with Jesus that he is the bride to Jesus and so when he was dying (gravely sick), he requested that the people in the prison to read to him the verses in that book and so he died peacefully. This is a meditation book but I read this quite hurriedly because of my heavy workload in the office. That's why I am just rating this with 3 stars. I intend to read this again someday when I am less busy. Nevertheless, I liked the book. Primarily because it is a book about a saint that I did not know anything about prior to this reading. St. Theresa of Avila is also the name of the school where my daughter graduated from elementary and high school so I kept hearing her name and I only knew her through this book and her friendship with St. John of the Cross.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Katie Bayford

    "In the first place, because the light and wisdom of this contemplation is most bright and pure, and the soul which it assails is dark and impure, it follows that the soul suffers great pain when it receives it in itself, just as, when the eyes are dimmed by humours, and become impure and weak, the assault made upon them by a bright light causes them pain. And when the soul suffers the direct assault of this Divine light, its pain, which results from its impurity, is immense; because, when this pure "In the first place, because the light and wisdom of this contemplation is most bright and pure, and the soul which it assails is dark and impure, it follows that the soul suffers great pain when it receives it in itself, just as, when the eyes are dimmed by humours, and become impure and weak, the assault made upon them by a bright light causes them pain. And when the soul suffers the direct assault of this Divine light, its pain, which results from its impurity, is immense; because, when this pure light assails the soul, in order to expel its impurity, the soul feels itself to be so impure and miserable that it believes God to be against it, and thinks that it has set itself up against God. [...] To this effect Job says likewise: ‘Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, at least ye my friends, because the hand of the Lord has touched me.’ A thing of great wonder and pity is it that the soul’s weakness and impurity should now be so great that, though the hand of God is of itself so light and gentle, the soul should now feel it to be so heavy and so contrary,115 though it neither weighs it down nor rests upon it, but only touches it, and that mercifully, since He does this in order to grant the soul favours and not to chastise it."

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jim George

    This book is slow reading, & fairly intellectual. This 16th century author is expounding on the dark night of the soul, the dark found before the light. He shows how a seeker's way is weak and tested. How his soul is slowly fed, nourished and strengthened. How he is being made ready for the Lord's inestimable love. These seekers are likened to feeble children, the gold of their spirits not yet purified. He is at work secretly teaching; enlightening, refreshing, humbling and softening. While the This book is slow reading, & fairly intellectual. This 16th century author is expounding on the dark night of the soul, the dark found before the light. He shows how a seeker's way is weak and tested. How his soul is slowly fed, nourished and strengthened. How he is being made ready for the Lord's inestimable love. These seekers are likened to feeble children, the gold of their spirits not yet purified. He is at work secretly teaching; enlightening, refreshing, humbling and softening. While the soul is in communion, we are gaining secret wisdom. We are ascending a mystical ladder towards the truth, the ladder rests and leans upon the Lord. Beam me up!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sean Saunders

    Being a very scriptural catholic I like the fact the St John is constantly quoting scripture. The book is easy to read, however, I found I had to really think about what he was saying. But the gist is if we want to know God we have to purge ourselves and this can be painful.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Edward

    I don't pretend to fully understand this spiritual "classic" composed by the 16th century Spanish writer, but it's been sitting on my bookshelf for over 50 years, purchased in some little remembered burst of religious enthusiasm when I was young. I picked it up again and thought I have to finally read this short book. It's a meditation on the lines of the Biblical Song of Solomon where the bride dreams of her beloved and goes to seek him during the night. But what this writer does is to see thos I don't pretend to fully understand this spiritual "classic" composed by the 16th century Spanish writer, but it's been sitting on my bookshelf for over 50 years, purchased in some little remembered burst of religious enthusiasm when I was young. I picked it up again and thought I have to finally read this short book. It's a meditation on the lines of the Biblical Song of Solomon where the bride dreams of her beloved and goes to seek him during the night. But what this writer does is to see those lines as the symbolic yearning of the individual for a union with God. He writes of the steps along the way of fulfilling this journey. He emphasizes that striving for some kind of spiritual union is not a do-it-yourself project, but one that requires patience and perseverance in opening yourself up to benign influences. They will inevitably come (St. John quotes from scripture - an example would be the symbolic swallowing of Jonas by the whale with its darkness and despair that comes before the "resurrection" of Jonas) if the individual has the right attitude. At first, the individual, through eager anticipation will experience a sense of sweetness and enlightenment that she is harmony with the universe. These sensations are rooted in the five senses. But inevitably, dry spells occur, full of doubt and even despair that this desire for enlightenment is anything but foolishness. If he perseveres, though, the enlightened state may return, but disappear just as quickly. John interprets the Hebrew story of Jacob's ladder as a struggle to connect earthly concerns with heavenly goals, and the going up and coming down represent an ongoing task of accomplishing such a connection. One absolute key to any success is in the humility of recognizing one's powerlessness, and in that denial of the ego will paradoxically come a "heavenly" connection. It recalls the words of Christ that "the kingdom of heaven is within you." All of this was intermittently engaging (a lot of it is heavy going because of the abstract nature of describing these ascetic experiences). I couldn't help but think, though, that this description of a spiritual higher calling is relevant to everyone who lives his life and seeks to find some meaning in it, whether specifically "spiritual" or not. There are always high and low points, happy moments and disappointments, and long patience is required to reach, if successful, the final stage of fulfillment to which we all come - our deaths

  24. 4 out of 5

    Zacaro Caro

    I read this book once before, but I couldn't recall much about it. My wife and I both read a lot, but our book choices are hardly ever the same, so we are trying to read one book a month and talk about it. We chose this one as our first book. It's a little too heavy for either of us. It's only 128 pages or so; but I have to say this, if you are thinking about picking this book up for a read you will likely get something out of the first book. The first 3rd of the book is amazing. Oh happy chance I read this book once before, but I couldn't recall much about it. My wife and I both read a lot, but our book choices are hardly ever the same, so we are trying to read one book a month and talk about it. We chose this one as our first book. It's a little too heavy for either of us. It's only 128 pages or so; but I have to say this, if you are thinking about picking this book up for a read you will likely get something out of the first book. The first 3rd of the book is amazing. Oh happy chance. St. John of the Cross offers some beautiful imagery of our soul confirming with God's will. "Like a log being consumed by a flame." I felt lost in book 2, so I listened to it on audio, I can't believe who narrates this book, Michael Kramer! He reads a ton of fantasy written by my new favorite author, Brandon Sanderson. I have to admit though, even though Kramer has a great voice for this book. If you haven't read/studied this book before you are probably better off with a written copy, it's hard to read, but even harder to listen to. I found myself rewinding entire chapters trying to catch what was being said... Which is actually how I was reading the book before I switched to audio, but it's easier to switch back to where you left off once the "ah-ha" moment comes around in a paper copy.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sincerae

    I was curious about Dark Night of the Soul because my 12th grade English teacher mentioned the phrase "dark night of the soul" to me once and also because I am interested in various forms of religious mysticism, especially Christian mysticism. The only writings by a Christian mystic that I have read were writings by Madame Jeanne Guyon which I enjoyed, and hers' were a more easier read. Opposite to this, St. John of the Cross' writings about purging the spirit of the fleshly to become closer to I was curious about Dark Night of the Soul because my 12th grade English teacher mentioned the phrase "dark night of the soul" to me once and also because I am interested in various forms of religious mysticism, especially Christian mysticism. The only writings by a Christian mystic that I have read were writings by Madame Jeanne Guyon which I enjoyed, and hers' were a more easier read. Opposite to this, St. John of the Cross' writings about purging the spirit of the fleshly to become closer to God is a more difficult read. It really should be taken on when the spirit and mind are quiet. It should be read very slowly and carefully since his sentences are long in most cases. Some of the words are also dated in this edition, and there are some Bible scriptures that are in Latin. The Bible verses that are in Latin are identified by book, chapter, and verse, however, in footnotes. Overall I liked the idea behind this meditative book, and perhaps someday when I am in a more tranquil frame of mind I will reread it.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    I've read book one in this several times and every time it jump starts God's work in my heart. I've never completed books two in the work, because it seems like I have a great journey still ahead to be prepared for it. Thank God for this book. Update: I completed reading this book all the way through a bit back. I was right in my earlier assessment, God does do much work in your heart previous to the rest of this work. Thank God for St. John of the Cross! As many before me, I wish the work had b I've read book one in this several times and every time it jump starts God's work in my heart. I've never completed books two in the work, because it seems like I have a great journey still ahead to be prepared for it. Thank God for this book. Update: I completed reading this book all the way through a bit back. I was right in my earlier assessment, God does do much work in your heart previous to the rest of this work. Thank God for St. John of the Cross! As many before me, I wish the work had been completed. The brightening horizons of God's work in the person are well anticipated; yet, like the authors work still awaiting completion. Maybe someday God will send His people another giant of the mystical life to complete it. I will read this books hopefully many times over.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Naomi

    Couldn’t put it down. I almost wish it didn’t speak to me.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kiel

    A classic 16th century work of practical and mystical theology, this book is a deep meditation on the spiritual maturity cultivated in and by seasons of doubt, darkness, distance, and depression in the Christian life. I’ve had this book on my list since college and while having read about it, had not read it until now. It was timely for me, and perhaps for the world right now. Brother John takes into the bliss of spiritual infancy and then through it into season upon season of deeper faith, no l A classic 16th century work of practical and mystical theology, this book is a deep meditation on the spiritual maturity cultivated in and by seasons of doubt, darkness, distance, and depression in the Christian life. I’ve had this book on my list since college and while having read about it, had not read it until now. It was timely for me, and perhaps for the world right now. Brother John takes into the bliss of spiritual infancy and then through it into season upon season of deeper faith, no longer dependent on the early thrills of new experiences nor the basic nourishment of milk, but the droughts in the valley of the shadow of death. Only after such valleys, or in the midst of them, does the Psalmist emphasize his overflowing cup over the presence of his enemies. This deep spiritual maturity is presented and examined as a process in a way that seems only the medieval and ancients of the Christian fellowship appear able to discern or interested in articulating, in stark contrast to what passes for modern Christian literature. By the end of this examination of the soul’s dark nights, John looks back upon it with joy for its formative power designed by God and shared as well as portended by Christ. We can do the same if we endure. 111 pages or 6 hours of dark nights, glimmers of light, and preparations for eternity.

  29. 4 out of 5

    J.M. Hushour

    St. John of the Cross's commentary on a short, mystical poem he wrote. Of middling worth for the lay mystic, in the same league as "The Cloud of Unknowing" and just as nebulous. All the same, a nice foray into Catholic mysticism just when Reformational shit was getting real in Christian Europe. St. John of the Cross's commentary on a short, mystical poem he wrote. Of middling worth for the lay mystic, in the same league as "The Cloud of Unknowing" and just as nebulous. All the same, a nice foray into Catholic mysticism just when Reformational shit was getting real in Christian Europe.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    And of course the mystics in Christian tradition will emphasize suffering and misery. What did I expect? A dark night spent dancing around your house alone, in your underwear, to the sounds of something only vaguely similar to music? No. Just absolute emptiness. Absolute denial of everything remotely human. I don't disagree with all of it, but here's what I don't like: the focus on just one person's 'spiritual experience' that succeeds in totally blinding the individual to everything around them And of course the mystics in Christian tradition will emphasize suffering and misery. What did I expect? A dark night spent dancing around your house alone, in your underwear, to the sounds of something only vaguely similar to music? No. Just absolute emptiness. Absolute denial of everything remotely human. I don't disagree with all of it, but here's what I don't like: the focus on just one person's 'spiritual experience' that succeeds in totally blinding the individual to everything around them. The revulsion for anything having to do with physical existence. The elitism. The hierarchy of souls. But there were a great many good things about it, too. Like using what you've been given and not constantly demanding more of it, while at the same time having no feelings of self-contentment. That emptiness can be good, I mean it's good to know we aren't supposed to be these maniacally cheerful robots all the time. So, I guess the fact that it's kind of a killjoy is something I both like and dislike about it. Still, I'm glad I read it. I feel like I internalized something that I can't really express that well.

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