Chatting about: Overcoming dryness in the spiritual life

Dry times in our faith journey are bound to happen, but we often approach it with the attitude of “why me?” How might it help to put it in perspective by considering St. Francis’ explanation that at times the dryness is a fault of our own? Or, how does that not help you? St. Francis gives a great analogy to explain dry periods by reminding us that a mother will withhold sweets from a sick child. How might this apply in our spiritual life? How might Luke 6:32 help complement this reflection? “For i

 

 

VisitationSiste: For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.” We often take for granted that which we receive in abundance. Think about a time when you were overdue for hydration and desperately waiting until you could drink again. When you finally drank, you probably appreciated water more than ever. How are times of spiritual dryness able to function similiarly for us? In the United States (and other first-world countries) we have excess food, shelter, c

 

 

VisitationSiste: In the United States (and other first-world countries) we have excess food, shelter, clothes, etc.; however, we have one of the highest rates of depression and suicide. We are being overfed, but we are spiritually malnourished. How does St. Francis’ reflection bring light to this modern-day situation?

 

 

Aug 20, 7:22 PM

Dawn (Guest): Bees detest all artificial scents, and the sweetness of the Holy Spirit cannot be combined with the deceitful pleasures of the world…one of the beautiful sentences in this chapter

Aug 20, 7:28 PM

Guest9871 (Guest): (Judy) Hi Everyone! It’s Judy. How’re y’all this week?

Aug 20, 7:29 PM

Dawn (Guest): Hi Judy!

Aug 20, 7:29 PM

Guest9871 (Guest): (Judy) Ready for the eclipse tomorrow?

Aug 20, 7:31 PM

Dawn (Guest): as I could be, are you in good range to view it? we are in 86% or partial range

Aug 20, 7:31 PM

VisitationSiste: Hi I am in and out here- someone is in our chapel and I have to check.

 

Aug 20, 7:31 PM

VisitationSiste: No eclipse viewing for me

 

Aug 20, 7:31 PM

Dawn (Guest): ok

Aug 20, 7:33 PM

Guest9871 (Guest): (Judy) Jumping in to question 1. If the dryness is a fault of our own, that is, if we have failed to collect and use the treasures of God’s Love in due time, we can expect that He will withdraw them. e/g If a great banquet is places before us and we do not partake within a certain period of time, the food will be removed. So, too, if we pass by God’s love with our hands and hearts closed, He will remove His love.

Aug 20, 7:34 PM

Guest9871 (Guest): (Judy) I actually do not know what my range is for the eclipse. I know that we will have only partial view here.

Aug 20, 7:35 PM

VisitationSiste: Good example! I have lived with alot of dryness but not a dry dryness, just a faith that has little experiential about it

 

Aug 20, 7:35 PM

Carol Ann: hi Everyone!

 

Aug 20, 7:35 PM

Guest9871 (Guest): (Judy( Hi Carol Ann!

Aug 20, 7:36 PM

Dawn (Guest): Hi Carol Ann

Aug 20, 7:38 PM

Guest9871 (Guest): (Judy) I have recently come through a period of severe dryness that was like a depression. I did little but languish on the couch and stare at the TV. Toward the end of the day, I would be able to move myself to pray the Liturgy of the Hours and the Rosary. I can’t pin down a cause. I just made up my mind to see it through, accepting it as God’s will for me at that time.

Aug 20, 7:38 PM

Carol Ann: It is a quiet night here in our little chat. I have had many spells like that too, Judy. Most recently it has meant there is a challenge that i need to face, but i’m still puling it all together

 

Aug 20, 7:40 PM

Guest9871 (Guest): (Judy) I think that it was one of those times when God seems to withdraw so that we experience His absence and seek Him more.

Aug 20, 7:43 PM

Dawn (Guest): I have experienced times too. this chapter is a sure help for those periods…at these times I have held rosary as I fall asleep, or even during the day. Perhaps these times of alienation can help us to cling more fervently to him. like the woman today, who did not listen to what anyone was saying but in faith just believed.

Aug 20, 7:43 PM

Carol Ann: and what is it i am being stubborn about. Sometimes it is because i am coming to a new awareness of something

 

Aug 20, 7:44 PM

VisitationSiste: That’s a gift to receive a new awareness

 

Aug 20, 7:45 PM

VisitationSiste: I know St Jane de Chantal suffered dryness and temptations too

 

Aug 20, 7:45 PM

VisitationSiste: Hi Ruth, Lisa and Carol Anne

 

Aug 20, 7:45 PM

Lisa C: Hi Mother, et. al.

Aug 20, 7:46 PM

Dawn (Guest): Hi Ruth and Lisa

Aug 20, 7:46 PM

Guest9871 (Guest): (Judy) Hi Lisa!

Aug 20, 7:46 PM

Carol Ann: it is a great blessing, but sometimes the awareness requires a new repentence and it pulls me up short.

 

Aug 20, 7:46 PM

Carol Ann: Hi Sr. Susan Marie! Hi Lisa!

 

Aug 20, 7:46 PM

VisitationSiste: Ah- yes and that is a suffering too.

 

Aug 20, 7:47 PM

VisitationSiste: I know when I am failing the Sisters for ex.

 

Aug 20, 7:48 PM

VisitationSiste: It is all the little things and the lack of appropriate correction and need to grow that can cause me to go into a dry spell- running away perhaps from the Lord?

 

Aug 20, 7:49 PM

Carol Ann: I do need appropriate correction from time to time, like us all. it is inaproppriate correction that makes me stubborn and prideful

 

Aug 20, 7:49 PM

Dawn (Guest): St F says…so God deprives us of spiritual consolations if they arise a vain complacency with in us. would this be pride, or a feeling of superiority?

Aug 20, 7:50 PM

Guest9871 (Guest): (Judy) Question 2. a mother withholds sweets from a sick child because the child needs nourishing food, some of which he might not like. In the spiritual life, we all desire the times of sweetness, and revel in them when they come. But to have them all the time could lead to complacency or presumption in which the person would cease to seek the things that can enhance spiritual growth–prayer, reading, sacrifice. And so He withdraws the sweetness so that we might seek Him and Him alone.

Aug 20, 7:50 PM

VisitationSiste: vanity, maybe both Dawn

 

Aug 20, 7:51 PM

VisitationSiste: Yes Presumption also dependence on the sweetness

 

Aug 20, 7:51 PM

VisitationSiste: Sacrifice is essential yes

 

Aug 20, 7:52 PM

Guest9871 (Guest): (Judy) Dawn, I think that vain complacency is a sense that we are just fine the way we are and can, to use a much used phrase, rest on our laurels. In other words, we do not to do anything else.

Aug 20, 7:52 PM

Guest9871 (Guest): (judy) We do not need to do anything else.

Aug 20, 7:53 PM

VisitationSiste: St Therese might say doing is simply letting God do as He holds us. But we still need to place ourselves in or near Him

 

Aug 20, 7:54 PM

VisitationSiste: But if we are running from God for any reason, that dryness will surround us even as He tries to call us back

 

Aug 20, 7:55 PM

Dawn (Guest): what would be the remedy to this? Use of the Sacraments ?

Aug 20, 7:55 PM

Carol Ann: so dryness is an invitation to go into the desert and grow closer

 

Aug 20, 7:55 PM

Guest9871 (Guest): (JUdy) That is when we need to consciously “pull ourselves up by our bootstraps” and forcefully turn ourselves around to answer the call of the Lord.

Aug 20, 7:55 PM

VisitationSiste: Yes to both I think

 

Aug 20, 7:56 PM

VisitationSiste: Sometimes we do this in desperation.

 

Aug 20, 7:56 PM

Dawn (Guest): surrender to his good will for whatever we are experiencing and trust in his love

Aug 20, 7:57 PM

Lisa C: I find that dryness is always about me and not about God. I agree we have to force ourselves back to Him when it comes.

Aug 20, 7:57 PM

Lisa C: Once we do, it goes away, because He is consistent

 

Guest9871 (Guest): (Judy) Sometimes I think that we sometimes wait for God to touch us in times of dryness when perhaps it is up to us to recognize the dryness for what it is and, whether it feels good or not, turn to the Lord and ask Him to help us.

Aug 20, 8:00 PM

Dawn (Guest): this young man, a good example of forcefully turning ones self around…I am hopeful many are hearing God’s call today

Aug 20, 8:01 PM

VisitationSiste: Yes

 

Aug 20, 8:01 PM

Dawn (Guest): good point that dryness is usually about us.

Aug 20, 8:04 PM

VisitationSiste: I am not sure that the quote from Luke helped me about sinners loving each other, I mean in this particular topic

 

Aug 20, 8:05 PM

Guest9871 (Guest): (Judy) Being in dryness is like being in a dark room. We stumble around looking for a lamp, a light switch, or a pull cord for a ceiling fixture. We need to trust that the means of turning on a light is present in the room. And in dryness, we must trust that the LOrd is present and that He will make Himself known.

Aug 20, 8:09 PM

VisitationSiste: Do you think this leads to depression

 

Aug 20, 8:09 PM

VisitationSiste: There is that sense of the dark night

 

Aug 20, 8:10 PM

Carol Ann: it can, if we don’t realize it is a call to turn back. of course, there could also be a physical reason for the depression too, but for me, the cause and solution has always proved to be spiritual

 

Aug 20, 8:10 PM

Lisa C: If we could answer what leads to depression we would all get Nobel Prizes

Aug 20, 8:11 PM

Carol Ann: seriously true, Lisa. I’m thinking there’s at least two types

 

Aug 20, 8:11 PM

VisitationSiste: 2?

 

Aug 20, 8:11 PM

Guest9871 (Guest): (Judy) Yes that quite from St. Luke did seem to come out of left field. I did consider it though. Loving those who love is is easy. We respond to the love of others as buds warm to the sun and open. loving the unlovable or the unloving is more difficult. There is a lack of mutuality in that love and it is hard to love those who withhold love. Yet loving them is fruitful for us because we will have to sacrifice something, the return of love, to continue to give.

Aug 20, 8:12 PM

Carol Ann: the spiritual dryness we are talking about that can lead to malaise, and then the physical, biological depression caused by chemical imbalance, et

 

Aug 20, 8:13 PM

Lisa C: There are many types of depression

Aug 20, 8:13 PM

Guest9871 (Guest): Judy) It is like giving small trinkets and treats to a child out of love and the child is unresponsive. We continue to give, in spite of the expense (the sacrifice and the cost of the trinkets) and/or the rejection of the child.

Aug 20, 8:13 PM

Carol Ann: and our sacrifice may open up those who have been incapable of showing love outwardly

 

Aug 20, 8:15 PM

VisitationSiste: Continuing to love but with sometimes a pause in between

 

Aug 20, 8:15 PM

VisitationSiste: that’s how I experience it- while I recollect myself

 

Aug 20, 8:18 PM

Guest9871 (Guest): (Judy) Question 4. There is an old saying, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.) The times of spiritual dryness make us even more grateful for thos exeriences or evidence of Go’s love in our lives. Perhaps we had become complacent or lazy in our spiritual journey. the experience of dryness, or even the perceived absence of God, should create a new longing to touch Him, to know Him, to absorb and be absorbed by Him.

Aug 20, 8:19 PM

Guest9871 (Guest): (Judy) It is a good thing to have these desires rekindled in us. For they can lead us to a renewed search for the Lord and a renewed willingness to receive Him and give ourselves to Him.

Aug 20, 8:20 PM

VisitationSiste: The excitement in our soul ofknowing He will accept us back so lovingly

 

Aug 20, 8:23 PM

VisitationSiste: but are we really spiritually malnourished?

 

Aug 20, 8:23 PM

VisitationSiste: all opportunities are available

 

Aug 20, 8:23 PM

Carol Ann: we could be malnourished if we are neglecting any of the things we should be practicing

 

Aug 20, 8:25 PM

Guest9871 (Guest): (JUdy) I want to hit question 5 before we sign off. Things do not satisfy. Consider the teenager who is popular, talented, has a cell phone, I pad, own TV, etc. But is constantly getting into fights and other kinds of trouble. Both parents are working and have no time for the child. All of the things they have given are no substitute for spending time together,, having meals together, vacationing together, playing together. All of thee contribute to the development of a healthy self-worth.

Aug 20, 8:26 PM

VisitationSiste: Life is difficult even wth the best of parents- like the Martins

 

Aug 20, 8:27 PM

Carol Ann: i think the fifth question is essentially asking us if money and wealth buy actual happiness or if they cause us to be less happy than normal

 

Aug 20, 8:27 PM

Guest9871 (Guest): (Judy) The parents show that the child is valuable enough to spend their time on. And this is of great importance to young people. Lac of parental love and affection can lead to depression and even suicide.. For all of us, we may have wonderful possessions, a fine home, a new car, lovely clothes, the best of everything, but our true hope,peace, love and satisfaction can be found only in God.

Aug 20, 8:28 PM

Dawn (Guest): This is what our life in grace really is…without Him we can do NOTHING

Aug 20, 8:29 PM

VisitationSiste: Memories are of people, not things, usually

 

Aug 20, 8:31 PM

Lisa C: I pray that everyone who travels far to see the eclipse has good weather and that no one hurts their eyes

Aug 20, 8:31 PM

VisitationSiste: Be careful tomorrow and celebrate the 450th birthday of St Francis de Sales! I will be praying for all of us!

 

Aug 20, 8:31 PM

VisitationSiste: God bless!

 

Aug 20, 8:31 PM

Carol Ann: Such a big day tomorrow in so many ways!

 

Aug 20, 8:31 PM

Guest9871 (Guest): (Judy) Money and things cannot buy actual happiness nor can they cause us to be less happy than normal. It is the absence of love that causes the lack of happiness. People can be dirt poor, like many people in third world countries and be very happy.

Aug 20, 8:31 PM

Carol Ann: Thank you Sister!

 

Aug 20, 8:32 PM

Lisa C: God bless you too Mother

Aug 20, 8:32 PM

Lisa C: God bless us all

Aug 20, 8:32 PM

Guest9871 (Guest): (judy) May the goodness and love of the Lord follow you wherever you go tomorrow and may you thank Him for the wonder of the eclipse, and the wonder of His love. Have a blessed week, all!

Aug 20, 8:33 PM

Dawn (Guest): I agree Judy! thank you all, and Mother for having this chat. Good night and God Bless. Ruth, who disappeared, to you also.

Aug 20, 8:33 PM

Carol Ann: Yes, stay safe. And i hope we all have a chance to witness at least part of this marvelous act of creation

 

Aug 20, 8:34 PM

Dawn (Guest): I look forward to seeing the images other get

Aug 20, 8:35 PM

Dawn (Guest): g’night <3

 

Dryness in our Spiritual Life

We are often ourselves the cause of our own dryness and barrenness

 

 

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We continue our series with Part IV, Chapter 14, “Dryness and Spiritual Barrenness​, from An Introduction to the Devout Life. Here Saint Francis encourages us and admonishes in times of spiritual aridity.

So much for what is to be done in times of spiritual consolations. But these bright days will not last for ever, and sometimes you will be so devoid of all devout feelings, that it will seem to you that your soul is a desert land, fruitless, sterile, wherein you can find no path leading to God, no drop of the waters of Grace to soften the dryness which threatens to choke it entirely. Verily, at such a time the soul is greatly to be pitied, above all, when this trouble presses heavily, for then, like David, its meat are tears day and night, while the Enemy strives to drive it to despair, crying out, “Where is now thy God? how thinkest thou to find Him, or how wilt thou ever find again the joy of His Holy Grace?”

What will you do then, my child? Look well whence the trial comes, for we are often ourselves the cause of our own dryness and barrenness. A mother refuses sugar to her sickly child, and so God deprives us of consolations when they do but feed self-complacency or presumption. “It is good for me that I have been in trouble, for before I was troubled I went wrong.” So if we neglect to gather up and use the treasures of God’s Love in due time, He withdraws them as a punishment of our sloth. The Israelite who neglected to gather his store of manna in the early morning, found none after sunrise, for it was all melted. Sometimes, too, we are like the Bride of the Canticles, slumbering on a bed of sensual satisfaction and perishable delight, so that when the Bridegroom knocks at the door of our heart, and calls us to our spiritual duties, we dally with Him, loath to quit our idle and delusive pleasures, and then He “withdraws Himself, and is gone,” and “when I sought Him, I could not find Him; I called Him, but He gave me no answer.” Of a truth we deserved as much for having been so disloyal as to have rejected Him for the things of this world. If we are content with the fleshpots of Egypt we shall never receive heavenly manna. Bees abhor all artificial scents, and the sweetness of the Holy Spirit is incompatible with the world’s artificial pleasures.

Again, any duplicity or unreality in confession or spiritual discussion with your director tends to dryness and barrenness, for, if you lie to God’s Holy Spirit, you can scarcely wonder that He refuses you His comfort. If you do not choose to be simple and honest as a little child, you will not win the child’s sweetmeats.

Or you have satiated yourself with worldly delights; and so no wonder that spiritual pleasures are repulsive to you. “To the overfed dove even cherries are bitter,” says an old proverb; and Our Lady in her song of praise says, “He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He hath sent empty away.” They who abound in earthly pleasures are incapable of appreciating such as are spiritual.

If you have carefully stored up the fruits of past consolations, you will receive more; “to him that hath yet more shall be given,” but from him who has not kept that which he had, who has lost it through carelessness, that which he hath shall be taken away, in other words, he will not receive the grace destined for him. Rain refreshes living plants, but it only brings rottenness and decay to those which are already dead. There are many such causes whereby we lose the consolations of religion, and fall into dryness and deadness of spirit, so that it is well to examine our conscience, and see if we can trace any of these or similar faults. But always remember that this examination must not be made anxiously, or in an over-exacting spirit. Thus if, after an honest investigation of our own conduct, we find the cause of our wrongdoing, we must thank God, for an evil is half cured when we have found out its cause.

Some people fall into the great mistake of imagining that when we offer a dry, distasteful service to God, devoid of all sentiment and emotion, it is unacceptable to His Divine Majesty; whereas, on the contrary, our actions are like roses, which, though they may be more beautiful when fresh, have a sweeter and stronger scent when they are dried. Good works, done with pleasurable interest, are pleasanter to us who think of nothing save our own satisfaction, but when they are done amid dryness and deadness they are more precious in God’s Sight. Yes indeed, my child, for in seasons of dryness our will forcibly carries us on in God’s Service, and so it is stronger and more vigorous than at a softer time. There is not much to boast of in serving our Prince in the comfort of a time of peace, but to serve Him amid the toils and hardness of war, amid trial and persecution, is a real proof of faithfulness and perseverance. The blessed Angela di Foligni said, that the most acceptable prayer to God is what is made forcibly and in spite of ourselves; that is to say, prayer made not to please ourselves or our own taste, but solely to please God;–carried on, as it were, in spite of inclination, the will triumphing over all our drynesses and repugnances. And so of all good works;–the more contradictions, exterior or interior, against which we contend in their fulfilment, the more precious they are in God’s Sight; the less of self-pleasing in striving after any virtue, the more Divine Love shines forth in all its purity.

A child is easily moved to fondle its mother when she gives it sweet things, but if he kisses her in return for wormwood or camomile it is a proof of very real affection on his part.

This reflection was truncated for the sake of readability. Read the whole thing here.

Questions to Ponder:

  1. Dry times in our faith journey are bound to happen, but we often approach it with the attitude of “why me?” How might it help to put it in perspective by considering St. Francis’ explanation that at times the dryness is a fault of our own? Or, how does that not help you?
  2. St. Francis gives a great analogy to explain dry periods by reminding us that a mother will withhold sweets from a sick child. How might this apply in our spiritual life?
  3. How might Luke 6:32 help complement this reflection? “For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.”
  4. We often take for granted that which we receive in abundance. Think about a time when you were overdue for hydration and desperately waiting until you could drink again. When you finally drank, you probably appreciated water more than ever. How are times of spiritual dryness able to function similiarly for us?
  5. In the United States (and other first-world countries) we have excess food, shelter, clothes, etc.; however, we have one of the highest rates of depression and suicide. We are being overfed, but we are spiritually malnourished. How does St. Francis’ reflection bring light to this modern-day situation?

Assumption of Mary- St. Francis de Sales

LETTER XXVI.
To A SISTER OF THE VISITATION.
On the Feast of the Assumption.

AH! how lovely is this dawning of the eternal day, which, rising towards heaven, goes on, methinks, ever increasing in the benedictions of its incomparable glory ! May the odors of eternal sweetness, spread over the hearts of her servants, fill those of my dearest mother, as my own heart, and may our dear little congregation, entirely devoted to the praise of her Son
and of the sacred breasts that gave him suck, enjoy the blessings prepared for the souls who honor her.

Yesterday evening I had a most particular sense of the advantage which one has of being a child, though unworthy, of this glorious Mother, star of the sea, fair as the moon, bright as the sun.” My dear mother, I had a special consolation in
seeing how she gave a robe of unequalled whiteness to her servant St. Ildefonsus, bishop of Toledo; for why
will she not give one to our dear heart? You see I return everywhere to my flock: let us undertake great things, under favor of this Mother; for if we are a little fervent in her love she is careful not to leave us without the object that we aspire to.
Ah! when I remember that in the Canticlest she says: Compass me about with apples, I would gladly
give her our heart; for what other apple can this fair fruit-tree want of me? I return from my sermon, in which I should greatly
like to have spoken more holily and lovingly of our glorious and sacred Mistress: I beseech her to deign to pardon me. –
May God give us the grace to see ourselves one day consumed with divine love. Meantime, good night, my dearest mother.
The 15th August, day of the glorification of our most honoured mistress. May she be for ever our love.