At some moment in our lives, we all go through spiritual dryness. We sit down to pray and feel nothing. God seems absent to us and our heart feels depressed and lonely. He doesn’t seem to be hearing our prayers and we feel the opposite of inspiration.
This can be a hard time for us, as we can simply be tempted to give up the spiritual life.
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, following the spiritual writings of St. Ignatius of Loyola, provides helpful advice for such a situation using her own words.
In the time of these spiritual issues we must make no deliberations or changes, either as to our state of life, or way of acting in it, but keep firm to the resolutions we had made before, for as in the time of consolation we are not as much guided by our own spirit, as by the spirit of God, so in our agitations and spiritual storms we are led by the instigations of the evil spirit, through whom we can do NOTHING WISE or GOOD; for how can we reason or see the truth in this confusion of mind and impressions.
In as much as we must not think of changing any of the resolutions we made before our time of trial; yet we must firmly avoid the present trouble by redoubling our prayers, examines of the probable cause, and mortifications; as we are told of our divine Savior that he redoubled his prayers in his combats; and if indeed the Enemy of souls is the author of our trouble he will quickly let us alone when he finds that he obtains nothing by tempting us and that we do more good works when he disturbs us than when we are in Peace.
In our time of tribulation we must reflect that God is with us, if he seems even to leave us to our own weakness, and he tries our fidelity to him while he makes us feel our dependence on him-our sensible fervor is wanting, but the grace to keep from sin and work our Salvation he will not deprive us of, nor will it ever be wanting.
The 9th chapter of the second book of [The Imitation of Christ] cannot be read with too much care. Our spiritual life is like spring time in which we have two or three kinds of weather in a day and consistent changes from sunshine to clouds.
There are three main causes of spiritual dryness, the first our sloth and indifference in our exercises of piety, which makes us deserve to be left without consolation, the second is the intention of our God to try us, and see if we will love him without any present recompense, and a third reason may be to assure us that we are nothing by our own strength and that the devotion and interior consolations we sometimes enjoy are wholly his gifts-we must try to comprehend in our time of trial which of these three causes may occasion it … that if our infidelities have brought it on us we may use every effort to win them.