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The Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of…
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The Dark Night of the Soul

by St. John of the Cross

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
This book is a Christian classic. It is somewhat like a commentary on a poem. The reading requires contemplation, and it really should not be rushed. The fact I was in a rush to complete it probably influenced my lower rating. I found the language a bit "stilted" and the sentences too long for most modern readers. ( )
  thornton37814 | Feb 28, 2017 |
This book offers incredible and honest insights into spiritual growth and development. It consists of an explanation of a poem by the same author, also called the Dark Night of the Soul, and although it ends abruptly, the wisdom the reader can draw from it seems unlimited.

Summary from Amazon:
The great Spanish mystic St. John of the Cross became a Carmelite monk in 1563 and helped St. Teresa of Avila to reform the Carmelite order — enduring persecution and imprisonment for his efforts. Both in his writing and in his life, he demonstrated eloquently his love for God. His written thoughts on man's relationship with God were literary endeavors that placed him on an intellectual and philosophical level with such great writers as St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas.
In this work — a spiritual masterpiece and classic of Christian literature and mysticism — he addresses several subjects, among them pride, avarice, envy, and other human imperfections. His discussion of the "dark night of the spirit," which considers afflictions and pain suffered by the soul, is followed by an extended explanation of divine love and the soul's exultant union with God. ( )
  CORobb | Jan 14, 2017 |
Listening to this audiobook as part of the KC Public Library Winter 2013 Adult Reading Program 'While the City Sleeps' ( )
  mossjon | Mar 31, 2013 |
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.
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  Mary_Overton | May 24, 2012 |
Upon a darkened night
The flame of love was burning in my breast
And by a lantern bright
I fled my house while all in quiet rest...


I was first introduced to this famous poem by 16th-century mystic St. John of the Cross through Loreena McKennitt's song on her album "The Mask and Mirror." It's a beautiful piece of work describing the soul's union with God, and I was interested to read the theological treatise he wrote later in his life about it. Unfortunately, the poem is much better read by itself than painstakingly expounded.

The "dark night of the soul" is a term that denotes a period of spiritual dryness, when all devotional activities feel particularly flat and stale, and the soul is assailed by doubts and confusion. As a description of spiritual drought — something I think every Christian experiences — it's excellent, but where I just don't follow St. John is in his insistence on the details of every stage of the dark night. His wandering, belabored descriptions quickly become tedious, and the result is irrelevant to the vigorous pursuit of holiness taught by the New Testament.

Biblically speaking, is the dark night supposed to be the defining theme of the Christian life? I'm not convinced it is. In the New Testament, Christians are urged to live wisely, serve one another, grow in knowledge and wisdom, work hard, examine themselves, bear fruit, be humble, and love faithfully. One thing we aren't told to do is spend our lives analyzing our spiritual depression and contemplating the vicissitudes of our inner man. Focusing so much energy and time on what's going on inside seems a little narcissistic, even if it is a spiritualized introspection. The Bible doesn't emphasize the experience of spiritual dryness and I think it's a mistake for us to do so. I'm not denying that spiritual dryness exists, but I think wallowing in it encourages a focus on self to the exclusion of other things like serving others and being faithful regardless of our feelings.

St. John's biblical exegesis is weak; he only quotes Scripture when it supports his point (rather than Scripture being the starting point and his point being drawn from it), and he often has to twist it dreadfully to make it mean what he wants it to. Occasionally even the interpretations he wrests from his spare lines of poetry are also a stretch; at times he is extremely literal and other times the meaning is, of course, highly symbolic. There is no consistency in his interpretative principles.

What I'm gathering from the Catholic mystics I've read thus far is that they are just like mystics of any other religion: they spout lots of man-made ideology and structures, they are absorbed in their own spiritual lives to the point of being self centered, and occasionally they say something that is true and beautiful. For the Christian seeking biblical truth, this will not satisfy. ( )
4 vote atimco | Mar 2, 2011 |
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St. John of the Crossprimary authorall editionscalculated
Peers, E. AllisonEditor, Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This treatise deals with the manner in which a soul may prepare itself to attain to union with God.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385029306, Paperback)

As a Carmelite monk, the 16th-century Spanish mystic St. John of the Cross was well trained in the systematic theology of St. Thomas Aquinas. In Dark Night of the Soul, St. John's sharply organized mind gives clean shape to his mystical belief in a loving Being somewhere outside the realm of feeling, thought, or imagination, who can only be known through love. Dark Night of the Soul describes the process of purgation, first of senses, and then of spirit, that precedes the soul's loving Union with God. To quote from this book would detract from the coiled power of its tightly focused picture of the soul's progress; suffice it to say that there has never been a better book for discouraged Christians. When you cannot understand what or why you believe, but you find yourself unable to abandon faith, look to St. John for help. --Michael Joseph Gross

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:50 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

A 16th-century mystic, St. John of the Cross was also a Carmelite monk who helped reform the Order. In this book, he addresses pride, avarice, envy, and other human imperfections. He also provides an extended explanation of Divine love, and describes methods of conversion through prayer, submission, and purification.… (more)

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