(TAKEN FROM THE HOLY FATHER’S CATECHESIS ON DISCERNMENT, AT THE WEDNESDAY GENERAL AUDIENCE, AUGUST, 2022—JANUARY, 2023.)
After having considered several aspects of desolation — that darkness of the soul — today we will talk about consolation — which is the light of the soul and another important element in discernment that should not be taken for granted, because it can lend itself to misunderstandings.
What is spiritual consolation? It is an experience of interior joy, that lets [us] see God’s presence in all things… The person who experiences consolation never gives up in the face of difficulties because he or she always experiences a peace that is stronger than the trial… [she] feels enveloped in God’s presence in a way that always respects his or her own freedom.
Consolation is that type of peace, but not one in which we remain sitting there enjoying it, no… It gives you peace and draws you toward the Lord and sets you off on a journey to do things, to do good things. In a moment of consolation, when we are consoled, we want to do so much good, always. Instead, when there is a moment of desolation, we feel like closing in on ourselves and doing nothing… It cannot be programmed at will. It is a gift of the Holy Spirit.
But let us be careful. We have to distinguish well between the consolation that comes from God and false consolations… Because false consolation can become a danger if we seek it obsessively as an end in itself, forgetting the Lord… We have to seek the Lord, and the Lord consoles us with his presence. He makes us move forward. And we should not seek God because he brings us consolations… seeking our own interests, trying to reduce God to an object that we use and consume, losing the most beautiful gift which is God Himself.