Thursday, July 21, 2011

Agere Contra

For St. Ignatius of Loyola, spiritual desolation is a condition whereby the individual experiences a darkness and unsettledness of the soul accompanied by the diminishment, if not, loss of the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity (SpEx 317). In this condition, the individual often finds himself being apathetic, lazy, sad, depressed -- a condition which results in a sensation of being separated from or abandoned by God. On this particular point regarding desolation, Jesuit Jules J. Toner poses an interesting question,
if spiritual desolation of itself tends to destroy faith, hope and charity and if God loves us, why does he leave us in darkness with the anguish of feeling separated from him? This question is especially pointed in the teaching of Ignatius, who says that God loves us so much that whatever he wills for us, permissively or positively, in any concrete situation is always for his greater glory in us”. 
Although we believe that God permits certain difficulties in our lives, nevertheless, it does not make it any easier for us to understand or accept it. The question then, still stands, “If spiritual desolation is allowed by God for our good, then why does Ignatius urge us to resist it, even to counter attack?”
Indeed, the very principle of agere contra (SpEx 13, 322) clearly indicates that we are not to sit still during desolation, but to “react against” it. “Because essential to [desolation] is the connotation of conflict and a struggle, to go against, to oppose” (Diccionario de Espiritualidad Ignaciana. Bilbao 2007, p. 576). Why then does God permit desolation to afflict us and yet he still expects us to react against it? 
Perhaps that is precisely the point, that is, the important thing is in what “happens” to the individual during the time of desolation and how he reacts against it. There is a certain dynamic in that whole process (of how the individual experiences and reacts against the desolation) that can provide and important lesson to the individual, which is perhaps the reason why God permits the desolation. 
Link (here) to read article entitled,  Learning from Desolation by Fr. Andrew Garcia, S.J.

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