6th Rule of Discernment

Dear Beginner, 

I left the last letter thinking about bullies, and it reminded me about something that helps, but is very difficult.  I’m the youngest in my family, and I have two older brothers.  When either of them would pick on me, I’d usually go tell on him-- as any little sister would do.  When my mom was already fed up, she’d respond, “Ignore him.”  That was the hardest thing to do, especially when all I wanted was to punch him and make him get in trouble.  But when I did ignore him (which obviously demanded a lot of self-control), after a few more tries, my brother would leave me alone…  If he persisted, I discovered other useful tricks that a little girl has to defend herself… and they worked.

It’s similar here.  Sometimes it’s like the devil is testing us, to see how far he can go, and if we’ll put up the fight.  If you see that ignoring doesn’t work (seriously, give it a shot), call upon St. Michael to help you set things straight.  In the spiritual battle, it’s using different weapons.  The sixth rule says: “Although in desolation we ought not to change our first resolutions, it is very helpful intensely to change ourselves against the same desolation, as by insisting more on prayer, meditation, on much examination, and by some suitable way of doing penance.”

That is to say, talk to the Lord, be simple, sincere, and humble.  Tell Him what you’re going through, ask Him to help.  And get to work—if you are ready to go running out of the chapel after your time of prayer, stay for five minutes longer, on your knees, begging God’s mercy.  You feel completely repulsed by a type of food, job, or person? Choose it, and thank God.  How are we ever going to truly love Him if we’re only good when we feel like it? Smile at that person who annoys you, fast from judgmental thoughts, gossiping, your cell phone, or Facebook.  How easy it is said, and written, but these are heroic acts. It says there “examination:” Concentrate more when you do your examination of conscience (very helpful to do one every night), and see where you’re lacking—and then fix it—that’s precisely where the devil is going to attack.

Don’t forget that these are the rules—if you want to succeed, it helps to follow them.

In the fight,
Another Beginner, but with really good teachers