SD1 – Journey Through Desolation – Spiritual Desolation: Be Aware, Understand, Take Action with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Journey Through Desolation – Spiritual Desolation: Be Aware, Understand, Take Action with Fr. Timothy GallagherBA6 - "Refuse to Accept Discouragement" - Begin Again: The Spiritual Legacy of Ven. Bruno Lanteri with Fr. Timothy Gallagher

Fr. Timothy Gallagher and Kris McGregor discuss spiritual desolation in the context of Ignatian spirituality, focusing on three important actions: Being aware, understanding, and taking action. They highlight the confusion between desolation and depression, emphasizing the need for clarity.

Fr. Gallagher shares insights from St. Ignatius’ conversion experience, highlighting his awareness, understanding, and how he took action during that time. Fr. Gallagher also explores practical steps to reject desolation and move towards the goal of spiritual consolation. The saints’ relatable struggles underscore the universal nature of the spiritual journey, providing hope and guidance for discernment.


From the Prologue of Setting the Captives Free: Personal Reflections on Ignatian Discernment of Spirits:

Five hundred years ago, Ignatius entered the realm of the heart and crafted a set of guidelines for responding to interior experience, both joyful (spiritual consolation) and discouraging (spiritual desolation), on the spiritual level. These guidelines, when well explained, equip hearers to be aware of, understand the significance of, and take action in response to their spiritual experience. Said differently, they take Christian anthropology—the fact that only in Christ can the human person be understood fully—seriously, and render it operative. When one applies these guidelines, the full Christian understanding of the human person ceases to remain a theological construct and is rendered concretely applicable in daily living. For over three decades, I have seen many apply these guidelines with much fruit.


You can find this book here

Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. How do you distinguish between spiritual desolation and depression in your own life, and why is this distinction important in the context of Ignatian spirituality?
  2. Reflect on a moment in your life when you experienced spiritual consolation. How did that experience impact your relationship with God and your spiritual journey?
  3. In your understanding, how does the concept of being aware, understanding, and taking action apply to discernment in the spiritual life? Share a personal example if possible.
  4. Consider the role of hope in facing spiritual desolation. How can the teachings of Ignatius and the experiences of saints inspire hope in times of discouragement?
  5. How has the universal nature of the spiritual struggle, as discussed in the podcast, resonated with your own experiences? In what ways does knowing that saints faced similar challenges provide encouragement for your spiritual journey?
  6. Discuss the importance of sharing personal stories and experiences in the context of Catholic spirituality. How can your own journey serve as a mirror for others, fostering a sense of community and mutual understanding in faith?

For the other episodes in this series check out Fr. Timothy Gallagher’s “Discerning Hearts” page

Father Timothy M. Gallagher, O.M.V., was ordained in 1979 as a member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, a religious community dedicated to retreats and spiritual formation according to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.  Fr. Gallagher is featured on the EWTN series “Living the Discerning Life:  The Spiritual Teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola”.

For more information on how to obtain copies of Fr. Gallaghers’s various books and audio which are available for purchase, please visit  his  website:   frtimothygallagher.org

SD2 The Practical Guidance of Rules 5-9 – Spiritual Desolation: Be Aware, Understand, Take Action with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast

BA6 - "Refuse to Accept Discouragement" - Begin Again: The Spiritual Legacy of Ven. Bruno Lanteri with Fr. Timothy Gallagher

The Practical Guidance of Rules 5-9 – Spiritual Desolation: Be Aware, Understand, Take Action with Fr. Timothy Gallagher

Fr. Timothy Gallagher and Kris McGregor discuss St. Ignatius’ rules on spiritual desolation and distinguishing between the actions of the good spirit and the enemy during the discernment process.

In particular, Rules 5 through 9 provide practical guidance, advising against changes during desolation, promoting active spiritual tools, and addressing the causes and purposes of desolation. Fr. Gallagher makes note of the trial aspect, encouraging patience, and stresses the humility of recognizing spiritual consolation as a gift from God.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. Understanding Discernment: How does Ignatius define discernment of spirits, and what is its purpose in our spiritual lives?
  2. Two Fundamental Spiritual Situations: Explore the actions of the good spirit and the enemy in different spiritual situations, such as moving away from God or striving to grow closer to Him.
  3. Biting of the Good Spirit: How does the good spirit’s biting and stinging impact a person going away from God, and what role does discomfort play in leading them back to God?
  4. Biting of the Enemy: In contrast, how does the enemy attempt to hinder a person growing toward God, and what tactics does Ignatius describe in this scenario?
  5. Rules 5-9 Overview: Summarize the key points from Rules 5 to 9, focusing on the importance of not making changes during desolation, active use of spiritual tools, and understanding the causes and purposes of desolation.
  6. Rule 7 – Trial and Growth: How does Ignatius present desolation as a trial, and what opportunities for growth does it offer to individuals experiencing it?
  7. Rule 8 – Patience in Desolation: Explore the significance of working to be patient during spiritual desolation and the encouragement to stay the course.
  8. Rule 9 – Causes of Desolation: What are the three principal causes Ignatius highlights for spiritual desolation, and how does understanding these causes contribute to spiritual growth?
  9. Recognizing God’s Grace: Reflect on the concept that all spiritual consolation is a gift from God, and how recognizing this truth fosters humility and spiritual maturity.

You can find this book here

From  Setting the Captives Free: Personal Reflections on Ignatian Discernment of Spirits:

“First Rule. The first rule: In persons who are going from mortal sin to mortal sin, the enemy is ordinarily accustomed to propose apparent pleasures to them, leading them to imagine sensual delights and pleasures in order to hold them more and make them grow in their vices and sins. In these persons the good spirit uses a contrary method, stinging and biting their consciences through their rational power of moral judgment.

Second Rule. The second: In persons who are going on intensely purifying their sins and rising from good to better in the service of God our Lord, the method is contrary to that in the first rule. For then it is proper to the evil spirit to bite, sadden, and place obstacles, disquieting with false reasons, so
that the person may not go forward. And it is proper to the good spirit to give courage and strength, consolations, tears, inspirations and quiet, easing and taking away all obstacles, so that the person may go forward in doing good.

Third Rule. The third is of spiritual consolation. I call it consolation when some interior movement is caused in the soul, through which the soul comes to be inflamed with love of its Creator and Lord, and, consequently when it can love no created thing on the face of the earth in itself, but only in the Creator of them all. Likewise when it sheds tears that move to love of its Lord, whether out of sorrow for one’s sins, or for the passion of Christ our Lord, or because of other things directly ordered to his service and praise. Finally, I call consolation every increase of hope, faith and charity, and all interior
joy that calls and attracts to heavenly things and to the salvation of one’s soul, quieting it and giving it peace in its Creator and Lord.

Fourth Rule. The fourth is of spiritual desolation. I call desolation all the contrary of the third rule, such as darkness of soul, disturbance in it, movement to low and earthly things, disquiet from various agitations and temptations, moving to lack of confidence, without hope, without love, finding oneself totally slothful, tepid, sad and, as if separated from one’s Creator and Lord. For just as consolation is contrary to desolation, in the same way the thoughts that come from consolation are contrary to the thoughts that come from desolation.

Fifth Rule. The fifth: In time of desolation never make a change, but be firm and constant in the proposals and determination in which one was the day preceding such desolation, or in the determination in which one was in the preceding consolation. Because, as in consolation the good spirit guides and counsels us more, so in desolation the bad spirit, with whose counsels we cannot find the way to a right decision.

Sixth Rule. The sixth: Although in desolation we should not change our first proposals, it is very advantageous to change ourselves intensely against the desolation itself, as by insisting more upon prayer, meditation, upon much examination, and upon extending ourselves in some suitable way of doing penance.

Seventh Rule. The seventh: Let one who is in desolation consider how the Lord has left him in trial in his natural powers, so that he may resist the various agitations and temptations of the enemy; since he can resist with the divine help, which always remains with him, though he does not clearly feel it; for the Lord has taken away from him his great fervor, abundant love and intense grace, leaving him, however, sufficient grace for eternal salvation.

Eighth Rule. The eighth: Let one who is in desolation work to be in patience, which is contrary to the vexations which come to him, and let him think that he will soon be consoled, diligently using the means against such desolation, as is said in the sixth rule.

Ninth Rule. The ninth: There are three principal causes for which we find ourselves desolate. The first is because we are tepid, slothful or negligent in our spiritual exercises, and so through our faults spiritual consolation withdraws from us. The second, to try us and see how much we are and how
much we extend ourselves in his service and praise without so much payment of consolations and increased graces. The third, to give us true recognition and understanding so that we may interiorly feel that it is not ours to attain or maintain increased devotion, intense love, tears or any other spiritual
consolation, but that all is the gift and grace of God our Lord, and so that we may not build a nest in something belonging to another, raising our mind in some pride or vainglory attributing to ourselves the devotion or the other parts of the spiritual consolation.”


Father Timothy M. Gallagher, O.M.V., was ordained in 1979 as a member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, a religious community dedicated to retreats and spiritual formation according to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.  Fr. Gallagher is featured on the EWTN series “Living the Discerning Life:  The Spiritual Teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola”. For more information on how to obtain copies of Fr. Gallaghers’s various books and audio which are available for purchase, please visit  his  website:   frtimothygallagher.org

For the other episodes in this series check out Fr. Timothy Gallagher’s “Discerning Hearts” page

SD3 – Insights into Rules 10 through 14 – Spiritual Desolation: Be Aware, Understand, Take Action with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Insights into Rules 10 through 14 – Spiritual Desolation: Be Aware, Understand, Take Action with Fr. Timothy GallagherBA6 - "Refuse to Accept Discouragement" - Begin Again: The Spiritual Legacy of Ven. Bruno Lanteri with Fr. Timothy Gallagher

Fr. Timothy Gallagher, along with Kris McGregor, delves further into St. Ignatius’ spiritual rules, specifically rules 10 to 14, which focus on handling spiritual desolation and temptation.

Rule 10 advocates preparing for future desolation during times of spiritual consolation. Rule 11 underscores maintaining humility in consolation and trust in desolation. Rule 12 emphasizes resisting temptation from the outset, while Rule 13 recommends confiding spiritual struggles to a wise guide. Lastly, Rule 14 highlights the importance of self-knowledge and recognizing spiritual vulnerabilities.

Throughout these particular rules, Fr. Gallagher stresses the importance of companionship in the spiritual journey, whether through formal guidance, confession, retreats, or sharing experiences with others.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. Anticipating Desolation: How does Rule 10 advise individuals experiencing spiritual consolation to prepare for future desolation?
  2. Attitude in Consolation and Desolation: According to Rule 11, what is the recommended attitude for individuals in times of consolation and desolation?
  3. Early Resistance to Temptation: In Rule 12, what does Ignatius counsel regarding the onset of temptation, and why is it significant in spiritual discernment?
  4. Revealing Spiritual Struggles: According to Rule 13, why does Ignatius suggest sharing one’s spiritual struggles with a wise and competent spiritual guide?
  5. Understanding and Acknowledging Vulnerabilities: What is the essence of Rule 14, and how does it encourage self-knowledge and recognition of spiritual vulnerabilities?
  6. Importance of Spiritual Companionship: How does Fr. Timothy Gallagher emphasize the role of companionship in the spiritual journey, and what forms can this companionship take?

You can find this book here

From  Setting the Captives Free: Personal Reflections on Ignatian Discernment of Spirits

Tenth Rule. 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.

Eleventh Rule. The eleventh: Let one who is consoled seek to humble himself and lower himself as much as he can, think- ing of how little he is capable in the time of desolation with- out such grace or consolation. On the contrary, let one who is in desolation think that he can do much with God’s sufficient grace to resist all his enemies, taking strength in his Creator and Lord.

Twelfth Rule. The twelfth: The enemy acts like a woman in being weak when faced with strength and strong when faced with weakness. For, as it is proper to a woman, when she is fighting with some man, to lose heart and to flee when the man confronts her firmly, and, on the contrary, if the man begins to flee, losing heart, the anger, vengeance and ferocity of the woman grow greatly and know no bounds, in the same way, it is proper to the enemy to weaken and lose heart, flee- ing and ceasing his temptations when the person who is exer- cising himself in spiritual things confronts the temptations of the enemy firmly, doing what is diametrically opposed to them; and, on the contrary, if the person who is exercising himself begins to be afraid and lose heart in suffering the temptations, there is no beast so fierce on the face of the earth as the enemy of human nature in following out his damnable intention with such growing malice.

Thirteenth Rule. The thirteenth: Likewise he conducts him- self as a false lover in wishing to remain secret and not berevealed. For a dissolute man who, speaking with evil inten- tion, makes dishonorable advances to a daughter of a good father or a wife of a good husband, wishes his words and persuasions to be secret, and the contrary displeases him very much, when the daughter reveals to her father or the wife to her husband his false words and depraved intention, because he easily perceives that he will not be able to succeed with the undertaking begun. In the same way, when the enemy of human nature brings his wiles and persuasions to the just soul, he wishes and desires that they be received and kept in secret; but when one reveals them to one’s good confessor or to another spiritual person, who knows his deceits and malicious designs, it weighs on him very much, because he perceives that he will not be able to succeed with the mali- cious undertaking he has begun, since his manifest deceits have been revealed.

Fourteenth Rule. The fourteenth: Likewise he conducts him- self as a leader, intent upon conquering and robbing what he desires. For, just as a captain and leader of an army in the field, pitching his camp and exploring the fortifications and defenses of a stronghold, attacks it at the weakest point, in the same way the enemy of human nature, roving about, looks in turn at all our theological, cardinal and moral vir- tues; and where he finds us weakest and most in need for our eternal salvation, there he attacks us and attempts to take us.”


Father Timothy M. Gallagher, O.M.V., was ordained in 1979 as a member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, a religious community dedicated to retreats and spiritual formation according to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.  Fr. Gallagher is featured on the EWTN series “Living the Discerning Life:  The Spiritual Teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola”. For more information on how to obtain copies of Fr. Gallaghers’s various books and audio which are available for purchase, please visit  his  website:   frtimothygallagher.org

For the other episodes in this series check out Fr. Timothy Gallagher’s “Discerning Hearts” page

SD4 – Embracing Consolation, Understanding Desolation – Spiritual Desolation: Be Aware, Understand, Take Action with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Embracing Consolation, Understanding Desolation – Spiritual Desolation: Be Aware, Understand, Take Action with Fr. Timothy GallagherBA6 - "Refuse to Accept Discouragement" - Begin Again: The Spiritual Legacy of Ven. Bruno Lanteri with Fr. Timothy Gallagher

Fr. Timothy Gallagher and Kris McGregor continue the discussion on spiritual desolation within the context of Rule 4. In this episode, they explore the varying intensities of desolation, emphasizing awareness and counteraction. In particular, Fr. Gallagher highlights the potential to halt the desolation snowball at its inception, preventing further negative impact.

Fr. Gallagher highlights the pull towards low things during desolation and advocates for rejecting discouraging lies that may come up during a period of desolation, and makes a point that experiencing spiritual desolation is normal, emphasizing that there is no shame in it. He contrasts experiences of consolation and desolation using various examples, providing practical Ignatian insights for navigating the hidden aspects of the spiritual journey.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. Understanding Desolation: How does Fr. Timothy Gallagher describe the varying intensity and duration of spiritual desolation, and what impact can it have on an individual’s spiritual life?
  2. Preventing the Snowball Effect: What strategies does Fr. Gallagher suggest to stop the snowball effect of spiritual desolation, and why is awareness, understanding, and prompt action essential in this process?
  3. Desolation and Temptation Link: Explore the connection between spiritual desolation and temptation as discussed by Fr. Gallagher, and how can suitable gestures of penance and courageous responses help combat these challenges?
  4. Normalizing Desolation: Why does Fr. Gallagher emphasize that experiencing spiritual desolation is a normal part of the spiritual life, and how does being aware, understanding, and taking action play a crucial role in handling it without shame?
  5. Contrasting Thoughts in Consolation and Desolation: How does Fr. Gallagher illustrate the contrary nature of thoughts arising from consolation and desolation, and why is awareness crucial in rejecting discouraging lies during times of desolation?
  6. Responding to Lack of Confidence: In what ways does spiritual desolation lead to a lack of confidence, and how can individuals counteract this lack of confidence in their spiritual journey?
  7. The Role of Consolation: How does spiritual consolation, characterized by uplifting and joy-filled stirrings, influence one’s thoughts and actions, and what role can it play in sustaining and deepening one’s spiritual life?

You can find this book here

From  Setting the Captives Free: Personal Reflections on Ignatian Discernment of Spirits:

“Rule 4 is the companion to rule 3 and describes its exact opposite: spiritual desolation. As in rule 3, Ignatius does not give a definition but rather a list of experiences of spiritual desolation. I have italicized each:

Fourth Rule. The fourth is of spiritual desolation. I call desolation all the contrary of the third rule, such asdarkness of soul, disturbance in it, movement to low and earthly things, disquiet from various agitations and temptations, moving to lack of confidence, without hope,without love, finding oneself totally slothful, tepid, sad and, as if separated from one’s Creator and Lord. For just as consolation is contrary to desolation, in the same way the thoughts that come from consolation are contrary to the thoughts that come from desolation.”


Father Timothy M. Gallagher, O.M.V., was ordained in 1979 as a member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, a religious community dedicated to retreats and spiritual formation according to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.  Fr. Gallagher is featured on the EWTN series “Living the Discerning Life:  The Spiritual Teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola”.

For more information on how to obtain copies of Fr. Gallaghers’s various books and audio which are available for purchase, please visit  his  website:   frtimothygallagher.org

For the other episodes in this series check out Fr. Timothy Gallagher’s “Discerning Hearts” page

SD5 – The Journey Through the Dark Night – Spiritual Desolation: Be Aware, Understand, Take Action with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast

The Journey Through the Dark Night – Spiritual Desolation: Be Aware, Understand, Take Action with Fr. Timothy GallagherBA6 - "Refuse to Accept Discouragement" - Begin Again: The Spiritual Legacy of Ven. Bruno Lanteri with Fr. Timothy Gallagher

Fr. Timothy Gallagher and Kris McGregor continue their discussion on spiritual desolation and introduce the concept of the “dark night”. They distinguish between the two, with desolation being a common experience and the dark night a specific phase in the spiritual journey.

Fr. Gallagher also addresses the role of doubt in the spiritual journey, pointing out that doubts can have various meanings and should be discerned individually. He stresses the need for fidelity to prayer and trust in God’s guidance.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. Distinguishing Spiritual Desolation and the Dark Night: How does Father Gallagher differentiate between spiritual desolation and the dark night, emphasizing their distinct characteristics?
  2. Ignatius and the Initial Spiritual Journey: How does Ignatius’ early experiences reflect an initial step in the spiritual journey, moving beyond external heroism to a deeper understanding of spiritual life?
  3. Navigating Confusion and Doubt in the Spiritual Journey: How do confusion and doubt affect individuals on their spiritual journey, and what practical advice does Father Gallagher offer to navigate through these challenges?
  4. The Role of Doubt in Spiritual Experience: Father Gallagher discusses various forms of doubt and their implications, distinguishing between doubt in the existence of God and doubt within the context of one’s prayer life. How does he characterize these distinctions?
  5. Practical Wisdom for Discernment: What practical insights does Father Gallagher provide for navigating spiritual desolation and the dark night in the context of Ignatian spirituality? How does he emphasize the importance of discernment and spiritual direction?
  6. Timing and Generosity in the Dark Night: Father Gallagher shares insights on when a person might experience the dark night and suggests a general profile of individuals called to this phase. What role does generosity and dedication play in this process?
  7. Understanding Prayer as a Gift and Grace: How does Father Gallagher use Ignatius’ vocabulary to convey the idea that prayer is a gift and grace from God? What role does the human person play in this divine-human cooperation?
  8. St. Therese’s Analogy of Different Saints: How does St. Therese’s analogy of different flowers illustrate the diversity of saints and their unique journeys? What message does this convey about God’s work in individual souls?
  9. Trust in God’s Guidance in the Spiritual Journey: Summarize the key message regarding one’s role in the spiritual journey: fidelity to prayer, trust in God’s guidance, and acceptance of individual differences in the spiritual life.

You can find this book here

From  Setting the Captives Free: Personal Reflections on Ignatian Discernment of Spirits:

“The dark night, therefore, is an experience of infused contemplative prayer felt as painful because it is purifying; it prepares the person for greater union with God through higher states of infused contemplation. The difference between this purifying experience of prayer and the discouraging lies of spiritual desolation is evident. The first is a gift of God; the second is a trap of the enemy. By accepting the first, we grow; by rejecting the second, we grow.”


Father Timothy M. Gallagher, O.M.V., was ordained in 1979 as a member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, a religious community dedicated to retreats and spiritual formation according to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.  Fr. Gallagher is featured on the EWTN series “Living the Discerning Life:  The Spiritual Teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola”. For more information on how to obtain copies of Fr. Gallaghers’s various books and audio which are available for purchase, please visit  his  website:   frtimothygallagher.org

For the other episodes in this series check out Fr. Timothy Gallagher’s “Discerning Hearts” page

SD6 – Dealing with Dryness in Prayer – Spiritual Desolation: Be Aware, Understand, Take Action with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Dealing with Dryness in Prayer – Spiritual Desolation: Be Aware, Understand, Take Action with Fr. Timothy Gallagher

In part one of this conversation, Fr. Timothy Gallagher and Kris McGregor engage in a profound discussion on the nature of prayer, particularly in the context of suffering and spiritual desolation. They both point out the importance of prayer as more than just verbal communication with God, making note of its holistic nature, which involves the entire being united in love and longing for God.

Fr. Gallagher also shares examples of finding communion with God through suffering, citing St. Therese. He offers guidance from St. Ignatius to navigate spiritual desolation, encouraging listeners to embrace prayer and suffering for spiritual growth.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. Engagement in Prayer: How do you respond when faced with obstacles in your prayer life, such as illness or physical limitations?
  2. Unifying Suffering with Prayer: In what ways can you unite your daily suffering with prayer, following the examples of St. Therese and others?
  3. Value of Small Acts of Love: Reflect on how you can incorporate small acts of pure love into your daily life, as emphasized by St. John of the Cross and St. Therese.
  4. Facing Spiritual Desolation: Have you experienced periods of spiritual desolation? How can the teachings of St. Ignatius help you navigate such times?
  5. Growth Through Challenges: Consider how both spiritual consolation and desolation contribute to your spiritual growth. How can you embrace challenges as opportunities for deeper connection with God?

You can find this book here

From  Setting the Captives Free: Personal Reflections on Ignatian Discernment of Spirits:

“A first form of dryness may result simply from lack of formation in prayer. Persons of good will desire to pray and make sincere attempts to do so. Because these persons, how- ever, have never received formation in prayer, they flounder, unsure of how to proceed: their prayer is dry. The need here is exposure to classic and effective forms of prayer: lectio div- ina, Ignatian meditation or imaginative contemplation, the Liturgy of the Hours, and so forth. Once these persons learn how to pray, the floundering will cease, and this form of dry- ness will be overcome.21

Dryness may also arise from negligence in the life of prayer or from an inconsistency between a person’s prayer and life. If such persons weaken in fidelity to prayer, no longer dedi- cate consistent time to it, or no longer prepare in the way they find helpful, dryness may result. Likewise, behavior contrary to the Gospel may also cause prayer to feel dry: the dishar- mony between prayer and life will render prayer more dif- ficult—more dry.22

Yet another experience of “dryness” may result from solid growth in prayer. A point may arrive when God now calls such persons to a more simplified form of prayer. The ear- lier, more active and discursive methods no longer assist as before, while the new and simpler way of praying is not yet firmly established. This is a healthy “dryness” and a sign of growth. Competent spiritual direction will greatly assist such persons to negotiate this blessed passage in prayer.”


Father Timothy M. Gallagher, O.M.V., was ordained in 1979 as a member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, a religious community dedicated to retreats and spiritual formation according to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.  Fr. Gallagher is featured on the EWTN series “Living the Discerning Life:  The Spiritual Teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola”. For more information on how to obtain copies of Fr. Gallaghers’s various books and audio which are available for purchase, please visit  his  website:   frtimothygallagher.org

For the other episodes in this series check out Fr. Timothy Gallagher’s “Discerning Hearts” page

SD7 Dryness in Prayer: Is it Spiritual Desolation? part 2 – Spiritual Desolation: Be Aware, Understand, Take Action with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Dryness in Prayer: Is it Spiritual Desolation? part 2

BA6 - "Refuse to Accept Discouragement" - Begin Again: The Spiritual Legacy of Ven. Bruno Lanteri with Fr. Timothy Gallagher

Episode 7  – Fr. Gallagher helps us to understand the different aspects of dryness in prayer.  Is it a sign of Spiritual Desolation?  Sometimes yes, sometimes no, and sometimes maybe.  We continue with part 2 of this discussion in this episode.

From  Setting the Captives Free: Personal Reflections on Ignatian Discernment of Spirits

Dryness may again result when persons need to share with God a burden, fear, shame, or anxiety that fills their hearts— and have as yet been unable to do so. They experience dry- ness: nothing seems to help in prayer, the time passes slowly and with distractions, and the prayer they attempt appears to lack life.

A husband and wife sit across the table from each other at dinner. He knows that she holds a burden in her heart that she has not been able to express and share with him. Until the burden is expressed and shared, they will struggle to speak together with their habitual ease and communion. Their conversation will remain on a superficial level—it will feel dry—while both know that something deeper needs to be communicated. A man once told me that for eleven years his prayer had been dry. A few questions revealed that his young son had died eleven years earlier. When, after some hesitancy and with some courage, he shared with the Lord the stored- up pain and anger in his heart, the dryness ceased, and prayer flowed again.

Other Forms of Dryness

Other forms of dryness may result from nonspiritual factors. When persons are physically exhausted, they may find their prayer dry: they simply do not have the physical energy to pray in their usual way. Adequate rest will resolve this “dryness.” Something similar may result from depletion of emotional energy. Persons who have expended great emotional energy in difficult situations and who try to pray may also find that their prayer is dry: they are affectively spent and struggle to be emotionally present to their prayer. Healthy ways of replenishing emotional energy will resolve this “dry- ness” as well.

None of these forms of dryness are experiences of spiritual desolation.23 Each has its individual cause and so its indi- vidual remedy. Good spiritual direction will be sensitive to the cause of such persons’ individual experiences of dryness and so assist them to respond appropriately, helping them to eliminate its cause or—should such “dryness” indicate growth toward simplified prayer—assisting them to negotiate it well.

If, however, the dryness bears the mark of spiritual des- olation—affective aridity coupled with discouragement, a sense of distance from God, a weakening of hope, various temptations, and the like—then such persons will recognize the enemy at work and hear the call to active and energetic resistance.

 

You can find this book here

Father Timothy M. Gallagher, O.M.V., was ordained in 1979 as a member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, a religious community dedicated to retreats and spiritual formation according to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.  Fr. Gallagher is featured on the EWTN series “Living the Discerning Life:  The Spiritual Teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola”. For more information on how to obtain copies of Fr. Gallaghers’s various books and audio which are available for purchase, please visit  his  website:   frtimothygallagher.org

For the other episodes in this series check out Fr. Timothy Gallagher’s “Discerning Hearts” page

SD8 Various Qualities of Spiritual Desolation – Spiritual Desolation: Be Aware, Understand, Take Action with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast

BA6 - "Refuse to Accept Discouragement" - Begin Again: The Spiritual Legacy of Ven. Bruno Lanteri with Fr. Timothy Gallagher

Episode 8  – Fr. Gallagher answers other questions that come up about Spiritual Desolation.  He then addresses the various qualities of Spiritual Desolation.

From  Setting the Captives Free: Personal Reflections on Ignatian Discernment of Spirits

Through the years, as I have studied and taught these rules, received the sharing of many, and experienced the rules personally,
I have noted various qualities of spiritual desolation. I will share and discuss them here:

A Sense of Irreparable Disaster

If it is strong enough, spiritual desolation may bring a sense of irreparable disaster. Its message is this: “Things are going badly for you. You are in a bad way spiritually, and things will continue to go badly. It’s all over. The harm can’t be undone. Even if it could, you won’t take the necessary steps. You won’t change. Don’t think it’s ever going to be different.”This is simply one more lie of the enemy.

Spiritual Desolation Presents Itself as Our Spiritual Identity

This quality of spiritual desolation touches the heart of its burden. If we believe the lie that equates our experience of spiritual desolation with our spiritual identity, the desolation will grow very heavy.

There Is No Shame in Experiencing Spiritual Desolation

This point—that there is no shame in experiencing spiritual desolation—cannot be repeated too often. When I present the rules, I repeat it many times. No one has yet told me that I say it too often!

 

 

You can find this book here

Father Timothy M. Gallagher, O.M.V., was ordained in 1979 as a member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, a religious community dedicated to retreats and spiritual formation according to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.  Fr. Gallagher is featured on the EWTN series “Living the Discerning Life:  The Spiritual Teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola”. For more information on how to obtain copies of Fr. Gallaghers’s various books and audio which are available for purchase, please visit  his  website:   frtimothygallagher.org

For the other episodes in this series check out Fr. Timothy Gallagher’s “Discerning Hearts” page

SD9 “Pre-Event” Desolation – Spiritual Desolation: Be Aware, Understand, Take Action with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast

BA6 - "Refuse to Accept Discouragement" - Begin Again: The Spiritual Legacy of Ven. Bruno Lanteri with Fr. Timothy Gallagher

Episode 9  – Fr. Gallagher offers insights on a form of Spiritual Desolation he terms as “Pre-Event” Desolation.  He uses this description to define a type of desolation that can affect someone who, for example, is about to enter into a retreat or pilgrimage, or some type of spiritual or ministry based undertaking.

From  Setting the Captives Free: Personal Reflections on Ignatian Discernment of Spirits

It is liberating to know that spiritual desolation is an ordinary experience in the spiritual life, that every disciple of the Lord for two thousand years—including the canonized saints—has undergone this experience, that there is no shame in experiencing spiritual desolation, that times of spiritual desolation are normal in a well-lived spiritual life (SpirEx 6), and that, therefore, we are not the only ones. Experiencing spiritual desolation is simply part of what it means to live the spiritual life in a fallen, redeemed, and loved world. What does matter is to live the discerning life: to be aware of spiritual desolation when it is present, to name it for the lie of the enemy that it is, and to reject it. The principle focus of these fourteen rules is to help us do precisely that.

You can find this book here

Father Timothy M. Gallagher, O.M.V., was ordained in 1979 as a member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, a religious community dedicated to retreats and spiritual formation according to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.  Fr. Gallagher is featured on the EWTN series “Living the Discerning Life:  The Spiritual Teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola”. For more information on how to obtain copies of Fr. Gallaghers’s various books and audio which are available for purchase, please visit  his  website:   frtimothygallagher.org

For the other episodes in this series check out Fr. Timothy Gallagher’s “Discerning Hearts” page