SD5 Understanding the Dark Night of St. John of the Cross – 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 5 – Fr. Gallagher helps us to understand the Dark Night as described by St. John of the Cross and how it differs from the experience of Spiritual Desolation.  He also addresses the Dark Night metaphor and how it is used to describe some spiritual experiences that are not necessarily the same in meaning as that set forth by St. John of the Cross and how that can be confusing for some.

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.6 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.


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

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