"What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous life makes him pleasing to God. "

Thomas á Kempis

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"To do God's will -- this was the goal upon which the saints constantly fixed their gaze. They were fully persuaded that in this consists the entire perfection of the soul. "

St Alphonsus de Liguori

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"It is not God's will that we should abound in spiritual delights, but that in all things we should submit to his holy will."

Blessed Henry Suso

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 St John of the Cross   (1542 - 1591)



by St John of the Cross



Book One

1. Begins to discuss the imperfections of beginners.
2. Some of the imperfections of pride possessed by beginners.
3. Some imperfections of spiritual avarice commonly found in beginners.
4. The imperfections of lust, the third capital vice, usually found in beginners.
5. The imperfections of the capital vice of anger into which beginners fall.
6. The imperfections of spiritual gluttony.
7. The imperfections of spiritual envy and sloth.
8. The beginning of the exposition of this dark night. An explanation of verse 1 of the first stanza.
9. Signs for discerning whether a spiritual person is treading the path of this sensory night and purgation.
10. The conduct required of souls in this dark night.
11. Explains three verses of the stanza.
12. The benefits this night causes in the soul.
13. Other benefits of this night of the senses.
14. An explanation of the last verse of the first stanza.

Book Two

1. The beginning of the treatise on the dark night of the spirit. Explains when this night commences.
2. Other imperfections of these proficients.
3. An explanation for what is to follow.
4. The first stanza and its explanation.
5. Begins to explain how this dark contemplation is not only night for the soul but also affliction and torment.
6. Other kinds of affliction suffered in this night.
7. A continuation of the same subject; other afflictions and straits of the will.
8. Other afflictions that trouble the soul in this state.
9. Although this night darkens the spirit, it does so to give light.
10. Explains this purgation thoroughly by means of a comparison.
11. The beginning of an explanation of verse 2 of the first stanza. Tells how the fruit of these dark straits is a vehement passion of divine love.
12. The resemblance of this frightful night to purgatory. How the divine wisdom illumines those who suffer this night on earth by the same illumination with which it illumines and purges the angels in heaven.
13. Other delightful effects of this dark night of contemplation in the soul.
14. An explanation of the three last verses of the first stanza.
15. The second stanza and explanation.
16. An explanation of how the soul is secure when it walks in darkness.
17. An explanation of the secrecy of this dark contemplation.
18. An explanation of how this secret wisdom is also a ladder.
19. An explanation of the first five of the ten steps on the mystical ladder of divine love.
20. The remaining five steps of love.
21. An explanation of the term "disguised" and a description of the colors of the disguise the soul wears in this night.
22. An explanation of verse 3 of the second stanza.
23. An explanation of the fourth verse. Tells of the soul's wondrous hiding place during this night and how, though the devil enters other very high places, he is unable to gain entry to this one.
24. The concluding explanation of this second stanza.
25. A brief explanation of the third stanza.
  *In the Contents, Chapter headings have been added for this online version.