Thursday, September 29, 2016

Pope: "Strong prayers” to overcome “spiritual desolation"

To overcome the "spiritual desolation" that affects everyone and that suggests that death is better than a life lived in despair, we must "pray strenuously", "cry out day and night for God to lend us His ear", said Pope Francis today during Mass celebrated in Casa Santa Marta, commenting on the first reading in which Job is stripped of all his properties, even of his children. He now feels lost, but does not curse the Lord.
"Job was in trouble: he had lost everything." He undergoes a great  "spiritual desolation" and vents his anger before God. It is like the rant of a "child before his father".  

This is also the case of the prophet Jeremiah who vents his frustration on the Lord, but never blasphemes. "Spiritual desolation is something that happens to all of us: it can be stronger or weaker ... But, the soul is dark, hopeless, suspicious, with no will to live, unable to see the end of the tunnel, with so many agitations of the heart, and also ideas ... that spiritual desolation that crushes our soul: it cannot, indeed it does not want to live: 'Better to be dead!'. This is the outburst of Job. Better to die than to live like this. We need to figure out when our spirit is in this state of all-encompassing sadness, when it has almost no breathing space: This happens to us all. The strong and not so strong ... To all of us. Understanding what happens in our hearts". This is "the question that we should ask ourselves: 'What do I do when I go through these dark moments, for a family tragedy, an illness, something that brings me down." People think of "taking a sleeping pill" and escaping "from the facts", or "having two, three, four drinks". But this "does not help." Today's liturgy, however, "shows us how to deal with this spiritual desolation, when we are luke warm and hopeless."

The answer, continued the Pope, lies in the responsorial psalm, Psalm 87: "You come before my prayer, O Lord." We must pray, pray strenuously, just like Job, cry out day and night for God to incline His ear! It is a prayer of knocking on the door, but forcefully For my soul is surfeited with troubles and my life draws near to the nether world. I am numbered with those who go down into the pit; I am a man without strength. ... And this is prayer. The same Lord teaches us how to pray in these difficult moments. You have plunged me into the bottom of the pit, into the dark abyss. Upon me your wrath lies heavy, Let my prayer come before you Lord'. This is the prayer: so we must pray in the worst, darkest, most desolate, most crushing moments, that crush us completely. This is to pray with authenticity. And also let off steam like Job vented his anger with his children. Like a child".

The Book of Job then speaks of the silence of friends. In front of a suffering person, the Pope said, "words can hurt." What counts is to be close, to feel the closeness, "but do not" talk. "When a person suffers, when a person is experiencing spiritual desolation one should speak as little as possible and just help with silence, closeness, the caresses of their prayer before the Father." 

"First, to recognize these moments of spiritual desolation in ourselves, when we are in the dark, without hope, and ask why. Second, to pray to the Lord as the liturgy today with this Psalm 87, that teaches us to pray, in times of darkness. 'C Let my prayer come before you Lord''. And third, when I approach a person suffering from diseases, any suffering, but who is also in desolation, silence; but a silence full of love, closeness, caresses. Do not give them speeches which ultimately do not help and may even do harm. "

"We pray to the Lord - said Francis- to give us these three graces: the grace to recognize spiritual desolation, the grace to pray when we are subjected to this state of spiritual desolation, and the grace to know how to accompany people suffering bad times of sadness and spiritual desolation".

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