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Ignatius Spiritual Exercises

Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) developed a new type of meditative reading of the Scriptures. The main purpose was to help the practitioners in the discernment of the sources of their thoughts, emotions, and actions to understand better the will of God and act according to it. Ignatius teaches that we fundamentally experience two types of motions: desolation & consolation. Spiritual discernment involves becoming sensitive to these movements, reflecting on them, and understanding where they come from and where they lead us.

Desolation
I call desolation ... darkness of heart, turmoil of spirit, inclination to what is low and earthly, restlessness rising from many disturbances and temptations which lead to want of faith, want of hope, want of love. The heart is wholly slothful, tepid, sad, and separated, as it were, from God. I am in desolation when I am empty of faith, hope, and love, the sense of God’s being close to me. I am in desolation when I am filled with some combination of “disquietude” (restlessness) and agitation, boredom and “tepidity” (apathy), fear and worry, secrecy.

Consolation
I call it consolation when an interior movement is aroused in the heart, by which it is inflamed with love for God, and as a consequence, can love no creature on the face of the earth for its own sake, but only in the Creator of them all. I am in consolation when I have faith, hope, and love, the sense of God’s closeness, peace and tranquillity, great desires, transparency.