Monday, February 27, 2012

On Spiritual "Dryness"

"raphaella" left the following comment on my post about devotion to Mary:
Do you have any words of wisdom on "spiritual dryness"? The books I have read on the subject seem to be for the more spiritually advanced and are too difficult to read for my simple mind. Any suggestions?
To be honest, I often struggle with the same thing, which is why I have put off answering this question. But, in light of the season of Lent when people are trying their best to pray more, it demands a response.

I've been thinking a lot about this, and the word that keeps coming to mind is "perseverance." Paul tells us, "It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?" (Heb 12:7). Spiritual dryness is meant to discipline us and to mold our faith. Our faith becomes stronger when it perseveres through times in which God seems utterly absent from our lives. It is a strong and disciplined faith that is able to say, "I feel as though you have left me, you no longer hear my prayers. But, I pray nonetheless, because in faith I believe that you never leave us." St. James tells us, "Blessed is the man who endures trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him" (Jas 1:12). Grace and fellowship with God is our reward, if we will only persevere.

"Patience" is another key word. "But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience" (Rom 8:25). Prayer takes time, persistence, and effort. It is certainly not something that we master over night. I get frustrated quite often by this, and many times I have succumbed to the temptation to just give up on prayer. "My prayer life is so lousy, how could it ever get better?" But, this is foolish, and not befitting of a man with discretion (cf. Prov 14:17).

Finally, Paul tells us, "Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer" (Rom 12:12). The answer to spiritual dryness is the combination of the two key words I have mentioned: perseverence and patience in prayer. These two virtues are seen together in many passages of Scripture:
Col 1:11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy,

2 Tim 3:10 Now you have observed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness,

Heb 6:15 And thus Abraham, having patiently endured, obtained the promise.

Rev 1:9 I John, your brother, who share with you in Jesus the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.

Rev 2:2,19 "'I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear evil men but have tested those who call themselves apostles but are not, and found them to be false; 19 "'I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first.

Rev 3:10 Because you have kept my word of patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial which is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell upon the earth.

"Patient endurance"...this is key to the Christian life, and John speaks of it in Revelation as if it were one of the characteristics of faithful Christians. "Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus" (Rev 14:12). May you be so qualified.

Pax Christi,


  1. "Amber" emailed me the following comment:

    I was told about a book called This Tremendous Lover by Father M. Eugene Boylan. I've heard it's much easier to read than some of the other stuff people often suggest, like Dark Night of the Soul. Maybe it will also be helpful for "raphaella".

    I've never read the book, so I can't confirm that it will be helpful. But, I thought I would pass this along anyway.

    For a link to the book, go here:

    Pax Christi,

  2. Thank you so much for your "words of wisdom". You have helped more than you could know. I read further in the scriptures you referred to, and it seems like they were meant for me.

    "Dark Night of the Soul" was the book I was referring to as being too advanced, and I certainly will read "This Tremendous Lover"

    God Bless


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