A young holy man asked me how one knows whether one is in the Dark Night or experiencing depression or mental illness. This is an extremely valid question.

I shall only highlight a few differences between either chronic depression and/or mental illness and the purification time in the Dark Night.

One, in the Dark Night, one is not thinking about one’s self or one’s “stage” constantly. Years ago, a good spiritual director told me that too many people pull up the baby plant of holiness to look at the roots and kill the entire plant. Over introspection is a sign of many types of mental illness, as well as a propensity to depression.

Two, one is not going around sad and weeping in the Dark Night, but one is normal, and, hopefully, cheerful, and outgoing. One does whatever duties in life one has well and not in a sloppy manner. One keeps doing dishes, sweeping floors, teaching, feeding the dog, organizing the children and so on.

Three, one does not experience sleepless nights or insomnia because one is in the Dark Night.

Those who think they are in the Dark Night and feel grumpy or depressed all the time, are not experiencing the purification of the senses and spirit, but something else.

to be continued…