Praying with this catechesis by Pope Francis I was particularly drawn to two aspects in his description of consolation. First, that this interior joy that comes from seeing God’s presence in all things is often something that is not flashy, loud, like a lightning bolt” but rather is some soft and delicate (St Ignatius #335). It gave me pause for thought: how often might I miss the consolation that God offers me, invites me to be an instrument of for others each day? In a world where so much is vying for my attention each day: work, family, advertisements, notifications etc. I was reminded that I also need to be aware of those things that aren’t necessarily “beeping”, “pinging” or “vibrating” for my attention. The language of consolation is more often tenderness and gentleness – which is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Hence why so much is made of the Examen in Jesuit life and Ignatian spirituality more generally.
The second point that got me reflecting, even bugged me, is that consolation isn’t a static thing. It isn’t something that I can achieve and so fulfil my purpose as a Christian for the week, month or lifetime. Rather it draws one “toward the Lord and sets you off on a journey to do things, to do good things… Consolation spurs us forward in service to others, society, other people.” The gift and grace of consolation is both for the individual and to be shared with the community. My interior peace and joy are such that I cannot help but share it.
This catechesis has renewed my practice of Examen, seeking to find the consolations particularly in the tenderness and gentleness of my day.
With thanks to Isaac Demase, SJ for this contribution to the JISA Discernment Series. Isaac is an Australian Jesuit in formation, currently completing his Masters of Divinity at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. Before joining the Jesuits, Isaac was a secondary school teacher in country Victoria. He has an interest in the Society’s history, particularly the early development of the Jesuits, and its education ministry. He is enjoying exploring the galleries and museums in Boston during the summer break.