“Rule #10: Spiritual Consolation: A Time to Prepare” by St. Ignatius of Loyola

“The tenth: let the one who is in consolation think how he will conduct himself in the desolation which will come after, taking new strength for that time” (St. Ignatius of Loyola).

“let one who is in consolation

  • Aware: Am I in a state of consolation?
  • Identify: Do I feel the light and warmth of God’s love? (I can sense His presence & feel His influence)
  • Respond:
  • Before we go into the added benefit of using times of consolation to prepare for desolation, it’s important to state the truth that times of consolation are gifts of God to be received with gratitude and from which to gain new energy in the ways God intends.
    • “Run while you have the light of life” (St. Benedict).
    • Consolation is where the essential growth in the spiritual life happens. This is why we do Ignatian repetition.
  • Therefore, our primary task in times of spiritual consolation is to accept & receive the gifts God is giving us.
    • Finish the consolation!
    • Example:“Finish the strudel” (Fr. Rafferty story in German cafe). You don’t prepare for time of fasting (desolation) during time of feasting (consolation).
    • You don’t have to leave consolation to prepare for desolation.

think how he will conduct himself in the desolation which will come after”

  • Only once you have accepted this gift of consolation and received all of the blessings of consolation – can you then choose to prepare for future spiritual desolation.
  • Why? Since the spiritual life is a roller coaster between consolation & desolation, we need to consciously think while we are in the light (consolation) how we will act in future darkness (desolation).
  • Think: “Desolation will come again” (simply admitting this is huge to mitigate impact of future desolation).
    • Unanticipated spiritual desolation will often bring confusion, sadness, bitterness, discouragement. This leaves us more readily prey to the lies and temptations of the enemy.
  • Be realisticThis rule is not a negative perspective about the future but rather a realistic perspective infused by hope because we understand how God is working in the midst of the roller coaster between consolation and desolation.
  • We recognize that His sovereign will allows or causes all things necessary for our salvation. Thus, we can look to the future knowing there will be valleys, but that they have a purpose — not to crush us, but to heal us.

“taking new strength”

  • Taking new strength is an additional good that can be gained from spiritual consolation.
  • Receive as much as possible in times of consolation – not focusing on the gifts but on the Giver – to focus on the goodness of God.
  • Spiritual consolation is 1st and foremost about love for God. Spiritual consolation is intended to defeat self-centeredness & self-preoccupation.
  • Write a personal psalm, paragraph, testimony, of how good God has been – and claim this – proclaim this in times of desolation.

Q. What are some concrete ways to prepare for future desolation while in consolation?

1. Reflect on past victories:

  1. What led to that experience of desolation? Think of peoples, places, times, etc. Was I HALT? (hungry, angry, lonely, tired?
  2. How did I get out of it? What was the personal growth that happened? What good did God bring out of it?
  3. Journal about this. Bring it to spiritual direction. Active gratitude & praise of God. Write down your litany of how God blessed you during desolation. How exactly growth happened with God permitting that experience of desolation.

“Find God in all things.” – St. Ignatius

2. Prepare for future battles:

  1. Fortify the weak spots = Rule 14: What are my weak spots right now? What pushes my buttons? Any specific situations coming up that might lead to desolation? Name the weak spots. Bring them to prayer (ask the Lord for light and healing), your support network.
  2. Rule 5: Resolution to make no changes in times of spiritual desolation. Prayer for strength during future desolation.
  3. Write down your battle plan now.

Si vis pacem, para bellum (if you want peace, prepare for war) – Latin adage

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