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Consolation – #9for9FI

August 5, 2023

Summary of the catechesis

In our catecheses on discernment we have previously spoken about desolation, today we reflect on another important element: consolation.

The consolation is an experience of inner joy that strengthens faith and hope, and also the capacity to do good. The person who lives consolation does not give up in the face of difficulties, because he experiences a peace that is stronger than the trial.

It is an intimate movement that touches the depths of ourselves. It is not flashy, but soft, and delicate, like a drop of water on a sponge (cfr. S. Ignatius of L., Spiritual Exercises, 335): the person feels involved in the presence of God, always in a way that respects one’s own freedom. It is never something out of tune, trying to force our will, nor is it a passing euphoria.

It has to do above all with hope. It looks to the future, it sets out on a journey.

Spiritual consolation is not “controllable” it is not programmable at will, it is a gift of the Holy Spirit. It is spontaneous, with gentleness and peace.

But let’s be vigilant. We have to distinguish well the consolation that is of God from false consolations. More noisy and flashy, they are pure enthusiasm, they are a fatuous fire, and without consistency, they lead to folding in on oneself and not taking care of others. False consolation leaves us empty, away from the center of our existence. This is why discernment is necessary, even when one feels consoled. For false consolation can become a danger, if we seek it as an end in itself, obsessively, and forgetting the Lord.

In the life of Mother Candida

We can say that consolation is a constant in Mother Candida, coexisting with difficulties and worries. We remember a moment of consolation as it was the emission of the first vows on December 8, 1873. This is how she tells us María Luisa Matamala in the book “Juanitatxo tells us her life”:

It arrived on December 8. This time there was no snow in Salamanca. And there was a painful absence in the house. Missing was Father Herranz . The joy was a little tarnished, but our heart, as then, was ready.

When I read in the formula of vows those words “I promise poverty, chastity and obedience…” my voice trembled.

How can I transmit to you what I experienced inside myself? I felt a deep joy for having said yes to God, for having responded to the call I felt in my adolescence, in the midst of shadows and darkness. Now, as then, Jesus was everything to me.

Do not think that I experienced only sweetness. Cipriana Vihuela the young woman who came with me from Valladolid and who seemed cheerful and ready for anything, looked back. On the eve of taking the vows. She found this obedience thing too hard and left us. Of the six foundresses of that first December 8, one was missing at the altar. There was another absence in the house and an aching emptiness in my heart.

Pages 61 and 62

How about you?

Do you recognize in your path experiences of true consolation? What situations serenade you, fill you with hope, increase your faith, and bring you closer to others? Do you sometimes confuse consolation with superficial joy that only fills you with yourself? Do you get used to reading where consolation moves you so as not to be deceived?

Read and listen here, the complete catechesis: Consolation and True Consolation.