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Something to think and pray about this week

Experiencing Faith as Consolation

How can we retrieve different starting points towards the rediscovery of faith? Only by reawakening contact with the inner self, only by learning to trust again a neglected wavelength of searching, one that pays attention to desire imagination and wonder as gateways to possible prayerfulness. Perhaps the ‘fragments’ section of this book is my attempt to awaken some hope for these shy searchers.

In these pages I may have overemphasised the felt presence of God. Faith is always a mixture of presence and absence.  And since the situation of illness meant that I spent a good deal of time on my own, inevitably there were times of emptiness, with a painful sense of God’s distance or unreality. The whole Christian story easily seems incredible and I sometimes felt my fragile life out of touch with these great hopes. What to do in these periods of minor darkness? Resist the discouragement. Build scaffolding of reverence and desire. Wait trustingly. Echoing St Ignatius again, consolation, in the sense of a felt devotion or flow towards love, is normal for a believer. It can be intense, but more often it is quiet and peaceful. Desolation, meaning getting stuck in negativity, is not from God. It may be caused by my own carelessness, or it may even be a healthy moment of testing and purification. But consolation will return. Therefore have confidence that dawn will come after the dark, and do everything possible to be ready for that return.

Excerpted from Into Extra Time – Living Through the Final Stages of Cancer and Jottings Along the Way by Michael Paul Gallagher SJ
(pp 48-49)