TV game shows require contestants to make quick decisions that have “significant” consequences—get it right and win a million dollars; get it wrong and go home empty-handed. In real life, few of our decisions carry that same kind of drama; however, many of them are indeed very significant. Luckily, we usually have more than a few seconds to make most of our significant decisions in life. One of the things we can do with the time we have before making a decision is to practice discernment. In the Ignatian tradition, discernment involves two key words: consolation and desolation. In her book, The Inner Compass, Margaret Silf provides an excellent description of the role these two words play in our process of discernment.
What do we mean when we talk of consolation and desolation? We are really only talking about our orientation, and the bottom line is this: which direction is our life taking us—toward God [consolation] or away from him [desolation]?
Here are some of the main symptoms of desolation and the most commonly experienced blessings of consolation.
What to do…
excerpts from The Inner Compass by Margaret Silf