Dark Night of the Soul | Ola Gjeilo

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From Central Washington University YouTube channel comes this stellar performance of Dark Night of the Soul by the noted Norwegian-American composer Ola Gjeilo. Their video “liner notes” offer the following information:

“Dark Night of the Soul” (Ola Gjeilo) is sung by The Central Washington University Chamber Choir (Gary Weidenaar, director) joined by Ola Gjeilo on the piano and the Kairos String Quartet (comprised of CWU string faculty).

ABOUT THE WORK: “Dark Night of the Soul was written in 2010, and premiered that year by the Phoenix Chorale. The text, three stanzas from St. John of the Cross’ magical poem Dark Night of the Soul, was suggested to me by Joel Rinsema, Executive Director of the Phoenix Chorale, and I fell in love with its passionate spirituality right away. One of the things I wanted to do in this piece was to make the choir and piano fairly equal, as if in a dialogue; often the piano is accompanying the choir, but sometimes the choir is accompanying the piano (or violin) as well, with the choir kind of taking the role of a soft, but rich “string orchestra” texture. I just love the sound of voices humming chords, it creates a sound that can be so evocative and warm, especially when doubled by a string quartet. To me, that sound combination has a similar effect to a great synth pad, only it perhaps feels more organic and alive.” – Ola Gjeilo


ABOUT THE TEXT:

THE DARK NIGHT

Songs of the soul that rejoices in having reached the high state of perfection, which is union with God, by the path of spiritual negation.

1. One dark night,
fired with love’s urgent longings
– ah, the sheer grace! –
I went out unseen,
my house being now all stilled.

2. In darkness, and secure,
by the secret ladder, disguised,
– ah, the sheer grace! –
in darkness and concealment,
my house being now all stilled.

3. On that glad night
in secret, for no one saw me,
nor did I look at anything
with no other light or guide
than the one that burned in my heart.

– St. John of the Cross (1542-1592)

Advent 1: Alert

The reason for this dryness is that God transfers his goods and strength from sense to spirit … But through this nourishment the spirit grows stronger and more alert.

Saint John of the Cross

gary-bendig-169660-unsplash
Photo by Gary Bendig on Unsplash

Porque la causa de esta sequedad es porque muda Dios los bienes y fuerza del sentido al espíritu … mas el espíritu que va recibiendo el manjar, anda fuerte y más alerto.

San Juan de la Cruz

The Dark Night: Book One, Chapter 9
The Collected Works of Saint John of the Cross, Revised Edition
Translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. and Otilio Rodriguez, O.C.D.
With Revisions and Introductions by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D.
ICS Publications
Copyright © 1976 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc.

 

St. Edith Stein Novena – Day 8

SCRIPTURE READING
Wisdom 19:6-17

God Guides and Protects His People

6 The whole nature of the universe was changed at your command so that your people would not be harmed. 7 They saw the cloud over their camp and dry land where water had been. There was a grass-covered plain between the stormy waves of the Red Sea, making it easy for them to cross over. 8 All your people, under your protection, saw this miracle and went across. 9 They pranced about like horses let out to pasture; they skipped about like lambs and praised you, Lord, for saving them. 10 They still remembered what life had been like when they were slaves—how the earth bred gnats instead of cattle, how the river produced huge numbers of frogs instead of fish. 11-12 Later, when they desperately wanted better food, quails came up from the sea to satisfy their hunger. The quail was a bird they had never seen before.

The Punishment of the Egyptians

13 But violent thunder gave warning of the punishment that was coming on those sinners. They suffered a well-deserved punishment for their great wickedness. No nation had ever hated strangers so bitterly. 14 Other people had been known to refuse welcome to strangers who came to them, but these people made slaves of those who were their guests and who had shown them kindness. 15 Every nation will be punished if it does not welcome foreigners, 16 but these people, who had earlier welcomed the foreigners with happy celebrations and treated them as equals, later made them suffer cruelly. 17 These people were also struck with blindness, like the men of Sodom who came to the door of that righteous man Lot. They found themselves in total darkness, as each one groped around to find his own door.

MEDITATION
The Science of the Cross 3.C.(3)

The purgative dryness of the dark night

A case of purgative dryness of the dark night can be discerned by three signs:

1) that the soul finds no delight in creatures;

2) that “the soul turns to God solicitously and with painful care, and thinks it is not serving God but turning back because it is aware of this distaste for the things of God.”

3) one recognizes purgative dryness in that “the soul is powerless in spite of all its efforts to meditate and make use of the imagination, the interior sense, . . . God no longer communicates himself through the senses as he did before, by means of the discursive analysis and synthesis of ideas, but has now begun to communicate himself through pure spirit by an act of simple contemplation for which neither the exterior nor the interior senses of the sensory human being have any capacity.”

This dark and, for the senses, dry contemplation is “something secret and hidden and even for the one who possesses it, mysterious.” Ordinarily, it imparts to the soul an inclination and a demand to remain alone and at rest. She is unable to dwell on any particular thought, nor does she have any desire to do so. If those in whom this occurs knew how to remain quiet, “they would soon experience in that unconcern and idleness a precious interior nourishment. This refection is namely so delicate that the soul cannot usually feel it if it desires it excessively or tries to experience it specifically. . . . It is like air that escapes when one tries to grasp it in one’s hand . . . God deals with the soul in this state in such a manner and leads it along such a special way that, if it desires to work with its own faculties and strength, it would rather hinder than help the work of God.” The peace God produces in the spirit through the dryness of the sensory being is “spiritual and most precious” and its “fruit is quiet, delicate, solitary, satisfying, and peaceful, and far removed from all the earlier gratifications which were more palpable and sensory.” So one understands that only the dying of the sensory being is felt and nothing is experienced of the beginning of the new life that is concealed beneath it.

It is no exaggeration when we call the suffering of the souls in this state a crucifixion. In their inability to make use of their own faculties they are as though nailed fast. And to the dryness is added the torment of fear that they are on the wrong path.

PRAYER

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,
one God, forever and ever.

StoneMountainStatePark_andrew-neel-209619-unsplash
Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash
The Science of the Cross 
The Collected Works of Edith Stein, Vol. 6 
ICS Publications, Washington DC 
© Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc.

 

 

 

St. Edith Stein Novena – Day 2

SCRIPTURE READING
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.
10 Do you do miracles for the dead?
    Do ghosts rise up and praise you? No! Selah

11 The dead in their graves cannot talk about your faithful love.
    People in the world of the dead cannot talk about your faithfulness.
12 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.
13 Lord, I am asking you to help me!
    Early each morning I pray to you.
14 Lord, why have you abandoned me?
    Why do you refuse to listen to me?
15 I have been sick and weak since I was young.
    I have suffered your anger, and I am helpless.
16 Your anger covers me like a flood.
    Your attacks are killing me.
17 They surround me on every side.
    I feel like a drowning man.
18 You caused my friends and loved ones to leave me.
    Now darkness is my closest friend.

 

MEDITATION
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 to Doña Juana de Pedraza)

 

PRAYER

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,
one God, forever and ever.

 

EDITH - The darkest path is the most secure
All graphics on Elijah’s Breeze are created on Snappa
The Science of the Cross 
The Collected Works of Edith Stein, Vol. 6 
ICS Publications, Washington DC 
© Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc.

 

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