(NOTE: This transcription has been automatically generated through an AI program. Consequently, this transcript may not match everything you hear in the podcast episode, and it may contain errors such as spelling, grammar, word choice, etc., due to the limitations of current AI technology.)

Welcome to this week’s episode of Midnight Carmelite. This week, I want to discuss a chapter in the Ascent where John talks about how the Dark Night initially starts with the senses. And he starts by essentially saying that you want to turn off in other English translations that you extinguish. And then there’s mortify, there’s another word John uses your gratification of the soul’s appetites and things. So what does that really mean? And that’s what we’re going to discuss in this week’s podcast, we got to remember that appetites for John means an inordinate fondness for something.

Desire for something and the fondness that the soul has for finite things. That’s what the night really is; it’s kind of a twofold activity. The first part of the activity is removing a fondness for finite things. That’s inordinate and then reordering yourself to God regardless of the things you have. So to the listener that may not make sense, you may be saying, well wait a minute like how do these two parts come together and how do they really work? So John discusses the first proof he uses to discuss, he just talks about what he means by this notion of removing the gusto the fondness for things.

So what he’s saying is he saying you’re setting up a privation meaning a lack, not a negative, it’s a lack. So what you’re doing is you’re saying okay for example let’s say you have a fondness for watching TV all the time instead of praying. Well there’s you know you can make an argument if there’s nothing wrong with TV per se. But the problem is you in relation to that TV, there’s a fondness there, you haven’t, your appetites of the soul are going out to watching TV and you rest in it.

There’s a liking a pleasure. And the problem is that plays to our fallen nature because we tend to rest and take pleasure and finite things rather than taking pleasure in God. And if we want to journey up Mount Carmel and unite our wills with God, we need to, you know, as Yoda would say, unlearn what we have learned and basically go and deprive ourselves or privation as better put because deprived. I think the problem with that word, in my opinion is it makes it sound negative, it’s a privation.

It’s a lack; you’re creating space. That’s a positive way I think of saying this, you’re creating space where God can work and so what you’re doing is when you have, let’s say you want to watch TV and you know you’re not doing it for rest, you know you’re not doing it for an ordered purpose. It’s a disordered purpose meaning you can kind of tell you probably shouldn’t be watching TV. You should be you know doing something else or praying right? Whatever it may be because remember you know if you have called to your state in life of doing certain activities that you’re not doing that’s going to obviously and hinder you know with God right?

No the point is you want to do what you ought to be doing rather than not what you ought to be doing. Which is let’s say watching TV all time. So he’s saying if there’s a privation of sight then the eyes can’t take pleasure things, the deprivation of taste then your tongue can take pleasure in things and taste etc. And it goes through all the five senses. And he says this what you’re doing is it’s going to create this darkness, this dark night for the senses.

Well, why? Because the senses naturally like to go out to that which they can relate to naturally and adding to the fact of our fallen nature. So it’s kind of this reality where the senses will relate to light. If you shine light in my eye, then I’m going to see light, right? And it’s going to hurt, let’s say if it’s an excess of light right? Like a flashlight or something. But but the point is is I can’t not see that. So the senses are not actually going to take it in the real problem.

And he points this out, and I think this is perceptive and brilliant. Is he basically says, look, it’s the appetites that the problem is how you relate to those things. Okay, and how does he say that? Well, later in the chapter, he makes, in my opinion, his stand on sense realism and what he says is essentially this, he says, look, the any knowledge that the soul has comes through the senses and he uses the body, makes the body out using the analogy of a prison for the soul.

Now, I don’t think John thinks it’s a prison per se. I think he’s using this as an analogy so that it’s clear on what he’s trying to say in this text, I would vehemently argue against the fact that he’s taking a position that the body is evil in some way. I don’t believe that, I think is a little stretching it too far. But anyway, so point being is that he’s dealing with this notion that says, look, if the body is the means by which the soul has any knowledge because the soul can’t get knowledge except starting naturally at least except through the senses.

And him says there’s no other way of perceiving things. You know what is communicated to the person except through the senses. So he makes it very clear that the senses are the starting point of all knowledge, which is in my opinion, incredibly important for John. So then then the question naturally becomes, and he addresses this is the question actually becomes, he says, okay, so if I’m supposed to deprive, create a lack of a fondness, gusto. We focus on turning off or for dulling or for putting out um in other English translations used to extinguish.

The point is, is this is this notion of a creating space. If I turn off the electronics, the circuit has no electricity flowing through. There is now a space for something else. Now you wouldn’t put something else in the electrical circuit obviously can break it. Like that’s kind of what he’s saying here. So what he’s dealing with here is he’s like, how do people who don’t have a privation of things? Like, let’s say a king, right? Like a saint who was a king reach spiritual union or a person who would be a king reached, approaching me, let’s say versus a person who, let’s say is a monk and they don’t, you know, they have these vows and of poverty and they don’t have things, but they don’t reach spirit unions.

So what, what’s the deal there? How does that work? Because that’s obviously the case, right, doesn’t mean my point is this just because you’re, let’s say, a super wealthy person doesn’t mean you can’t achieve spiritual union that’s already been affirmed. But on the other hand, there are obviously people who go into the religious life, or even in the religious life in the late life, who deprived themselves, who are poor materially but still don’t reach growth union. So how does that work? And again, he goes back to the point that it really just comes from the person’s appetites being inordinate towards things.

So what he’s saying is he’s saying, look, consider David. He goes, David was a king. But he lived as if he was really poor, meaning, he didn’t have a fondness for these things. If they were there there there. If they’re not, they’re not. They were there by virtue of the fact that he was to be king. He used them and ordered with God’s will. He had no resting fondness with them. He wasn’t attached to them. Didn’t take inordinate pleasure in them. He just treated them as they should be treated which is means, not ends.

They were things there for him to enact his kingship because John basically says, look, if if someone’s actually poor and then they turn around and they say, I want riches, I want riches, enriches. Even though they don’t have riches. Their appetite is to rest in gratification of things they don’t have instead of resting in God. And guess what? You’re just as attached as if you’re a rich person who actually has those things who takes pleasure and fondness And then like some sort of Scrooge Mcduck who’s diving in a vault gold, they’re still the same thing.

You still have the same problem. It’s just on different ends of a genus. And so that’s the key here: John’s key point with the night is is that John is saying to us, he’s saying, look, it’s really the soul. That’s the problem. Because in the soul is that inordinate desire, that fondness for finite things and not for God and to start this journey, you have to make space because you just don’t. You really might even know your fondness. You know, I was reading a spiritual homily by a guy named pseudo more curious and he was talking about this notion that the devil has made all these highways in the human heart ever since Adam’s fall and it’s grace that restores us to God.

And I think that’s an apt point here is that as you go deeper in the spiritual, if you start to find things, you may not have even known were there because they seemed natural to you. Again, you have this fondness for something you may have known. You may have some pride, you didn’t know whatever the point is, even uncovering ourselves that we’re kind of a mystery to ourselves in that sense.

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