You’ve probably heard of the Dark Night of the Soul - a feeling of spiritual abandonment that God uses to purify us as we make our way along the path to holiness.
It's the transition between the second and third stages of the spiritual life, traditionally called the illuminative and unitive stages.
But have you ever heard of the Dark Night of Sense?
It’s a similar, less intense period of purification indicating movement from the first to the second (purgative to illuminative) stages.
But there are some key differences.
And knowing what to expect during the Dark Night of Sense can mean the difference between slipping into lukewarmness…and taking a giant leap into the next stage of your spiritual development.
In today’s Sainthood Snippet, I’ll explain how to test whether you’re actually experiencing the Dark Night of Sense - and what to do to make your way through it.
This clip comes from my Science of Sainthood video course on the Dark Night of Sense, which contains 8 full video lessons and meditations on this transformational spiritual experience.
Click HERE to get access to this full course, along with all 17 of the other video courses in the Science of Sainthood!
God bless and enjoy!
Now the first sign or test that you are in the Night of Sense is that you start to lose comfort in the things of God, as well as created things in general. And note the second part of that statement. Not only do you not find comfort in spiritual things, but nothing worldly helps your angst. You see, if your lack of taste in spiritual matters is because you're just slacking off spiritually, then you'll still be very attracted to other worldly things to fill up that space. But if you're in the Night of Sense, nothing is very attractive.
Now, why does God do this? Well, it's so that we'll allow ourselves to be worked on. We have to lose our taste for lesser things so as to acquire a taste for greater ones. And when I say lesser things, this includes even lesser forms of relationship with God, as we'll see.
But again, we have to be careful in that some people are just constantly dissatisfied due to their spiritual temperament. Nothing is ever good enough. And so they mope about like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh. So we have to take a look in the mirror and analyze whether or not the fact that we can't find pleasure, comfort, or satisfaction isn't the result of just our temperament. And we can do that by looking at the second test or sign that we are indeed in the Night of Sense, which is spiritual anxiety. In other words, the soul thinks it's no longer serving God since it finds no satisfaction in the things of God. To put it another way, we start to fear we've become lukewarm.
So here's the deal. If you're really trying to serve the Lord, showing up for prayer, frequenting the sacraments, striving in virtue, and are anxious because it feels like you're not making progress or even backsliding, then this is spiritual dryness, a dryness that you should feel if you are in transition.
On the other hand, if you're not putting your time in for prayer or lax about your other spiritual duties and have stopped feeling a desire to move forward, this is lukewarmness, which is not what you want. Since Jesus promised in Revelation 3:16 he would spit you out of his mouth. So if you've lost your sense of satisfaction from spiritual activities, but your desire to serve remains very strong, more than likely, it's a sign that you're in the Night of Sense.
You see, God is purging us of our need for natural, sensible comfort. And the reason it seems unsweet to us is because we haven't yet developed a taste for the deeper things. It's not that we're being deprived, so to speak, but rather prepared for greater succulence. It's kind of like taking away a plate of macaroni and cheese from a five-year-old and replacing it with a gourmet dinner. The kid's like, What?! He doesn't recognize what a pleasurable gift it is. He's used to processed pasta and powdered cheese. That was good. He doesn't want any of that filet mignon trash. But as he grows up, he starts to appreciate these things more and more, until he is willing to fork over huge dollars to share that dinner with a pretty date.