In the spiritual life, we often start out with great zeal and love of God. This can be accompanied by positive feelings that leave us happy.
However, after a few months or years, that spiritual consolation may wear off and instead of feeling joy, we may feel desolate and dry. Our prayer does not excite the same emotions and we may even question our religion.
In times such as these, Fr. Lorenzo Scupoli suggests in his book The Spiritual Combat, the soul should determine from where this dryness originates.
Scupoli explains, “When, therefore, you find yourself oppressed with dryness and distaste for spiritual things, ascertain whether or not it is to be attributed to any fault of your own.”
At times it may be possible that there is something within us that is preventing the light of God from pouring in. It could be a certain sin we are attached to, or maybe some interior doubts that we need to address.
On the other hand, the dryness may be a gift that God has given for the sake of your soul. Scupoli encourages the soul in such a situation.
If, however, after careful scrutiny, you can discover no suchfault, be not concerned about recovering your sensible fervor;rather exert yourself in the acquisition of that perfect devotionwhich consists in perfect conformity to the will of God. Howeverbarren and insipid your usual exercises may seem, be resoluteand persevering in your execution of them, drinking cheerfullythe bitter cup the heavenly Father has presented to you.
Furthermore, “Offer not your Communions, prayers, or other devout exercises that you may be free of your cross, but that you may receive strength to exalt that cross forever to the honor and glory of Jesus crucified.”
This is the path to perfection, as “true devotion consists in an eager and unswerving will to follow Christ, and to bear the cross at whatever time, in whatever way He shall decide; and it consists too in loving God because He is worthy of our love, and even in forfeiting the sweetness of God for the sake of God.”
Many saints, including St. Teresa of Calcutta, went years and years without any consolation from God. Yet, they bore the heavy weight of dryness because of their intense love of God.
The next time you are met with dryness, consider the possible causes of it and above all, accept it as a cross that will lead you to paradise.
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