A few days ago I got an email from a kind reader named Matthew that I found so insightful and helpful that I asked for permission to re-post it here. This is one of the most clear, concise introductions to the topic of spiritual dry spells I’ve ever read. He writes:
I saw you mention a dry spell in prayer recently where you are no longer receiving the normal consolations that you did shortly after converting. This is actually quite common as you no doubt know. But what a lot of people don’t know is the theology behind it. I’ve recently finished reading Fr. Garrigou Lagrange’s Christian Perfection and Contemplation and this is one of the main topics covered in the 461 page book. Lagrange was professor of Dogmatic and Mystical theology at the Angelicum for fifty years so he knew what he was talking about!
What you are experiencing is what is known to mystical theologians as the passive purification of the senses. God deprives us of the consolations we used to obtain in prayer because ultimately he wants us to strive after him for His own sake and not for the joys we obtain from it. The passive purification of the senses is the entry point to the illuminative way from the way of beginners. Many beginners experience this but many give up at this point and continue to live lives of spiritual mediocrity instead of entering the illuminative way. […]
Lagrange also wrote a shorter work called The Three Conversions of the Spiritual Life using apostle Peter as his model example. Peter was a beginner when Our Lord called him. After repenting from his sin of denial he then entered a deeper union or the illuminative way and finally at Pentecost he experienced a third conversion which initiated him into the unitive way.
Lagrange’s books are based on the teaching of St Thomas Aquinas, St John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila. St John of the Cross wrote the spiritual classic The Dark Night of the Soul which refers to the dark nights of the purifications of the senses and spirit which can be very painful.
Anyway, I strongly urge you to learn more on this as it will be of great value in understanding the spiritual trials a faithful Christian can expect.
Lots of food for thought there. Just thought I’d share in case anyone else finds that helpful!