St. Edith Stein Novena 2021, Day 2: The Doctrine of the Darkest Path

Psalm 88

Lord God, you are my Savior.
    I have been praying to you day and night.
Please pay attention to my prayers.
    Listen to my prayers for mercy.
My soul has had enough of this pain!
    I am ready to die.
People already treat me like a dead man,
    like someone too weak to live.
Look for me among the dead,
    like a body in the grave.
I am one of those you have forgotten,
    cut off from you and your care.
You put me in that hole in the ground.
    Yes, you put me in that dark place.
Your anger presses down on me like a heavy weight.
    It’s like one wave after another pounding against me. Selah

You made my friends leave me.
    They all avoid me like someone no one wants to touch.
Like a prisoner in my house, I cannot go out.
    My eyes hurt from crying.
Lord, I pray to you constantly!
    I lift my arms in prayer to you.
Do you do miracles for the dead?
    Do ghosts rise up and praise you? No! Selah

The dead in their graves cannot talk about your faithful love.
    People in the world of the dead cannot talk about your faithfulness.
The dead who lie in darkness cannot see the amazing things you do.
    Those in the world of the forgotten cannot talk about your goodness.
Lord, I am asking you to help me!
    Early each morning I pray to you.
Lord, why have you abandoned me?
    Why do you refuse to listen to me?
I have been sick and weak since I was young.
    I have suffered your anger, and I am helpless.
Your anger covers me like a flood.
    Your attacks are killing me.
They surround me on every side.
    I feel like a drowning man.
You caused my friends and loved ones to leave me.
    Now darkness is my closest friend.

The Science of the Cross, Chapter 22

The Doctrine of the Darkest Path

The darkest path is the most secure. This doctrine from The Dark Night is stressed with great emphasis in spiritual direction:

“Since your soul finds herself in this darkness and void of spiritual poverty, you believe you are lacking everything, and that everyone has abandoned you. Of course, that is no wonder since you even think God has forsaken you. However, nothing is missing. . . . Whoever seeks God and nothing else is not wandering in darkness no matter how dark and poor you think you are. Whoever does not walk in presumption and does not follow her own tastes whether in what concerns God or creatures, and does not insist on her own will, whether internally or externally, will not stumble now. . . .  Let us live on earth like pilgrims and the poor, like the banished and orphans, in dryness, without a way, and without anything else, but always in hope” (Cf. Letter 19 from St. John of the Cross to Doña Juana de Pedraza).


Lord, God of our fathers,
you brought Saint Teresa Benedicta
to the fullness of the science of the cross
at the hour of her martyrdom.
Fill us with that same knowledge;
and, through her intercession,
allow us always to seek after you, the supreme truth,
and to remain faithful until death
to the covenant of love ratified in the blood of your Son
for the salvation of all men and women.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

All scripture references are from The Jerusalem Bible Reader’s Edition, copyright © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman & Todd, Ltd and Doubleday & Company, Inc. as accessed from The Internet Archive website.

Stein, E 2002, The Science of the Cross, The Collected Works of Edith Stein, Book 6, translated from the German by Koeppel, J, ICS Publications, Washington D.C.

2 thoughts on “St. Edith Stein Novena 2021, Day 2: The Doctrine of the Darkest Path

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  1. One retreat director thought I was here, as did a Bible Study leader in my former denomination, who lent me The Dark Night, interesting me in Carmel. I am learning to surrender my ways and preferences. Reminds me of two quotes… St Therese, “It is more conducive to my soul’s growth to stumble on a stony road in the dark, and still go on, than to walk in full light of day on a path carpeted with flowers”. And our Holy Mother, of course: “Lord, if this is how You treat Your friends, it is not surprising that You have so few of them!”.

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