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(1651 – 1715)

Never should we so abandon ourselves to God as when God seems to abandon us.  Let us enjoy light and consolation when it comes to us, but let us not attach ourselves to such gifts, but to God; and when we are plunged into the night of Pure Faith, let us still press on through the painful darkness.

Moments are worth days in this tribulation; the soul is troubled and yet at peace; not only is God hidden from it, but it is hidden from itself, that all may be of faith; it is discouraged, but feels nevertheless an immovable will to endure everything that God may choose to ask; it wills all, accepts all, even the troubles that try its faith, and thus in the very height of the tempest, the waters beneath are secretly calm and at peace, because the soul’s will is one with God's.


I was alone in a desert waste, or rather, my soul was like a fragile skiff tossing without a pilot in a stormy sea.  I knew that Jesus was there, asleep in my little boat, but the night was too black for me to see him.  All was darkness.  Not even a flash of lightning pierced the clouds. There's nothing reassuring about lightning, but, at least if the storm had burst, I should have been able to glimpse him.  But it was night, the dark night of the soul….

The voice of unbelievers came to mock me out of the darkness: “You dream of light, of a fragrant land, you dream that their Creator will be yours for ever and you think you will one day leave behind this fog in which you languish.  Hope on!  Hope on!  And look forward to death!  But it will give you, not what you hope for, but a still darker night, the night of annihilation…!”  I have never before felt so strongly how gentle and merciful God is. 

(1207 - 1273)

Being human is a guest house:                     
every morning a new arrival –                       
a joy, a depression, a meanness,      
some momentary awareness comes            
as an unexpected visitor.                   
Welcome and entertain them all!       
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,   
who violently sweep your house        
empty of its furniture, 
still, treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought,
the shame, the malice –
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,                    
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.


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In their many different idioms the classical spiritual writers have attempted to throw light on the eternal question of union with God. 
Every month we give you a brief passage from a spiritual classic.