Anonymous asked: How does one overcome spiritual dryness, "The Dark night of the soul?"
For those who have not heard of the “dark night of the soul”, I think Wikipedia does a good job of explaining it! It is important to note that a bad week/month does not qualify as a dark night of the soul- we all have dry patches from time to time. The dark night refers to a prolonged period of spiritual dryness, and is sometimes seen in lives of mystics and deeply spiritual saints. Typically, if the individual perseveres and continues in prayer, trusting that God has not truly abandoned them, they come out the other side stronger in faith then ever before. It is essentially a time of holy purification.
Because it is a rather rare occurrence, I don’t think that there are any hard and fast rules to overcoming spiritual dryness. I would first encourage people to seek spiritual direction with a priest, religious, or youth leader. Spiritual direction is a valuable tool, and not just in times of spiritual dryness. It might also help to read or do some research on the lives of saints and holy people with this experience. The few that came to mind were St. John of the Cross, St. Therese of Lisieux, and even Mother Teresa. There are writings that chronicle a large portion of her life where she was experiencing this absence of God. As a testament to her true faith and trust, she continued in tirelessly serving the poor. I have no personal frame of reference for this, but I have to believe that that kind of selfless service to others is one way to, if not overcome, at least cope with spiritual dryness. I know that St. John of the Cross also wrote extensively, and some of his works reference the dark night of the soul (I believe he was the one who coined the term, in fact!).
If a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark.
- Saint John of the Cross
Certainly, the most important and difficult advice would be to persevere in prayer. It may not yield any consolation or assurance of God’s presence, but our faith tells us that God will never abandon us.
God bless you!