Feeling lonely, abandoned, forsaken, forgotten by all, at times even miserable—these are all clear manifestations of what St. Ignatius describes as a state of desolation.
Nobody escapes it in some form or other--- this dreary, cloudy, misty, depressing, dark and often scary state of desolation. Often “the enemy of our human nature” (the devil), as Ignatius calls him, even convinces us to believe that this state is permanent. We are stuck forever in it like a dark, endless tunnel in which no light can be peered in any direction.
Not true! Desolation will evaporate and give rise to consolation; the tunnel ends and the bright noonday sun breaks out in brilliant array.
However in that state we must pray more, be faithful to our meditations, examine our consciences faithfully, add to our life a bit of penance and above all patiently wait for the Lord.
A small but efficacious suggestion in times of desolation: Turn to your faithful friends: the communion of saints in heaven!
As Christian Catholics we believe in family. Our family has three levels, like a three story building: the Church suffering, the souls in Purgatory, the Church Militant, the valiant soldiers on earth fighting the good fight, and finally , the Church Triumphant, the saints in heaven.
Sad to say, all too often we can easily forget that we have hundreds, thousands, millions of brothers and sisters, “The Best of Friends” in heaven who love us, think about us, pray to God for us, long to be with us forever in heaven and long to talk to us whenever we give them the time and chance!
The saints were not born saints but sinners like all of humanity, except for Jesus, the Son of God, and Mary through the privilege of her Immaculate Conception. The saints fell, but bounced back trusting more in God’s mercy and power to forgive and His grace, than in their misery, which is sin.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church offers two specific ideas on the saints that can console us in moments of desolation. Indeed in the state of desolation we should invoke our heavenly friends and they will come quick to our rescue!
First, the saints, granted by God Himself, have the power of intercession on our behalf. This means that we can pray to them and they take our prayers and present them to God. Then God attains for us special graces. The saints never greedily hold on to our prayers but present them to the “Author of all grace”, God Himself. Then God attains for us the graces we implore.
God rejoices when we pray to Him, but God also rejoices when we turn to His Friends and our Friends, the saints! Pope Blessed John XXIII called the saints, “The Masterpieces of the Holy Spirit”. God is glorified in his handiwork and the greatest work of God in the created natural world is the human person who collaborates with grace, lives in grace, dies in grace, and has attained heaven! These are the saints!
Therefore, let us make it a frequent habit to talk to our “Heavenly Friends”, the saints! Among the many blessings that flow from talking to the saints are the following: interior peace, joy of their friendship, the sense of loneliness evaporates, temptations are conquered, and finally hope of our future union with them in heaven is renewed!
Second, saints serve as excellent “Role Models” on which to pattern our lives. All of us need examples to follow! None better than the saints to show us the way, to pave the way, to encourage us on the way, to bring us back to the narrow way that leads to heaven!
Make it a habit to read the lives of the saints, even if it is 5 minutes every night before retiring. Their example can spur us on to surmount obstacles and to focus on “Why” we are here on earth: “To know God, love God, and to serve God in this life so as to be happy with Him, the angels and saints in heaven!”
Ask yourself, who are your three (or five) favorite saints??? Then, “why” are they your favorite saints? Probably because you can identify with them, or their power of intercession in your life, or because he/she is your patron saint! Cultivate a deeper friendship with them, but be willing and ready to become familiar with more of God’s heavenly friends!
Mary, most Holy, St. Joseph, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Teresa of Avila, St Faustina, St John Bosco, St. John Vianney, St Anthony Mary Claret, St Alphonsus Liguori, Venerable Bruno Lanteri (Founder of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary), my Guardian angel, as well as the three Archangels, Michael, Gabriel and Raphael--- all of these are my special heavenly patrons, whom I love dearly, implore their intercession frequently, and feel the power of their prayers definitely! What about you?
One last thought! The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church from the Documents of Vatican II, “Lumen Gentium”, chapter V is a real masterpiece which you can read with the greatest profit. Its title is “The Universal call to holiness”. This means that all of us are called to be saints, nobody excluded! This call/vocation comes from Jesus, “The Holy of Holies” in these clear words, in the imperative grammatical form: “Be holy as your heavenly Father is holy.”(Mt. 5:48). Furthermore ,in one of the Beatitudes, Jesus challenges us to hunger for one thing: holiness! “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for holiness, they will be satisfied.” (Mt. 5:6) A modern saint, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta reiterated Jesus’ words, saying: “Holiness (becoming a saint) is not the privilege of the few, but the duty of all.”
Therefore, in moments of sadness, depression, confusion, disorientation, when life seems to be dreary, bleak and without any purpose, lift up your heart, your mind your soul, to that “heavenly cloud of witnesses”, the saints. Call on them! They are your best of friends in time and will be for all eternity!
Mary, Daughter of God the Father, Mother of God the Son, Mystical Spouse of the Holy Spirit, Queen of angels and saints, pray for us so that we can love the saints and be united with them one day forever in heaven!