Ministry Article of the Week
In a nutshell, Ignatian Discernment teaches that the movements of the heart (passions, feelings, and emotions that arise inside us in various situations throughout the day) are to be scrutinized and understood properly, lest they become obstacles to faith, hope and charity and our relationships with God and neighbor be led astray by the "wiles of the devil." St. Ignatius lays out 14 "rules" to discerning the movements of the heart, rules that help us to properly recognize the influences of the spiritual realm in our daily life. Below, I briefly articulate the first five:
Rule #1 - People living in sin experience the enemy's presence as a consolation tempting them to embrace the sensual delight of their vices, and they experience the presence of the Holy Spirit as "stinging and biting their consciences."
Rule # 3 - Those in a state of grace must learn to recognize consolations from the Holy Spirit: every experience of an "increase of hope, faith, and charity, and all interior joy that calls and attracts to heavenly things and to the salvation of one's soul, quieting it and giving it peace in it's Creator and Lord."
Rule # 4 - Learn to recognize times of desolation: "darkness of soul, disturbance, movement to low and earthly things, disquiet from various agitations and temptations, moving to lack of confidence, without hope, without love, finding oneself totally slothful, tepid, sad and, as if separated from God." These are times of trial. They are the moments when the devil is most aggressive with us but, when we learn to view them properly, they are the moments of the greatest grace and the most fruitful opportunities to grow in trust and faith.
Rule # 5 - Never make a life-change in time of desolation. Wait it out and stay committed to whatever you heard the Lord telling you to do in previous times of consolation.
Ignatian Discernment is a priceless weapon in the spiritual life of every Christian. Pope Francis, a devoted follower of St. Ignatius, has been encouraging us to delve more fully into the full teaching on this spirituality, and with good reason. It is a spiritual weapon par excellence. The following is a wonderfully engaging introduction to this kind of prayer and to discerning the movements of your heart (left) and, if you want a penetrating overview in more detail, here is the best I know of (right):