Part 1: The teaching of St. John of the Cross: basic principles
Sunday 18th September – 6pm UK Time
a zoom talk by David Nieuwejaers
The spiritual life is often described as a path towards union with God, or mystical union. In the Christian wisdom tradition this journey is divided in three major stages: purification, illumination and unification. This threefold way corresponds to the states of beginners, advanced and the perfect, mirroring the three ages of human natural life: childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Just as these three ages are transitioned by a crisis, so also progression in the spiritual life is marked by crisis. In the writings of the great Spanish mystic Saint John of the Cross (1542-1591) these critical turning points are called ‘dark nights’.
The soul has to pass through two kinds of night. The first is the ‘dark night of the senses’ as it concerns the purgation of the sensual part of the soul. The second is the ‘dark night of the spirit’ as it purifies the spiritual parts of the soul.
Following St. John’s teachings on contemplation we will explore these nights, their so-called active and passive phases, and the indispensable role of divine grace in an authentic spiritual life. We will also clarify some popular misunderstandings as too often people confuse a psychological crisis or a mental problem with the dark night. Firmly rooted in the treasury of Christian mysticism, and confirmed by his own experience, St. John of the Cross may help us to ‘discern the spirits’.
David Nieuwejaers has been a student of perennial philosophy and comparative religious thought for the past 30 years.
His main fields of interest are Christian mysticism and the western esoteric tradition. David was born in Belgium and lives in Maastricht (the Netherlands) where he works as a professor in criminal law.
OPEN TO MEMBERS AND ASSOCIATES OF THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY IN ENGLAND
Please register before Friday 16th September
Blavatsky Lodge, Online