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“Ask a Priest: Is It Wrong to Desire Consolation in Prayer?”
Q: I read an article on penance that said “excessive desires for spiritual consolations or sweetness in prayer” is not good. What does that mean? I thought it was good to have a desire for spiritual consolations and sweetness in prayer. – V.F.
Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC
A: There is nothing wrong with enjoying spiritual consolations or “sweetness” in prayer.
These can be gifts that God uses to encourage us, especially when we first make that decision to get serious about our spiritual lives. The consolations are like spiritual sweets that motivate us.
They should not distract us, however, from the main point of prayer, which is to give glory to God and to try to connect with him and to discern his will. So ideally, we need to seek his glory, not our good feelings.
Sooner or later, God will likely withdraw feelings of consolation, since he wants to purify our motivations.
When we don’t receive consolations but still pray, that is more commendable, since we have to make more of an effort to pray. And since it’s harder for us, it can be more meritorious.
Again, consolations aren’t bad. They are gifts from God. When we get them, we can relish them.
But that is also the moment to ask God to deepen the graces in our life. Moreover, we should pray to be able to handle the periods of desolation that will inevitably arise.
For more resources, see the material at this link on the third and fourth rules of Ignatian discernment. God bless.
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