Consolation, Desolation, and Feelings

by Jim Manney

Consolation and desolation are key ideas in Ignatian discernment, and they are not easy to understand.  Abbot Joseph has a good post about the nuances.

Even for those who are serious about the spiritual life, it is good to make the distinction between subjective feelings and objective reality when trying to discern one’s spiritual state as consolation or desolation.  If you are grieved over your sins, don’t call it desolation, for this grief is the “godly grief” that “produces a repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret” (2Cor. 7:10).  On the other hand, if you are feeling some pleasure or contentment due to the indulgence of some “low and earthly” thing or activity, don’t automatically consider it consolation, for it may be leading you away from God.

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Jim Manney

Senior Editor at Loyola Press
Jim Manney is a popular writer on Ignatian topics (God Finds Us, A Simple, Life-Changing Prayer) as well as the editor of many books on Ignatian spirituality, including What Is Ignatian Spirituality? He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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November 2, 2009

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