Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Consolation and Desolation
I picked up a copy of Divine Mercy in My Soul last week. It was sitting longingly on the shelf at Half Price Books just waiting for my little grasping hand. The other hand held a baby and a 40% off coupon, so clearly I came out ahead on that one!
When I set myself the task of reading the Diary I thought I would have to force myself to read it. I was absolutely not prepared to looking forward to reading it every day! When I heard about St. Faustina in the past I never felt I could relate to her. I thought she was just too far above me, and there is so much I still don't understand about the Christian life. As I read her diary now, I can see that she is just like me. Probably like all of us.
Faustina rode the waves of consolation and desolation. I always thought the saint was so holy and sure, but between consolations she doubted her visions. She was unsure what to believe. She was afraid of what others thought of her. She was afraid to do the Lord's will because she knew others would question her sanity. She was so very human.
I struggle with the same thing. I don't receive visions. I don't receive locutions. During times of consolation and prayer I do receive feelings of peace in what I think is confirmation of the Lord's will. Then when the high of consolation ebbs away I doubt it all! I question my sanity! I have to ask myself whether I just imagined it all! On top of that, sometimes I am afraid to act because I don't want to have to explain my reasoning to others and I sometimes think that God's will is crazy!
Right now I'm in a time of desolation. During consolation I felt like God was calling me to become a teacher. I started taking classes and steps to get my teacher's certification. If you know me, that is absolutely insane. I am introverted and shy. I can barely speak in front of groups of adults. I am not a great planner. I'm spontaneous. I've never been good at controlling kids (classroom management). I've never had the least bit of interest in teaching. I have a Master's in Library Science. What the heck am I doing, right? Exactly. Those are desolation thoughts! I keep questioning this decision. Did I just imagine it all?
I really couldn't say right now. But I learned about consolation and desolation in Fr. Mitch Pacwa's book How to Listen When God is Speaking and a rule during times of desolation is to stay the course that was set during consolation. So I move forward, and so did Faustina.
I thought more about this this morning as I prayed the rosary while pushing my stroller at the park. The park has a circular track all the way around. Today was exceptionally windy so as I walked one side of the track the wind was behind me, encouraging my forward progress. On the other side the wind was raging against me. The easy side reminded me of consolation and the difficult side desolation. On the desolation side of the track the wind could be seen as the force of discouragement from dryness in prayer, distractions or just all-out difficult situations which make it difficult to pray or proceed in God's will. As I walked along battling the wind, I could see consolation ahead and so I buckled down, put my shoulder into it, and made my way forward praying all along. It has to be the same way in the Christian life when you can't see the consolation coming. My guess is that it becomes even more crucial that we persevere in prayer during those times.
St. Faustina has reminded me that even holy saints have gone through the same ebb and flow, and that it's possible to remain faithful throughout. She gives me great hope! I just have to trust in Jesus to lead the way through!
As an aside, in a previous post I mentioned the way St. Faustina kept popping up in my life before I had any interest in her. I just discovered one more! St. Faustina was approached by Jesus in the image of Divine Mercy on February 22. My daughter "little Faustina" was born on February 22. I went into labor early that morning with my lit Divine Mercy candle by my side. I so love the sisterhood of the saints!