"This is the greatest wisdom -- to seek the kingdom of heaven through contempt of the world. "

Thomas á Kempis

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"The more you know and the better you understand, the more severely will you be judged, unless your life is also the more holy. Do not be proud, therefore, because of your learning or skill. Rather, fear because of the talent given you."

Thomas á Kempis

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"A single act of uniformity with the divine will suffices to make a saint."

St Alphonsus de Liguori

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 St John of the Cross   (1542 - 1591)


 

THE DARK NIGHT (cont)

 

by St John of the Cross

 

Book Two

 

Ch 15. [Second Stanza and explanation.]


Second Stanza

In darkness, and secure,
by the secret ladder, disguised,
- ah, the sheer grace! -
in darkness and concealment,
my house being now all stilled.

Explanation

1. The soul in its song continues to recount some of the properties of the darkness of this night and mentions again the happiness resulting from them.1 It speaks of these traits in response to a certain tacit objection. It says that we should not think a person runs a more serious risk of being lost because of the torments of anguish, the doubts, the fears, and the horrors of this night and darkness; rather a person is saved in the darkness of this night. In this night the soul subtly escapes from its enemies, who were always opposed to its departure. In its journey in the darkness of this night, its garb is changed and thus it is disguised by three different colored garments, which we will discuss later;2 and it departs by a very secret ladder of which no one in the house knows. This ladder, as we will also explain,3 is the living faith by which it departs in so concealed a way in order to carry out its plan successfully, and by which it cannot but escape very securely. The soul is particularly secure in this purgative night because its appetites, affections, passions, and so on, were put to sleep, mortified, and deadened. These are the members of the household that when awake and alive would not consent to this departure. The following verse then states:

In darkness, and secure.