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Friday, September 18, 2009

Sp. Exx.: The Discernment of Spirits for The First Week

In the Principle and Foundation, we see that we and all creatures belong to God. All is gift and all is goodness in itself. Our primary response to God is thanksgiving, praise and a desire to serve God in others. We can also see that because of inner unfreedom, we can use God’s gifts selfishly. Our goal is to grow in inner freedom so as to choose to be more loving people.

Sin: In some of our prayers, we see sin, the movement toward selfishness and away from God. Sin is ancient (Adam and Eve) and pervasive (read the newspapers). We all share in sin and we will always be enticed by the evil spirits to sin. But we also see more deeply that God continues to love us, that we are loved sinners. That is a foundational grace for Ignatius: I am a sinner loved by God.

Love and sin indicate the presence of the Good Spirit and the Evil Spirit struggling for our souls. How do we know which one is acting on us?

1. If a sinner moves to more sin, the Evil Spirit gives pleasure, but the Good Spirit stings the conscience with remorse.

2. If a good person move to being better, the Evil Spirit causes gnawing anxieties, sadness, and sets up obstacles, while the Good Spirit stirs up courage, consolation, tears, inspiration and tranquility.


a. moves to being inflamed with love of God.
b. moves to tears out of love for God or grief for sin.
c. moves to every increase of faith, hope, love and every interior joy.


a. moves to darkness and disturbance of soul.
b. moves to the low and earthly.
c. moves to anxiety arising from various agitations and temptations,
d. moves to a lack of faith, hope and love.

Joy is not the same as consolation:

Patriots’ Super Bowl victory (joy) vs. dreaming about this Lenten prayer (consolation)
Depression (or sadness and grief) is not the same as desolation, but it can feed it.
A rainy day can be depressing

After his conversion, Ignatius was attached by scruples. (desolation)
A woman seeing a ray of light at the burial of her mother and feeling overwhelming consolation.
An experience when I have felt both miserable and greatly consoled.
Consolation in giving, doing and sacrificing?
Desolation after wasting time on computer games, TV, etc.

Adapted by Fr. Ken Hughes, S.J.

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