SD10 – Recalling the Responses to 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 10  – Fr. Gallagher recalls the pointed responses to desolation found in Rules 5 – 14.  He then shares some personal reflections which demonstrate how helpful the rules helpful in resisting Spiritual Desolation.

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.

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:

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

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

  1. I find Fr. Timothy Gallacher’s talks on spiritual discernment wonderfully helpful. I have listened to podcasts by other speakers on the website too. All are inspiring. I’m very glad I found this website. The prayers and the rosary too are very supportive . God bless all who run and contribute to this ministry. It’s an education. Thank you.

  2. Thank you Fr Gallagher for sharing your testimony with spiritual desolation. I’ve not been able to connect or understand spiritual desolation. But I recently had thyroid surgery and have had to give my lector position up for awhile. It has me sad with nothing to do I wonder will I be able to return and lector again (which I love ). Listening to SD 10 and your personal experience from your journal. In particular your desolation during vocal recovery. I too can renounce the lies. I now feel hopeful and ready to put a plan together. I am encouraged to delve into the rules. I pray to God you continue sharing testimonies that a person like myself can learn how to apply the rules. God Bless you


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