Ascent 6 October

After a through treatment on the purification of the intellect and the achievement of perfect or dark faith as the means for achieveing union with God, John now begins a parallel treatment of the purification of the memory resulting in perfect hope and the purification of the will resulting in perfect charity; all three providing the proximate means to union with God.

As John presents these further areas of purification and growth he reminds us that purification or growth in one area necessarily brings purification and growth in the other two.  Consider how they are related in your experience and whether considering them separately as John does, helps you see where your attachments and weaknesses lie.  Look for suggestions made by John that you can incorporate in your spiritual journey.

Reflect again on the annihilation John calls for in each of these faculties.  Try to compare them considering the harms caused by not heading John’s precaution to “not store objects of hearing, sight, taste, smell, or touch in the memory” and “not darkening the memory in regard to knowledge and discursive reflection, supernatural imaginative knowledge, and spiritual knowledge.”

Next consider the benefits John outlines that come from emptying the memory in each of these types of apprehensions.  Consider your own experience of the harms and of the benefits and try to be more attentive to them day to day.  John is not trying to frighten or discourage but to educate and inspire us to actively enter the dark night of the memory.

Similarly, consider what he teaches us about the dark night of the will.  Try to identify each of the emotions of the will in your life.  Again John talks about the harms or dangers and about the benefits of withdrawal or detachment in each of these areas.  Again, an outline might help and especially reflect on each as a way to understand your own experience.


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