Lent with St Edith Stein Day 25: The Activity of Spirit

Lent with St Edith Stein Day 25: The Activity of Spirit

Lent with St Edith Stein Day 24: The Activity of Spirit

“For faith leads the way through the night to the goal of union with God. In faith the spirit is painfully reborn; it is remodeled from the natural to the supernatural.”

St Edith Stein, The Science of the Cross

               Faith demands that we turn away from the natural activity of the spirit. This is done through the active night of faith and actively carrying our crosses.

               The soul has inferior and superior faculties and gains knowledge of the world around it through the senses. The soul is spiritual, but it is bound to the body and its lower faculties can be overindulged with sensuality. Its superior faculties can be neglected, especially if we do not turn to spiritual matters. The first night, the dark night of the senses is intended to free the soul from its attachment to sensory satisfaction. This requires the participation of the intellect, the will, and the soul.

               The intellect sifts through sensory data, keeps some, discards others, makes connections, makes comparisons, etc. The will does likewise. It finds joy and attempts to possess it. It finds disgust and seeks to avoid it. The spirit is not intended to find enjoyment in created things, however, due to the Fall, it is captivated by desires and can get lost in them. These temporal things that occupy the spirit have to be taken away from it.

               Faith directs our intellect toward God and we must feed it with scripture and knowledge of God.  Education is critical so that the soul can come to know God. This is a step-by-step process that won’t happen overnight. But slowly, as we fill ourselves up with knowledge of God, it is easier to turn our will to Him, to unite our will to his. Then, rather than peeling our souls away from temporal goods, our souls will gently let go of them. The spirit will begin to rise above sensual satisfaction in temporal things.

               Meditation comes into play as the soul begins to turn to God. The imagination seeks images so that the soul can find sensory satisfaction in knowledge of God. Then, like the intellect, the soul soaks in this information, making connections, processing the information, and absorbing it. The soul comes to love God, to know God, and to have confidence in Him.

               In order to go further than this, the soul must pass through the Night of the Senses in faith. In the Night of the Senses, we learn to turn to contemplation. The soul no longer needs meditative images to inflame love of God in its heart; it is already there. We can rest in a peaceful surrender to God, safe in His love without the need for sensory satisfaction.

               St Edith wrote that “When we surrender to the incomprehensible God in faith we are pure spirit, freed from all images and concepts – therefore in darkness, because the world we see by day is constructed of images and concepts – detached also from the mechanism composed of manifold powers and unified and simple in a life that is at once knowledge, remembrance, and love.”

               All of this is done by faith, through our will and the grace of God. We may feel like we have a long way to go. Begin with filling your mind and soul with knowledge of God. Love Him and trust in His love. And when you feel that spiritual dryness, keep going. If it is time for you to pass through the night, He will give you the strength to do so.

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