Consolation begins deep in the self that is grateful to God in all things. As G. K. Chesterton once explained, gratitude is happiness magnified by wonder. Jesus’ act at Cana shows how practical gratitude is: in the first place, Jesus intended his friends to be happy and have a good time. He and his mother came to this wedding party to enjoy it. When that enjoyment was threatened, Jesus felt impelled (with a little help from his mother) to show what his disciples could expect: first of all, more wine. They enjoyed the wine, and then they understood the sign: Jesus had revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him (John 2:11). That is consolation. In everyday life, we feel joy in whatever comes. For whatever comes arrives in the context of God’s overarching care: the earth has yielded its produce; God, our God has blessed us (Ps. 67:6, NJB).
Well, we don’t have parties every day, so how do we experience consolation in everyday life? We feel it in the easy flow of faith and hope and love—head and heart and hands—as we go about doing the next good thing. Consolation keeps us feeling that we are enough and that our life is enough. It lets us sleep well and wake refreshed. We do not fret about whether we are doing God’s will or not. We are not anxious that the world might suddenly end. This hope-filled mind and a quiet heart flow into doing the next good thing even when it is hard or repulsive.
Consolation also comes to us in prayer. On ordinary days we have a fixed time and place to pray, perhaps with the day’s readings. Just managing to keep at this spiritual habit is a consolation. Keeping our attention on God and the things of God is a consolation. And even if we spend time in silence and quiet without thinking much, just being there enacts our belief that God lives, truly loves us, “is mysteriously capable of intervening, that he does not abandon us.”
—Excerpted from Always Discerning by Joseph A. Tetlow, SJ