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Something to think and pray about this week

The Language of Feelings

Ignatius classified spiritual feelings and emotions into two broad categories. He called the first category consolation. This describes feelings that move us toward God and others. Consolation is any felt increase in faith, hope and love. It is commonly experienced as feelings of peace, security and joy. The second category is desolation. It’s the opposite of consolation—anything that takes us away from the love of God and others. We experience desolation as a troubled spirit: anxiety, restlessness, doubts, self-loathing and dejection. One of the surest signs of desolation is spiritual lethargy. If you think that God is nowhere to be found, and that it’s not worth the trouble to establish contact, you’re probably in a state of desolation. Other signs of desolation are feelings of self-pity and meaninglessness. If you feel incompetent and your work seems pointless, desolation has settled in your soul.

In praying the examen, we reflect on these various feelings. Consolation and desolation are not rarefied spiritual states; they are feelings and moods that we experience all the time. We often push them out of our awareness, as we go about the business of our day. In the examen we look at them carefully. Where has God been in our day? We find him in those times when we have felt happy, joyous, and at peace. We also find him in times of anxiety and sadness, because we need God at those times.

What we do and how we think are of great consequence. But first we ask how we feel. There, “in the depths o our affectivity,” we find the Holy Spirit powerfully moving us.

Excerpted from A Simple Life-Changing Prayer: Discovering the power of St Ignatius Loyola’s Examen by Jim Manney