Three Ignatian New Year’s Resolutions

Here are three New Year’s resolutions grounded in the counsel of St. Ignatius Loyola. 1. Give others the benefit of the doubt. Ignatius said to be, “more ready to put a good interpretation on another’s statement than to condemn it as false” (Spiritual Exercises 22). What I am tempted to do: Correct others when I think they are wrong. After all, perhaps I am pretty sure I know the truth, especially if it is on […]

Praying Through the Storms of Life

Sometimes we feel God’s presence and closeness and may even feel favored or gifted by God. During these times, we may see all of our prayers answered in the ways in which we want them to be answered. At other times, God may seem far off. We pray and not only do we not see our requests fulfilled, we may even observe the opposite outcome of what we had asked for in prayer. During such […]

Praying in Dry Seasons of Life

Our prayer lives go through cycles like the seasons of the year. We cycle through spring-like seasons of new life or summer-like seasons of abundance. Today let’s turn to what St. Ignatius invites us to do when we are in a season of prayer that feels more like autumn, when what was once abundant begins to wither, or winter, when our prayer life feels dormant. Keep showing up in prayer! As our prayer life shifts […]

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 […]

The Long Ride

I do some of my best thinking and praying while running or biking. This morning I considered how biking hills is not a bad analogy to the discernment of consolation and desolation in the spiritual life. Here’s the idea. Coming to the beginning of a long upward climb can be a daunting experience. You see it looming, and you see that it will be hard and tiring. There is a temptation to quit or turn around. This is […]

Keeping Things Secret

Ignatius warns against the false spirit’s trick of getting me to keep things secret from my mentors and companions. Common sense requires that I not tell everyone everything all the time. However, if my companions and mentors are well chosen and are trustworthy, there is virtually no reason to keep any part of my inner life secret from them. If I find myself doing so, chances are, the false spirit is afoot. When I am […]

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, […]

Marking God’s Goodness

Before making the big decision to move from the East Coast to the West Coast, my wife Sarah and I prayed with the story of Abraham and Sarah’s journey. Each place they travelled, they built an altar to honor God. They were responding to God’s call to depart from their homeland and journey to a new, unknown land. What they left behind in each place they went was a symbol of their relationship with God. […]

Vacation Desolation

I recently returned from a wonderful family vacation. It was a great time. The natural beauty of the area we visited was breathtaking, and as I was taking it in, I frequently thanked God for the beauty of creation. Despite this wonderful trip, though, I came back feeling somewhat empty. I felt like I was missing something. The vacation was great. My family was great. Yet something big was missing, and I just couldn’t “put […]

When You’re Discouraged

Robert McTeigue, SJ, says that when we are discouraged or feeling desolation in the Ignatian sense, we should follow St. Ignatius’s advice and insist more on prayer, meditation, and increasing penance. Although it seems counterintuitive, Saint Ignatius is wise to urge us when in desolation to “increasing our penance in some suitable manner.” But why? It’s not obvious why “I feel miserable” will be helped by “I will increase my penance.” When in desolation, the […]

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