Bleak and dreary, windy and stormy. dark-tunnel with no light, misty and foggy--- all of these are natural images depicting a state of soul that St. Ignatius defines as DESOLATION. Ignatius defines more accurately desolation as, " Darkness of soul, turmoil of spirit, inclination to what is lowly and earthly, restlessness rising from many disturbances and temptations which lead to want of faith, want of hope and want of love. The soul is wholly slothful, tepid, sad and separated, as it were, from its Creator and Lord.... (Spiritual Exercises #317, # 4 Rule describing state of desolation.)
In a state of desolation, we must know what to do! If we make a wrong move, it could lead to a spiritual calamity, disaster, moral ruin! One wrong move in desolation, indeed could be catastrophic! Therefore, by using "Preventive medicine" let us avoid the disaster!
Following are ten (10) REMEMBERS..... things that we should call to mind-- remember-- when the clouds of desolation are descending deeper into our minds, hearts and lives.
1. REMEMBER! That if God is with us who can be against us. Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth. Finally, the words of the Archangel Gabriel to Mary, "Nothing is impossible with God." God can remove the desolation in a split-second!
2. REMEMBER! You have had dark moments in the past--- extremely dark tunnels--- but God has pulled you through into the light! Even tunnels have small lights on the roof and the exit the brilliant sunlight!
3. REMEMBER! You are not the only person in the world going through desolation; actually all go through as part of being human. You are at an advantage! You know what to do to counteract the desolation.
4. REMEMBER! "Universal negatives", be aware! In desolation, everything, everybody, every circumstance is tainted in a grey-ugly lens. The devil tempts you to believe that you are worthless, a dismal failure, and you have always been this way and always will be! LIAR! The devil is lying and reject his pretense!
5. REMEMBER! JESUS AND DESOLATION. Jesus went through intense desolation in the Garden of Gethsemane, but He conquered it! How? By intensifying His prayer. In desolation, the devil tempts you to give up prayer or at least to diminish. "Agere contra" Do the opposite! Pray even more!
6. REMEMBER! The joyful moments of your life where God was clearly present embracing you. These moments will return if you exercise patience. Jesus said that by patience you will save your soul! Your prayer cannot be, "Lord, give me patience, right now!!!!!!!!
7. REMEMBER! HEAVEN! Even the most painful, excruciating, bitter moments that life deals us, they will all one day terminate. If, we patiently stay close to God, live in the sate of grace and willingly conform our wills to the will of the heavenly Father, then heaven is ours! "Eye has not seen; ear has not heard, nor has it entered into the mind of man the wonderful things that God has prepared for those who love Him." Pray, love, wait patiently, grow in grace-heaven is right around the corner and it is forever!
8. REMEMBER! St Paul teaches that God never sends a trial that supersedes our strength. Indeed, with the trial, problem and desolation, God can always help you to survive victoriously! We indeed are the epitome of weakness, but God is the opposite: He is Rock solid, strength. Indeed God is OMNIPOTENT!
9. REMEMBER! The sun will rise the following morning. The spiritual sun will be elevated in the hands of the priest. If well-disposed, that same sun (the Son of God) will descend into the depths of your "little Bethlehem" your soul which becomes a "Bethlehem"-- that is to say truly " A house of Bread". The remembrance of Daily Holy Communion, can easily pull your from the profound depths of desolation to indescribable consolation!
10. REMEMBER! In moments of sadness Mother Mary comes to me speaking words of wisdom--- "Let it be!" Our Lady of Guadalupe gently rebuked St. Juan Diego, "Do not worry! Am I not your mother. I have you in the crossing of my arms...." Remember the Marian prayer the MEMORARE. "Never was it known that anyone who called upon you was left unaided... The motto of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary reiterates the same point: MARIA INVOCA, MARIA COGITA meaning, Invoke Mary and think about Mary.
In sum, the dark clouds of desolation eventually will descend upon you; it is inevitable and certain! However, well-equipped, well-prepared, these stormy, tempestuous, seemingly calamitous moments can be dissipated and dispelled, if we can simply REMEMBER the following rules of hope leading to victory. OUR HELP IS IN THE NAME OF THE LORD, WHO MADE HEAVEN AND EARTH!!!