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Catholic Dictionary




Purification of the soul for spiritual marriage by cleansing it of habitual imperfections. What especially needs purification is self-complacency with possible illusions of false visions, together with a loss of reverential fear resulting in an overboldness toward God. In order to facilitate the soul's reform, the mind is left in darkness immersed in aridity. With prayer almost impossible, the soul is deprived of all joy and feels itself justly forsaken by God. The night of the spirit has four happy results: 1. an increased ardent love of God; 2. a piercing light that breaks through the former mental darkness, consoling the soul; 3. a greater sense of security in God with the determination to do nothing except for his glory; and 4. a marvelous strength to climb the steps that lead to the "transforming union," which St. John of the Cross calls the ten steppingstones of divine love.