Which explains the deep dark night all souls must go through
before the mystical marriage to God
The mystical death happens prior to the mystical marriage. This does not happen suddenly, but like normal death due to age or disease it occurs slowly, with life ebbing away. In my case I was stricken - almost but not quite sick - on Nov. 16th 1981, and until Feb. 13, 1982 (when I beheld the Beatific Vision) there was no Light. On Feb. 15th this period of dark night and mystical death officially ended with the mystical marriage to God. My dark night lasted from that period in November to Feb. 13th dying to all things but God, dying every way but physically. After the 15th 'I was transfigured or transformed, a new and final rebirth, radically advanced from the rebirth when Christ is first born in the soul. This was the completion of the untie mystical state, the time when God takes you over not only spiritually but also physically. It Seems to me your purgatorial state is over at that time, and if you died at that moment you would go straight to heaven. Perhaps as you keep living you accrue more sins and faults, but never, I believe, is one capable of mortal sin after that time. The reason: No longer you live, but God in you, truly. And God who is truly living in your soul completely cannot be extinguished.
Before the mystical marriage, as its logical antecedent, is the gift of contemplation. It is the INVITATION to this higher life soon to be unfolded. This gift is like a trumpet call, which begins the FINAL JOURNEY into God, or introversion into the soul where God is. I did not immediately go into seclusion upon receiving the gift (Easter Thursday, 1981, lasting four whole days), but I had the vision that would propel me to do so. My seclusion was a few months off. There was also another vision, which I cannot place in all this. It relates both to the gift of contemplation and mystical marriage. On November 3, 1981 1 was infused with four gifts I was praying for several weeks: Union of wills, memory, wisdom and understanding. Shortly thereafter, as I mentioned, I entered the great darkness. It seems that many of the greatest graces of Light are soon followed by darkness and pain.
(To explain these visions which then follow darkness and pain I would say this: You see what it is you will reach. You see the beauty, the truth, the way and so on by an intellectually infused vision. This is because your faculties have not yet developed to hold it but for a split second, a few minutes, a few days, depending on what it is. Then it fades away because the "infusion" or its light has worn off and you must now reach or develop into it to be able to sustain it within yourself on a permanent basis. So logically we see me seeing "all" of God (and myself and the world) in the infused gift of contemplation, then taking many months, almost a year, before I could digest and assimilate this vision into my natural being. The same principal extends to the other gifts and infused virtues to some degree. I saw them first, then had to "pay" for them. It is like seeing the prize, then fighting to receive it. But the prize is already GIVEN before you do the work!)
Contemplation pointed the way. It should be defined here what it is. It is NOT the ability to think or meditate in a rational way, but to SEE, at once, not in part the whole picture that the human intellect is able to see up to that point WITH THE AID OF MUCH GRACE. Contemplation, the word, has many meanings, but here I am referring to it in only the specific meaning known as the specific gift. This has been best defined by Delacroix which I take from "MYSTICISM," by Evelyn Underhill: Dutton paperback, pg. 330:
"...THE SUBJECT CEASES TO PERCEIVE HIMSELF IN THE MULTIPLICITY AND DIVISION OF HIS GENERAL CONSCIOUSNESS. HE IS RAISED ABOVE HIMSELF. A DEEPER AND A PURER SOUGHT SUBSTITUTES ITSELF FOR THE NORMAL SELF. IN THIS STATE, IN WHICH CONSCIOUSNESS OF I-HOOD AND CONSCIOUSNESS OF THE WORLD DISAPPEAR, THE MYSTIC IS CONSCIOUS OF BEING IN IMMEDIATE RELATION WITH GOD HIMSELF OF PARTICIPATING IN DIVINITY. CONTEMPLATION INSTALLS A METHOD OF BEING AND OF KNOWING. MOREOVER THESE TWO THINGS TEND AT 20TTOM TO BECOME ONE. THE MYSTIC HAS MORE AND MORE THE IMPRESSION OF BEING THAT WHICH HE KNOWS, AND KNOWING THAT WHICH HE IS," ('Etudes sur le Mysticisms, p. 370. Delacroix.)
I am sure that this miracle of contemplation manifests differently in each soul even this particular, specific gift herein described. In my case I saw a reality of myself, God, myself in relation to God and all things I was involved in at once. I saw my whole life, past and pre sent, in a totally new, clear, sharp perspective. I suddenly DISCERNED what was good, bad and in between in it. I saw how all my good works in the past were made imperfect by self-interest. I was basically GOOD, not having malice, but there was still that taint of selfishness in all my works. I saw instantly that the only way I could remove that taint now was to seclude myself and break all ties with people. It was at the point of PEOPLE - wanting their love, wanting involvement, that I fell short. It was applause, recognition on an earthly level that tripped me up, even in all my good works. And I saw how easily active work could trip ANYONE up - even a saint. By its very nature it was prone to draw one into faults. Seclusion at this point was the only answer.
I saw a GRIM picture of the world in itself. I saw that the economic system of the world, the entire world, was permeated by the spirit of evil to its very core. There was no GOODNESS in the world whatsoever, just the stream of perfect goodness that came from God and made it palatable, but I saw the FRIGHTENING aspect of the world for what it really is as a place DEVOID OF GOD AND GOODNESS. I saw Satan controlling the entire world - as strange as it may seem, as fanatical as it seems to ordinary ears and I fail in my attempts to describe this but I saw the manifestation of Satan, his works, his poison, permeating the entire structure of the world. And not only that, Satan's hypnotic evil spirit was everywhere, deluding all people EXCEPT THOSE IN CONTEMPLATION OR IN THE SPIRITUAL/MYSTICAL REALM. EVEN GOOD PEOPLE WHO HAD NOT MYSTICISM WERE ENGULFED AND SWEPT OVER BY THIS EVIL SPIRIT MOST OF THE TIME. They BLINDLY followed Truth, because they had been TAUGHT it, but of themselves, they could not DISCERN good and evil. That is to say - the average person, good, virtuous, pious, without the benefit of training in religion, would be taken over and swept away by the evil spirit!
I recoiled from this evil system. I saw its dangers to anyone, but especially myself since now I SAW THE PLAN OR DELUSION. It is like catching a criminal in his crime. once you spot him, he wants to kill you. I saw that Satan would do anything to kill a person like me, who saw him for what he was and had done - that most evil and monstrous criminal of all time. one like me, who saw, was very rare and posed a threat to his kingdom. I also saw quickly how he - Satan - worked best through individuals, for it is so easy to delude and sway mortals in their state. How many dangers I had already been subjected to, how many times he had tried to kill me and I was only saved by God, and for what? Was it worth it, all this active labor, filled with taint, when I could have been CONTEMPLATING?
WITHDRAWAL was the only answer. It wasn't only direct attacks that demons would use against me in the world, it was also the indirect slaughter of dissipation and stress. Dying fast or slow, doesn't make a difference. (After all, aren't most diseases caused by stress?) And all this WORK, in the world, which I already saw in the vision was imperfect, was causing me a great deal of exhaustion, dissipation and DISTRACTION from all that WAS perfect.
You see the kingdom of God, and the kingdom of Satan, and how all commerce in the world puts one in danger of contact or domination by the evil spirit. Just INNOCENT commerce - nothing criminal - because you are dealing with something that has permeated every institution of man, even the churches - all the churches. Wherever there is unclean, unregenerate mankind, there is Satan and corruption.
Then you see how SAFE you are when you are alone in that the handles that Satan touches you by removed He is almost helpless against a soul that secludes itself for religious reasons. He can TEMPT, but he cannot use the world and other mortals against that soul - which removes innumerable handles for him to trip you up and destroy you. But this seclusion must be as complete as possible for the cleansing of your soul to be complete. You must not be alone pining away for worldly liberty. You must BASK in the sunshine and desire of God. Your mind cannot be contaminated by memories and unrequited desires.
Besides all the other bad things, you see the WASTE, the time-consuming waste, that it is to be active in the world. YOU MUST NOW WORK ON YOUR SOUL. Distraction from the soul and God saps your energy, confuses and distorts this now presiding interest in God.
This "second" or "third" call that I now had was greater than the second a call to greater perfection. When I was first called to contemplation in 1971 I unfortunately did not heed it too long. I was pushed by someone to enter the active life. I gained merit, but this call to contemplation was above the ministry I had been doing. It was a greater sacrifice to give up my clients, my spiritual children, than to hold on to them. It was a greater thing to give up proselytizing at this point than to go on preaching. I saw that my daily attempts at conversions were not worth the efforts; I could do more now. I could do more in my present state by PRAYING than by talking. MOST PEOPLE I TALKED TO DIDN'T WANT GOD, they were merely wasting my time. We work like that with averages. We talk to a hundred to try and get one. I now saw that wasn't good enough. I had better things to do with my time. Perhaps, in one state, one needs that kind of a cross. I believe for some it is necessary. I no longer needed to TEACH, to convert or pray for physical healing. Soon the Lord would tell me to drop all my individual clients, spiritual children and forget ALL.
When I first began to withdraw and later entered the dark night/mystical death I had no idea how long it would last. That is one of its greatest tortures not knowing. God does not tell you the future. But the vision does tell you what to do imminently. It is frightening to think that such a state may last a long time. It is similar to solitary confinement in a sort of unpleasant dungeon. Not only do you not know how long it will last, you don't know what's on the other side.
I would explain the need for withdrawal in one way: You must develop the interior faculties, which needs total concentration. They are yet weak, undeveloped. You must put all your time/attention to them. You can not do this in the active life because your energies are elsewhere. Your mind cannot be in two dimensions at once the eternal and the now. To be in the mystical state you must be opened on a deeper level. That means the unconscious level - or usually dormant level. All mysticism comes from the deeper levels. All the visions, both of senses and intellect, come from this deeper level. You cannot be so open in the world. In the world a different set of senses is operating senses having to do with the earth plane, the here and now. If you open up totally ON THE-EARTH PLANE OR NON GODLY PLANE IT IS WROUGHT WITH DANGERS. You can get hurt in all kinds of ways through being besieged by the wrong vibrations or impressions, both the natural and demonic. It is bad enough to manage these delicate mechanisms in quiet and privacy, doing religious things. Satan and your own natural energies try to interfere. Imagine outside, where all the evil is, being open! People can go insane from being in that open, vulnerable mental, emotional condition and then besieged or attacked from whatever evil. The more open you are, the more impressions you receive, BUT THEY COULD BE BAD IMPRESSIONS.
In other words, you can pick up with your mind the wrong thoughts, ideas and be mentally lost, contaminated or corrupted. In the mystical life it is not easy to maintain MYSTICAL CLEANLINESS. This is sweeping out the demonic or evil spirit periodically, which as long as you live, makes inroads through every way it can, and must be removed from time to time by God's Light and Exorcism.
What you DO want to do is to be open to the eternal, supernatural realm of God; to think about Truths and to receive impressions from the Divine Mind. It isn't any use to tell the mystic that she mustn't dabbled in those things; for this she was born, for this she is talented. You might as well tell someone like Mozart not to compose music. The scoffers are the untalented. The timid don't get the prizes.
But the talented mystic also knows the DANGERS of openness (whatever definition you want to give to this openness, whether it be the suggestive, unconscious mind, or emotions, or both). For instance, people do go insane from wrong uses of the mind, from wrong thinking. And this can be influenced by severe negativity from the outside. Mental hospitals are filled with those who no longer have control over their minds and are fixed on UNREALITY. It is our effort, as mystics, to tune into REALITY, not illusion or delusion. Of utmost importance is the protection of the mind.
The state of withdrawal or mystical life is a type of COCOON. It is an atmosphere, a world wherein the mystic lives apart. It is NOT a delusional world, but it is intuned to another dimension - mostly higher - but in some instances of pain and suffering, one tunes into Purgatory or even, the most horrible, Hell. I personally have not had a direct experience of Hell, though it can and does happen to both saints and non saints. But I did come close to it - eight months after the dark night - in the experience of the divine stigmata.
In this mystical cocoon you are developing, but in another way than the active life. You are learning to use faculties that have previously been dormant or inactive, or you are learning to use full force those talents you already used in part. The cocoon (it varies also from day to day) until the stigmata. After stigmata I have had only a few days of true mystical joy - and it has been two and a half years. Judging by that, you can see how the joys of mysticism are very rare.
When you enter the cocoon the logical opposite is that you reject all about you. All your friends, relatives, fade into the background of necessity. This is the point where all saints become recluses and after the cocoon is open, and they become "butterflies," they return to sense life. This rejection of the outside world is automatic. It is not an ascetical effort or exercise. It is a fundamental interior drive changing you from a state of contact with the outside to contact with the inside. Whether or not you are in the world physically doesn't matter. It would happen in or out of the recluse state. If you absolutely had to maintain worldly contact you would be silent, perhaps morose, disinterested and annoyed by outside things. Because of this lack of DESIRE for outside things for the first time in your life you are really alone.