Ninth Rule. The ninth: There are three principal reasons why we find ourselves desolate. The first is, because of our being tepid, lazy or negligent in our spiritual exercises; and so through our faults, spiritual consolation withdraws from us. The second, to try us and see how much we are and how much we let ourselves out in His service and praise without such great pay of consolation and great graces. The third, to give us true acquaintance and knowledge, that we may interiorly feel that it is not ours to get or keep great devotion, intense love, tears, or any other spiritual consolation, but that all is the gift and grace of God our Lord, and that we may not build a nest in a thing not ours, raising our intellect into some pride or vainglory, attributing to us devotion or the other things of the spiritual consolation.
I love the consolation this rule brings: is it my fault? Then I need to do something about it...how do I know? There is always that barometer that we talked about. There are also a few more tips that St. Ignatius will talk about in the next couple exercises...but first of all it's good to realize that God permits desolation for many different reasons. NOT just that we are failures (which is what desolation tries to convince us of) but sometimes because this very thing which seems to drive us from God is actually bringing us to him ("all is the gift and grace of God...we may not build a nest in a thing not ours") as it empties us of ourselves and makes room for Him.