Can I Be in Consolation and Desolation at the Same Time?

Briefly stated, consolation is a state in which a person is growing in faith, hope, and love. Desolation is a state in which a person is diminishing in faith, hope, and love. Some people think of consolation as moving toward God and desolation as moving away from God. However, we cannot really move away from God—God is always present, and, as Psalm 139 says, we cannot do anything or go anywhere to escape God’s presence. […]

Consolation and Desolation Whiplash

I used to think that desolation was a state one entered for a long period of time, like Mother Teresa experiencing years of dry prayer. Lately, though, and perhaps because I’m using the Examen more faithfully, I’ve learned that a single day can hold both consolation and desolation like a zig-zag line or a roller coaster. I’m pushed and pulled simultaneously by various forces, quickly passing from things that increase faith, hope, and love to […]

Consolation and Desolation

During Lent, we reflect upon our spiritual state and on our interior movement. Are we moving toward more doubt, fear, and anger? Or are we moving toward greater faith, hope, and love? The Ignatian principles of consolation and desolation can help us. A person dwells in a state of consolation when she or he is moving toward God’s active presence in the world. We know we are moving in this way when we sense the […]

Consolation and Desolation

Jason Vaz, SJ, provides some helpful images to distinguish consolation and desolation in a recent post at the igNation blog. He concludes with questions for consideration, particularly for those experiencing loneliness: Where am I in relation to the fire? Am I getting too close to it? Am I moving too far away from it? Which thoughts must I stop myself from thinking? Which thoughts give me life and energy? When was the last time I […]

Consolation, Desolation, and Feelings

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 […]

Praying When in Consolation

Don’t you love praying when it’s easy to show up to prayer? Or when you feel God’s presence during your prayer? During a season of consolation, it is easy to name the graces given to us by God. St. Ignatius offers us wisdom on what to do when we are in this season of prayer. Relish the graces. “For it is not much knowledge that fills and satisfies the soul, but the intimate understanding and […]

Coping with Spiritual Desolation During the Holidays

Usually, during November and December, our thoughts turn to gratitude for God’s blessings and preparing our hearts for the coming of hope through the Christ Child. But what if, as the holidays approach, we feel anything but hopeful? The other day, I was sharing with a friend how excited I was that Advent was coming. My friend usually loves Advent too. However, when I mentioned it, her face literally contorted in pain. She shared that, […]

Advent Consolation

There’s something about Advent and Christmas that stirs my heart. As my semester as a grad student winds down, I anticipate the time to relax into the season. Typically, my interior is not filled with holiday anxiety, but with consolation. Each year Advent stirs up the memory of past Advents—those graces of hopeful anticipation, family time, and even the comfort of purple and pink candles lit on a dark winter evening. St. Ignatius says we […]

Winter Desolation

It’s been a miserable winter for many people, with record-breaking snowstorms and chilling temperatures. As I write this, we are about to get hammered with yet another snowstorm, and nearly every face I see seems to carry a scowl. It’s the kind of atmosphere that is ripe for desolation. St. Ignatius gives us some tips on resisting the “evil one” who seeks to undo our efforts toward goodness and love: “The enemy acts like a […]

The Difference Between Consolation and Feeling Good

By Margaret Silf From Inner Compass: An Invitation to Ignatian Spirituality It isn’t always obvious that there is a difference between experiencing spiritual consolation and simply feeling good, or between finding oneself in spiritual desolation and simply feeling low. The effects can be very similar, but in fact the source is quite different. To understand this fundamental difference, we really do need to notice the direction of our attention as we go through the experience. […]

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