This young friend wanted to know if one has trouble praying in the Dark Night, and how that differs from depression interfering with prayer.
Aridity in the Dark Night follows times of vocal prayer and even years of consolation. One suddenly cannot meditate or use the usual means of finding consolation in prayer. God has led His beloved into the desert. This aridity also affects normal human experiences. One no longer enjoys the things one enjoyed in the past, such as movies or food. Again, one is not depressed or sad, but the enjoyment of normal things slides away into an awareness that the interior life only, the life with God, meets the real needs of the human heart.
But, one persists in praying, even saying the Hours, or the rosary, although one “feels” nothing. But, at the same time, a person desires to be alone with God, begging for His love and mercy. This thirst for solitude is a sure sign of one being in the Dark Night, even though in this solitude one does not perceive God.
God is there. In fact, God is working on the soul in unseen and quiet ways.
The desire for Christ the Bridegroom increases in the Dark Night of the Spirit. One is like the bride in the Song of Songs seeking her Husband without ceasing and without giving up hope.
The Dark Night bends one’s will and heart towards God more and more, although one is living in Faith. In the Dark Night, one does not turn away from God but towards God over and over and over.
Finally, God purifies the soul so that the Indwelling of the Trinity is known, although not “experienced” in a tangible manner. A quiet confidence in God grows and grows.
Charity towards one’s neighbors actually increases in the Dark Night as one becomes more humble, more realistic about one’s own sins. The realization of one’s own sins makes one more forebearing towards one’s neighbor, more compassionate.
Depression only leads to self-absorption and sadness.
Signs of the Dark Night? Humility, submission to God and His Will, trust in God, growing kindness and charity towards others, lack of consolations but a deepening awareness of the Trinity Within,
More later, and see the long Dark Night series on the old blog, please….