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By Dr. Robert Stackpole, STD (Jul 2, 2008)

Toward the end of the classic movie, "The Wizard of Oz," when Dorothy is saying goodbye to her friends before returning to Kansas, she gives the Tin Man a kiss, and he responds: "Now I know that I have a heart: because it is breaking!"

A couple of weeks ago, I completed a two-part series on the meaning of the word "soul" and on the created dignity and supernatural destiny of the marvelous body-soul persons that God created us to be. Shortly thereafter, I received an e-mail from a regular reader of this column, a letter that sounded very much like the Tin Man's sincere lament.

This reader is someone who, as a child, suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a relative. He kept the secret locked away in his heart for decades. He wrote:

I thought I could go to my grave with it, protecting everyone ... But life stopped, by God's will not mine ... I broke down ... Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder hit hard. I became so NUMB; I even had amnesia for a while, not recognizing my spouse and my home. Through these events the ugly secret was forced out ... To my shock, the maturity was not there in my siblings and parents, and I was rejected again; PTSD symptoms came back again, also with the question of LOVE? Where is their LOVE? Numb again on top of everything. (1) Is this a sickness of my SOUL? ... Doctors say it is part of the PTSD. (2) But my other question is that I am so afraid that I will be punished by God because I CAN'T FEEL LOVE OR RECOGNIZE MY SIBLINGS OR PARENTS BECAUSE I SHUT THEM DOWN ... I have gone to a couple of healing Masses, but to no avail. Is there something I am doing wrong??? Should I ask for healing, or suffer like some of the old saints say is a gift??? ... I am serious: this numbness scares me. I have prayed and gave my will to God ... not much else to give ...



First, let me respond to my brother in Christ here, and his particular questions. He is definitely experiencing what the saints have called "The Dark Night of the Soul." We shall talk about that in general in a minute. But first, to my friend:

Be at peace. From what you have written, I am sure that you are not at all apart from God or His grace. I know you do not "feel" love for God or even for your relatives right now, and that must feel pretty bad at the moment. But remember, feelings of love and affection are not actually of central importance to the health of your soul. That's because "love" is not primarily a "feeling." Rather, it's primarily a commitment of the will to the good of others (and even to your own good, as a child of God). It's clear you are not seeking revenge on your relatives or wishing them ill. And it seems clear that you have entrusted your will to the one who can take good care of it: God Himself. All these are good signs that you are in a state of grace.

Actually, I know someone who has been through exactly the same feelings that you are experiencing now: Jesus of Nazareth, Our Lord. When He was nailed to a cross, misunderstood by his countrymen, and even abandoned by most of his friends and relatives (from whom he had every right to expect both love and solace in his time of need), He was emotionally "numbed" by it all, too. He felt as if God, His Father, was far away. That is why he cried out in His agony, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me?" But even though in His agony He did not "feel" love and affection (when He experienced any feelings at all in His agony, they were surely feelings of overwhelming grief and sorrow), He was expressing His commitment of love for us and for His heavenly Father more deeply at that moment than at any other time of His earthly life.

So, my brother in Christ, you are truly on the cross beside Jesus. Just remember that this does not mean that you are apart from Him at all (no matter how numb or grief-stricken you may feel at times), for your will is united to His, and you are loving your persecutors as He did from the cross by praying for them and seeking them no harm. The true center of your soul, your will, is safely enfolded in the arms of your heavenly Father, right where you left it! He will take good care of it.

And remember how the Gospel story ends: Easter morning is coming. Just wait for it in trust. Psalm 130 says it best:

Out of the depths I cry to Thee, O Lord!
Lord, hear my voice!
Let Thy ears be attentive
To the voice of my supplication! ...

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in His word is my hope;
My soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.



The journey through the Dark Night of the Soul is something that every disciple of Jesus Christ will need to take, at some point in life. This Dark Night can come upon us for any of three reasons:

1.) Because we are holding onto mortal sin or deliberate venial sins. The Holy Spirit gives the comforting sense of His presence to us in our hearts in the early stages of our walk with Christ. He does so in order to show us that He is our heart's desire and to refresh us along the way. But if we stubbornly refuse to let go of one or more of our besetting sins along the way, then these lingering sins can dam up the waters of His grace and prevent Him from refreshing our parched spirits. As a result, we can feel rejected by God, or feel that He has gone far away, when, in actual fact, it is we who have (at least partially) rejected Him. Remember that He loves us so much that He does not want to have only half of our hearts, but all of our hearts as His own! If we stubbornly resist His loving advances and His sanctifying grace, He may allow us to lose a sense of His presence. He will do so in order to wake us up to the need for honesty with ourselves and true repentance.

If you want to know what some of these faults may be that are getting in the way, try making an in-depth general confession (your priest can help you here), and try asking your loved ones, some friend or relative whom you can trust to tell you the truth about yourself. But don't get defensive about what you hear!

By the way, this reason for the dark nights and desert times in our relationship with God — lack of repentance for sin — is certainly NOT what my friend who wrote to me (above) is experiencing!

2.) A second reason for the soul's Dark Night may be physical or emotional exhaustion or illness. Remember what we said a few weeks ago: The human soul and body are very closely related. They affect each other deeply. The fact is, we are vulnerable, breakable creatures. When our bodies and emotions are broken, this can act like a dark cloud that envelops the soul, preventing it from feeling normal and healthy affections of love, either for God or for our neighbors, and often preventing us even from feeling the presence of God in prayer and worship. If we are used to feeling such affections and such consolations, this can cause the soul great distress and even make us feel as if we have been rejected by God or have lost Him altogether. But, again, our love relationship with Him is not primarily a feeling; it's a commitment of the will. And that commitment can even be strengthened in the midst of the Dark Night. God gives us the grace to cling to Him in love and trust even when we are pummeled by doubts and fears and emotional numbness or distress.

This is the kind of Dark Night that Jesus experienced on the Cross. This is the kind of Dark Night that my friend is experiencing now. Let's face it: It feels awful! And it may last longer than we think we can stand. Actually, for us, this is the kind of Dark Night for which we can and should seek healing, as it arises from natural causes.

When I was a college student, I went through a terrible time of this, and along the way, with the help of a Christian counsellor, I developed something that I called my "Dark Night Emergency Kit". I hope that some of my readers will find it helpful. It goes like this:

• Trust in the objective truth of the Gospel. No matter what you may feel at the moment, the following statements from the Bible are infallibly true and trustworthy: "You are the light of the world" (Mt 5:14 ) ... "the salt of the earth" (Mt 5:13 ) ... Beloved, we are God's children now; it does not yet appear that we shall be ... but we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is (1 Jn 3:2 ) ... "Underneath are the everlasting arms" ( Dt 33:27).
• Take good care of yourself, as you know Jesus Christ would want you to do: Get plenty of rest, wholesome food, proper medical attention, time for recreation, and time with friends. Nature has remarkable power to heal, set there by God, our Creator.
• Keep doing something useful for someone else, however small it may be, with the little strength you have, and wait patiently for God. He will, very gradually, increase your strength.
• If these three things are not enough to bring relief and healing, then open your heart to an experienced and wise Christian counsellor or spiritual director. There may be deeper wounds that need to be faced, in the light of Christ. A counsellor or spiritual director may be able to help you locate the festering wound and bring it into the daylight for healing. But continue with numbers 1-3 of this "Emergency Kit" — they always help!



3.) The Dark Night of the Soul can be supernaturally induced by God Himself.

This does not appear to be the kind that my friend is experiencing, and it may or may not be the kind that our Lord experienced on the cross (theologians differ on that point). It is not necessarily different than number 2 above: it just has a different cause. Sometimes, as a result of no unrepented sin (indeed, when a soul is walking faithfully in the way of God's commandments!) and for no discernible physical or emotional reason, our Lord simply withdraws from His chosen ones the sense of His loving presence. Again, the primary reason He does this is to strengthen our loving commitment to Him so that we learn to rely totally on His will and His invisible (even unfelt) grace. There is no point seeking "healing" for this condition, because its cause is supernatural, not natural. My little "Dark Night Emergency Kit" will help. It always helps! But this Dark Night will fully end only when — and as — the Lord wills. He is performing surgery in the very depths of the soul. All we can do is let Him work and trust Him for everything.

Saint Faustina is a clear example of someone who experienced this. It was during her novitiate, primarily, that the darkness descended. While she was going through it, she believed it might never end.

Towards the end of the first year of my novitiate, darkness began to cast its shadow over my soul. I felt no consolation in prayer; I had to make a great effort to meditate; fear began to sweep over me. Going deeper into myself, I could find nothing but misery. I could also see the great holiness of God. I did not dare to raise my eyes to Him, but reduced myself to dust under His feet and begged for mercy. My soul was in this state for almost six months. ...

At a certain point, there came to me the very powerful impression that I am rejected by God. This terrible thought pierced my soul right through; in the midst of the suffering my soul began to experience the agony of death. I wanted to die, but could not. ...

The soul is drawn to God but feels repulsed. All other sufferings and tortures in the world are as nothing compared with this sensation into which it has been plunged; namely, that of being rejected by God. No one can bring it any relief ... It finds itself completely alone; there is no one to defend it. It raises its eyes to heaven, but is convinced that this is not for her — for her all is lost. It falls deeper and deeper from darkness to darkness, and it seems that it has lost forever the God it used to love so dearly. ... (Diary of St. Faustina, entries 23 and 98)



Saint John of the Cross wrote in depth about this kind of Dark Night, but the feelings that St. Faustina expresses here could just as well be experienced at times by someone suffering from a Dark Night induced by natural causes (as in #2 above). The feelings of rejection and abandonment by God, of finding no consolation in prayer at all, of having "lost forever the God whom it once loved so dearly" — all this is characteristic of any deep, Dark Night.

And the fundamental remedy is always the same. Trust Him, even in the darkness. The darkness is not dark to Him; the night is as bright as the day; to Him darkness and light are both alike, for He can work in the depths of our souls, and work out His loving plan, even when all seems dark to us (see Psalm 139:7-12). If your feelings tell you anything different, then don't trust your feelings. Trust the Bible. Trust the Church. Trust the Saints. And remember that Easter morning is on the way. He promised!

Saint Faustina said it best:

Jesus, do not leave me alone in my suffering. You know, Lord, how weak I am. I am an abyss of wretchedness. I am nothingness itself; so what will be so strange if You leave me alone and I fall? I am an infant, Lord, so I cannot get along by myself. However, beyond all abandonment I trust, and in spite of my own feelings I trust, and I am being completely transformed into trust — often in spite of what I feel. (Diary, 1489)



Robert Stackpole, STD, is director of the John Paul II Institute of Divine Mercy. His latest book is Divine Mercy: A Guide from Genesis to Benedict XVI (Marian Press). Got a question? E-mail him at questions@thedivinemercy.org.

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Rita - Jul 2, 2008

I am turning 70 in October. I have been in the Dark Night of the Sould for about 2and a half years. You hhave written my life on these pages. The only time I have been to Church is Good Friday of this year. I went into the sacristy to see my priest. Gave him some money for hiself and the building fund. He gave me a big hug and I huged him back. I didn't know I was saying good bye. We have been good friends for 10 years. I now know where he has been transfered. But now must look to a new Priest and thank God I did have a friend for awhile try as he might He could not heal me as I wanted it to be. So I will try your Plan. Question is there a purgatory? It is important for me to know. I always pray for the Hold Sould in Purgatory. But have stopped because it was told there is a quesion as to where their is a purgator. This person added has anyone met anyone whos been there? This plus finding out my brother molested his three granddaughters. His fault not mine but the abyss just gets deep and darker.

Lynne-Marie - Jul 2, 2008

Dear Rita,
I am offering prayers for you as you endure the Dark Night of the Soul to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and His Most Blessed Mother. Also, St. Rita of Cascia is a very powerful friend and intercessor - please turn to her for help. She has wrought miracles in my life. Please do not stop praying for the dear souls in Purgatory. They love us, and they will intercede for you and all your loved ones. God loves you infinitely, Rita. As St. Francis de Sales advised, place yourself gently in the wounds of Christ. I pray there you will feel His deep love and you will find peace.

Eugene - Jul 2, 2008

Dear Rita,
Pray for the poor souls. They, in turn will help you. Recite the prayer which Jesus dictated to St. Gertrude the Great: Eternal Father, I offer thee the most precious blood of thy divine Son, Jesus, in union with all the Masses being said this day for all the holy Souls in Purgatory (for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the Univeral Church, for sinners in our homes and in our family.)
Jesus promised that a vast number of souls will be released each time this prayer is said.

Rhonda - Jul 2, 2008

"all are such wonderful and helpful suggestions!" I pray that more people like this can step forward and use their courage and love for another being and to help the wounded souls to start the healing process.I came from an incest family and the memories never gets buried, only the victim and the question of the purpose for even being born into tragedy- but.. I knew, for some reason as a child, that I was born of God like we all are. It is easy to hand things over to God as a child, as a secret pal-"survival technique" But through life things get busy and then you want to control life as your own "will".Not good.
I just hope the rest of the abused children is aware of God's love.

Pat - Jul 3, 2008

Dear Rita
There is indeed a Purgatory and I am so grateful to God that there is. Gods Mercy is beyond our ability to understand, His love given freely and unconditionally is even beyond our human abilities to fully understand. But one of the ways I begin to understand is by His gift to us of Purgatory. Purgatory to me is a place where we can have our final cleansing before being introduced to Our Father who is all good and perfect. There is no way I could be perfect in this lifetime but with God's grace and Mercy I maybe able to reach Purgatory where I can finish my cleansing. I used to be frightend by Purgatory but after reading the Locutionist "Anne"s book "Mist of Mercy" I finally began to see the true and full meaning of Purgatory. For God is a Merciful God but He is also a Just God and to me that is why there is a Purgatory. If you would go to www.directionforourtimes.com you will find a virtual gold mind of help. "Anne" has been recieving Locutions from Jesus, Mary, God the Father and many Saints for several years she does everything through the authority of her Bishop and she is completely obedient to the will of the Church so you should be able to feel safe reading these items. I would also suggest that you read some books by todays converts who have come from high positions from many Protestant Church's by reading how they came into the Faith of the Church you can begin to see more clearly the deep beauty of our Church and how God has blessed us all. Also remember that Mother Theresa suffered the dark night of the soul for most of her life as a nun yet she never let that hold her back from the Eucharist and God's unending love. God is not to blame for the horrors of this world and especially our times, it is man and our free will to choose our paths.
For God to take away our free will makes us nothing but puppets so no matter what He never interfers with our free will. There are those who freely choose evil and then it is God's job to fix what man has done. Don't let anyone or anything take away your faith it is your lifeline to survival and your eternal reward of peace, joy and happiness with Our Loving and Merciful God. God Bless you Rita.

waiting for the light - Jul 3, 2008

Another reason for a dark night is multiple deaths of close loved ones and family members in a short amount of time and the pending death of the last family member. I wait for the God in crushing sadness, hoping for the light to come.

Rita - Jul 3, 2008

Thank You all for kindness and and especially for the information from many places. I almost got to see St. Rita of Cascia twice. But she or I were in the wrong place at the wrong time. My sister Sr. Anne named me Rita. For years I wondered why when there were so many pretty names out there. But after reading her life story severial times I became very proud of her and her courage. In the "Dark Night of the Soul," why I don't turned to her is beyond me. The purson who told me there is a question of Purgatory was a Priest.
I pray for him he was a friend. I will look back many times and read your answers to my comments. They, I can tell are from the heart. Not much of this I saw in my life times.But when I did I was truly greatful. Thank you all, Mary is my heavenly Mother and earthly Mother and I am blessed. God Bless and Keep you all in His heart.

P. - Jul 4, 2008

O Immaculate Heart of Mary, bring all sinful and wounded hearts ,to The Holy Spirit to ask The Mighty and Merciful Spirit - our Father's Promise , to come and take possession and control of every area of our lives , that we too may ever be in the Power of The Holy Spirit that sustained our Lord in the midst of His own Passion and who thus has been made available for us too in abundance !

May our hands touch and bring souls and persons to The Merciful Image of Mercy , for The Spirit to flow through to all these lives , to cleanse and heal and take control !

Come O Holy Spirit, come and take control of our lives in all areas !

Kelly - Jul 4, 2008

I endured a dark night that lasted a year. During that time, I couldn't even pray, I would get a terrible headache whenever I tried. My lifeline was that I began to carry a green scapular (more info on this devotion at http://www.olrl.org/pray/greenscapular.shtml), which is particularly to help those with no faith. All I could do was pray the short prayer on it every day, "Immaculate heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death." Miraculously, within a short time, my faith returned. I now recommend this powerful devotion to everyone--if we can only reach up just the smallest bit to God, He will reach down to us with his great graces. If you have the strength to read, the books "Dark Night of the Soul" by St. John of the Cross and the Diary of St. Faustina were a great help. It gave me strength to know that even the saints experienced this spiritual desolation. I feel priviliged now to have gone through this, and pray that God used my dark night, and is using yours, to make saints of all of us!

donna .e. - Jul 4, 2008

My dark night of the soul was about a year ago, and was caused by the same thing that brought on this mans dark night....I was forced to admit that my father was a very sick man toward his 5 daughters including me and others as well. I was forced to tell, when my husband left me because he couldnt take my irrational behaviour anymore toward him which started after we fostered 2 young girls who had "sexual issues", which triggered my history. I'd been married 14 yrs. and was going to take it to my grave as well, but the Lord had a surgery to perform on my soul and he did just that. My dark night was so dark, I felt so alone, literally and it felt like spiritually I was being destroyed, just torn apart in every sense. It really didnt last very long because in my heart I can never truly deny that Jesus Christ knows and loves me, I cant deny that I just cant no matter what happens - in my heart I know he knows im here, and cares for me dearly-like a daughter. So the time it lasted didnt seem like more than a couple of days but boy did it hurt!! Like being scurged so badly, and yes even crucified (with Christ) but it felt like I was so alone. Now I feel like a different human being, he did operate on my soul and it worked!! Im happy inside, my husband came back to me I got counselling and now im 7 months pregnant at 40 years old!! We'd given up hope of ever having a child, but with God all things are possible!! He's so obviously with us, he's making it so clear. My dark night hurt yes ohhhh yes but I have to look at the bright side and that is that he never did leave my side, I still knew he was there and I was right, he sure was, and is and as he promised me long ago when I first found him he said " I will always be with you" and I believed him -still do, always will, no matter what- Jesus, I trust in you, and I love you.

marie - Jul 9, 2008

Lately i have found it very hard to pray because i am afraid my prayers will not be answered the way i want them to be. I am praying for my future daugther inlaw who has cancer and has just come out of surgery. she will be having another operating after the wedding. What i have done in order to counter react my fears is to have prayers said by everyone I meet and get masses said. Then their prayers will be added to my week prayers to give them strenght. This week i keep coming across the words Do not be afraid. Have trust. Saint Faustina was canonized on my 40th birthday. She had the first painting of Jesus commissioned on my husbands birthday. Our wedding anniversary is 23rd March the date associated with the cure which caused the beatification of Saint Faustina. Saint Pio said their are no coincedences. So this keeps me going.

Sara - Jul 9, 2008

I also have experienced sexual emotional abuse by a relative. I know how it feels to be "passed over" by the other family members. My family acknowledged what happened; however, I was told that this relative is so old that he may have forgotten what he did. Obviously, it is very painful to accept this comment. I am praying for this relative and hope that He repents before he dies. I know that God has been with me giving me many consolations, graces, etc throughout my life. However, sometimes, God seems to be silent when I pray for this relative and while in my humaness I call for justice. Yet, He is very merciful and I do not understand His mysteries. The Divine Mercy prayer has given me many graces that even at my darkest moments, I "know" God is taking care of me and that part of me that was very hurt a long time ago. Your sister on a journey, Sara

Dangute - Jul 29, 2008

Thank you, Father Stackpole, and Rita and everyone who has written here. My own Dark Night just continues, and when I think it can't get worse, it does. But God is good! Just a half-hour ago, I tried to pray but could only offer God my worthless self. I asked Him to help me and here I am, reading your words and knowing I am not alone. I pray He blesses you all. You cannot imagine how wonderful you are. Thank you.

Rhonda - Jul 30, 2008

"YES!"I again will leave a comment, I just love how I witnessed God and his work here, his disiples helping, connecting and wanting to reach out and heal each other-sharing in the knowing and "feeling" of that DARK NIGHT of each soul here that either once or is still in the midst of the struggling. In the middle of so much evil, one has to "feel" and hear of the good,(people) know of "GOD" (he is out there) And know that one Can survive!! With my struggle with incest I have had to turn away from my 6 siblings and ill parents,(they turned their backs, and blamed me, I was child then,the 2nd time of betrayl about killed me). My health always improved when I was away from all of them becasue I gave myself value- knowing that God created me for a life, and for a purpose- "HIS WILL"-(not for sexual abuse) I know God does not go "oops-just a mistake, over and over".I would rather loose the siblings and parents and stand alone and be crucified, for Gods value of humanity of a child.
I give thanks to God and his guideness of Dr Stackpole with his action put forth in words, kindness and his education that offered healing affecting across the states that started a chain reaction in so many suffering souls- silence and confusion is never good-there is so many of us that are hurting whether it be abused from a marriage,church, or family, scouts,ect-the scars are left like wounds of the swords clear through to the spirit and soul. Dr Stackpole, I know for me that sent you the letter all of this has been a new light for me and one of the steps in the healing process-here, as I cry- I don't even know any of you, but I know and feel in my heart you were sent from God- Bless all of you, you all are helping me to keep my head up high in prayer.
I have an ADOPTED TEENAGE daughter to raise and teaching her- her value of herself with no feeling of rejection of love and "yes" , she was to be born of God and his Will. A person thinks of it we are all God's adopted children.
Again, Thank you Dr Stackpole,our little support group for each other, and the wonders of Mercy pulling the ends of the world together on one little page- see ya in heaven- I pray the gates of heaven are W>I>D>E open for each of you!!! and Rita..... Get to Mass....... I'm a real nag- so my 14 year old daughter says... ha love Rhonda

me - Sep 6, 2008

I have been a catholic all my life, I believe in God, I know Jesus is with me and the children , I know the Holy Spirit enlightens me to guide me...I just don't know what to do out of this... my husband just died recently he was 50 yrs old her had MSA and now he still around the house, is his spirit lost?... what can I do? the children keep having dreams about him like if he was still was alive...hoe can I help him?....
me

Moderator - Sep 8, 2008

Dear "me,"

First of all, I'm very sorry to hear about your husband's passing. I am praying for him.

Now to answer your question. We must keep one thing in mind: that God is all-knowing, all-powerful , and all-good. Let's face it. He's God! So, nothing happens outside of his knowing about it. Nothing happens that is beyond His power. And nothing happens that is not somehow foreseen by Him which He can use for some good. In short, nothing happens that is outside of God's providence.

Another thing to keep in mind is that there are only three possibilities for our souls after this life: heaven, purgatory or hell. And purgatory is only a temporary stop en-route to heaven. There is no such thing as being somewhere in between or being somehow "lost".

Now, as Catholics trusting in the Lord's Divine Mercy, we place our hope in salvation, so as we consider your husband, let us proceed based on that hope: that he is either in heaven or purgatory.

Now the question is: what is happening here? It could be

a) Your husband's soul really is appearing to you and your family, or

b) He's not, but your experiences are leading you to think that he is.

If (b), the important thing is that the Lord is somehow allowing you to experience this. It may be the result of the trauma of losing your husband and the children losing their father. Dreams of him are not unexpected. Nevertheless, God, in his providence, is allowing you to experience this for some reason. It could be your own "dark night" experience (as described in the above article) in which the Lord is drawing you closer to Himself by allowing your faith and hope to be tested.

Now, let us consider (a). Some people do seem to experience real appearances of the deceased. Usually, it is either (1) a positive experience, where the decease person comes back to say, "I'm okay" or "thank you for your prayers." Or it may be (2) a negative or fearful experience in which the deceased person seems to be suffering. In this case, it may be that a soul is in purgatory and is requesting more prayers for himself or for others. St. Faustina experienced souls in purgatory or near death who appeared to her and asked her for prayers. If this seems to be what you are experiencing, continue to pray for your husband, especially using the chaplet of Divine Mercy, or have a Mass offered for him. And have confidence that our Merciful Savior (with Our Blessed Mother's intercession) can free your husband from purgatory and welcome him into heaven.

And as for yourself, know that God, in His providence, is allowing you to experience this trial for some reason. The way through it is to place your trust in the Lord with the words, "Jesus, I trust in You." The Lord can also provide you with the healing, consolation and peace that you need during your time of grieving, so continue to ask Him for that too and even to thank Him for the trial (if you are able), knowing that it is all a part of God's loving providence.

I hope this helps. My prayers are with you, as well.

Just chkg In - Sep 9, 2008

"WOW" dear moderator, thank you on answering to her question,I hope it brought her and her family the assurance and comfort that sometimes we find things very difficult to ask. But I know your knowledge has brought me comfort as well. What a gift from God you have to bring healing to others in the pain they carry.

Anonymous - Oct 19, 2008

I am having a rough day today and have been looking through the pages and came across this page. I have made such terribly wrong choices in my past, have tried repenting, but not sure I have repented completely. I have really been struggling. I have gone to confession many many times. I have days of peace and then I have days of anxiety. I have gotten better, wanting to feel that the Lord is healing me, then there are the "dark" moments and/or days. I have become involved in church, I attend Eucharistic Adoration once a week and recently I became a Eucharistic Minister (Extraordinary Minister) at my parish. Are these dark moments the Lord working in me, calling me close to him, or is it happening because I still have not done something right?

tom bailey houston, tx - Jul 2, 2010

Good Day! the full paragraph should be highlighted and it is to remind us we need to pray for these soul, as one of our spritual works of mercy.
They are hurting and our prayers can be help them.

check ABC FOR MERCY!

DARKNESS and trials - THAT HURTS!

Dairy- 98

When the soul comes out victorious from the preceding trials, even though it may stumble here and there, it fights on valiantly, humbly calling upon God, "Save me, I am perishing!" And it is still able to fight on. At this point, however, the soul is engulfed in a horrible night. It sees itself completely abandoned by God. It feels itself to be the object of His hatred. It is but one step away from despair. The soul does its best to defend itself; it tries to stir up its confidence; but prayer is an even greater torment for it, as this prayer seems to arouse God to an even greater anger. The soul finds itself poised on the summit of a lofty mountain on the very brink of a precipice.

The soul is drawn to God, but feels repulsed. All other sufferings and tortures in the world are as nothing compared with this sensation into which it has been plunged; namely, that of being rejected by God. No one can bring it any relief; it finds itself completely alone; there is no one to defend it. It raises its eyes to heaven, but is convinced that this is not for her - for her all is lost. It falls deeper and deeper from darkness to darkness, and it seems to it that it has lost forever the God it used to love so dearly. This thought is torture beyond all description. But the soul does not agree to it and tries to lift its gaze towards heaven, but in vain! And this makes the torture even more intense.

If God wished to keep the soul in such darkness, no one will be able to give it light. It experiences rejection by God in a vivid and terrifying manner. From its heart burst forth painful moans, so painful that no priest will comprehend it, unless he himself has been through these trials. In the midst of this, the evil spirit adds to the soul's sufferings, mocking it: 'Will you persist in your faithfulness? This is your reward; you are in our power!' But Satan only has as much influence over the soul as God allows him, and God knows how much we can bear. "What have you gotten out of your mortifications," says Satan, "and out of your fidelity to the rule? What use are all these efforts? You have been rejected by God!" This word "rejected", becomes a fire which penetrates every nerve to the marrow of the bone. It pierces through her whole being. The ordeal reaches its climax. The soul no longer looks for help anywhere. It shrinks into itself and loses sight of everything; it is as though it has accepted the torture of being abandoned. This is a moment for which I have no words. This is the agony of the soul.

Jesus i trust in you!

J.R. - Dec 29, 2010

I don't know if I am going through this right now. I have been feeling totally abandoned by God right now. Let me tell you what happened. First of all I am very scrupulous. I keep going to confession and find no peace. It has come to the point that I have lost alot of weight because of the anxiety and worry. My confessor suggested I see a psychologist for possible OCD. I fear that my past sins that I have already confessed and received absolution for are the cause. I have been smoking heavily from this and being asthmatic I makes me sick. But I can't shake the smoking and the horrible feeling that God has left me. Please pray for me that God will help me...Thank you.

Ivan - Jun 8, 2016

Dear Robert,

I have today found this web page:
http://www.thedivinemercy.org/news/How-Can-I-Make-It-Through-The-Dark-Night-of-the-Soul-3227

First thank you for the words of consolation, but Emergency Kit sometimes indeed does not help.

My symptoms are:

1) I'm extremely tortured by my sexuality, and sometimes even by blasphemy, although I want to be pure. In that state I clearly see that their is no purity or peace without God, but only occasionally I meet God. Most of the time I'm alone in the midst of the hell.

2) I confess rarely becuse I can't see any will to change my life. Actually, I want to change, but God is showing to me how my will without His love looks like - there are no words for such temptations.

3) Everything in my life is breaking down. I'm more than two years in this state, and my suffering
is bigger every day.

Please pray for all persons experiencing such nights.

Robert Stackpole - Jun 10, 2016

Dear Ivan,
Thanks for your honesty in sharing the sufferings you are going through. I went through several years of clinical depression myself, and it was awful, so I can empathize with what you are feeling now. The fact that points 1-3 of my Dark Night Emergency Kit have not turned things around for you makes me think that you need to turn to point #4, if you have not done so already: "If these three things are not enough to bring relief and healing, then open your heart to an experienced and wise Christian counselor or spiritual director. There may be deeper wounds that need to be faced, in the light of Christ. A counselor or spiritual director may be able to help you locate the festering wound and bring it into the daylight for healing."

Still, I am not convinced that you are not finding help in points 1-3. What would your condition be now if you did NOT take proper care of your physical health, and did NOT try to "keep doing something useful, however small, with the little strength you have,"--and most of all, if you did NOT put any trust in God at all??? To put it another way, don't despair of the life jacket just because it is not a rescue boat--maybe it is what is keeping you afloat until the rescue boat arrives!

I do not know what our Lord's plan is in permitting these sufferings you are going through, for the time being, but I know He loves you beyond what you can ask or imagine--so much so that He gave His life on the Cross for you and wants you to be with Him in heaven forever. And I know His Heart is a fountain of healing love. I don't know how this will "play out" over the upcoming weeks and months, but I know He will not let go of your hand--just don't let go of His.
I will indeed keep praying for you, Ivan, as He leads you to the time of healing and relief that is surely coming.