SD8 – Confronting Desolation with Faith – Spiritual Desolation: Be Aware, Understand, Take Action with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Confronting Desolation with Faith – Spiritual Desolation: Be Aware, Understand, Take Action with Fr. Timothy Gallagher

Fr. Timothy Gallagher and Kris McGregor delve into the topic of spiritual desolation. They begin by discussing the distinction between spiritual desolation and the Cross, using examples of Martha and Jessica to illustrate how individuals experience these spiritual states differently. Fr. Gallagher tells us that while the cross is something to be embraced and endured with faith, spiritual desolation is to be resisted and rejected actively.

Desolation may masquerade as one’s spiritual identity, inducing shame and isolation. It falsely interprets the past and predicts a bleak future. Combating it involves awareness, understanding, and action. Recognizing non-spiritual vulnerabilities aids in discernment. Ultimately, spiritual growth impacts all dimensions of life, akin to Saint Ignatius’ resilience despite physical pain.

Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. Reflecting on Desolation: How do you define spiritual desolation, and have you experienced it in your life?
  2. Turning to God: When faced with desolation, do you find yourself drawing closer to or distancing yourself from God?
  3. Seeking Spiritual Guidance: Have you sought guidance from spiritual directors or mentors during times of desolation?
  4. Embracing Hope: Share an experience where you found hope amidst spiritual desolation.
  5. Prayer and Resilience: How does prayer contribute to your resilience in navigating spiritual challenges?
  6. Trusting God’s Plan: Reflect on a time when you surrendered to God’s plan during a period of desolation.
  7. Community Support: How can your faith community support you during times of spiritual desolation?

You can find this book here

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

“Through the years, as I have studied and taught these rules, received the sharing of many, and experienced the rules personally,
I have noted various qualities of spiritual desolation. I will share and discuss them here:

A Sense of Irreparable Disaster

If it is strong enough, spiritual desolation may bring a sense of irreparable disaster. Its message is this: “Things are going badly for you. You are in a bad way spiritually, and things will continue to go badly. It’s all over. The harm can’t be undone. Even if it could, you won’t take the necessary steps. You won’t change. Don’t think it’s ever going to be different.”This is simply one more lie of the enemy.

Spiritual Desolation Presents Itself as Our Spiritual Identity

This quality of spiritual desolation touches the heart of its burden. If we believe the lie that equates our experience of spiritual desolation with our spiritual identity, the desolation will grow very heavy.

There Is No Shame in Experiencing Spiritual Desolation

This point—that there is no shame in experiencing spiritual desolation—cannot be repeated too often. When I present the rules, I repeat it many times. No one has yet told me that I say it too often!”

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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