August 4th, 2015

it is common to see them suffer these aridities

Recently I mentioned I received a phone call (rarely does anyone ever call me on the phone/I have no cell phone or smart phone) from a Christian fellow I came into contact with in JournalSpace years ago. The fellow's name is Steve and he called to ask me some questions about my spiritual life/walking with God the Lord Jesus Christ.

As we talked over the phone I was seeking to discern where Steve was at in his spiritual life/spiritual growth.

The other night I was reading a book on spiritual direction and the book had a footnote referencing "The Dark Night" by St. John of the Cross. One the stages of spiritual growth some Christians go through is the stage of purgation.

My Christian friend said on the phone that he does not find the traditional evangelical worship service spiritually satisfying any longer. The fellow said going to church is so unreal/it seems the people around him in church are just going through the motions of worship/religion. My friend does not think biblical Christianity is to be found in the majority of American churches/modern evangelicalism/American civil religion. I do agree that Christianity is not a religion/religion is man made. I see living according to the teachings of the New Covenant as living a normal life/what it means to live in this fallen world. I do not consider myself as being religious or spiritual. I am normal. It is normal to love God and seek to love others/saints/the unconverted.

The problem I see is that some Christians fail to see that there is not one type of God lover. To be simple is that not every Christian can worship God the way a Southern Baptist does or a Catholic. There is not one standard of God living for every professing Christians. Now there are certain things all real Christians hold to like believing the Bible to be the Word of God, living a life of service and prayer, loving others etc. . . There is Truth/a system of classical Christian teachings that all Christians embrace as the Gospel of God. There is true biblical doctrine and there is false teaching/false prophets. We all have to believe that the Lord Jesus died on the Cross for our sins. We all have to forsake our sins and by faith trust the Lord to save us and by His Spirit transform us into His image.

Maybe some Christians when they find traditional evangelical religion to be not meaningful any longer are going through the state of purgation as described by St. John of the Cross below. Just a thought.

"Chapter 8
[The beginning of the exposition of this dark night. An explanation of verse 1 of the first stanza.]

1. This night, which as we say is contemplation, causes two kinds of darkness or purgation in spiritual persons according to the two parts of the soul, the sensory and the spiritual. Hence one night of purgation is sensory, by which the senses are purged and accommodated to the spirit; and the other night or purgation is spiritual, by which the spirit is purged and denuded as well as accommodated and prepared for union with God through love. The sensory night is common and happens to many. These are the beginners of whom we will treat first. The spiritual night is the lot of very few, those who have been tried and are proficient, and of whom we will speak afterward.[1]

2. The first purgation or night is bitter and terrible to the senses. But nothing can be compared to the second, for it is horrible and frightful to the spirit. Because the sensory night is first in order, we will speak of it now briefly. It is a more common occurrence, so one finds more written on it. Then we will pass on to discuss more at length the spiritual night, for hardly anything has been said of it in sermons or in writing; and even the experience of it is rare.

3. Since the conduct of these beginners in the way of God is lowly and not too distant from love of pleasure and of self, as we explained,[2] God desires to withdraw them from this base manner of loving and lead them on to a higher degree of divine love. And he desires to liberate them from the lowly exercise of the senses and of discursive meditation, by which they go in search of him so inadequately and with so many difficulties, and lead them into the exercise of spirit, in which they become capable of a communion with God that is more abundant and more free of imperfections. God does this after beginners have exercised themselves for a time in the way of virtue and have persevered in meditation and prayer. For it is through the delight and satisfaction they experience in prayer that they have become detached from worldly things and have gained some spiritual strength in God. This strength has helped them somewhat to restrain their appetites for creatures, and through it they will be able to suffer a little oppression and dryness without turning back. Consequently, it is at the time they are going about their spiritual exercises with delight and satisfaction, when in their opinion the sun of divine favor is shining most brightly on them, that God darkens all this light and closes the door and the spring of sweet spiritual water they were tasting as often and as long as they desired. For since they were weak and tender, no door was closed to them, as St. John says in the Book of Revelation [Rv. 3:8]. God now leaves them in such darkness that they do not know which way to turn in their discursive imaginings. They cannot advance a step in meditation, as they used to, now that the interior sense faculties are engulfed in this night. He leaves them in such dryness that they not only fail to receive satisfaction and pleasure from their spiritual exercises and works, as they formerly did, but also find these exercises distasteful and bitter. As I said,[3] when God sees that they have grown a little, he weans them from the sweet breast so that they might be strengthened, lays aside their swaddling bands, and puts them down from his arms that they may grow accustomed to walking by themselves. This change is a surprise to them because everything seems to be functioning in reverse.

4. This usually happens to recollected beginners sooner than to others since they are freer from occasions of backsliding and more quickly reform their appetites for worldly things. A reform of the appetites is the requirement for entering the happy night of the senses. Not much time ordinarily passes after the initial stages of their spiritual life before beginners start to enter this night of sense. And the majority of them do enter it because it is common to see them suffer these aridities.

5. We could adduce numerous passages from Sacred Scripture, for since this sensory purgation is so customary we find a great many references to it throughout, especially in the Psalms and the Prophets. But I do not want to spend time citing them, because the prevalence of the experience of this night should be enough for those who are unable to find the scriptural references to it." The Dark Night" Bk 1 Section 8 St. John of the Cross
  • Current Mood
    contemplative contemplative

the happy night of the purgation of the senses

"But it only seems that way, because a person's spiritual maturity and independence to increase, he or she must leave all "childish" behavior behind. That means overcoming all dependencies on structures, images, and forms that are too rigid and narrow and therefore prevent personal and spiritual growth. John of the Cross called this process of mortification and purgation of the soul "the happy night of the purgation of senses". . ." pg. 101 "Tending the Holy: Spiritual Direction Across Traditions" Edited by Norvene Vest

Recently I mentioned I received a phone call (rarely does anyone ever call me on the phone/I have no cell phone or smart phone) from a Christian fellow I came into contact with in JournalSpace years ago. The fellow's name is Steve and he called to ask me some questions about my spiritual life/walking with God the Lord Jesus Christ.

As we talked over the phone I was seeking to discern where Steve was at in his spiritual life/spiritual growth.

The other night I was reading a book on spiritual direction and the book had a footnote referencing "The Dark Night" by St. John of the Cross. One the stages of spiritual growth some Christians go through is the stage of purgation.

My Christian friend said on the phone that he does not find the traditional evangelical worship service spiritually satisfying any longer. The fellow said going to church is so unreal/it seems the people around him in church are just going through the motions of worship/religion. My friend does not think biblical Christianity is to be found in the majority of American churches/modern evangelicalism/American civil religion. I do agree that Christianity is not a religion/religion is man made. I see living according to the teachings of the New Covenant as living a normal life/what it means to live in this fallen world. I do not consider myself as being religious or spiritual. I am normal. It is normal to love God and seek to love others/saints/the unconverted.

The problem I see is that some Christians fail to see that there is not one type of God lover. To be simple is that not every Christian can worship God the way a Southern Baptist does or a Catholic. There is not one standard of God living for every professing Christians. Now there are certain things all real Christians hold to like believing the Bible to be the Word of God, living a life of service and prayer, loving others etc. . . There is Truth/a system of classical Christian teachings that all Christians embrace as the Gospel of God. There is true biblical doctrine and there is false teaching/false prophets. We all have to believe that the Lord Jesus died on the Cross for our sins. We all have to forsake our sins and by faith trust the Lord to save us and by His Spirit transform us into His image.

Maybe some Christians when they find traditional evangelical religion to be not meaningful any longer are going through the state of purgation as described by St. John of the Cross below. Just a thought.

"Chapter 8
[The beginning of the exposition of this dark night. An explanation of verse 1 of the first stanza.]

1. This night, which as we say is contemplation, causes two kinds of darkness or purgation in spiritual persons according to the two parts of the soul, the sensory and the spiritual. Hence one night of purgation is sensory, by which the senses are purged and accommodated to the spirit; and the other night or purgation is spiritual, by which the spirit is purged and denuded as well as accommodated and prepared for union with God through love. The sensory night is common and happens to many. These are the beginners of whom we will treat first. The spiritual night is the lot of very few, those who have been tried and are proficient, and of whom we will speak afterward.[1]

2. The first purgation or night is bitter and terrible to the senses. But nothing can be compared to the second, for it is horrible and frightful to the spirit. Because the sensory night is first in order, we will speak of it now briefly. It is a more common occurrence, so one finds more written on it. Then we will pass on to discuss more at length the spiritual night, for hardly anything has been said of it in sermons or in writing; and even the experience of it is rare.

3. Since the conduct of these beginners in the way of God is lowly and not too distant from love of pleasure and of self, as we explained,[2] God desires to withdraw them from this base manner of loving and lead them on to a higher degree of divine love. And he desires to liberate them from the lowly exercise of the senses and of discursive meditation, by which they go in search of him so inadequately and with so many difficulties, and lead them into the exercise of spirit, in which they become capable of a communion with God that is more abundant and more free of imperfections. God does this after beginners have exercised themselves for a time in the way of virtue and have persevered in meditation and prayer. For it is through the delight and satisfaction they experience in prayer that they have become detached from worldly things and have gained some spiritual strength in God. This strength has helped them somewhat to restrain their appetites for creatures, and through it they will be able to suffer a little oppression and dryness without turning back. Consequently, it is at the time they are going about their spiritual exercises with delight and satisfaction, when in their opinion the sun of divine favor is shining most brightly on them, that God darkens all this light and closes the door and the spring of sweet spiritual water they were tasting as often and as long as they desired. For since they were weak and tender, no door was closed to them, as St. John says in the Book of Revelation [Rv. 3:8]. God now leaves them in such darkness that they do not know which way to turn in their discursive imaginings. They cannot advance a step in meditation, as they used to, now that the interior sense faculties are engulfed in this night. He leaves them in such dryness that they not only fail to receive satisfaction and pleasure from their spiritual exercises and works, as they formerly did, but also find these exercises distasteful and bitter. As I said,[3] when God sees that they have grown a little, he weans them from the sweet breast so that they might be strengthened, lays aside their swaddling bands, and puts them down from his arms that they may grow accustomed to walking by themselves. This change is a surprise to them because everything seems to be functioning in reverse.

4. This usually happens to recollected beginners sooner than to others since they are freer from occasions of backsliding and more quickly reform their appetites for worldly things. A reform of the appetites is the requirement for entering the happy night of the senses. Not much time ordinarily passes after the initial stages of their spiritual life before beginners start to enter this night of sense. And the majority of them do enter it because it is common to see them suffer these aridities.

5. We could adduce numerous passages from Sacred Scripture, for since this sensory purgation is so customary we find a great many references to it throughout, especially in the Psalms and the Prophets. But I do not want to spend time citing them, because the prevalence of the experience of this night should be enough for those who are unable to find the scriptural references to it." The Dark Night" Bk 1 Section 8 St. John of the Cross
  • Current Mood
    contemplative contemplative

God' search for us is more constant than our own search for God

It is in the flow of being alive in the world 9:41 AM Tuesday morning Eastern Standard Time. The sun is shining today and I can hear birds by our bird feeder. When I think of birds I remember sitting in Elementary School as a child in Norfolk Virginia watching a movie on Spring and seeing a mother robin feed her babies. I was born in Oakland California, but as a boy grew up in Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.

I got up this morning around 6:30 AM. I got up ate breakfast and drank coffee made yesterday. I next messed with our main computer and then wrote in my paper diary. After writing in my paper diary I went outside and filled up the bird feeder and put clean water in the bird bath. I came in the house and wrote some more in my paper diary and also in my blogs. Carol came home from work as I writing in my three blogs. So has gone the morning thus far. I am thinking of leaving the house soon to visit thrift stores to look for used books to add to our book collection. Or I might decide to stay home and look at these books.

"Moral Reflections on the Book of Job" Volume 1 'Preface and Books 1-5' by Gregory the Great (Translated by Brian Kerns, OCSO)

"History and Spirit: The Understanding Of Scripture According To Origen" by Henri De Lubac

"'Return to Me' A Biblical Theology of Repentance" by Mark J. Boda

"Luke" New Testament III Reformation Commentary On Scripture Edited By Beth Kreitzer

Last night I wandered the house and read from these books before going to bed around 10:30 PM.

"Politics: Observations & Arguments 1966-2004" essays by Hendrik Hertizberg

"Nobody's Perfect: Writings from The New Yorker" essays by Anthony Lane

So the morning goes by. Well I suppose I will close to do what comes next. All we can do is pray for grace.

DSCF3769
  • Current Music
    Earth 'Primitive and Deadly'

Seventeen Days

It is in the death flow 2:20 PM Tuesday afternoon. I did not leave the house this morning. I made a decision to stay home today and wait it out. I can always visit thrift stores tomorrow if I am still alive.

I read my books till I got sleepy. When I got too sleepy to read I put away my books and sat in silence at our dining room table. After sitting awhile I made a decision to walk over to our living room easy chair and doze for awhile. After dozing for awhile I woke up and had a bowl of ice cream. My stomach is bothering me after eating earlier a hamburger. Now I am wandering the house listening to Earth on my portable CD player waiting for the UPS man to deliver some more books for our library.

Today I looked at my wife's calendar for September to find out when she flies to Phoenix Arizona to be with our daughter Beth when she has their second child. Carol flies out on the 1st of September and flies back here on the 17th of September. Carol will be gone a half month in September. I will be absolutely alone for 17 days. When I realized that reality it knocked the breath out of me. I had to sit for awhile and process that reality. What will I do for 17 days without the love of my life? I do not know? I will have to wait it out with my teeth clinched. I could spend those 17 days reading the Bible from Genesis to Revelations? I could for 17 days lay in bed and only get up to go to the bathroom. I could for 17 days read my books and write pages and pages in my September 2015 diary as a way to keep insanity from overtaking my mind. Before I married Carol I lived for years being alone. I do not believe anyone really loves me in this world except my wife. What I mean is that I believe Carol to be the only person who loves the real me/who accepts me in all my brokenness. I believe Carol is the only person who is not bored with me, but who really cares what I think and feel. I believe everybody around me does not know I exist. I live among strangers. I am a stranger. I am nothing. So what will I do for 17 days without the light of my life?

Well I will close to wait it out. All one can do is scream out for mercy.
  • Current Music
    Earth 'Primitive and Deadly'

few took seriously the Brethren teaching of the "ruin of the church"

Today I received two new books in the mail.

“American Apocalypse: A History Of Modern Evangelicalism” by Matthew Avery Sutton

“Let Me Tell You: New Stories, Essays, And Other Writings” by Shirley Jackson (Edited by Laurence Jackson Hyman and Sarah Hyman DeWitt/Foreword by Ruth Franklin)

I got out these books to look at this evening.

“Fundamentalism And American Culture: The Shaping Of Twentieth Century Evangelism 1870-1925″ by George M. Marsden

“Evangelicalism: The Coming Generation” by James Davison Hunter

“Revive Us Again: The Reawakening of American Fundamentalism” by Joel A. Carpenter
  • Current Mood
    contemplative contemplative