The fourth rule is quite the opposite from the third. This one talks about spiritual desolation, which is everything contrary to consolation. St. Ignatius says: “Spiritual Desolation. I call desolation all the contrary of the third rule, such as darkness of soul, disturbance in it, movement to things low and earthly, the unquiet of different agitations and temptations, moving to want of confidence, without hope, without love, when one finds oneself all lazy, tepid, sad, and as if separated from his Creator and Lord.”
With desolation comes doubts, even temptations to blaspheme, swear, or dirty thoughts, especially at the most inopportune times, like during the Mass. And speaking of the Mass, don’t be surprised if you don’t want to go, or do anything that has to do with praying, or with God. Not only for laziness, but even for just not wanting to do it. Here’s where the real merit comes in, were you doing these things before for God, or to feel all fuzzy inside?
In desolation, you begin thinking, I can’t do this, this isn’t for me... Ugh, what even attracted me to this?... Who got me into this? Forget it, I’m out of here... Does God even love me? Does God even exist?... Look at all my sins, there’s no way that I’ll ever get to heaven... Desolations leave you feeling hopeless, sad, weary, lazy, gloomy, pessimistic, etc. You know that feeling when you’re just tired of it all and you don’t see the point in trying? That’s it... And when you start to think that you were better off before, and why’d you have to go ahead and throw away your music, or break off a relationship you had... Or when you have a craving for something that you gave up... Or you just... Don’t... Feel like it. That’s desolation.
Do you get the idea? It is here where the Lord teaches you that “Without me, you can do nothing.” You, who thought that you were able to do anything... You, who trusted more in yourself than in God... We are so pitiful, we can do nothing without Him. And it’s in these moments when we begin to realize it.
Chin up, young feller! You’re not alone, Humble yourself and ask Our Lady to help you. Keep strong in your commitments, God loves you and will always love you. More in the fifth rule.
Don’t give up!
Another Beginner, but with really good teachers
4th Rule of Discernment
- Category: Letters to a Beginner
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