The Letters of St. Paul of the Cross: ‘Courage, Dear One’


If God permits temptations to gluttony, it is a sign he wants to give you the reward of an accomplished abstinence so that you might take off in-flight to the highest contemplation. If you are tempted to spiritual vainglory, it is a sign that, if you trust much in God, he wishes to give you great humility. Rejoice, therefore, when you encounter various Temptations. One who remains in the arms of Jesus will not fall away. If you feel no sweetness and consolation at prayer, it is a sign that God wishes to take from you all satisfaction so that with the exercise of resignation to the Divine Good Pleasure, you will become a new man, entirely spiritual, and then experience how sweet the Lord is. Oh, blessed are they who arrive at pure suffering without comfort and continue to serve God! These are truly the faithful servants who enter into the joy of the Divine Master. Courage, dear one. God wishes to make you all His and, therefore tries you and exercises you so that you may be a good soldier. Have no fear, dear one, for you will have the victory.

Even though you do not sense the Divine Presence, it does not follow that you are not in the Divine Presence. The loving attention is not felt in the lower part of your soul and has withdrawn entirely to the higher part. (St. Paul of the Cross, Letter 123)

How is it that our enemy can better see the destiny that is on a soul than the soul itself, and specifically targets his temptations? Once we know this simple fact, this fact works to the advantage of the soul and the soul can directly battle against the temptation knowing that his particular charism has been exposed and the soul can press into the grace of God to enter into supernatural ability to defeat the enemy’s tactics and find, not only victory, but destiny!

Who would have thought that the sin of gluttony is an indicator that this one suffering with that sin is actually insatiably hungry for the Presence of God in an undeniable unique way? At times these ones can be seen going to so many church services all over the place and even become enamored with the places where the Spirit is manifesting in the sense realm and the congregation under the weight of His manifest glory. Some call this manifest Presence “revival” or “renewal”. When the Spirit lifts His manifestation of glory, the soul is distraught and goes in search of the next place where this is happening.

These hungry souls have need of what St. John of the Cross deemed “the dark night of the soul”. St. Paul of the Cross said it plainly above, “Even though you do not sense the Divine Presence, it does not follow that you are not in the Divine Presence. The loving attention is not felt in the lower part of your soul and has withdrawn entirely to the higher part.” The “dark night of the soul” is a grace given whereby the Spirit withdraws His manifestation in the sense realm where the soul is used to taking in information and feelings… the five senses and the intellect. The Spirit is not abandoning the soul, but actually drawing the soul out of itself and of the earthly soulish realm, and into the transcendent realm of the spirit. God lives outside the earthly created soulish realm, for He created all of that. He desires that the soul come up into the heavenly places in Christ. Rev 4:1 “After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, ‘Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.’ Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne.” And again, Eph 2:4-6:  “But God… raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus…”.

The dark night of the soul is an outpouring of the Spirit of God on a soul; however, the soul perceives it as abandonment. How is this deprivation of the feeling of His Presence an outpouring on the soul? St John of the Cross gives this example: when a soul looks directly into the sun, the soul goes blind.[i] This outpouring of the Spirit is likened unto excessive Light to the soul such that the soul has no feeling or sense about it at all. The truth is that the Spirit of God has never been closer to the soul and is, in fact, flooding the soul with His Light from another realm, the realm of the spirit. When the soul becomes accustomed to this encounter with the Spirit of God, then the soul can know and be certain of this continual communion and union with God in this place. No feelings, thoughts, or words are necessary, just a loving attentiveness of being with the Beloved One. The non-experiential experience is perpetual and other-worldly. If the one who is gluttonous both in the natural and in the spiritual continually in search of the next manifestation of God’s Spirit in some place somewhere can begin to be settled in one place and to stop looking outside oneself for the glory, but instead, begin to seek God on the inside, in the secret hidden place where perhaps prayer is dry and nothing seems to be happening… this dry and dark place is the beginning of great Light and encounter if the soul will persevere in being still before Him and trusting Him in faith. For the scripture testifies that “without faith, it is impossible to please Him.”[ii] This holy encounter is for every believer as seen in Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”

[i] St John of the Cross, Dark Night of the Soul, p.

[ii] Hebrews 11:6

This post was originally published on and is reprinted here with permission.

Image courtesy of Unsplash.

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