Question about Active/Passive Night


In the past month, God has seemed very far away most of the time, and I feel like He’s ashamed of me. As much as I know that not to be the case intellectually, that is still how I feel.

See, I began what St. John of the Cross would describe as the “active night of the senses” back at the start of 2016, and by the end of 2016, my desire had shifted from primarily a desire for different circumstances to a desire to glorify God through my daily life. I became aware of all the effort I need to exert towards changing my habits in order for this transformation to occur. However, I have been really struggling to make such resolutions ever since. I’ve exerted a lot of effort over the years, but have maintained very little transformation in my lifestyle. When I look back on the past two years, I see little to no progress. Although my prayer life has developed a great deal, it is greatly lacking zeal & focus, and it has not been consistent. My practice of self-denial has also been very sporadic.

I’ve recently lost patience with myself, and for the past few weeks, I have been struggling with intense despair & self-hatred. I’ve tried to continue my prayer and Daily Mass commitments, but it has often felt dry & fruitless. I feel like I’ve wasted the past two years of my life. I’ve also been recently consumed with envy of others, rebuking myself whenever I witness the successes of those around me in living in fervent and faithful service to God. It’s like I can see that God is working in their lives because He is pleased with them, but feel like He is still distant from me because I don’t deserve intimacy with Him yet.

I’ve recently learned more about the passive night of the senses, and I seem to experiencing some similar struggles to what is described there:

1 - Aridity (dryness, reduction in spiritual satisfaction) both in prayer and daily life.
Difficult to read scriptures, meditate, pray and serve others when once it gave happiness.
No compensation in worldly things.

2 - Fear of falling back on the path as God seems to have left them. Fear that we have offended God and now we are being punished. However, God is now offering a more intimate and mature relationship with Him. The baby is being weaned from ‘spiritual goodies’ and learning a more substantial faith.

3 - Inability to practice discursive (reflective) meditation. Inability to ponder the meaning of the teaching and example of enlightened teachers.

In my recent weeks of despair, however, I have had a few (2-3) occasions in prayer where I have felt at peace. However, in all of the other occasions I have felt this intense sense of rejection by God, that I am ultimately unworthy of ever reaching union with him, that I am relapsing into previous vices, and a distractibility/numbness.

I feel like my recent issues with envy & the inconsistency in my prayer life the past few years are an indication that I’ll remain in the active night of the senses for a much longer while. Still, however, I am wondering: is it possible that I’m actually in the midst of the passive night of the senses? (which would mean transitioning out of the night of the senses and into the Illuminative Way)?


HI Dorothy, that’s a long question LOL…
Ok the obvious question first is have you spoken to a priest?
I remember a rule of thumb if you like from Bishop Sheen when he said if you want to know if your doing the will of God you must look to the fruits your producing and going by what you say, I would have to say that Satan has been at work in you as he is with us all, going by your emotions and feelings towards others.
sometimes we can misread God and look for emotional feelings to fulfil our desire to have a relationship with him, we long for him to respond to our affections in an intimate way and get confused when we don’t get that response we expected.
or it could be spiritual dryness?
I find that sometimes God just wants us to sit quietly and Love him, just like Mary did at his feet, take the power away from Satan who is wearing you out and just ask Jesus to hold you and protect you until such a time that you can be free to worship him and serve your fellow man.

I wish I could be of more help to you and I pray that Our Mother will wrap you in her heart and console you. I will place you in my prayers at Mass tomorrow.
If I think of anything else I will come back to you.
and don’t worry we have all been there or will be.
when we try to serve God the devil takes notice.


Have you ever thought, or been told, that you can be a bit too introspective?

Or, that you let yourself be guided too much by what you read or have been told?

Try and experience God and His creation on His terms…it’s great to read spiritual classics, but, other than scripture and certain traditions, maybe it’s best to just live your life. Let go and let God!


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