The second darkness is God Himself. He must take away all images of Him one has gathered in the imagination or even through teaching to this point. The Indwelling of the Trinity seems light and darkness because one cannot comprehend God. There is an interplay of light and dark, but the darkness seems stronger.
To make a comparison, one may look at St. Thomas Aquinas' poem, the last two verses of Pange Lingua Gloriosi,, the Tantum Ergo. The senses cannot understand the Godhead in the Eucharist. One cannot grasp the mystery of God being present body and soul in the Host. One's senses are dulled, in a mist, in a shadow, that shadow of faith mentioned in the last post. But, God is also in shadow, hidden. I quote some of the lines.
Lo! o'er ancient forms departing
Newer rites of grace prevail;
Faith for all defects supplying,
Where the feeble senses fail.
To the everlasting Father,
And the Son Who reigns on high
With the Holy Ghost proceeding
Forth from Each eternally,
God allows this darkness to occur in order to come to one in an new way. This is why the theological virtues are so important; faith sustains, hope encourages, and love explains
Now this is precisely what this Divine ray of contemplation does in the soul. Assailing it with its Divine light, it transcends the natural power of the soul, and herein it darkens it and deprives it of all natural affections and apprehensions which it apprehended aforetime by means of natural light; and thus it leaves it not only dark, but likewise empty, according to its faculties and desires, both spiritual and natural. And, by thus leaving it empty and in darkness, it purges and illumines it with Divine spiritual light, although the soul thinks not that it has this light, but believes itself to be in darkness, even as we have said of the ray of light, which although it be in the midst of the room, yet, if it be pure and meet nothing on its path, is not visible. With regard, however, to this spiritual light by which the soul is assailed, when it has something to strike—that is, when something spiritual presents itself to be understood, however small a speck it be and whether of perfection or imperfection, or whether it be a judgment of the falsehood or the truth of a thing—it then sees and understands much more clearly than before it was in these dark places. And exactly in the same way it discerns the spiritual light which it has in order that it may readily discern the imperfection which is presented to it; even as, when the ray of which we have spoken, within the room, is dark and not itself visible, if one introduce a hand or any other thing into its path, the hand is then seen and it is realized that that sunlight is present.
For some people, this darkness of God is like a blanket one has at night but cannot see. Imagine a mother bringing an extra blanket into the bedroom of a child during the night. The blanket cannot be seen, and the child may stay sleeping as the mother places it on the child. One is aware of the blanket, keeping one warm, but one cannot imagine what it looks like. And, if it is a new blanket, one has no way of remembering it.
From some people, this stage takes a very long time. One can be in this darkness living by faith for most of one's life. For others, especially those young saints who were formed in purity at an early age, this stage can happen quickly. God is in charge, as He made each person and knows the needs of the soul, the mind, the heart.
John of the Cross, again... Wherefore, since this spiritual light is so simple, pure and general, not appropriated or restricted to any particular thing that can be understood, whether natural or Divine (since with respect to all these apprehensions the faculties of the soul are empty and annihilated), it follows that with great comprehensiveness and readiness the soul discerns and penetrates whatsoever thing presents itself to it, whether it come from above or from below; for which cause the Apostle said: That the spiritual man searches all things, even the deep things of God.141 For by this general and simple wisdom is understood that which the Holy Spirit says through the Wise Man, namely: That it reaches wheresoever it wills by reason of its purity;142 that is to say, because it is not restricted to any particular object of the intellect or affection. And this is the characteristic of the spirit that is purged and annihilated with respect to all particular affections and objects of the understanding, that in this state wherein it has pleasure in nothing and understands nothing in particular, but dwells in its emptiness, darkness and obscurity, it is fully prepared to embrace everything to the end that those words of Saint Paul may be fulfilled in it: Nihil habentes, et omnia possidentes.143 For such poverty of spirit as this would deserve such happiness.
Nihil habentes, et omnia possidentes.
2 Corinthians 6:10
10 As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as needy, yet enriching many; as having nothing, and possessing all things.
This sorrow and joy combination is what St. Therese spoke of as "unfelt joy" and what some holy people have labelled the double life. One works in the life of the virtues, being joyful but in sorrow, and giving out of feeling and being nothing.
A new freedom occurs, as one realizes that one is not doing anything, but God through one. No longer is one doing, but being. God is taking over all aspects of one's person. When one is purified, one is then taken into the Unitive State, but I am not finished explaining this dark stage yet.
To be continued....