Q. What is “the dark night of the soul”?
A. The phrase “dark night of the soul” has been given to an untitled poem written by St. John of the Cross, a Spanish Carmelite priest, mystic, and Doctor of the Church, whose memorial we celebrated this week (December 14). The poem describes how the soul seeking God must ascend through a “dark night” to union with Him after being purged of all that would hinder the journey. This imagery is one of the classic descriptions of purgation and union that is a hallmark of the Christian mystical tradition.