Conclusion - Consolation - Going Deeper
Ignatius’s own description of consolation (in §316 of the Spiritual Exercises) is not just the obvious but also a helpful place to start when we try to reflect on our experience of consolation this week … precisely because that word ‘experience’ is so key in the language Ignatius uses. Consolation is not something that can be earned or achieved. It is a gift, one to be prayed for in the last part of the Spiritual Exercises, when the Risen Christ, the consoler, invites us to walk alongside him.
Even recognising consolation, when it comes, is not something we can easily master, as we can see when we look at the variety of ways in which Ignatius talks about it. He speaks about the soul being ‘inflamed with love for its Creator and Lord’ but also about ‘tranquillity and peace’; about ‘every increase in hope, faith and charity and every interior joy’ but also about the soul shedding ‘tears which move it to love for its Lord’.
This confirms what we might have suspected in our reflections on consolation this week – that it is not identified with one feeling or action. Passion, gratitude, resilience, patience can all be signs of consolation if they are orienting us towards God. To know when each of these traits, or any other, is enabling us to praise, reverence and serve God is the fruit of a mature relationship with the God who has converted, called and challenged us, and for that we give thanks.
You might like to choose from these resources connected to this week's theme to help with your prayer and reflection:
New Creation - This audio retreat helps us reflect on ourselves, God and the world around us.
The Risen Christ, the Consoler - Iona Reid-Dalglish considers how we can meet the Risen Christ in our every day lives.
St Ignatius and the Spiritual Exercises - Explore more of St Ignatius and the Spiritual Exercises with this audio retreat.
Count your blessings - An article by Teresa White fCJ on blessings
Doubting Thomas and Faith in the Resurrection - Fr Elias shares his reflections on what it really means to have faith in the risen Christ.
This week's reflections were written by Tim Byron SJ