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Night of Spirit

  • is a transitional stage of the spiritual journey
  • involves more intimate and profound purification than the Night of Sense
  • is designed to free us from the residue of the false self and its habits of thought and behavior
  • causes the felt experiences of God to decrease or cease
  • causes one to feel capable of every evil whether personal or social
  • causes one to feel more and more dependent on God if one is to overcome one’s faults and negative dispositions
  • initiates five fruits:
    1. longing for God&nbsp
    2. freedom from the domination of any emotion
    3. purification of one’s idea of God,
    4. purification of the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity from human props
    5. letting go of the subtle forms of selfishness which hinder growth in Divine Union

  • IL: 95-100
  • CF: 22, 25-29
  • AW: 7-11
  • MG: 104-106
  • IG: 98 

Having experienced the Beatitude of seeing God in ourselves and others, we come to the crisis of trust called the Night of Spirit, during which the longing for Divine Union becomes acute. During the Night of Spirit, the need to possess is addressed and further purification occurs, especially in regard to spiritual practices and our attachment to them. The longing for God increases exponentially.

Related Concepts




According to St. John of the Cross, the Night of Spirit is the beginning of Divine Union. It is a transitional stage involving a more intimate purification than the Night of Sense. It is designed to free us from the residue of the false self in the unconscious. When the Night of Spirit begins, felt, mystical experiences of God subside or disappear. Through the purifying action of God, we may experience ourselves as capable of every evil. Not that we are likely to commit evil deeds, but we are aware of our total dependence on God in order to avoid personal sin and the negative habits of the false self. Ordinary life can now be lived with extraordinary love.

The Night of Spirit engenders the emergence of five fruits:

We are freed from the temptation to assume a glamorous role because of being chosen as the recipient of God’s special gifts.

We are freed from the domination of any emotion. As a result, our emotions serve and support the decisions of our reason and will, which is their natural purpose.

Our idea of God is purified. God reveals himself as infinite, incomprehensible, and ineffable, but closer than we are to ourselves.

The theological virtues of faith, hope, and love are purified. In the purification of faith from human props, we may experience rejection by the social group that previously supported our human, religious, or spiritual identity. We are able to accept God on His own terms. We allow God to be God. Trust is strengthened and the longing for God becomes more and more intense.

We let go of the lingering selfishness and of all obstacles that might hinder our growth in Divine Union.


 Reflection: Listening

The Night of Spirit marks the beginning of Divine Union. The Night of Spirit is strong medicine and profound psychotherapy and comes from God’s incredible, unceasing, and gratuitous love for us.

Reflection: Reflecting

What is the nature of the sense of loss in the Night of Spirit? How do I get free from attachment to a role? Am I free from dominating emotions? What is my idea of God now? How have motives of selfishness been changed?

Reflection: Responding

Accept God’s liberating action. Be free from temptation and dominating emotions. Let go of your ideas of God. It’s OK if your experience of God temporarily disappears. This sense of God’s absence may last several years or recycle from time to time with various degrees of intensity.