The Dark Night of the Soul might not be for me

Perhaps our paths to holiness are as individual as our crosses

The Dark Night of the Soul might not be for me

Zoltán Vörös-CC

St Louis de Montfort’s famous Total Consecration to Jesus Through Mary ends with a prayer I can’t say.

I love the Consecration overall: It has propelled me to pray more, to take on the rosary, to delve ever deeper into learning about the faith and our Blessed Mother, and even to wrestle with contemplative prayer.

But at the end, the saint asks that he be given no consolations, a reflection of his understanding that we merit nothing.

When I get to this point in the Consecration, I know I can’t pray it, at least not with a full heart.

See, my favorite verse in the New Testament is “ask and you shall receive.” I’m good at this. I ask often. I even admit to God, when I go to Him, that I am a greedy pig child. I want all the graces. I tell Him all the time, “Please, throw them all on me. I don’t want to miss one.”

I chafe at my soul’s bravado — asking for everything — and its cowardice — my fear of asking for nothing.

My rosary is a laundry list of intentions. My prayer always meanders its way to asking for something.

So each time I’d pick up the Consecration, I would be conflicted.

Shouldn’t I be able to beg for the Dark Night of the Soul? Ought we not trust absolutely in God’s faithfulness despite sufferings, despite doubt, despite need? Wouldn’t it be a sign that I don’t want to use God, but to be used by God, to be, as our new St. Teresa of Calcutta says, a “pencil in His hand?”

But I knew I couldn’t beg God to stay silent, even as I knew that his silence was a gift, an opportunity to practice full trust in Christ.

So I’d try. I’d try to just go to adoration. But I found myself, again, asking. Fingering my rosary beads, the intentions would spill out automatically: for my family and for my friends and for me.

Then one day it occurred to me: I asked if I should be asking.

Mother Teresa’s imagery came back to me. She is the pencil, yes, but He does the writing.

Inviting God to do as He wills with me, to use me as His pencil, means precisely giving Him the choice.

Requesting a silence my spirit cannot handle is just another form of resisting surrender.

“God, do with me as you will” reflects trust, yes, and deep confidence that the One you ask is infinitely good and desires our holiness and goodness more than we do … and knows how to bring it about.

Perhaps, I realized, what He’s writing with this little pencil named Sherry is precisely my list of intentions. My intercession is my means of giving God my full attention and devotion, going to Him who can heal all things. It reflects my trust He can heal all things, and as Pope Francis says, “never tires.”

None of us has the same affliction. As well, none of us has the same mission.

God has written on my heart, “Ask.”