Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Consolation prize

Saints often speak of spiritual consolations.

I think the term 'consolation' is interesting. God is consoling us. He is consoling us because we need consoling.

I have been commenting on the 'Dunk lately that it seems that the closer I get to God, the further away I feel. It happens that I came across a passage in The Imitiation of Christ that says that very thing. So maybe God offers us consolations to reassure us that even as the distance feels greater, it is not.

He consoles us because we yearn for him. He comforts us because we need comforting.

Spiritual dryness has been very painful for me in the past. I have experienced the absense of consolation as a kind of punishment. Sometimes I have abandoned my prayer practice altogether.... other times I managed to perservere, grudgingly, and forge ahead. It reminds me of when you are training a dog. Give him a liver treat often enough and he'll come when he is called even when you don't have one to give him. God is offering me the liver treat of spiritual consolation lately. Like an eager puppy I tumble towards him with my tail wagging. But eventually, I pray, I will obediently come to him even when the treat is nowhere to be found. Maybe I will even learn that the yearning to be near him is treat enough.

St. Ignatius of Loyola discusses this here. See, especially, the 3rd through 5th rules.


revabi said...

Wow do you hit the nail on the head.

So many times I have based my relationship on "feeling close to God". But feelings don't always tell the story, about God. Good post, good links and connections.

Rachel's Big Dunk said...

Thomas A Kempis suggests that when we are doing a good job at prayer, we are rewarded with consolations. I don't know if that is true, though. I think the experience of consolations is less cause and effect than that. As you say, feelings don't tell the whole story.