Invitation to Love

Thomas Keating, Invitation to Love: The Way of Christian Contemplation. New York: Continuum, 1995. 151 pages
A Synopis

Return to Invitation to Love

Chapter 11: Special Trails in the Night of Sense

Three particular trials may occur with some people during the night of sense, making this transition more difficult. These are strong temptations to fornication, blasphemy, and dizziness (spiritus vertiginis, uncertainty, perplexity).

The spirit of fornication, as with Anthony, exposes the person to "the full force of his sexual energy in order to allow the Spirit to transmute it into zeal for the service of God." Anthony dealt with this temptation by vividly imaging the fires of hell, not to induce fear into himself but to put out the fires of lust. More broadly, "the spirit of fornication reveals the intensity of desire that fuels our instinctual need for pleasure, affection, and esteem." It may also manifest itself in overeating or an obsessive desire for entertainment.

The temptation of blasphemy expresses itself in anger, indignation, and impatience that things are not going the way one wants; "grumbling and murmuring against God." This trial expresses the need to control; but in the night of sense, "all our plans, including plans for self-improvement, come to nothing."

The spirit of dizziness causes uncertainty or perplexity about our vocation or some serious matter of conscience. We are constantly vacillating. Our need for security underlies this temptation. Finding it difficult to accept that "the spiritual journey is a call into the unknown," we cannot bring ourselves to fully trust.

"These three trials are immense favors from God" because they spotlight the fact that selfishness is the hard core of the emotional programs for happiness. "By letting go of our desires for satisfaction in these areas, we move toward a permanent disposition of peace."