Excerpts from the book, “Spirituality of the Old Testament,” by Paul Marie de la Croix.
“It would seem that the essential element of great purifications is the night; that is, a spiritual date explicitly willed by God which souls cease to understand the reason for the trials that afflict them and believe they are separated from him forever. Previously they had been following a path which seemed to lead to a goal, so that every step, however painful, was an advance. But now the road seems to have no outlet.
Previously such souls, even in their worst trials, never doubted God’s mercy or His purifying treatment. But henceforth divine conduct is utterly incomprehensible, even extremely arbitrary and unjust. Everything bewilders them, causing uneasiness, anguish, obscurity. They more they seek God, the more deeply hidden he remains; the more they desire him, the more he rejects them. There is complete opposition and discrepancy between God’s word and external events, between God’s promises and the state of desolation in which souls are left.
Sometimes they encounter a failure which he permits even though he has first assured victory; sometimes, for no apparent reason, they experience a reversal of God’s relationship to them. They seem to be permanently abandoned or even rejected, though divine favor and friendship had been theirs before. They have not been guilty of the slightest infidelity, but they must become fit for the final mystery of faith. To reach this state and to gather its fruits, they must give up all human modes of action. Only in the dark night can they receive the revelation of what they could not and would not attain by their own minds.
God wishes to be possessed for his own sake, independent of all justice, all right, all reason. He brings souls to bay as they face scandal and injustice. He seems to act in a capricious, arbitrary way, following only his own good pleasure. Thus does he invite souls to enter the depths of spiritual love. For in his wisdom, he spurns all systems and he achieves his triumph by ways that to us seem utterly disconcerting. 'He writes with crooked lines.' He arouses such generosity and faith that souls must surrender their last self-defenses, and in spite of all struggle, the heart prevails against logic. He obliges them to attain absolute selflessness, to care for nothing but God’s good pleasure, however incomprehensible it may be.”