Hello all,I recently downloaded [i]Dark Night of the Soul[/i] by St. John of the Cross from [url=www.ccel.org]Christian Classics Ethereal Library[/url], and I was wondering if anyone else had read it and if I needed to read [i]Ascent of Mount Carmel[/i] first; because it seems like [i]Dark Night of the Soul[/i] is the sequel/second part. Thank you and may God bless!
Hi Flameoffire,I find that Christian reading material falls into one of three categories.1) Those that lead me to focus on myself2) Those that lead me to focus on others3) Those that lead me to focus on ChristNone of these categories are bad in themselves, but the first two can be unhealthy in excessive portions. I find that most of our diet should consist of the third category.Dark Night of the Soul, being a 'classic' of Christian mysticism belongs in the first category I believe. Ostensibly, Christian mystics are concerned with 'imitating Christ', but I have found they invariably focus less on Christ and more on setting forth patterns and methodologies to imitate. As such I might nibble on these types of materials, but certainly not make a 'school' out of them. Perhaps St. John of the Cross wanted to pass on the successes of his inward life and felt that by creating patterns out of his own experiences, others could follow. Therein is the pitfall. Many schools of mysticism seem to be concerned with self-denial while paradoxically leading the student into some very self-absorbed patterns and practices. For the Christian, I believe self-denial means something entirely different then for the mystic. For us, self-denial is not looking inward for self-refinement or self-annihilation, but towards Jesus as the only true righteousness of God revealed to men and our only true life. We have heard..."Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."and..."let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith...Blessings,MC
Thank you for your response. I appreciate and understand your comments. Christian mysticism is something that I do not find myself entirely comfortable with. However, the works of Guyon and Brother Lawrence do have a value and offer a perspective that is rarely found. Many of highly respected men of God, such as A.W. Tozer and Watchman Nee, found the mystics extremely beneficial. I have a long list of books to read and I will probably bump [i]The Dark Night of the Soul[/i] to the end of it. I thought I would try it seeing as it is highly reccomended by ccel.org, but I recently discovered that they endorse mysticism more enthusiastically than I would find appropriate. I certainly agree that the algorithmic and formulaic approach the mystics set down is something dangerous. Essentially, I appreciate the mystics for the perspective that comes from their rich, inward lives. However, I do not attempt to follow their "step-by-step, breathing pattern" instructions and I feel that if someone learns to come into the presence of God in that way, they have been robbed of learning from Christ himself, as you suggested. Mysticism can also endorse an emotion-satisfying type of life, which I agree is not consistent with self-denial. Much can be gained from the classic mystic's experiences, but I will proceed with caution. I have a number of books on my shelf, including [i]Why Revival Tarries[/i] that will claim precedence over that book, and I will be sure to "nibble" before I bite :-P. Thank you and God Bless!
You said that very well! (Better then I did. :-) )Blessings,MC