Join us in praying a novena to St. Ignatius, ending on his feast day, July 31, 2021!
Day 7, July 29 – Consolation and desolation
Reflect: In a section of the Spiritual Exercises that treats the discernment of spirits, St. Ignatius explains how to respond to feelings of consolation or feelings of desolation. By consolation, he is referring to any good, positive feeling of closeness to God, of being loved by Him and of loving Him in return. In response to these feelings, St. Ignatius encourages us to be grateful, to rejoice, and to continue in our life and practice of faith. Yet he also reminds us that these feelings will most likely not last forever. For in this life, we are also subject to feelings of desolation. By desolation, Ignatius is referring to bad feelings. These can include such negative feelings as laziness, agitation, or sadness- perhaps including a sense of being spiritually distant from God or an all-around lack of zeal. Yet ‘desolation’ might also include a lack of spiritual feeling or emotion altogether, which can then give rise to bad feelings, such as a sense of dread or maybe even of having failed. Ignatius claims that these feelings can be the result of having sinned, of having given into the temptations of the devil and having turned away from God. However, desolation can also arise from God’s desire to strengthen us: as His invitation for us to believe in Him, even when His grace and presence is not felt. In times of desolation, Ignatius encourages us to refrain from making any big decisions, to recall the periods of consolation that we had previously experienced, and to increase our prayer by 5-10%. In doing so, we will be better able to understand that the desolations we are going through are an invitation to turn from one area of sin or another. Or, to trust that the desolations we are going through are all a part of God’s loving plan to unite us more fully with Himself. Let us reflect on the consolations and desolations we are experiencing in the spiritual life right now…how can we more fully trust in God, who allows and works in all things for our good?
Pray: The Suscipe
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding, and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours;
do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.