Friends, today we celebrate the memorial of the great Spanish mystic St. John of the Cross.
We find ourselves, St. John of the Cross taught, in the midst of a good and beautiful world, but we are meant finally for union with God. Therefore, the soul has to become free from its attachments to finite things so as to be free for communion with God.
This purification first involves what John called “the night of the senses” (the letting go of physical and sensual pleasures), and it continues with “the night of the soul” (a detachment from the mental images that one can use as a substitute for God).
Like all purifications, this one is painful, especially if one’s attachment to these finite things is intense. It will often manifest itself, John of the Cross said, as dryness in prayer and a keen sense of the absence and even abandonment of God.
In this process, God is not toying with the soul; rather, he is performing a kind of surgery upon it, cutting certain things away so that its life might intensify.