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Dark Night of the Soul in the Lonergan Perspective

Dark Night of the Soul in the Lonergan Perspective

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Published by emosekho
How Bernard Lonergan would interpret and understand St. John of the Cross' Dark Night of the Soul in its Carmelite Spirituality. Robert Doran's notion of Psychic Conversion and Edith Stein's materials from The Science of the Cross are also cited.
How Bernard Lonergan would interpret and understand St. John of the Cross' Dark Night of the Soul in its Carmelite Spirituality. Robert Doran's notion of Psychic Conversion and Edith Stein's materials from The Science of the Cross are also cited.

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: emosekho on Oct 06, 2010
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Insight to Dark Night, Insight to the Soul
For it is the God who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
(Cor 2 4:6)
Dark Night of the Soul is Christian mystic St. John of the Cross’ classic work, itdenotes the Passage of Purification for the Soul to be in ultimate union with God. Whileother Christian mystics write about the light of bliss in their union in the love of God, St.John’s usage of the wordings “Dark Night” and “darkness” does not necessarily suggest thecontext of melancholy.St. John surmises two principal kinds of night, active and passive dark nights of thesenses and the spirit, which spiritual persons call “purifications of the soul”. They are called“nights”, for in both of them the soul journeys, as it were in darkness by night.
The Passage of Purification
From the theological point of view there is a true self that is made in the image of God, and it is people’s vocation to realize it more fully. The true self is an integral part of thespiritual life, rather than an impediment to it.
In the broader dogmatic perspective, thecentral Christian theme of salvation is to restore wholeness with God from the separatedstate between man and God, due to man’s inherent imperfection (sin) after the Fall; in theindividual spiritual perspective, relieving the repression imposed by the False Self enablesthe True Self to ascend and encounter God in his religious experience. In Lonergan terms,“false self” parallels the human infancy stage of knowledge (“false” might not be read in the
context, but as the “non-true” self), through the operations of the conscioussubject, introduces one to a world mediated by meaning and motivated by value; “enablingand cultivating the true-self” parallels the self-appropriation heightening of consciousness toreach human authenticity. However, Lonergan does not deny “weakness” in the infancystage within the context of “false-self”.Jung contends that man in his collective consciousness has always known God. TheSelf’s (the psychic totality of the individual consciousness and unconsciousness whichcomprises instincts, physiological and semi-physiological phenomena
reaching out to Ego(the centre of consciousness) is an appropriation of God’s act of Incarnation as Christ in Hisreaching out to humanity, and Christ is the Symbol of the Self. As man searches for God,1
Fraser Watts, Rebecca Nye, and Sara Savage,
 Psychology for Christian Ministry
(New York: Routledge,2002), p.16.
C. G. Jung,
 Psychology and Religion
(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977), p.502.
God searches for man. Christ’s coming to the world is to empathize fully with humanconsciousness by Incarnation as human. Lonergan shares a similar concept of man’s naturaldesire to understand God.
There exists a natural desire to understand. Its range is set by theadequate object of intellect. Its proper fulfillment is obtained by the reception of a form proportionate to the object understood. This natural desire extends to understanding God.
Ontology of the Soul, Consciousness, and the Divine
Christian view of the soul is that the soul is the essence of the human, a creation byGod, and an extension of God (
: God breathed His spirit of life into the human bodymade of dust from the ground and human gained life at that moment).
Watts in
Theologyand Psychology
gives a psychological definition of the soul: the soul is a qualitative aspectof a person.
The soul differentiates from consciousness in that there is a collectiveconsciousness in the human psyche, but there isn’t a ‘collective soul’. Soul is theindividuality accorded with the Ego and the Self; and to the Christian, with God.
 For the paper’s discussion focusing on the individual, and not in collective existential terms, St. John’s “soul” could be applied and understood ontologically as Lonergan’s“consciousness”.
Edith Stein’s “the inner being” is probably a more accommodative bridging term.
Grace of Infusion as Foundation to Consciousness and Knowing 
‘Contemplation’ refers to the process of reflecting on knowledge, and withinAquinas’ view this term on its own can be applied to two distinct things. One is
,where the person studies and reflects on his subject and learns; the other is
– in which the knowledge comes directly from God to inspire and inform the person. It is called ‘infused’ because it is placed directly into union with the human intellect,without that intellect having done anything to receive it. It is superior to reasoning, andcomes from ‘love’, that is a desire for union with God because it is God who places theknowledge of himself into the human intellect.St. John states that, “Contemplation…is the science of love. It is an infused andloving knowledge of God.”
Infused contemplation is knowledge of God and his works3
(Montreal: Palm Publishers, 1967), p.87.
Fraser Watts,
Theology and Psychology
(Burlington: Ashgate, 2002), p.72.
Edith Stein,
The Science of the Cross
, trans. Hilda Graef (Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1960), p.120.
St. John of the Cross,
 Dark Night of the Soul 
, trans. E. Allison Peers (New York: Image Books, 1990), Book II Ch. XVIII #5. Abbrev.
 Dark Night.
given by God directly to man, in order that man may direct himself to God via a clearer paththan the human reason can allow for.
 For Lonergan, revelation is the entry of divinemeaning into the human situation.
Lonergan’s General Transcendental Knowledge(knowing God by reason), and Special Transcendental Knowledge (knowledge of God thateludes reason), correspond with St. John’s Natural Contemplation/Meditation andInfused/Supernatural Contemplation. Lonergan affirms that grace is not an achievement of our knowing and choosing, but the fruit of the love with which God gives himself to us. Outof this love, this supreme meaningful realit
arises the knowing that is faith. “The infusionof grace…is a change from one spontaneity to another,..placing his higher faculties insubordination to God and his lower faculties in subordination to reason.”
Conversions in the Dark Night
The Soul’s operations and Lonergan’s “conscious operations” of Knowing 
All contemplation is
in nature, it is knowledge of God in man - whether itis attained by man via study, or infused into man by God, to the attainment of thetransforming union in which the soul experiences to the fullest the presence and activity of the Holy Spirit. Yet to reach that goal the soul must travel through the active and passivedark nights of the senses and the spirit.
 Ascent of Mount Carmel 
describes the ‘active’ nightof the spirit, the human side of the process: what we can do to identify and interpret thiscondition, the habits of the mind we must cultivate, the dangers we must avoid. The sequelto
The Dark Night of the Soul 
, explains that the ‘passive’ night is the empirical levelof God’s purifying activity.Since cognitional activities are multi-layered (re: Lonergan’s differentiation of consciousness), Dark Night could be understood as the condition, the dimension in whichthe ladders
exist, where the ascending up the 10 ladder steps take place.
Thus Jesus’description of “My Father has many rooms..” could also mean one person who engages indifferent rooms during his spiritual stages, and to accommodate the individual’sdifferentiated consciousness, in Lonergan terms. According to St John, the soul has three7
See Neil Omerod,
Method, Meaning and Revelation
(Lanham: University Press of America, 2000), p.163
Grace and Freedom. Operative Grace in the Thoughts of St. Thomas Aquinas
. Ed J. Patout Burns(London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 1971), p.57.
 Dark Night 
, Book II Ch. XIX. Here St. John and Lonergan differ in that St. John’s intensive intimacy isrevealed in the ten ladder steps, and Lonergan mostly employs academic language.

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