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Aridity – Navigating the Interior Life Spiritual Dictionary

October 24, 2013 by  
Filed under Aridity or Dryness, Dan Burke, Prayer, Spiritual Dictionary


Aridity is the state of a soul devoid of sensible consolation, which makes it very difficult to pray.  It may be caused by something physical, such as Spiritual Dictionaryillness, or voluntary self-indulgence, or an act of God, who is leading a person through trial to contemplation.

This Spiritual Dictionary Term is an excerpt from Dan's book Navigating the Interior Life – Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God. To learn more, click here.


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What is spiritual direction and my spiritual direction? What are my “blind spots” and how can I uncover them? What keeps me from all the spiritual riches Christ has for me? How can I better understand where I am in my spiritual progress?

Daniel Burke’s Navigating the Interior Life will give you the tools you need to understand how and why we grow and die in the spiritual life and what we can do about it.

Most of us have questions about spiritual direction. What is it? Is it for me? What if I can’t find a spiritual director? These questions and more are well answered in Dan Burke’s book. The Lord is clearly calling all Catholics into a deeper union with him. This book, in a style which is both inspiring and practical, provides some of the Church’s most important wisdom about how to respond to this call.

Ralph Martin, PhD, president, Renewal Ministries
and author of ‘The Fulfillment of All Desire'
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About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Divine Intimacy Radio and Divine Intimacy Radio - Resources Edition, Into the Deep Parish Programs, the Apostoli Viae (Apostles of the Way) Community, and the FireLight Student Leadership Formation Program, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep, Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux, and his newest book The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • Stephen Mc Elligott

    I want to buy this book. Is it available in Europe yet?

  • Kathryn

    Read a really interesting quote the other day
    it was in Where There is Love, There is God, Mother Teresa Compiled by Brian Kolodiejchuk
    Nearly half a century lived in spiritual aridity did not hinder Mother Teresa’s ability to perceive the hand of God in the ordinary as well as the challenging circumstances of life, and to respond to Him in love.
    Can you imagine that? Mother Teresa feeling spiritual aridity that long and still doing all that she did?
    Now that makes me feel that if I enter another period of aridity, I sure should be able to do a better job at getting through it.

  • LizEst

    Hi Dan,

    Great definition. Will you be posting one on the dark night of the soul? I believe it will be helpful for some to know the similarities and the differences between aridity and the dark night. Thanks.

    • Not from the book. These concepts are difficult to communicate at a level that would make sense to 10,000 people who are at very different places in their spiritual lives. I have pondered doing so but not at this point. I do not cover it in my book though I do so when I teach in local groups on the subject.

      • LizEst

        Perhaps for your next book! 😉

  • Cynthia

    Could you expound on how aridity could be caused by self-indulgence? I just went through a time of aridity that my spiritual director helped me discern was caused by an act of God. It’s difficult for me to imagine why someone would actually want to go through such a spiritually empty time of prayer. Thanks Dan. I’m looking forward to the book.

    • Dear Cynthia – Self-indulgence, is simply a turning or giving in to the wants and desires of self as opposed to self-giving to others or to God. Imagine a husband and wife where one of the two is in a mode where they act as if the other was not important. What normally happens? The relationship cools. So, when the offending party turns back, there are challenges to resolve. When we turn from God, we cool our own ability to love Him. Here’s another analogy. When we replace God with self in smaller or larger ways, we move away from Him. If you can, for a moment, think of Him as stationary in the person of Christ in a particular place. Then, think of Him desiring to share some spiritual good with you and He begins to speak. Then think of yourself turning away as He speaks and then wandering off. Then, lets say you have a set time for prayer and you set out to pray. At this point, you are still far off. His voice has stopped because you weren’t listening. If He were speaking, you would not be able to hear Him because you have taken yourself out of His presence. Now, what do you experience? Silence. Distance. Lonliness. These then are aridities that have come through self-indulgence (moving away from Him in any way). All analogies fail at some point but hopefully these are helpful.

      • Cynthia

        Thanks, Dan. The concept is very clear now. May God’s mercy keep us all from voluntary self-indulgence! May we never tire from running towards God.

  • Mary@42

    Oh, yes…Aridity….”state of a soul….difficulty in praying”…, this state is truly trying to a soul…..what can one do except surrender oneself to God?…..that is how I handle this unsettling situation when it hits me……I just wait patiently until God shows me the way as I continue striving to pray….I remain faithful to my daily Prayer Rule of Life and my Sacramental Life.

    As for the Dark Night of the Soul, LizEst, I understand it to be the Greatest Grace God bestows on the souls He is moulding for the Highest state of Holiness……”the Suffering Souls”.

  • Jeanette

    Shared on Facebook.

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