SD10 – Recalling the Responses to Spiritual Desolation – Spiritual Desolation: Be Aware, Understand, Take Action with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Recalling the Responses to Spiritual Desolation – Spiritual Desolation: Be Aware, Understand, Take Action with Fr. Timothy Gallagher

Fr. Timothy Gallagher and Kris McGregor reflect on spiritual desolation’s challenge and the need for prayer and trust in God to overcome it. Emphasizing the role of faith, they share personal experiences and strategies like focusing on truths of faith and seeking intercession.

Fr. Gallagher reminds us of hope in God’s providence and the growth desolation can bring and in facing spiritual challenges with resilience.

Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. Recognizing Desolation: How does the speaker describe the experience of spiritual desolation, and what are some signs that one is in a state of desolation?
  2. Strategies for Overcoming Desolation: What strategies does the speaker suggest for overcoming spiritual desolation? How do prayer and routine play a role in this process?
  3. Importance of Spiritual Consolation: In what way does the conversation highlight the significance of spiritual consolation in the Christian journey? How does spiritual growth occur through both consolation and desolation?
  4. Trust in God’s Providence: How does the conversation emphasize the importance of trust in God’s providence, even in the midst of spiritual desolation? What biblical passages are referenced to support this idea?
  5. Encouragement and Hope: What message of encouragement and hope does the speaker convey to listeners facing spiritual challenges? How does the concept of God’s victory over the world contribute to this message?

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

“The Enemy Claims Power over the Future”

“I wrote this next entry after a further surgery, when I could not yet see what lay ahead. The following are notes on a conversation of spiritual direction:

Ed spoke of the fear about the “what-ifs.” This is the taunting of the enemy, meant to discourage you, claiming power over the future. You’ll never return to active ministry, never be able to share community life as before. The enemy wants you to focus on what is dark, and to pull you into the future seen in this way.

The Holy Spirit is helping you to pray in this, and Mary is present to you. Turn quickly to the Lord, ask Mary’s intercession, in such times.

The enemy is all about the negatives, the “nos.” The truth, even on a medical level, is that there is progress, and you are getting stronger. The medical situations are moving ahead. There is real hope, and the Lord with his love is with you. So, be quick to turn away from the negative thoughts. Don’t even open the door! Renounce the lies. Even imagining what might happen is a temptation. Be in the present, be open to his grace today, surrender to his will today. As Ed said this, I realized that this I could do.

Surrender to his Heart as best you can today. The surrender is not a surrender to “the worst” but to his faithful love for you. This is the one you surrender to.

I found it very helpful to talk about this spiritual desolation and receive guidance regarding the enemy’s discouraging tactics (rule 13). This was a nonspiritual vulnerability after a surgery that gave the enemy an opening for spiritual desolation. A common trait of spiritual desolation—the enemy’s claim of power over the future, always seen in a dark light— was also evident that day. Ed’s advice to reject this tactic of the enemy immediately reflected Ignatius’s counsel in rule 12: resist in the very beginning, before the burden can grow. Ed was right, too, that objectively things were improving on the medical level. In the nonspiritual and spiritual desolation, I found it hard to see that on my own, and it was encouraging to hear Ed and recognize the truth of what he said.”

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:

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

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