Never to make a change

The fifth: In time of desolation never to make a change; but to be firm and constant in the resolutions and determination in which one was the day preceding such desolation, or in the determination in which he was in the preceding consolation. Because, as in consolation it is rather the good spirit who guides and counsels us, so in desolation it is the bad, with whose counsels we cannot take a course to decide rightly. — St. Ignatius of Loyola

I have found over the years that the majority of bad decisions I have made were made in the midst of “desolation” – confusion, fear, depression, anxiety. It’s so incredibly tempting to shift course when darkness comes, because when you find yourself in a state of desolation there arises deep within an almost compulsive need to break free from its grip and seek immediate relief. In that frame of mind you easily succumb to the fantasy that everything will be better if you just change direction.

Ignatius’ counsel is clear: do not to change course on well-discerned decisions you have made previously until the storms of confusion pass and you have a restored sense of peace and clarity within which you can think clearly. A healthy human spirit and/or the Holy Spirit produce a sense of inner freedom and peace, while an unhealthy human spirit and/or an Evil spirit conjure a sense of inner compulsion and turmoil.

So many bad decisions can be avoided by keeping firm to this Rule.

I thought of all this when I heard Phillip Phillips’ song Home the other day. The refrain captures the spirit of Rule Five wonderfully. The last lines of the refrain remind us that in the midst of our desolation, when we feel lost and homeless, we need to seek out those safe spaces in our lives that are our “homes,” where peace, trust, hope and all the fruits of the Spirit abide. There we can think aright and can become aware of the fact that God never leaves us alone. Indeed, He who descended into hell can make even the darkest places in our life, those places from which we would rather flee, our “home.”

Settle down, it’ll all be clear
Don’t pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble—it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found
Just know you’re not alone
‘Cause I’m gonna make this place your home

Here’s the song:

5 comments on “Never to make a change

  1. nos says:

    Conyers awaits… P.B.W.Y.A.A.

  2. Jennifer says:

    Thank you for ministering to me with this sage advice, really. And with the commandment to smile too. I wish I had had it decades ago, though i probably wasn’t ready to heed it yet.

    Staying the course right now looks like:
    1) going to the ocean yesterday with Matthew. The wind was warm for once… a complete shock to all of us who experienced it. A powerful burst of life whipping through our hair. And I made a rare find: an intact crab carapace! Matthew’s thing lately is to sweep his arm above his head and announce with the most contagious joy “God made everything!!!” So grateful for my little boy who fills my heart to bursting.

    2) Buying my seven year old his first communion suit for next weekend. He celebrated his first reconciliation yesterday morning. The school had a Holy Hour while the little ones went out one at a time to make their confessions. My beautiful husband came for the Holy Hour (his first)!

    3) Praying the Rosary outdoors in the sunshine while the kids circle in the driveway on bikes and scooters rather than giving up.

    4) Repeating over and over again the words of St. Basil’s “give thanks to God who created and arranged all things for your benefit, to have you know, love, and praise their Creator.’

    The sun is back. Spring is finally here. Happiness is popping up with the crocuses. He is good. I am stupendously blessed to have this life I live, to know Him. Tout est vraiment, vraiment grâce!

    Peace to you, Dr. Tom et al.


    • Jennifer, Thank you more than I can say for this window into your world. What joy it brings! Drink in Spring for us as summer is here. 🙂 Greetings to your clan. You are often thought of and prayed for. Peace and all good, Dr. T

  3. Jennifer says:

    Thank you. It’s getting better.

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