The demoniacal temptation of the dark night
What follows is a fragment from the work "Decenarium of the Holy Spirit" by the mystic Javiera del Valle, a holy woman from the southwestern part of Spain (Extremadura), who died in 1930. Her words on this theme are as clear as they are deep: When a soul has determined to not want anything other than follow its beloved Redeemer, and fixes its gaze with the only goal of acting for Him, and even, if it were possible, to do that which it has seen that the adorable Redeemer has done and suffered for us, then Satan, in fury, prepares a great battle and employs all its infernal army in it.
( )Satan tries to tear out the three theological virtues from our lives. But where his special target is to destroy our faith, because, once he has achieved this, it is very easy to get the other two; because faith is the foundation on which the whole spiritual structure is built and this is what the devil wants and desires and strives to destroy. God, then, remains silent; He does not impede this attempt, but rather He even prepares the way so that the battle be cruder still.
And God has his own goals, because he prepares all in this way in order to leave the devil confounded, fooled and routed in the most complete defeat and have us come away victorious from the battle remaining invincible in the future.
When Satan nears the fight, the first thing we miss is the clear and beautiful light that God had given us, in order to know the truth. The school [of the Holy Spirit] closes; it seems that we have lost memory and reason, due to the strength of the pain and sentiment which reigns in the soul.
Poor soul! It wants to look for God, but does not know how. It wants to call, but cannot articulate a word. Everything is forgotten; with such profound pain, it feels alone, without any company. What can I compare this state with? I find nothing comparable, if not those summer nights in which such strong and horrible storms rise suddenly, in the absolute darkness of which nothing can be seen, just lightning which frightens, thunder which leaves one trembling, hurricane winds which remind one of Gods justice at the end of the world, hailstones which seem to want to destroy everything.
I find nothing to compare it to: alone, without its God, the soul perceives the assault of a furious army which screams that the soul has been deceived, that there is no God; and this army surrounds the soul from all sides, full of rhetoric which preaches constantly to the soul, without the soul wanting it, but not being left alone a moment, with such strong and violent reasons, of such a force that would convince the soul that there is no God, "bigmouthing" horribly, that there is no such thing as the God the soul is searching for, and with a power over the faculties of the soul so as not to be able to reason or to believe anything else but that which, by force and more than force, they wish to make the soul understand and believe only that which they say, and not to believe anything else. ( ) In this immense and almost infinite pain, there in the distance and as something which one dreamed about and doesn't know what he dreamed, one remembers the Church and the love that we should have for Her, and this memory, just as when one has lost consciousness and recovering consciousness, wants to speak and stumbles over the words, thus the soul, without voice and stuttering, manages to say: I unite myself with all the beliefs of my mother the Church and I don't want to believe anything else. And not being able to say more, nor speak, nor understand, I spent months and months until two years passed. I was 18 years old when this happened to me, and when I suffered and cried without consolation the loss of my faith, suddenly a clear and beautiful day dawned for me. And so, I having seen myself in a state in which I was placed, saw and felt myself taken out of it.
Javiera del Valle (1856-1930), Decenario del Espiritu Santo, eighth day.