How Do you Reconcile Dark Night with Marriage?


Howdy everyone,

I have been reading The Science of the Cross by Edith Stein. What follows are a few quotes from it, mostly of her quoting St. John of the Cross:

With the beginning of the Dark Night, however, something quite new enters a man’s life. He had been comfortably at home in the world, relished its enjoyments, desired them and indulged this desire. Now all this, which to the natural man means living in the bright light of day, is darkness in the eye of God and incompatible with the divine Light. If the soul is to have room for God all these dark desires must be pulled up by the roots. To meet this demand means to fight one’s own nature along the whole line, to take up the Cross and let oneself be crucified (32).

this union [with God] . . . is established only “when the will of the soul and the will of God are merged into one, so that there is nothing in the one that would resist the other.”] Hence, if the soul “is so completely stripped of all that is opposed to the divine will and is conformed to it, it is transformed into God by love. By this we not only understand every single action that is opposed to the divine will, but also every habit contrary to Him. . . . And because no creature and nothing a creature can achieve reaches the essence of God or corresponds to Him, the soul must rid itself of every creature and of all its works and faculties. . . . Only in this way does the transformation in God come to pass.” It is true, the divine light already dwells in the soul in a natural manner; but only if for the sake of God it rids itself of all that is not God–and love means just this–can it be enlightened and transformed into God. (41)

love frees the will from all things, since it is our duty to love God above all. This, however, we can do only when we have given up the desire for any creature. (42)

The principal obstacles to this [loving God] are the four passions of the soul: joy, hope, grief and fear. “If reason thus orders these passions to God that the soul rejoices only in what furthers the honour and glory of God, that it hopes for nothing else and that it grieves for nothing save what concerns God and fears nothing but God: then it is clear that all the strength and capacity of the soul are preserved for God. The more the soul rejoices in something else, the less will its joy be in God. . . .” (65)

If a man lets himself “be in no way attracted by the deceptive natural good things that appear to the eyes, he preserves his soul free and clear to love all reasonably and spiritually, as God commands it . . .; the more this love grows, the more grows also the love of God, and the more the love of God increases, the more grows also love for our neighbour” . . . If a man has gained some aptitude in this, impure things no longer make any impression on him. (69)

Stein, Edith. The Science of the Cross. Trans. Hilda Graef. Eds. Dr L. Gelber and Fr Romaeus Leuven, O.C.D. Chicago, Illinois: Henry Regnery Company, 1960. Print.

So, my question is, how can married people love God above all? The implication of the above quotes is that we must have no desire for another person. Marriage entails the desire for another person. Therefore, marriage is an obstacle to loving God. You married people out there probably have some insights on this, please enlighten us. For St. John of the Cross/Edith Stein were writing for contemplatives, and married people are not contemplatives. But, are they at a disadvantage nonetheless?


I think that is why St. Paul said it is better not to be married.


The Church teaches that celibacy is a superior good to marriage, that said it still teaches marriage as a good. Perhaps you should read Augustine’s On the Good of Marriage


Howdy everyone,

I have been reading The Science of the Cross by Edith Stein. What follows are a few quotes from it, mostly of her quoting St. John of the Cross:

Quite easy actually… It is God’s will that man and female are attracked to each other and that they marry and that they love each other. There is nothing dark about how God designed us and fulfilling His will does not take away from our adoration of God.

Ultimately, Edith Stein and John of the Cross need to reconcile with God’d design… Not the other way around.


All of us are called to love God above all else, but the way we do so depends on our vocations in life.

It’s true that St. Edith Stein and St. John of the Cross weren’t married, but they were also part of a religious order, a community and essentially a family. They loved those around them in heart and action. It’s great to read the spiritual works, but remember to look at the lives of the authors as well.

One common misunderstanding of detachment and contemplative spirituality is that one only lives for God while abandoning those nearest to them.

If you find yourself loving God more but turning away from others, it may be a sign to rethink the direction you’re heading. If anything, the more we truly love and experience God’s love, the more we ought to grow in desire to love others and to lead them to God.

The main idea is to love God above all else and to let nothing stand in the way of doing so. When we truly have our priorities in order, meaning God is at the top, we can then begin to love others as we should.


Additionally, can you really love your spouse unless you love God and seek him above all else? It seems to me that the alternatives are ultimately to either to objectify or to deify your significant other. I used to think it was a choice between putting God first or putting my wife first…now I don’t see it that way and my marriage is better for it.

[SIGN]Vivat Jesus![/SIGN]


Marriage is one of the sacraments of the Church, and ideally, a married couple should lead each other, and their children, to Christ. Jesus was never married, but he was still part of a family. He had a mother, and Joseph, his foster father, and some believe step-brothers and step-sisters from a previous marriage of Joseph’s. Jesus lived in community. St. Paul certainly had his churches and the people he traveled with, e.g. Titus.

One has more time to devote to God when one is not married, and even Jesus said the unmarried state was higher than the married, but that does not mean he did not bless a proper marriage as well. He did. We all have different vocations. The important thing is to rightly discern your own.


St John of the Cross and Edith Stein were writing for persons living a consecrated life in community (religious). Keep this in mind as you read their works. The audience they were writing for had a different vocation than marriage. This may help your understanding of the directives regarding particular friendships/relationships.


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