Tag Archives: Desolation

A Moment of Reflection on Suffering Pneumonia and Expectations – September 17 2017

Had a mildly challenging night. Not much sleep. Even so, up and feeling a slight bit better. Prayer time was good but not great. The violent cough soon reemerged and led me to a bit of discouragement – frustration at small things.

I was hoping that today might be a turning point. It felt possible. Not happening. As I experienced the internal physical violence that comes with pneumonia, I doubled over with my hands resting on my knees and as it subsided a hint of desolation settled in. “Breathe,” Stephanie says.

Several volcanic coughing spells spread throughout the morning. I sat down at my desk. I looked at my Plan of Love/Examen. The Spirit showed me – desolation. I noted it.

Rule 6: Although in desolation we should not change our first proposals, it is very advantageous to change ourselves intensely against the desolation itself, by insisting more upon prayer, meditation, upon much examination, and upon extending ourselves in some suitable way of doing penance.

Examination: Why am I feeling this way? I am sick. But the desolation…

The problem is in my expectations. I felt an inkling of feeling better. I managed the first coughing fits to keep them shorter. Later they worsened. So out of control. Why when all the other health indicators are good?

I need to be careful with my expectations. I need to hope that this will end soon but expect it will last a month or longer. His love is in this moment – this truth – I need the reminder of how fragile my life really is and how much I really need Him. Eyes welling with emotion. His love is present. Manage expectations. Yield.

Enough examination. A suitable penance? Offering it up for the young men entering into the High Calling program. Just the thought of offering it up… a ray of joy pierces the clouds of desolation. Welling with emotion.

What an inexplicable yet sober joy to be able to join with Christ in the redemption of the world. Rejoice – choose joy in suffering. Lean into the discomfort. He is there in the moment, waiting.


Peace in the Storm

Dear Beloved Friends,

The King is coming. Our salvation draws near.

This past week was quite remarkable. As you know we moved into the week with technology and other challenges. Then Debbie got very sick and could not bring supplies and equipment to the events in Maryland and Washington. Joshua Meeker came to the rescue as he had to fly to Connecticut and drive all the necessary supplies down.

The list of challenges both because of human frailty (including my own) and supernatural opposition is far too long and tedious to enumerate. The enemy’s last and strongest assault was targeted at the relationship between us and our hosts. I can’t share exactly what happened but suffice it to say, we must endure significant financial setbacks as a result.

When the challenge surfaced, it was very clear to me that the enemy was at work to divide those dedicated to the effort. After some prayer and seeking council with my wife, I responded by exhorting all to not allow the enemy to divide us and by forgiving what was due. This relieved the tensions and allowed us to focus on the events in peace and solidarity. It is however a significant blow at a time when our finances are tight. Money must never be allowed to get in the way of serving God’s people and should never divide God’s people.

Beyond these elements, I was in desolation before these challenges began to surface and remained so until I woke up Wednesday morning before giving my first retreat at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. My morning prayer was very peaceful and powerful. As I read the gospel of the Mass of the day I felt a strong prompting to make significant changes to the talks and was able to do so with peace. The reaction of the diocesan DREs was very positive. Our host said something to the effect of, “I don’t want to tempt you to pride so I won’t tell you the details but the retreat was very very powerful.”

As an aside, here’s a photo of my favorite place to pray at the Basilica. It is the “Our Lady of Lourdes” Chapel.


What is interesting about all of this from a spiritual standpoint was the experience of desolation coupled with a predominant disposition of peace. This seems contradictory and I can’t say that I fully understand it. Even so, I am sure, in a limited way, of the source and means of my peace. A powerful meditation of peace versus anxiety in the storm can be found by comparing the disciples of Jesus in panic on the sea of Galilee when He was with them and asleep in the boat, and St. Paul’s shipwreck on Malta in the book of Acts.


There is no doubt that St. Paul’s peace was challenged as the boat began to disintegrate against the shoal and they had to abandon ship and swim. All of the normal human survival instincts were at play as they fought to get to the pre-dawn shore of an unknown place without any sense of what lie ahead of them. Even so, nothing indicates that St. Paul lost his foundation of peace. In fact, as a prisoner he provided serene yet strong leadership to his captors.

I want you to know that I am grateful to you for your prayers. Much of the serenity I experienced was no doubt because of your prayers and the provision of the Blessed Trinity. I also had a supernatural awareness of the prayers of a particular hermit in Oregon. A brief and comforting vision was given to me of her in prayer for me. I emailed her to ask if she was praying for me and she replied, “I have been battling several types of spirits this past week, all whose end result was to cause “disunity”. Spirits really trying to disunify relationships.”

From a spiritual standpoint, from all reports, the events were very helpful for the attendees. For this we praise God and are grateful. Here’s a photo from the parish event.


My own conclusion regarding peace in the storm, which I have gratefully experienced many times, is that it only comes as we seek to give all we are to Him. Note that I didn’t say as we “perfectly” give all we are to Him but as we “seek” to give all we are to Him. Without the pursuit of the foundational spiritual practices we propose in Apostoli Viae, this kind of peace is illusive. With the strong foundation of sacramental participation, ascesis, and daily mental prayer – communion with the Beloved – we can and will know peace in the storm.

Please continue to pray for me and our financial situation. Also, more importantly, please pray for Debbie. She was in the ER yesterday. I can’t reveal what she is specifically going through yet but she has asked me to request your fervent prayers for her spiritual and physical help.

Unum est Necessarium


PS: It was great to see Janine Zaebst at the event and to get to talk with her briefly – too briefly. As well, another of our Avila students was there along with one of our professors. It was a gift to see them all and to finally meet Janine face to face.