CP12 – Aridity in Prayer – Reflections from Contemplative Provocations by Fr. Donald Haggerty – Discerning Hearts Catholic Podcasts

Reflection 12 – Aridity in Prayer – Reflections from Contemplative Provocations by Fr. Donald Haggerty – Discerning Hearts Catholic Podcasts

Emotional consolation does not have to disappear from prayer. It is God’s choice whether he wants to grant it or not. But clearly it has to fade and eventually cease as a desired gratification in prayer. It is the longing for it that has to be burnt dry from our soul. This has sometimes been called a Carmelite rule of prayer. And yet often, even perhaps by them, it is little understood or accepted. But it is deleterious to ignore this rule and to expect differently from a loving God. His love may not coincide with our prior notions of love.

Aridity in prayer may strengthen a concentration of love in our soul, a sign of which is a deeper calm in prayer and a detachment from emotion. Or, if not, a kind of spiritual hypochondria can take over, a concern for how one feels that must be examined constantly. The fact is that we are being given a grace to forget ourselves when we feel nothing in prayer. Unfortunately, this is often misunderstood and we may retreat into a chronic petulance in prayer, always on the verge of complaint. It may be that many who pray never realize the grace present in aridity and simply treat it as a form of mild illness, waiting stoically for a better day.

A desire to love God, even if buried in prayer beneath a lack of feeling, is always carried outside of prayer and draws us in ways we do not easily notice. Even when not felt, the desire for God moves us in spontaneous, unplanned ways to actions that would otherwise not have been attractive. The desire to love him in prayer, even in dryness, intensifies a sensitivity to a God who is never absent, and who conceals quietly his presence when he has found an invitation from the first hour of a day.

Haggerty, Donald. Contemplative Provocations: Brief, Concentrated Observations on Aspects of a Life with God (pp. 72, 75). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.

Discerning Hearts Daily Contemplative Prompts

How can experiencing aridity in prayer deepen your understanding and experience of God’s love, and how might this influence your actions and attitudes outside of prayer, particularly in moments when you feel distant from emotional consolations in your spiritual life?

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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.