SD9 – Overcoming Pre-Event Desolation – Spiritual Desolation: Be Aware, Understand, Take Action with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Overcoming Pre-Event Desolation – Spiritual Desolation: Be Aware, Understand, Take Action with Fr. Timothy Gallagher

Fr. Timothy Gallagher and Kris McGregor discuss “pre-event desolation,” a form of spiritual discouragement before significant spiritual activities. They highlight its tactics by the enemy to deter individuals from growth opportunities. Drawing from C.S. Lewis’s “Perelandra,” he tells us of the importance of recognizing and countering this desolation with prayer and trust.

Fr. Gallagher reminds us to have compassion and understanding in supporting those experiencing such struggles, affirming that perseverance leads to spiritual growth.

Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. Recognizing Pre-Event Desolation: How can we identify and acknowledge pre-event desolation in our spiritual journey, especially before significant events like retreats or ministry activities?
  2. Responding with Awareness: What are healthy ways to respond to pre-event desolation, and how can we cultivate spiritual awareness to distinguish it from genuine concerns or discernment?
  3. Trusting God’s Guidance: In times of pre-event desolation, how can we deepen our trust in God’s guidance and discern His will amidst feelings of discouragement or disinterest?
  4. Supporting Others: How can we compassionately support others experiencing pre-event desolation, particularly in familial or pastoral contexts, without judgment or resentment?
  5. Perseverance and Growth: Reflecting on our experiences of overcoming pre-event desolation, how can we encourage one another to persevere and trust in God’s plan for spiritual growth and blessings?

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

“It is liberating to know that spiritual desolation is an ordinary experience in the spiritual life, that every disciple of the Lord for two thousand years—including the canonized saints—has undergone this experience, that there is no shame in experiencing spiritual desolation, that times of spiritual desolation are normal in a well-lived spiritual life (SpirEx 6), and that, therefore, we are not the only ones. Experiencing spiritual desolation is simply part of what it means to live the spiritual life in a fallen, redeemed, and loved world. What does matter is to live the discerning life: to be aware of spiritual desolation when it is present, to name it for the lie of the enemy that it is, and to reject it. The principle focus of these fourteen rules is to help us do precisely that.”

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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