Struggling With Desolation

I feel as if I am struggling with desolation and I am finding it difficult to sort out the word and will of God through all of the other thoughts pacing through my mind. I feel like I am floundering in all of the things people say, my own opinions, and suggestion. I don’t know what to do and I feel so lost in my daily life.

The only times when I can escape these doubts, struggles, and questions is at mass or at church. All the times when I must be physically away from the church I fall into this empty doubtful state and I am scared. I am going through some very troubling life situations and I don’t know where to go or what God has in store for me. It wasn’t long ago I thought I knew God’s will for me and how to go about doing that. Now I don’t know whose voice I am hearing and where to go.

Please, if anyone has any thoughts or advice it would be greatly appreciated. Also if you could include me in your prayers I could never thank you enough.

Regards,
Josh

Have you been to the Sacrament of Reconciliation lately? I ask this b/c I’m ashamed to admit that I let 7 or 8 years go by without going. I didn’t think I was in a state of mortal sin, but soon after my confession, ALL THESE THINGS came to light that I realized I had done (or not done) that had offended God that I hadn’t even thought to confess. What I’m saying is, it helped to make God’s ways more clear. Then I started going into the church during the week just to sit in front of the blessed sacrament and be with Jesus. I started praying the rosary regularly. If you are confused, believe me, if you ask Mary to pray for you to make God’s will for you CLEAR, she will! I also started reading the Bible everyday (just the scriptures for that day). When you read God’s word everyday, you begin to know Him better and what He wants from us. Lastly, the best advice I’ve received is: do not think of God’s will in terms of what He has in store for you in the future (such as what should I do with my life or whom should I marry). Think of it in terms of THIS DAY I will follow God’s commandments and give Him glory in my everyday activities. Take it ONE DAY AT A TIME. If you are following God’s commandments, you are doing His Will. And in order to follow God’s commandments you need to study the catechism and the Bible and read about Catholic teachings–not just what they are but the WHYS behind them. I hope this helps. Yes, of course I will add you to my prayers.

Our Father…

Hail Mary…

I have a question. Have you noticed that, while not particularly depressed, you have trouble enjoying anything sensual? I’m not talking about sexual things primarily, but mostly food, entertainment, etc.? Like even your senses dried up? Because what you’re going through sounds like a genuine Dark Night of the Senses, especially if you’re lacking consolations in prayer and sensual enjoyment along with your theological confusion. If it’s a Dark Night, then what you’re being afflicted by is called the Spiritus Vertiginis, or spirit of dizziness in English. Basically you’ll haven’t the faintest clue what is right, or what God wants out of you. Same thing happened to me for a few months earlier this year. The best advice I can give you is to offer up your sufferings, pray for the grace to march on through this strengthening purification, and also - if you want a break - try practicing the prayer of simplicity. Just lovingly fix your mind on God or one of you favorite attributes of Him and just “gaze” on it in silence. Don’t let your mind wander or meditate, just relax and focus. You probably will get some consolations and relief that way, and it will help your spiritual transition along faster.

I might add that if you read the Bible (maybe you already do, and if so disregard this), make sure it’s a Catholic one b/c there will be explanations of the verses in the footnotes that are extremely helpful.

I go to confession every 14 days on average. I have continued to go to daily mass and pray my daily rosary. I have been reading my daily bible verses and praying when I get the chance. But any time I am not at the church I just feel empty and forsaken. I am trying to remain strong, but I feel like I am faltering. I have never ever felt like this before and it is scaring me to death.

I have so many self-doubts and I just can’t quite discern whose voice I hear when I receive guidance- whether it is my own voice, from God, or some form of evil suggestion. I just can’t tell and I’m scared and I feel alone in these doubts.

You’re not alone. I was torn ten ways to Sunday about even little things like whether I should wear certain clothing.

Is it possible you’re focusing on Church too much? It almost sounds like an obsession or addiction, where life begins to revolve around a single source of fulfillment.

Distance can often give perspective, a fresh look to see things in new ways, to appreciate with wonder and mysteries again.

Without going into too many details or getting too personal, can you give an example of where you’re having trouble discerning God’s will? Is it career-related or relationship related–serious issues–or is it just making everyday decisions? I think if we just had a general idea of the areas you’re struggling in, we might be able to help you better. I’m glad to hear you’re doing all those things I mentioned. Could it be that the devil does not like that you do all these things and is trying to confuse you? Or perhaps it is the dark night of the soul as someone suggested–God drawing you in closer and closer to Him.

“Be not afraid; I go before you always–
Come follow me, and I will give you rest.”

Is there something in your life you are trying to avoid dealing with?

Desert experiences are common. Talk to your pastor or spiritual director. Maybe he can help you sort it out.

Just remember that God is always near; he doesn’t move. We do.

My prayers are with you through this difficult time. Although I haven’t experienced desolation to a great degree, I have recently watched parts of the series on the teachings of St Ignatius of Loyola, link below. It goes into the cycle of consolation and desolation. One thing he strongly recommends is not making any spiritual habit changes during times of desolation.

ewtn.com/series/shows/living-the-discerning-life/index.asp

I hope you find that useful or maybe one of Fr Gallagher’s books on the subject.

I recently split up with my girlfriend because she was having spiritual struggles of her own and we couldn’t support one another any longer. It has left me with doubts and questions within myself. I find myself asking “how did my sins lead to the destruction of the relationship and can I repair it” or “am I meant for a relationship at all”. I thought she was the one and I thought I was being called to her, but now that things have gone south I find myself questioning all my other fundamentals. I may be running from something here, but I truly want to find out what is causing this dark times. I have been through breakups before but I have never questioned myself like I am now.

There are some other happenings going on, but that is easily the largest that I am struggling with at this very moment.

The Ignatian “Discernment of Spirits” is crucial in knowing what to accept and what to reject and how to reject that which comes from the enemy. This is available as one of Fr. Gallagher’s books. It tells what to do in times of consolation and times of desolation.

It is understandable that the non-spiritual desolation (painful breakup) leads to spiritual desolation. Please keep in mind God always have your best interest in mind. You may think she is the one, but obviously God does not think so. God allows the break up to happen because He has someone better for you in the future. If you look at things from a different perspective, you will not be so distressed. It takes time to heal. But please do not add any wound of guilt or doubt on top of your wounded heart. Trust in God and stay close to Him. Praying for you.

:thumbsup:
I also cannot recommend this series highly enough. What an amazing host this man is: so sensitive & insightful. Anyone seriously interested in the journey of prayer would do quite well to watch this program, and get the DVD’s or book as well to review the content.

Even the great saints experienced desolation and discouragement. The Evil One is very active in attacking our attempts to remain close to God. Fr. Gallagher makes clear by abundant examples (and counter strategies) the many various occasions in which this occurs. The more discouraged we become by this interference, the more the devil triumphs, because then we don’t return to prayer, giving up easily.

I believe I am being attacked by clever ways of the evil one. Even tonight (since I have posted this thread trying to gain support) I just got news that my young sister has been lying to our family and may be pregnant out of wedlock with a less than desirable person.

I feel very battered and bloodied at this point in my life.

Doubt and Delay is not from God, it’s from Satan. So, if you are in a state of doubt, dismay, and delay… odds are it’s NOT from God.

There’s Good News, all you have to do is take action in spite of it. And you WILL feel less depressed. You are where the evil one wants you-- depressed and in doubt. That’s satan at work.

So, what are you doubting about? Take action in spite of it, and you will feel soooo much better.

In Christ,

Lily

St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori - Letters II
‘You are not the only one whom Jesus Christ treats thus: how many penitents have I not had whom the Lord has treated in this way nearly to the day of their death! One of them was continually tempted to hate God; another said without intermission that she had been condemned never to be able to love God, etc.; nevertheless they all died a happy death. And as for you, of what are you afraid? If you had not this cross of desolation, you would not have any cross in this world; and without a cross we cannot come to God. Besides, the pain that you feel on account of not being able to love God, is a proof that you love him; for if you did not love him you would not feel this pain. Those persons that do not love God feel no pain in thinking that they do not love him.’

I am struggling with the breakup I mentioned earlier in the thread, my sister’s issues that I mentioned in my last post, I am struggling with hearing God’s voice and discerning my vocation, and I am struggling with the frequent demonic dreams I have been having lately. I’m still treading water and trying to abide by the 10 commandments each day, but I feel at odds with all the aspects that surround me.

Joshua

I just read through this a second time and it is a beautiful little pickmeup.

Thanks,
Joshua

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