I’m going to try and share with you something that seems to me to be completely unknown by many people trying to grow in the spiritual life. In all things, if you want to do something well, you need to know how to do it, and usually there are norms, rules, and methods of doing so. If you want to excel in playing basketball, well then you should not only perfect your shot, train your muscles, and know how to play defense, but also you should learn the plays, and learn the rules. It would be embarrassing if you had a lot of talent but got called out for double dribbling.
Well, introduction out of the way, what I’m talking about is the Rules of Discerning Spirits. No, this is not a class about exorcisms, it is a simple way to know the enemy, and also to know your friends. Just as the devil tempts you and tries to make you sin, the Lord is there to encourage you to keep strong in the faith. Many times we are moved by our feelings, but that is not what should cause you to do something. Or we think that we have the right answer, but at the moment it isn’t the best thing to do. How does one know? Apart from having a spiritual director, it helps to have a base to rely on and knowledge of how the enemy may attack. If you haven’t caught the drift yet, you are in a battle and the devil wants to destroy you, while the angels (and everyone in heaven), especially your guardian angel, want to help you.
The Rules of Discernment were written by St. Ignatius of Loyola in the 1500s and, as you will see, are still very applicable today. As I explain them, I may skip a few, as there are many. Even so, knowing the rules of discerning spirits helps a lot, because we are easily tricked, and the devil is very smart.
Very important if you are serious about your spiritual life: GET A SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR. More on that in another letter.
In the Eucharist,
Another Beginner, but with really good teachers