Friday, September 2, 2016

Saint Mother Teresa's Dark Night of the Soul a Necessary Corollary to Divine Union

"There exists, as the mystic knows from having personally experienced them, affective states which consist in pure joys, absolutely stripped of every representative state, whether idea or image, which therefore cannot be explained by any of the causes which normal experience allow us to assign for feelings. These intense blind joys exist: either one must treat them as facts and assign them a cause, or simply recognize them and leave them unexplained. But unless, by way of an arbitrary exception, one is prepared to renounce the use of the principle of causality to explain these like any other facts, then necessarily it must be granted that the object itself is the immediate cause of the joys experienced by the mystic. Every mediate cause is negatived by the simple fact that no object is perceived, imagined or thought; but though knowledge ceases, or rather because knowledge ceases, this immeasurable joy is felt; it cannot be born of nothing, for nothing is born of nothing; it cannot be born of any representation in the mind, for there is no representation in the mind; therefore it is born of the object itself  with nothing intervening between soul and object. Thus ecstasy is the embrace, in darkness, of a Good whose being thought does not attain. 'Love goes further than vision' [amor plus se extendit quam visio]; here is the deepest meaning of the phrase..." 418

"...[W]hen all the powers of knowing are transcended, and the uttermost point of the soul has gone beyond the uttermost point of thought, one faculty of the soul still remains. it is love that goes the furthest in the soul's exploration of being; for whereas our faculty of knowing cannot pursue Being to the point  of seeing it, our love can pursue it--as Good--to the point of contact and of joy in it. The experience of God as the mystic has it is exclusively affective--ibi non intrat intellectus sed affectus; and an experience of this sort is possible precisely because, in the phrase of William of St. Thierry used by St. Bonaventure, amor plus se extendit quam visio. One can see and know only an object fully grasped by the soul; one can love an object perfectly and immediately if the soul can so much as touch it. Thus the mystic is faced with a question of fact; and the problem imposes itself on his mind as an actual experience which he must interpret." 417

"...In relation to intellectual knowledge, ecstasy is ignorance; and compared with the light by which we perceive objects, it is darkness; but for all that is is an infinite reality which the soul seizes in the depth of that darkness and because of that very ignorance. Thus it is an ignorance of wisdom that the mystic attains, and the darkness he enters is an illuminated darkness, not in the sense that the intellect or any representation plays any part whatever, but that we have only the metaphors of cognition at our disposal even when we would signify our hold of an object of which we have no cognition." 418-419

"The human of such a nature that only an infinite object is capable of satisfying it..." 422

In rapture "[the] total vision of God will of itself imply all knowledge--and by comparison Plato's contemplation and Aristotle's philosophy and the astronomy of Ptolemy will seem to us but folly and vanity, for the whole mass of what we know is but an insignificant fraction of what is unknown to us." 423

For the mystic " is not enough to see; he must touch and hold; in heaven as on earth all joy implies and proves the possession of its object." 425

Gilson, The Philosophy of Saint Bonaventure, Paterson: Saint Anthony Guild, 1965.
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