9th Rule of Discernment

Dear Beginner,

In the ninth rule, St. Ignatius gives us the 1-2-3 about being in desolation.  Since lists are always helpful, I’m going to go ahead and follow along.  Drum roll please…

Three principle reasons why we find ourselves in desolation:    
1.    “Because of our being tepid, lazy or negligent in our spiritual exercises; and so through our faults, spiritual consolation withdraws from us.”

That is to say, stop slacking off and do something.  How do you expect someone to pay attention to you when you don’t even look at him?  This is the moment to re-center yourself and fight against laziness in prayer.  Look how St. Ignatius uses the phrase “spiritual exercises,” it is something you have to work at.  Think about someone who goes to the gym to work out.  If they haven’t gone for a few days, they feel like a slob.  Well it’s the same here. If this applies to you, stop whining and get moving.  If this does not apply to you, please read on. 

2.    “To try us and see how much we are and how much we let ourselves out in His service and praise without such great pay of consolation and great graces.”

If you’re still doing things because it makes you “feel good about yourself” or experience the joy of the Lord, well here you can see that maybe you need to rectify the intention a little bit.  Think about how Jesus did the will of God, and He was killed.  What am I willing to suffer in order to fulfill the will of God in my life?

3.    “To give us true acquaintance and knowledge, that we may interiorly feel that it is not ours to get or keep great devotion, intense love, tears, or any other spiritual consolation, but that all is the gift and grace of God our Lord, and that we may not build a nest in a thing that is not ours, raising our intellect into some pride or vainglory, attributing to us devotion or other things of spiritual consolation.”  

There you have it.  We are poor servants of God, and it’s for our own good that we remain that way.  Think about it, even though He pays you back a lot in this lifetime (a “hundredfold,” according to His Son—and any priest or nun you might ask), for everything that you don’t feel “paid back,” He’s preparing for you in heaven, which is much better and will last forever.

Keep on keeping on,
Another Beginner, but with really good teachers