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I Have No Fervor & I Feel Sad – Struggles in the Spiritual Life with Fr. Timothy Gallagher O.M.V.
Fr. Timothy Gallagher and Kris McGregor continue a 20-part series on the various Struggles in the Spiritual Life. This episode explores spiritual discouragement and lack of enthusiasm as well as sadness as forms of desolation.
You can pick up a copy of the book here:
An excerpt from the chapter, “I Have No Fervor”:
How should we understand Beth’s experience this Wednesday evening? We have no indication that Beth is at fault. She is faithful. She prepares and attends the class in her usual way. She does her best to participate — so well in fact, that none perceive her lack of enthusiasm. What, then, is Beth experiencing?
Having followed Ignatius thus far, we can guess the answer! This Wednesday evening, Beth experiences a form of spiritual desolation. She feels, to use Ignatius’s words, “totally tepid,” that is, completely without fervor as she performs a spiritual practice. In this form of desolation, we feel spiritually lukewarm, indifferent, unenthusiastic, without affect. When we pray, serve the Lord, live our vocations, take new steps in our spiritual lives, seek holiness, but find ourselves tepid and without fervor as we do these things, we are experiencing spiritual desolation. The adverb “totally” is again expressive.
Have you ever felt this form of spiritual desolation? Yes, certainly, we all have at times. Obviously, the enemy’s goal is that such tepidity cause us to question ourselves, to lose heart, to abandon these helpful practices. Beth responds well when she remains faithful, the right response for us as well.
Once again, no shame! No surprise! Be aware, identify, reject.
Gallagher O.M.V, Fr. Timothy ; Gallagher O.M.V, Fr. Timothy. Struggles in the Spiritual Life: Their Nature and Their Remedies (pp. 76-77). Sophia Institute Press. Kindle Edition.
An excerpt from the chapter, “I Feel Sad”:
Before Paul — or we — can answer these questions, we need to identify the sadness he feels. Paul is faithful to prayer and has been for years. He loves it, and he feels its fruits. Though the sadness weighs on him, Paul does not let it stop him. In fact, he is progressing in prayer, as his increased awareness of his experience reveals. Paul now notes spiritual movements, even this undramatic, nonclamorous sense of sadness. He can identify the thoughts from which it originates. Paul’s sadness, then, does not derive from negligence on his part.
How, then, should we understand it? Paul experiences a form of spiritual desolation that Ignatius describes as finding oneself “totally sad.” Paul is not yet “totally” sad, but things appear to be moving in that direction.
Once again, no shame, so surprise; be aware, identify, reject. This sadness is distinct from the healthy — even if painful — sadness we feel at the loss of a loved one, the termination of a rewarding occupation, and the like.
This is a spiritual sadness with nothing healthy about it. It arises from lies of the enemy. He tells you that you should be ashamed to bring such “small” things to prayer — to the God who knows when a sparrow falls to the ground and counts the hairs on your head (Luke 12:6–7), the God to whom everything in your life is important. The enemy tells you that you are not really praying — when, in reality, God is calling you to a simpler and richer prayer. The enemy tells you that you have stopped at the threshold of deep prayer — when you have only encountered the dry and distracted moments that all who pray faithfully experience. All this is from the liar and father of lies! The only fitting response is to unmask the lies and reject them.
Gallagher O.M.V, Fr. Timothy ; Gallagher O.M.V, Fr. Timothy. Struggles in the Spiritual Life: Their Nature and Their Remedies (pp. 81-82). Sophia Institute Press. Kindle Edition.
From the book’s description: “Here is a powerful, life-changing book that will help you understand and conquer the struggles you face in your spiritual life. It’s a book for those who love the Lord and desire holiness yet often feel adrift or stagnant in their search for spiritual growth.
All of us encounter valleys on our journey with the Lord — those periods of spiritual desolation that are a painful yet unavoidable feature of our prayer life. Spiritual desolation is as complex as we are, so understanding what is happening and responding to it properly are critical to reaching the heights of holiness.
With warmth and understanding, Fr. Gallagher carefully identifies in this book the various forms of spiritual and nonspiritual desolation and supplies the remedy for each. You’ll learn how to discern whether your struggles derive from medical or psychological conditions or whether those struggles are spiritual and permitted by the Lord for reasons of growth. In each case, you’ll be given the remedy for the struggle. You’ll also learn the forms of spiritual dryness and of the Dark Night — and how to respond to them.
In chapter after chapter, Fr. Gallagher presents a particular struggle as experienced by fictional characters and then provides the advice he gives to those who come to him for spiritual direction about that struggle. You’ll gain confidence as you journey through desolation, and you’ll learn to reject the enemy’s ploys to infect you with a sense of hopelessness.”
Did you know that Fr. Timothy Gallagher has 14 different podcast series on Discerning Hearts Catholic Podcasts?
Visit here to discover more!