St John Of The Cross




In the preceding chapter, I analyzed in detail Saint John of the Cross' explicit and implicit teaching on spiritual direction in the Prologue and each of the five books of The Ascent of Mount Carmel and The Dark Night. Now I shall synthesize these teachings into one summary statement that expresses John's theory of spiritual direction as found in the Ascent-Dark Night. The main elements of this theory will be formulated into eight major propositions, each followed by a brief explanation. These propositions are expressed and arranged, not necessarily in the words and sequence used by Saint John, but according to a terminology and logic suggested by the teachings themselves. The theory of spiritual direction presented in the following pages thus emerges out of a synthesis formed from an inductive analysis of the texts of the Ascent-Dark Night.1


1The method of deriving theory from analysis and synthesis of texts is taken from biblical theology. See above, pp. 14-16. For other attempts to synthesize St. John's teaching on spiritual direction, see Gomez, "Director Espiritual," pp. 389-410; Gabriel, The Spiritual Director; Lucien-Marie, "Direction Spirituelle," pp. 173-204; Marco, "Direzione Spirituale," pp. 414-38; Giallanza, "Spiritual Direction," pp. 31-37.


A. God is a Person's Principal spiritual director

In this proposition, the term God means primarily the Divinity present within the human person. At times, John expresses God's guidance within the human person in Trinitarian terminology, such as Jesus Christ (Jesucristo) teaching persons. by His words and example or the Holy Spirit (el Espiritu Santo) infusing divine wisdom into the soul; however, he most frequently attributes divine guidance simply to God (Dios) substantially present within the person (dentro del alma sustancialmente) as Master, Teacher, or Guide.1

B. The goal to which God leads the human person is union with Himself in perfect faith, hope, and love.

In this divine union, the human person becomes God by participation, its sins and imperfections are healed, and its faculties of sense and spirit are transformed into a divine manner of knowing and loving. Theologically and psychologically, union with God is the ultimate perfection of the human personality.2


1A,Prologue,3; Al,5,2&8; 13,1; A2,7,1-12: 12,6-8; 16,4; 17,1-9; 19,3; 22,5-9; 29,1-2&6-7&11; 30,3-4; A3,2,7-12; 13,2- 4; 23,2-4; 35,5; 36,3; 42,1-6; N1,1,1-2; 6,5; 7,5; 8,3; 9,9; 11,3; 13,3; 14,5-6; N2,7,3-4; 16,8; 17,2; 25,2; Cf. C1,6-7; 35,5; F3,28-33,44-46,54,57,61-62; Lucien Marie, "Direction Spirituelle," pp. 177-78; Giallanza, "Spiritual Direction," pp. 33-35

2A,Title, Theme, & Prologue, 1-3; A1,2,4; 5,2; 11,2&6; A2,5,1-8; 6,1; 16,15; 17,1; A3,1,1; 2,8-9&16; 13,5; 16,3; 26, 5-6;-Nl,Prol.; Nl,1,1; 3,3; 11,4; N2,2,1-2; 3,3; 5,1; 6,5; 9,3&9-10; 10,1-4; 12,6; 16,10; 18,4; 20,4; 22,1; Cf. C11,11-14; C20&21,1-19; F3,24&29.


C. God guides the human person to divine union through human nature, especially the light of natural reason; through divine revelation, particularly asexpressed in the Person of Jesus Christ; and through infused contemplation

John's focus in the Ascent-Dark Night is upon the last of these three means of divine guidance. Through infused con- templation, God communicates Himself directly to the human person in divine wisdom and love. It is primarily through this infusion of His wisdom and love that God guides the particular person in whom He dwells to divine union according to the person's unique individuality. Contemplation both purifies a person of his inordinate love of creatures and unites him with. Uncreated Love. A person disposes himself for God's unique guidance through infused contemplation by withdrawing his sensory appetites from inordinate attachments to.creatures and by directing his spiritual faculties to God through faith, hope, and love; in response, God communicates His wisdom and love to the person with increasing intensity, eradicating the soul's imperfections and uniting the entire person, sense and spirit, to Himself. Because of the inner deprivation and pain caused in the person by mortifying the sensory appetites, living by the theological virtues, and receiving God's Self-communication, John likens divine guidance through infused contemplation to a journey in darkness.1


1A,Proloque,2; A1,13,3-4; A2,5,10; 7,4-12; 17,2-3&8; 21,


D. Persons committed to seeking divine union are capable of following God's guidance without the aid of a human spiritual director

Human reason, divine revelation, and infused contemplation, in themselves, are sufficient to guide every person to union with God. Relying only on these sources of guidance, a person journeys more securely toward union with God than he does when following the counsel of someone who is insensitive to the unique way God guides each individual person or who is ignorant of the dynamics of infused contemplation. However, in trying to follow God's guidance all alone, a person can also deceive himself, misinterpret his religious experiences, and develop harmful attachments that hinder spiritual growth. For these reasons, God ordains that persons ordinarily be guided to divine union with the help of other human persons. Thus, God's guidance may be discerned not only privately through prayer, reflection, spiritual reading, and growth in faith and love, but also through an interpersonal relationship with a human guide.1


2-4; 22,5-8&13-15; 24,6; 27,6; A3,23,2; 36,3; 39,2; 44,4; Nl, Explanation,l; N1,1,1-2; 8,1; 10,2-6; 12,1-4; 13,10; N2,1,1; 3,3; 5,1-4; 7,3; 13,11; 14,1-2; 16,7-8; 17,2&8; 23,l-3&11-13; 25,2. Cf. C14&15,2&5&14-21&26-27; C25,5; F3,25,32-34,44,49, 54,59,62,65-67; Sayings of Light and Love, 119&4l; Lucien- Marie, "Direction Sprituelle," pp. 186-94.

lAscent, Title; A,Prologue,3-9; A2,4,1-4; 7,13; 12,8-9; 17,4-5; 18,2-6; 19,5&7; 20,3; 21,4; 22,7-19; 26,18; 30,5-6; A 3,15,1-2; 24,4; 36,5; 39,1-3; N2,18,5; 25,4. Cf. Cl, 11-12; F3, 29-62; Sayings of Light and Love, 5-11; Letters 10&19 to Juana


E. Spiritual Direction is a ministry in the Church to help persons follow God's guidance to divine union

The ministry of spiritual direction involves a human relationship between a director or spiritual guide and a directee or one seriously seeking union with God through love. The subject matter in this relationship is the entire psychological experience of the directee--thoughts, desires, feelings, emotions, and actions--insofar as they reveal his relationship to God and God's action in his life. In this human relationship, the spiritual director helps the directee to discern and follow God's guidance, especially in infused contemplation. The director also helps the directee to relinquish his inordinate attachments to creatures and to center his entire life upon God in faith, hope, and love, thus becoming disposed to receive God's guidance in, infused contemplation. Metaphorically speaking, a director guides the directee through the interior darkness caused by self-denial, faith, and contem- plation to a loving union with God. A spiritual director thus acts as an instrument in God's guidance of a person to union with Himself.1


de Pedraza; Lucien-Marie, "Direction Spirituelle," pp. 180-81; Gomez, "Director Espiritual," pp. 395-96; Gabriel, The Spirit- ual Director, pp. 8-11.

1A,Prologue,3-7; A1,12,6; A2,4,1-7; 8,5-7; 10,1-4; 22,7 &12&19; 23,1&4; 24,4; 28,1; A3,1,1; 2,2-4&13-16; 16,1; Nl, Explanation,1-2; Nl,1,1; N2,1,1; 3,3; 16,14. Cf. C1,21-C2,3; 6, 4; 14&15,4-5; F3,18-23,38-43,46-47,55,&62; Lucien-Marie, "Direction Spirituelle," pp. 177-80; Gabriel, The Spiritual Direc-


F. The essential function of the spiritual director is to guide the directee along the road to union with God

The spiritual director's role may be seen in the titles and activities which John assigns to him. The director is called master or teacher, spiritual father, confessor, and guide. The director teaches his directees the nature of the journey to union with God and how to cooperate through self denial and prayer with God's guidance; using advice, counsel, instruction, directives, and commands, he trains persons in detachment and the practice of faith, hope and love; he evaluates his directees' religious experience and growth in prayer; with understanding and compassion, he supports them during periods when God prepares them for divine union with intense sensory and spiritual purification. The word which best expresses the role of the spiritual director as implied by these titles and activities is guidance: whether he is called father, master, or confessor or whether he is teaching, evaluating, training, or supporting his directees, the spiritual director is essentially a guide who leads persons along the dark and difficult road of mortification, theological virtue, and contemplation leading to union with God through love1 As a


tor, pp. 21-23,45-46.

1There is considerable discussion today about what exactly to call the ministry traditionally referred to as spiritual direction. Should it be named direction, counseling, discernment, therapy, friendship, guidance, or some new title more accurately expressing its nature? The term which probably


guide, the unique contribution of the spiritual director resides in the interpersonal relationship he forms with the directee, for in this relationship the directee gains instruction, discernment, and support for the spiritual journey, benefits not found in other forms of spiritual guidance such as spiritual reading or self-guidance relying on faith and reason alone.

As a role model for this ministry, a spiritual director may look with profit to Jesus Christ. St. John maintains that God gave Jesus to mankind as a brother, companion, and master. Similarly, a spiritual director is a brother or sister to the directee in their common sharing of human nature, a companion for the spiritual journey to God, and a teacher of the spiritual life.

To be a spiritual director, one need not be a priest. Although John speaks of confessors when discussing spiritual direction, he does not intend thereby to limit this ministry to ordained priests working in sacramental settings: unordained persons with the necessary knowledge, experience: and skill are also to able to guide others along the road to God.1


comes closest to describing John's view of this ministry would be spiritual guidance. See van Kaam, "Religious Anthropology--- Religious Counseling," pp. 1-3; Larkin, "Spiritual Direction Today," pp. 204-7; Schneiders, "The 'Return to Spiritual Direction," pp. 122-24. Bernard J. Tyrrell, Christotherapy: Healing Through Enlightenment (New York: Seabury Press, 1975), pp. 1-25.

1A,Prologue,1-9; Al,13,1-11; A2,7,1; 9,5; 10,1&4; 11,1&3;


G. To fulfill the role of an instrument in God's guidance of persons to divine union through infused contemplation, the spiritual director must Possess knowledge, experience, and skill in helping relationships

1. Knowledge John's theory of spiritual direction maintains that God guides persons to divine union through infused contemplation: therefore, the human director must, first of all, possess a theology that accounts for God's communication of Himself to persons, not only indirectly through divine revelation and human reason, but also directly through infused contemplation. The director's theology should also acknowledge God's transcendence and immanence, the divine attributes which require that persons journey to union with God primarily by faith and interior prayer. The director should also be versed in Sacred Scripture, understanding both the history of God's guidance of His people (the prototype of all divine guidance) and the various levels of biblical interpretation (which reveal the full meaning--letter and spirit--of the Scriptures).1 Secondly, a director must have a philosophy of human knowledge that recognizes a person's capacity to receive God's Self-


12,3-15,5; 19,11&14; 22,5-19; 23,4; 26,1; 28,1; 29,5; 30,5-6; A3,1,1; 15,1-3; 16,1-2; 17,2; 21,2; Nl,4,7-8; 9,1-10,6; N2,7, 3; 16,4-7; 21,1-12; 22,2. Cf. F3,30-62; Degrees of Perfection, 1-17; Letters,10,12,14,15,19,&28.

1A,Prologue,2; A2,chaps. 16&17; 19,1-10; 20,6; chap. 22; A3,2,3-4; 5,3; 12,1-3; 13,1-5; 15,1-2; Cf. C,Prol. 1-3; F3,30.


communication in infused contemplation. Saint John employed the scholastic theory of active and passive intellect to explain, on the one hand, the human person's inability to formulate adequate images or concepts of God, and on the other hand, his innate capacity to receive a general, loving knowledge of God in contemplation. Although a director may not hold a scholastic epistemology, his theory of knowledge should account for a person's capacity to receive God's direct Self-communication. Lacking such a theory he may fail to understand how to dispose his directee to receive God's guidance in infused contemplation.1

Thirdly, the director's knowledge should include a theology of the spiritual life. As a systematic ordering of the principles of Christian spirituality, spiritual theology describes: the relationship of God and man in terms of human experience; the development of this relationship through distinct stages, each characterized by predictable and recognizable phenomena; the necessity of mortification of inordinate desires and the practice of the theological virtues for disposing oneself to be guided by God; and the nature of prayer and contemplation as a dialogue between the human person and God. Familiarity with these principles enables the spiritual director to recognize the major factors in a person's


lA2,10,1-4; 11,6; 15,2; 16,10-11; 23,1; 29,7. Cf. C 14&15, 14-15; F3,30-35,44,48-56.


relationship with God and journey to divine union.1

Finally, the director should know psychology. God guides persons according to the laws of human nature: the more a director understands these laws, the better prepared is he to assist the directee in responding to God's guidance. The following areas of psychology provide especially helpful information to the director for understanding human behavior: sensation, perception, learning, memory, emotion, motivation, human development, personality, and abnormality. Knowing the basic psychological principles in each of these areas prepares a director to appreciate the human factors affecting a person's relationship with God.2


lWe distinguish here between theology of the spiritual life and "mystical theology," one of John's synonyms for infused contemplation or the experiential knowledge of God acquired through love. A, Prologue, 4-5; A1,12,6-13,11; A2, 6,1-8; A2,8,6; chaps. 6 &12-15; 17,3-5; A3,1,1; 16,1; Nl,l; N2,5,1; 12,5; 17,2&6; 18,5; chaps. 19-21. Cf. C,Prologue,3; F1,18-26; F3,31,43-53,56. See also Gomez, "'Director Espiritual," pp. 405-7; Gabriel, The Spiritual Director, pp. 56-63. See also the following two articles by Fr. Gabriel: "Indole Psicologica della Teologica Spirituale," Revista di Filosofia Neoscolastica 32 (January 1940):31-42, and "Spiritual Theology," Theology Digest 2 (1954):151-54. For examples of texts in the theology of spiritual life, see Joseph de Guibert, The Theology of the Spiritual Life, trans. Paul Barrett (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1953), and Antonio Royo and Jordan Auman, The Theology of Christian Perfection (Dubuque, Iowa: Priory Press" 1962).

2A,Prologue,4-7; Al, chap. 3;A2,10,1-4; 13,6; 17,3-4; A3,16,2-6; Nl,1,3; 3,2-3; 4,2-5; 5,1; 6,1-3&5-6; 7,2-5; 9,2-3. See also Lucien-Marie, "Direction Spirituelle," pp. 195-99. Gabriel, The Spiritual Director, pp. 46-56. In response to tha question raised by Cameli regardinq the "exact background in. psychology needed for effective spiritual direction," Saint John of the Cross' answer would undoubtedly be that the back-


2. Experience

Spiritual direction is guiding persons along the dark and difficult road to union with God. To guide others effectively, a spiritual director must know this road from his own experience of self-denial, faith, and contemplation. In addition to giving the director a firsthand knowledge of the road to divine union, this personal experience prepares him to perceive and judge his directees more accurately and to interact with them more objectively, thus increasing his effectiveness as an instrument of divine guidance. Also, the added experience of guiding others in their journey toward God enables the director to observe the infinite variety of ways God leads souls to Himself as well as the infinite variety of human response to His divine guidance. With this experience, the spiritual director is better prepared to walk in faith with each directee, discerning that person's unique road to God as God gradually reveals it to them and helping each one follow faithfully that road to divine union.1

3. Skill in Helping Relationships

Because the relationship between the director and direc-


ground in psychology for a director should be substantial. See above, pp. 12-13; Cameli, Spiritual Direction for Priests, p. 15.

lAl,8,1-7; 11,5-6; A2,16,14; 18,5-6; 19,11; 20,3; 21,7;22,7-16; 26,14&17; 29,4; 31,2; 32,2; A3,19,3-4&6; 20,2; 25,2- 6; 26,4; N1,13,3; 14,6. Cf. F3, 30-31,41,53,57-62; Gomez, "Director Espiritual," pp. 396-98, 407-8; Giallanza, "Spiritual Direction,"pp. 32-33.


tee is the essential characteristic distinguishing spiritual direction from other forms of spiritual guidance, the spiritual director must possess adequate skills for this relationship. These skills presuppose in the director an awareness of: his own humanity as an instrument for guiding others according to reason and faith; the directee's unique individuality and capacty for self-direction; the presence of Jesus in the relationship clarifying and confirming divine truth in the hearts of both the director and directee; the many dynamics in a helping relationship, such as unconscious communication of attitudes, clarification of personal experience through its verbal expression to an attentive listener, resistance, transference, and collusion. Skill in the helping relationship of spiritual direction demands that a director be able: to recognize and handle the dynamic factors as they emerge in his work with a directee; to create an interpersonal climate which enables the directee to relate significant experiences--both positive and negative--on the journey to God; and to communicate to directees a sympathetic understanding of their experiences. With these interpersonal skills, the director makes the helping relationship an effective means for the directee to discern God's guidance.1


1A2,5,10-11; 17,5; 18,1-6; 21,2-3; 22,5-19; 24,6; 26, 18; 27,6; 30,5; A3,25,7; Nl,2,3-4&7; 4,3&7; 6,3-4; 7,3; 17,5. Cf- C,Prol., 2; C26,7; 29,3; F3,59; Letters 8,10,15,19; Lucien-Marie,"Direction Spirituelle, 186-94; Gabriel, The Spiritual Director, p. 24.


Knowledge, experience, skill in helping relationships: these three qualities distinguish an effective spiritual director. John recognizes that some Christians may be endowed with other extraordinary gifts and graces, including the biblical charisms of healing, prophecy, and discernment of spirits (lCor.12:8-11); however, he does not consider them essential for the ministry of spiritual direction. With the necessary human knowledge, personal experience of the spiritual life, and competence in human relations, one is adequately prepared to serve as God's instrument in His guidance of persons to divine union.1

H. A spiritual director's work with a directee differs in each_stage of the directee's journey toward union with God

Throughout the entire journey, the director uses his knowledge, experience, and skills to help the directee surrender entirely to God's guidance; however, the precise helping activities performed by the director differ with each stage of the directee's progress in prayer and the spiritual life.2

1. Beginners


1A2,26,11-14; A3,30,1-5; 31,2-9. Lucien-Marie, "Direction Spirituelle," pp. 173-76, 181-86.

2Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, St. John of the Cross: Doctor of Divine Love and Contemplation, trans. a Benedictine of Stanbrook Abbey (Cork: Mercier Press, 1947), p. 113; Marco, "Direzione Spirituale," pp. 419-38.


To prepare beginners to accept God's guidance, the director first clarifies with the directee the goal of the spiritual journey (union with God through love) and the means to this goal (self-denial, theological virtue...and infused contemplation). The director then helps the beginner to center his affectivity entirely on God by letting go of habitual, inordinate attachments to creatures and by enkindling a desire for God through meditative prayer.

Although truly converted to God and sincere in their desire for Him, beginners are nevertheless disordered in their relationship with themselves, with others, and with God as a result of their inordinate attachments and are motivated primarily by the desire for sensory pleasure in their religious activities. These factors cause in a beginner a rationalized resistance, emotional distress and psychological dysfunction, and denial of their true spiritual condition. For these same reasons, a beginner is likely to be hostile, manipulative, dishonest, dependent and sexually aroused in his relationship with the director. The director must recognize these factors when they emerge in a beginner and help him to order all of his behavior according to reason and the demands of true interior devotion. Working with beginners in these ways, the spiritual director prepares them for the passive night of sense when God commences to communicate Himself directly to their spirit and


to guide them through infused contemplation.1

2. Passive Night of Sense

As persons progress in self-denial and meditative prayer, disposing themselves for divine guidance, God soon responds by communicating Himself directly to their spirit, leading them from meditation to contemplation, transforming their motivation from self-love to love of God, ard replacing their sins and imperfections with virtue. Although God's communication strengthens a person spiritually, it also produces an intense sensory dryness characterized by three phenomena occuring simultaneously: loss of consolation in both God and creatures, a painful desire to serve God, and an inability to practice discursive meditation. The role of the director during this critical.period of transition is to recognize these signs when they appear in the directee; to determine whether the phenomena are indeed caused by infused contemplation or by some other cause, such as infidelity or physical and emotional disturbances; to convey an understanding of the phenomena to the directee; to support the directee in the personal trials of this period; and to guide him in the transition from meditative prayer to contemplative prayer. In these ways, the director helps the person through this critical transition period into the second stage of the spiritual


1A,Prologue,3; Al,chaps. 6-14; A2,12,1-5; N1,1-3; 2,3-4; 3,1-3; 4,1-7; 6,1-8; 7,2-4; 8,3. Cf. F3,32-33; Gabriel, The Spiritual Director, pp. 67-86.


journey, the via illuminativa or the stage of proficients in in which God communicates His knowledge and love directly to the person in infused contemplation.1

3. Proficients

After leading a person through the purifying night of sense, God brings him into the second stage of the spiritual journey, the stage of proficients (also called the via illuminativa) in which He continues to draw the person closer to divine union through infused contemplation. Almost everyone who begins the spiritual journey in earnest reaches this second stage, although relatively few pass beyond it to perfect union with God in love. Ordinarily lasting some years, this period is one of relative serenity, interior freedom, and spiritual delight, interspersed with.brief spiritual trials.

The director's main function in this stage is to encourage the directee's growth in faith, hope, and love, the three virtues which unite the human person to God. By teaching his directees to let go of voluntary attachments to distinct images, concepts, memories, and experiences of God and to direct the affections of the will away from individual objects toward God, the director disposes his directees to receive in contemplation the transforming knowledge and love of


lA2,13,1-5; Nl,8,4; 9,1-9 .; 10,2-6; chaps. 12-13. Cf. F3,31-38; Maxims on Love,40; Gomez, "Directoir Espiritual," pp. 401-3; Gabriel, The Spiritual Director, pp. 47-55; St. John of the Cross, pp.44-56.


the Transcendent God. In his relationship with the directee, the director must also create an interpersonal atmosphere which allows the directee to express freely his spiritual experiences for purposes of clarification and confirmation. Furthermore, the director helps the directee govern his life according to faith and reason which, more than extraordinary religious experiences, are the ordinary lights for discerning God's will in daily activities. And finally, the director encourages his directee to pray with greater interiority, depending less upon external devotional objects and images and more upon the interior recollection of the entire self--sense and spirit--in God present within. By helping persons to grow in faith., to clarify the meaning of their experiences, to live daily according to faith and reason, and to grow in interior prayer, the director best helps those in the stage of proficients to be led by God to final transformation in love.1

4. Passive Night of Spirit

Before bringing a person to perfect union wth Himself, God leads him through a final purifization called the passive night of spirit. During this period, God communicates Himself to the person with increased intensity, thereby freeing him from every inordinate attachment to creatures and drawing the


1A2,4,4; chaps. 8&9; A2,15,1-5; chap. 22; 23,4; 24,8; A3,1,1-2,9; 15,1-2; 16,1-2; 17,2; 17,2; chap. 37-44; N1,1,1; 14,1; N2,1,1; N2,3,3. Cf. C29,1-4; Sayings of Light and Love, 19,41; Lucien-Marie, "Direction Spirituelle," pp. 183-86; Gómez, "Director Espiritual," pp. 399-401.


powers of his being to be centered firmly in Himself. In this communication, God infuses His own loving Wisdom into the person, filling the human faculties of intellect, memory, and will with divine knowledge and love. This contemplative inflow of God into the human person both purges and illumines the person, with alternating periods both of extreme anguish (when one feels God's absence) and of extreme delight (when one feels God's presence), until the person is free of every inordinate attachment and ready for perfect union with God in pure love.

Only a relatively few persons undergo this final purification which may last for some time, even years, depending upon the strength of the final attachments that must be uprooted. For these persons, the director performs an important role. Upon recognizing from the intensity of the person's alternating contemplative experiences of inner anguish and delight and the steady increase in his love that the person has left behind the relatively tranquil stage of proficients, the director prepares to suppoct the directee through this transition period to union with God. This support includes: encouraging the directee to continue the practice of interior prayer and the theological virtues which best dispose a person to receive God's communication of loving knowledge; teaching him the nature and the necessity of this purifying night; and providing a sympathetic understanding of his purgative and illuminative experiences. By these means,


the director supports the directee through the final purification before reacing perfect union with God in love.1

5. The State of Perfection

After purifying a person of all inordinate attachments in the passive night of spirit, God leads him to the highest stage of the spiritual Journey attainable in this life, the state of perfect union with God through love (or the via unitiva). This stage begins when the alternating periods of consolation and desolation cease and the person enjoys a habitual, peaceful, joyous awareness of the presence of God. The few persons who attain this union are now entirely centered upon God in pure faith, hope, and love: they are transformed in God and live completely according to the wisdom and love they receive from Him.

Because his union with God is now perfect, the person is guided by God in all his activities. Accordingly, he needs little external guidance from a spiritual director. When the directee is at this highest stage of the spiritual journey, the director must simply recognize the directee's union with God, support the action of God in his life, and not interfere with that action by advice appropriate only to an earlier stage of the spiritual journey.2


1A,Prologue,4-5; A1,1,3; N2,1,3-5,1; 7,3-4; 8,1-2; 9,3; 12,4; 13,11; 17,3-6; 18,3-20,6; 21,11-12; 22,2; 23,3-4&11-:14. Cf. C6,1-6; 8,2; 9,2; 12,9; 14&15,30; 17,1; F1,18-26; Gabriel, The Spiritual Director, pp. 86-90.

2A2,5,1-11; A2,26,1-10; A3,14,1-2; N2,3,3; 9,4; 18,4;


From this brief overview of the stages of the spiritual journey we can see that the spiritual director performs his guidance role in a variety of ways depending upon God's unique action in the directee's life and the directee's stage of progress in the lifelong spiritual journey. In the earlier stages of the journey, when God's Self-communication is less immediate and less intense, the spiritual director takes a more active part in helping the person dispose himself to receive God's guidance in infused contemplation; in the later stages of the journey, when God's Self-communication more directly guides the person, the director assumes a more supportive role in helping the person to respond to the divine guidance received in contemplation.

The.variety of guidance functions provided by the director may, in turn, be reduced to one overall task that applies to each stage of the spiritual journey. At each stage of their spiritual Journey, the spiritual director must help persons to imitate Jesus Christ and to live according to His teachings, especially His example and teachings of detachment in sense and spirit for the sake of living according to the will of the Father. In tollowing Jesus's example of Self- emptying, a person best disposes himself to be guided by the same inner Spirit that guided Jesus throughout His life.


20,4;21,2; 24,1-4; 25,4. John describes this state of perfect union with God in The Spiritual Canticle, chaps. 22-40, and throughout the entire treatise on The Livinq Flame of Love.


Jesus, in fact, personifies the entire road (camino) to divine union. In conforming one's life to the example and teachings of Jesus, a person gradually empties himself in sense and spirit of inordinate attachments and centers his life entirely upon God, becoming thereby increasingly open to receive the infused loving knowledge of God. In the terminology of Saint John of the Cross, the active nights of sense and spirit are fulfilled in the person's conscious imitation of Jesus Christ; the corresponding passive nights of sense and spirit are experienced by the person as the gradual reception of the Holy Spirit in infused contemplation. To the degree one conforms one's entire life--sense and spirit--to the Self-emptying of Jesus Christ in response to the will of the Father, to that degree is one led interiorly by the Spirit of God; and when one's life is perfectly conformed to Jesus' sensory and spiritual death to Self on the Cross, one is then perfectly guided by the Holy Spirit in all his activity. At that point, the work of the human spiritual director is virtually at an end.1


lAl,4,1-6,4; 13,3-4; A2,5,5; 7,1-12; 17,8; 22,3-8; 29, 1-2&6&11; 30,4; A3,2,7-12; 23,2-4; 35,5; 36,3; N2,4,1-2; 7,3; 17,2; 20,4. Cf. C1,10; 17,1-9; 35,5; F2,28-30;F3,40-42, Maxims on Love,42; Letters 6,21,22,23; Gabriel, "L'Espirit- Saint et L'Eglise Visible dans La Direction Spirituelle," pp. 70-90; The Spiritual Director, pp. 96-127; Efren de la Madre de Dios, San Juan de la Cruz y El Misterio de la Santisima Trinidad en la Vidia Espiritual_ (Zaragoza: Talleres Editoriales El Noticiero, 1947), pp. 385-498; Josephus Vincentius ab Eucharistia, "Christus in Oeconomia secundum Sanctum Joannem a Cruce," Ephemerides Carmeliticae, 16 (1965): 313-54; Varga, "Christus bei Johannes vom Kreuz," pp. 197-225.



The theory of spiritual direction contained in The Ascent of Mount Carmel and The Dark Night maintains that God dwelling within the person is the primary spiritual director who guides the person to union with Himself in love. God provides this guidance principally through infused contemplation in which He communicates Himself to the person. The human spiritual director acts as an instrument in this divine guidance by helping the person to surrender completely to God's action in his life. To be an effective instrument in this divine guidance, the human director must have sufficient knowledge, experience, and skill in helping relationships. By means of a human relationship in which the director listens, teaches, advises, discerns; supports, and conveys understanding of the directee's experience, the director guides a person along the dark and difficult road of detachment, faith, and prayer, thus disposing the person to receive from God the unique guidance given in infused contemplation. This lifelong process is perhaps best summarized by saying that the human spiritual director guides a person in the imitation of Jesus Christ which, in turn, best disposes him to receive and be led by the Spirit of Jesus who is given in infused contemplation.


PART II. CARL R. ROGERS not included on this web site


BIBLIOGRAPHY pp 462-477 (does not include section on Carl R. Rogers)

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