Sign Up for our Free Daily Email Updates
SpiritualDirection.com / Catholic Spiritual Direction

Consolation – Navigating the Interior Life Spiritual Dictionary

CONSOLATION: An interior movement aroused in the soul, by which it is inflamed with love of its Creator and Lord. It is likewise consolation when one sheds tears that move to the love of God, whether it be because of sorrow for sins, or because of the sufferings of Christ our Lord, or for any other reason that is immediately directed to the praise and service of God. Consolation can also be every increase of faith, hope, and love, and all interior joy that invites and attracts to what is heavenly and to the salvation of one’s soul by filling it with peace and quiet in its Creator and Lord. (Adapted from St Ignatius Spiritual Exercises #316)

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

 +

Art: Cover of “Navigating the Interior Life: Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God” by Dan Burke used with permission, all rights reserved.

 +

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’
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of SpiritualDirection.com, 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.

please consider supporting our mission with a donation!

  • Oh, how often have I been moved to tears when I contemplate how I continue to offend my God who has been so loving, so caring and so compassionate to me. Looking back at my entire life, I clearly see how God was always there for me, guiding every step of my life, influencing the major events of my life, inspiring every important decision I ever made, protecting me even when I saw no danger ahead me.

    Every milestone which permanently turned the course and direction of my life into paths I never imagined, reveals His Hand in all situations and circumstances of my entire life. I see the Hand of an unfathomably Loving, Caring, Compassionate and Merciful God through Whom I live and move and have my being.

    The greatest Gift was the Angelic husband He Himself gave me and our beloved three daughters. So young were we, when we got married, and so lovingly did He guard and protect us all those joyful 37 and a half years. And when the time came for Him to take Daddy onto Himself, the final meal we shared was his Viaticum and Jesus Himself kept Vigil with us on that final night. Every day, He reminds me, in so many little ways and events, that He is still in-charge of my life now that I have been a widow these 18 years and He is ever at my side.

    And, yes, when I continue to offend Him so often, it breaks my heart. And the Consolation He gives me truly humbles me when He reminds me that He understands me better than I, or anyone on this earth, understands me. He knows all my weaknesses, my wretchedness and all my inadequacies. And with all those sinful tendencies because of my fallen human nature, when I run back to Him with a genuinely repentant and contrite heart and soul, He is there to forgive His beloved prodigal Daughter and embrace her with His Infinitely Divine Unconditional Love and Mercy which He showers upon me as only God can. And my heart is only able to daily say a silent Prayer of Thanksgiving for the abundantly yet unmerited Graces He continues to bless me and my loved ones with.

    • Ramanie

      Dear Mary@42,
      I just read what you have written and your humility and frankness encourages me. Thank you and May God Bless you every moment of your life.

      • Thank you,Ramanie for your kind words. But, you know what? I only began to sense just how God had been the Master of my entire life when Daddy went home and I realized just how much God loved him. Hitherto, believe me, I lived knowing He was there alright as I had been born and brought up by very staunch Catholic Parents and my Faith was well grounded first by my father and as I went to school, by the Consolata and Loreto Nuns who educated and mentored me until I got married. But I never really gave much thought of how He was showering us with His Love, Blessings and protection and steering our lives every step of the way. I just took it for granted. That is youth,
        Ramanie, and a doting Husband who makes you feel the Universe revolves around you!!!!!!!!

        When I had to retire from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa on medical grounds in 2004, that is when I seriously turned to Him and asked Him to show me what He now wanted me to do for Him with my life.

        Being alone, I had a lot of time to reflect and to re-live my entire life and that is when I began to realize just how God loves us all unconditionally. I now clearly saw His Hand in all the stages and events of my life and I was so ashamed and repentant because I realized I did not deserve such unmerited overwhelming Love, Compassion and protection from Him, Whom I had taken for granted for so long.

        Age has also mellowed me considerably….I believe I am now wiser and fully aware of my wretchedness, my sinfulness, my woundedness, my puny ego which is always struggling to be Number One in everything and all my inadequacies and sinful tendencies. I have humbly accepted that I am far, far away from being the child God created me to be, yet I know He Loves with an unfathomable, unconditional Love, just as I am, as only God can because He is Love and Mercy Itself. All He asks me to do is to open the doors of my heart and soul to Him and trust in Him always. He demands that I let Him be God and heal me in His Own Time and in His Own Way. As long as I do not give up the fight or despair, His Grace will help me and, no matter how many times I fall daily, He will never abandon me. And that He has promised to each and every one of us.

        The fact that He continues to add days to my life makes me wake up with a Thanksgiving Prayer each new morning and I fall asleep praying the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy.

  • IrishEddieOHara

    Why does God give consolation to one and not to another? I have prayed and asked that my heart be warmed, that I have fervent love for the Savior and Our Lady, that I hate sin more and love God more, but I remain lazy, indifferent, and slothful. O sins! How terrible they are and how terrible it is to be in the grip of them. Yet God has His reasons and I submit to His Lordship of my life.

    • Almac

      I have the same problems. Sometimes I think it’s a test of faith- like a work out to make my faith stronger. I have drawn strength from knowing that even Mother Teresa suffered in the same way.
      Here’s a quote from Mother Teresa: “Where is my faith? Even deep down … there is nothing but emptiness and darkness … If there be God–please forgive me. When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven, there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives and hurt my very soul …”
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mother_Teresa#Spiritual_life

      God does for me what I cannot do for myself, but I think he will not do for me what he has given me strength to do for myself. That’s how I understand what often feels like lack of supernatural succor. He gives me enough comfort to keep going, but not so much that I don’t need faith.
      “…but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses,* in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.”2 Corinthians 12:9
      Hope this helps, God Bless you.

    • LizEst

      IrishEddieOHara,

      It’s because God deals with each person as is best for that person. Some people need consolations to have faith. But, God tends to train people away from consolations because He doesn’t want us to love Him for those things. A person has much more faith (and patience) if he or she doesn’t need consolation to keep that faith and love alive. Of course, folks love those who give them goodies (remember those people who flocked to the Lord because He cured the sick?). God wants us to love Him because He is God, because He is our Father, because He is Love and our eternal happiness…not to mention the fact that we owe it to Him although He has no need for our praise or love.

      So, Jesus wants to be your friend…and wants you to be His friend. Think of how friendship is–we are there for each other, we support each other through the good times and the bad, we do the things our friend asks of us, sometimes we don’t even talk verbally but are happy to just be in our friend’s presence, allowing that presence to express our love.

      When we are friends of Christ, consolations are forthcoming either in this lifetime, or the next (the eternal life). We show Him our love and friendship when we are faithful to Him and keep His commands, no matter what happens or doesn’t happen. That is the test of true friendship. It’s not always easy (many saints received little consolation). Jesus, good friend that he is, even helps us when we yoke ourselves to Him whose yoke is easy and whose burden light. Every effort you put toward your relationship with our Savior will be amply rewarded. He is faithful. He is just. Make no mistake, He hears your prayer. So, keep praying and keep the faith…and may God always bless you abundantly.

    • Becky Ward

      What have you done to help acquire the things you are praying for? There are many good signs in that you are seeking…….you are here, and are asking for help……the impulse to do these things are gifts Irish Eddy …from God Himself. (I’m Irish too. 🙂 )
      Your comment about being “indifferent” concerns me….but since I don’t know what you mean by that word I will only suggest that you give it some serious thought. To me indifference means that I don’t care one way or the other about a thing – if I have it fine, if not….that’s okay too – is this how you feel about God?
      I’m praying that our precious Lord answer your prayers for a warm heart and fervent love!

    • Hey, IrishEddie, you feel God has not been consoling you?!?!? How about this short litany of God’s Love and Consolatiion….1) you are alive….each breath you take is an unmerited Gift from His Compassionate Love…2) you woke up this morning, healthy…..how many millions worldwide went to bed healthy like you and did not see the new day? …..3) you can sit down on your Computer and as a Member of this God’s Family talk to us all over the world….4) I presume you have a family….if not you have loving parents, brothers, sisters, cousins, friends, etc…..these you were given freely by our Loving God……5) do you have financial problems??? how about all those in the poor countries who are homeless, destitute, deformed, abandoned, etc. ????

      I could go on and on and on….when you feel like God is unhappy that you are such a terrible sinner, always remember, even if you were the only person on this whole wide world, Jesus would still have died for you…..if that does not make your heart feel like saying Thank You to God, then knowing He loves you exactly as you are, sins and all, and He is the Only One who understands you better than you understand yourself is reason enough to truly admit you are a Very Special Person to a very Loving, Caring, Compassionate the Merciful God.

      All that God asks us to do is trust in Him….when we fail and sin, He knows we can do nothing that pleases Him without His help. Remember Jesus told us “…..without Me you can do nothing…” Just continue praying to Him to give you the Graces you need to conquer those aspects of your life which makes you feel you are not loving Him enough, you are not pleasing Him enough, you are not appreciating Him enough…..open the doors of your heart and your soul to Him and He will fill you with His Divine Consolation. In fact, when you count all your blessings, you will realize you have a lot to acknowledge His Unfathomable Love and Mercy. Be blessed.

      • Gabrielle Renoir

        One does not have to go to a poor country to find the poor and the destitute. They are all around us in the United States. Those looking for consolation from Christ should help at a hospice, a homeless shelter, etc. and look for the face of Christ in everyone he or she seeks to help. The consolation of God is everywhere, just as is his love. One only has to accept it.

    • Gabrielle Renoir

      In my personal experience, it’s far better to seek to console the heart of Jesus for the many who turn away from his all-embracing love. Seek to console him, and there you will find your own consolation.

  • marian

    Mary, thank you so much for sharing, our God is awesome!

  • Merline

    Whenever I have been lazy in my little prayer life,I suddenly wake up from my sedentary prayer life. then I make resolutions about my prayer time and tell the Lord I am sorry and I will not fail. After some time history repeats but in-spite of my repeated failures when I go back to my Father with my promises, I feel something wonderful within me. Is that consolation from God to encourage me?I wonder…..

    • It very well may be. It is rare that we are encouraged toward God from a source opposed to God.

  • Caroline

    Just reading this I felt Love.

  • Ramanie

    This is good. Thank you for the article about consolation. I have had many times when I was reduced to tears and ( not from sorrow at such times)i I found it very embarrassing if I am at Holy Mass. Now I can understand what was happening . Thank you again and God Bless.

    • Gabrielle Renoir

      Your tears are a witness to your great love of Christ. Don’t be embarrassed. Many people in my parish, including me, cry during Mass. We love God and are thankful for the privilege of participating in the holy sacrifice of the Mass and draw ever closer to God. God bless you!

  • clare

    Spiritual Consolation is called Holy Land and Spiritual Desolation is called Exile by daughter,

    It was thus that My Lord , My Master, So Crucified spoke unto this daughter,
    In Thy Silence of Thy Holiness,
    daughter,
    Never leave My Consolation without asking what of thy soul displeases ME,
    and,
    Never leave My Desolation with out asking what of thy soul pleases Me,
    You Teach well My Lord,
    Thus, Your Words guide my soul in Profound Humility or in the Profound Hope of Your Word, Promises, Power and Goodness,
    As always,
    You, My Lord, are too generous to travel with me,
    clare

    • LizEst

      Sounds a bit familiar, Clare. Where does that come from?

      • clare

        Where do you think it comes from?

        • LizEst

          I can’t seem to place it, exactly. Where does it come from?

          • clare

            In the first two lines, Dear Sister in Christ

          • LizEst

            Not sure what you mean. The first two lines say, “Spiritual Consolation is called Holy Land and Spiritual Desolation is called Exile by daughter” That’s doesn’t sound like a description of a source. Dear Sister in Christ is a website. Do you mean the website?

          • clare

            Not the part of explaining the terms, the beginning where it says “It was Thus,” This is interesting- didn’t know that “Dear Sister in Christ” was a web address. Dear Sister in Christ was addressed to you, LizEst- do you STILL do not know who “daughter” is? I shall answer no further, Blessings, clare

          • LizEst

            Ha! I had taken it that you were pointing to, as you said, the first two lines. Now I understand you mean the first two lines after the first two lines. Becky opened my eyes yesterday (above) saying, “this may be Clare’s own experience.” I get it. Is this beautiful posting your own experience? “Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No…” (Mt 5:37).

      • Becky Ward

        I think the words “this daughter” indicate that this may be Clare’s own experience….she has shared similar ones before – they always make me think. 🙂

        • LizEst

          Thank you Becky313. I know I’ve missed some things/don’t remember others due to events in my life this year.

  • Alexandra Campbell

    I posted a response, I don’t see it here. Is there a reason it was deleted?

    • Dear Alexandra – we are grateful for your participation in this site. I know it is a blessing to you and your participation has been a blessing to others. Please continue to engage but please review the FAQ on combox guidelines.

  • I received so much consolations from God within these days. He showered me with countless blessings, giving me opportunities to assist souls in grave sins to return to him, affirming and confirming his great love not only for me but for my companions as well.
    Today ,in our community’s desert day, I deeply felt his great love in his priestly prayer in John17;15-26. To GOD be glory forever and ever.

    • LizEst

      What a blessing for you Sister Joy!

      I was moved by your Scriptural reference, especially John 17:17, “Consecrate them in the truth.” Becky Ward’s post today spends a lot of time talking about Truth. What a wonderful connection to that!

      May God bless you and your community abundantly.

      ps. You have a beautiful name. From the little you wrote, it seems you reflect His joy very well.

  • Yule

    Hello, good day. I just want to ask if Dan Burke is the same Daniel Burke of CNN (religion co-editor of the CNN’s Belief Blog). Thank you 😉

    • Nope

      • Yule

        Thank you 😉

      • AveMaria

        I came here looking for an answer to that same question. Maybe you should clarify that you are not THAT Daniel Burke somewhere on this website.

  • MaryofSharon

    What a gift consolation is!

    I’ve gotten a much more thorough and more practical understanding of consolation and desolation, thanks to the recommendation of my spiritual director, by reading Fr. Timothy Gallagher’s <a href =http://www.frtimothygallagher.org/books" Discernment of Spirits , which is one of the carefully selected books recommended on the RCSpiritual Direction resource page. My study of this book has been considerably enriched by listening to Fr. Gallagher’s talks based on the book, available for free download or online listening at DiscerningHearts.com.

  • Aimliz

    Hi Dan, first I wanted to let you know what a blessing this website is. I have only started receiving the daily posts, but I have looked forward to them every morning. A really great way to start my day. Thank you :). I also really like your book “Navigating the Interior Life”. I have just started spiritual direction and it has been a wonderful tool for me. Thank you again!
    Regarding consolation form God… I have many times broken down at mass . And as embarrassing as it may be, I have never left feeling anything but joy. Tears from heaven are so healing, in every situation. Praise God for the blessing of tears.

  • Aimliz

    Hi Dan, first of all I wanted to let you know how wonderful the website is as week as your book, “Navigating the Interior Life.” I have just started spiritual direction, and both of them have been invaluable tools for me. I want so much to answer our Lords call. So, thank you.
    Regarding consolation, I have had many tears of consultation during mass and at other times. Tears from heaven are such a gift, I always feel joyous after shedding them.

  • Pingback: Spiritualdirection.com | Catholic Spiritual Direction | Can I Trust the Writings of Fr Anthony de Mello? SpiritualDirection.com / Catholic Spiritual Direction()

Skip to toolbar