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Catholic Spiritual Direction

Consolation and Abandonment

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Consolation and Abandonment Presence of God – Into Your hands, O Lord, I abandon myself with all confidence. MEDITATION “There are many who desire to make progress [in the spiritual way] and constantly entreat God to draw them and let them advance to this state of perfection [the state of union], but when it pleases God to begin to bring them through the first trials and mortifications, as is necessary, they are unwilling to... Read More

Consolation – Navigating the Interior Life Spiritual Dictionary


CONSOLATION: An interior movement aroused in the soul, by which it is inflamed with love of its Creator and Lord. It is likewise consolation when one sheds tears that move to the love of God, whether it be because of sorrow for sins, or because of the sufferings of Christ our Lord, or for any other reason that is immediately directed to the praise and service of God. Consolation can also be every increase of faith, hope, and love,... Read More

What is Spiritual Consolation?

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Dear Father John, what kind of general advice should I give to a person who is experiencing a lot of consolation in their spiritual life? From what this person has told me in spiritual direction, this consolation is certainly coming from God. Is there any practical advice I should give this person? God gives consolation in order to strengthen us and draw us closer to himself, just as he allows desolation in order to purify us from... Read More

What is the difference between desolation and aridity?

Dear Dan, what is the difference between aridity and desolation? Dear friend, this is a very simple but important question with a simple answer. Here are the two definitions and a brief reflection on the similarities and differences. DESOLATION. A temporary darkening of the mind and disturbance of the will and emotions, permitted by God to purify the souls of his followers. It may be caused by the evil spirit or brought on by a... Read More

How were Jesus and Mary able to remain perfect even during great anguish and sadness?

May 28, 2012 by  
Filed under Consolation/Desolation, Fr. Bartunek, Suffering

Dear Father John, in responding to questions on this forum, you’ve often said something like, “the interior turbulence that the situation is causing you is most likely not from the Holy Spirit”. I think St. Ignatius says something similar when discussing the discernment of the spirits. Since Jesus and Mary were perfect, how would you explain the great anguish and sadness that Jesus felt in the garden of Gethsemane or the... Read More

Is “resting in the spirit” or being “slain in the spirit” the same as contemplative ecstasy?

February 14, 2012 by  
Filed under Consolation/Desolation, Dan Burke, Mystical Experience

Dear Dan, I have experienced what people call “resting in the spirit” or being “slain in the spirit.” It was amazing. The priest prayed for me and I fell to the floor as if I had passed out (no injuries as I was already praying on my knees facing the Altar). However, I was still aware of others around me but was lost in God’s love. I am curious if this experience is the same as “ecstasy”? Before I answer your question,... Read More

Consolation & Desolation… What are “spiritualized capital sins”?

Dear Father John, you used the phrase “spiritualized capital sins” in your post on consolation and desolation. I have never heard this idea before. What are spiritualized capital sins and how do they “attempt” to re-conquer the soul as we mature? We have to remember that here on earth we are members of the Church militant. We are in the midst of a battle. As we grow spiritually, the enemies of our souls... Read More

Consolation and Desolation… What does it really mean?

November 7, 2011 by  
Filed under Consolation/Desolation, Fr. Bartunek

Dear Father John, I know you wrote before about consolation and desolation in the spiritual life.  But I have a follow-up question.  When we experience some kind of desolation, how do we know where it’s coming from?  I mean, how do we know whether it’s really from God or not? This is a great question – and an important one, for Christians in today’s society. Consolation and Desolation: Grasping the Terms First, we have... Read More