CP10 – Longing in Aridity – Reflections from Contemplative Provocations by Fr. Donald Haggerty – Discerning Hearts Catholic Podcasts

Reflection 10 – Longing in Aridity – Reflections from Contemplative Provocations by Fr. Donald Haggerty – Discerning Hearts Catholic Podcasts

The soul experiencing aridity would be more easily reconciled to this condition if it was not joined at times to an anxiety that God’s displeasure for some unknown reason was the cause of it. On the other hand, the purer longing for God beneath feelings is a refinement of the soul’s passion and a significant grace in prayer. Aridity exhausts over time an impulse to seek anything in prayer other than God himself. Desires may flare up, but they taper and fade into unimportance as a deeper passion for God more directly engages prayer. Everything less than God becomes simply a poor object for love, and a soul gradually realizes this. In one sense contemplative life from its inception is a routing of every spurious form of love. And it takes place initially through these purifications. The steady burn of aridity brings a new depth of passion and love to prayer. The soul’s longing turns more exclusively toward God in prayer when there is nothing other than God to draw desire.

Contemplative prayer has its source, then, in an intense passion for God. The strain of wanting God begins to permeate a life, overwhelming other desires. It is in one sense a kind of constraint upon desire, and a discontent within the soul. Prayer becomes a steady, unrelenting passion for someone not possessed, not near enough to be permanently enjoyed, someone who disappears again into hiding after every closer approach. Always a deeper longing in the soul remains unassuaged. Never to appease a quiet, unrelenting need for God, never to find God in a way that would release the soul from searching for him—this is the true measure of contemplative prayer. A notion of prayer that would overcome the concealment of God is deceived. The fire of the soul in prayer burns by not seeing. The flames of the soul’s desire for God are stoked in darkness. Without that fire the soul would flee the distant spaces. It would never know the naked passion for God found in the desert among the dry winds and the sands.

Haggerty, Donald. Contemplative Provocations: Brief, Concentrated Observations on Aspects of a Life with God (pp. 65-66). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.

Discerning Hearts Daily Contemplative Prompts

Reflect on a time when you felt a deep longing for God amidst spiritual dryness or aridity.

How did this experience strengthen or change your relationship with God?

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A great many religious people undertake a serious dedication to prayer. They are moved by a longing for a deeper encounter with God that beckons them as a distant light at night on the sea. Yet far fewer become true contemplative souls, for it is difficult to continue the quest for God in the face of many obstacles.

For those who are spiritually courageous and full of desire for God, this book will provoke them to persevere in this ultimate adventure in life-the more complete discovery of the living God. Thematically unified by the notion of God’s ultimate transcendence to our limited human knowledge, this work offers a rich profusion of insights on the life of prayer and the pursuit of God.

A key to spiritual growth is the understanding that the hiddenness of God becomes a paradox in the experience of a soul seeking him wholeheartedly. Rather than enjoying a more intimate familiarity with God, the soul advancing in prayer is likely to experience more intensely the concealment of God. This surprising truth undergirds true contemplative prayer. It is a reason why every contemplative soul, and every saint, is inflamed with a never satisfied thirst for God.