St. John of the Cross left many impressive insights in his writings and by his example of mystical living. One idea that's struck me recently is the notion of "darkening." It would seem that those who propose to follow the Light of the World in Jesus Christ would shun all forms of darkening but John of the Cross explains how following God's light requires that we embrace a certain kind of darkness.

He boils it down elegantly to three steps (not necessarily sequential). First, by darkening the intellect, we're able to empty the mind of it's pretentions and follow then the path of faith. Second, when darkening the memory, we leave the past where it is in order to find a future of hope. Third, once we're able to darken the will, accepting only God's will, we achieve the reality of Divine love.

These darkenings are a simple yet difficult proposition. I can't stop marveling at the beauty of what he taught and how Biblical it is in it's connecting of the doctrine of self-denial (Then Jesus told his disciples, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me...e.g. Matthew 16:24) and that of the theological virtues (So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.1 Corinthians 13:13).


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