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An accountancy practice cor-trials. How is it all those years and everyone wanted change and blamed and blamed and blamed and so many citizens were already fed up with govt. Now its more of a mess, and the blame lays on foolish citizens that dont understand the machine of politics and how govt works and how the founders designed it so iron could sharpen iron in the gray areas so more can get along …Leftists are catering to the enemies abroad and giving more power to the tyrants of the world that are not interested in a war with boots on the ground but are looking to cripple the USA and break down its will as being tough people who never give up.

I blame the citizens and sometimes myself too, but mostly i been fighting trying to play along and play by more rules. You still blaming Bush and Republican? Your a moron period…citizens make the difference people who care, nurses, laborers people trying and people believing in Christ and having repentance and knowing there is a purpose beyond just the earthly govt and not whether there are jobs or no The Lord finds a way it just might not be the comfortable way — its time to unite and not blame if your cause is truth it will stand the test of time.

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Bond yield spreads between equity REITs and corporate industrials have tightened to levels last seen during , the tail end of the last REIT credit cycle. He put together his methodology for discernment through trial and error. His own life story puts to rest the myth that saints are superhuman and have it all together from the beginning. This is what serious Christians in his social class were supposed to do.

On his way, he stopped at a village in Spain called Manresa for what he intended to be a short visit. He stayed there for a year—and it was a harrowing year at that. He experienced a real distaste for anything that had to do with God; there were persistent waves of discouragement about the way of life he was taking up; serious illnesses brought him again to the point of death; he became so obsessed with scruples that he became suicidal; he experienced consolations so powerful that they made his eyes hurt with weeping.

These experiences taught him how to distinguish among true and false forms of encouragement, enthusiasm, and other pleasant and satisfying feelings. The Franciscans, who oversaw the Christian holy places, were afraid that he would be kidnapped and held for ransom, so they told him he had to leave.

Ignatius had to discern the purpose of his life all over again. He decided that God wanted him to teach the faith. To do that, he would have to get an education. He received his degree only after years of study at three universities. Several times his spiritual insights absorbed so much of his attention that his studies suffered. The Inquisition, suspicious of his spiritual ideas, put him in prison twice and put him on trial once he was acquitted of heresy charges.

He wanted to form a group of companions,. Later, Ignatius did find a group of men who became the nucleus of the Society of Jesus, but it took a long time for the Society to settle on its mission. Many church authorities opposed a new order that did not pray the liturgy of the hours in a monastery but rather worked actively in the world.

Near the end of his life, Ignatius described this meandering journey in an autobiography. He wrote that, all that time, God had been dealing with him in the same way that a schoolmaster deals with a child while instructing him or her. It was a course of education, of learning, but it was learning of a particular sort. The wisdom Ignatius acquired and the methodology he developed were founded on his personal experience. He learned a great deal from teachers and books, but these amplified and refined the lessons he learned through prayer, observation, and engagement with other people.

The story of Ignatius illustrates four truths that are crucial for the process of making decisions. We can trust our experience. Knowing that we can trust our experience is the first, and perhaps the most fundamental, lesson about discernment. Books and ideas and the counsel of the wise are all well and good, but the main arena for discernment is what we ourselves experience. We can discern the right direction by thoughtful reflection on our relationships with others, on our work in the world, and on the feelings those encounters generate.

They are meaningful because God is in them. Our life is the classroom in which the Schoolmaster teaches and guides us. Whole systems of thought and belief challenge this idea. Ancient philosophical traditions held that the physical world of matter and human bodies was a corrupt reflection of ideal forms that existed in the heavens. A theological tradition that began with Augustine and blossomed in Calvinism holds that sin hopelessly corrupts human judgment and reason, and that emotions are particularly suspect.

One of the key ideas of Eastern religions is that this world is essentially an illusion and that enlightenment comes as we rid ourselves of desires and ambitions and feelings.

Reconciling Image in Print and Visual Culture

In this argument, Ignatius stands firmly on the side of human experience. It is real; it is meaningful; it is trustworthy when we understand it properly. God deals with us directly. We can trust our experience because God deals with us directly. Ignatius certainly believed that the church and Scripture are trustworthy teachers of truth and that we need that truth to help us interpret our experience.

He also believed that Christians receive spiritual nourishment in the sacraments and in devotional prayer. But he also believed that God communicates directly to each of us. We can have a personal relationship with God. Prayer in the Ignatian mode is essentially a conversation. He warned spiritual directors not to get in the way. Value the journey itself. This is the time of discernment, of prayer and reflection, of listening for the still, small voice of God.

And the decision itself, however important it may be, is but one step in the journey of our lives. Pilgrimages are journeys to a holy place. The tradition of religious pilgrimages holds that the journey is at least as important as the goal. That is where the spiritual benefits lie. The goal is not perfection but progress in relationship with God.

God spoke to him directly and guided him on a pilgrimage. As he made his pilgrim journey, he learned to distinguish between deeply true notions of his destiny and those that were more superficial and even false. Thus, he came to know himself better. He did this by trial and error and even made mistakes along the way. He made decisions that seemed to take him down blind alleys. He had to retrace his steps, regroup, and figure things out all over again.

In all these wanderings, he noticed that the true God did not castigate him for errors but lovingly helped him learn from them. This helped him to trust God more and to be more open. His pilgrimage was one of an ever-deepening and ever-strengthening relationship between his true self and the loving God he was coming to know.

So it was that he was able to say in the Spiritual Exercises that we should pray for the grace to know God more intimately, which will allow us to love God more truly and follow him more closely. That is why we look to this man who lived five hundred years ago for guidance and inspiration. Ignatius learned how to translate his powerful desires into practical decisions that shaped his life. He learned how to grow in day-by-day responsiveness to God. He learned discernment. We frequently meet people who are paralyzed by the choices before them.

They ponder an abundance of possible careers and courses of study, a surplus of potential relationships, a confusing mixture of pros and cons and conflicting advice. Some of this complexity is self-inflicted, but much of it is real. Our divided hearts stagger and stumble before the nearinfinite menu of choices that modern life offers us.

Where to begin? What is important, and what is extraneous? He thought that only one thing is truly necessary to make a good decision. If we get that one thing If we get it wrong, or if we apply it haphazardly, trouble awaits us. This one necessary thing focuses our attention and clarifies what decision making is all about. The one necessary thing is this: love God first.

Understand that you are in a relationship with God, who loves you and who desires the best for you. Approach your decisions as ways to cultivate and deepen this relationship. Ignatius says, first, that we need to keep our end in mind. Our end is not professional success, romantic fulfillment, or self-actualization. Our end is God. Our end is union with God, and our decisions are means to reach that end.

The big problem is that so often we make an end out of our means. Ignatius says that this is backward. The Gospel story of Martha and Mary is about this very thing. When he came to visit, Martha busied herself with the details of housekeeping and cooking while Mary sat with Jesus and listened to him. There is need of only one thing. Ignatius put it a little differently. Once we focus our attention on that, everything else can fall into place. Sometimes we think that the one necessary thing conflicts with our deepest desires.

We get the idea that praising, reverencing, and serving God is something radically different from our current state. For example, a woman with a rewarding career who is drawn to marriage and family might get the idea that what God really wants is for her to quit her job, decide to be single, and work with homeless people in another state.

Am I more caring and loving as a result? Do I feel faith in God increasing and praise flowing more naturally? In the movie, Eric Liddell is a devout Christian. Many of his Christian friends think that competitive running is a waste of time, but Eric sees it differently.

He runs to please God. When running threatens his relationship with God, Eric withdraws from a race. Harold wins the race in the end, but the movie invites us to ask whether his motives truly brought him happiness. Recall the decision facing Wendy, the medical student we met in the first chapter who is preparing for a career in substance abuse treatment. Wendy is also in love with Robert, and she wonders whether a life with Robert might conflict with her career.

Clarity about the one necessary thing might well help Wendy see whether either or both of these possibilities are moving her in the direction of the one thing that is necessary. From what we have seen, it seems that a career in substance abuse treatment might well spring from a desire to serve God and fulfill her truest self. Her relationship with Robert, who mainly wants to get rich, might stand in the way of that. Of course, we do not really know Wendy or Robert. Wendy may well decide that she is not as certain about her end as she thought she was.

She may find that her desire to serve poor addicts is not entirely selfless but is driven by a longing to have others admire her. She may decide that her deepest desire is to be married and have a family, with professional work playing a subordinate role. It not only puts the most important question at the forefront.

It also helps us understand what Ignatian discernment is all about. Discernment is for people who have committed themselves to pursuing the good. Ignatian discernment is useful for making choices between two or more good alternatives. Consider someone like Craig, for example. Craig is a mildly depressed young man trying to figure out what he should do with his life. He thinks that he might want to quit his job and go to graduate school.

It turns out that Craig is working hard to maintain relationships with three girlfriends without any of them knowing about the others. He needs to make a fundamental decision to live with integrity. He needs to. We will always fall short of perfection, will always encounter pride, envy, and laziness, when we examine our feelings about the choices before us.

In fact, using the tools of discernment with discipline and honesty may well make us more aware of these things. This way of thinking has its roots in a certain kind of severe spirituality. Most religions greatly value the virtues of austerity and sacrifice. They honor saints and holy people who have performed great acts of renunciation; have turned their backs on worldly comforts; and have sought God in the desert, the monastery, and among the beggars and the dying. This kind of heroic virtue can be seen as the ideal.

It gives rise to the feeling that God wants us to make a radical, daunting change, and that if we follow a path that is pleasing and satisfying to us we are settling for second best. Perhaps there was a touch of this attitude in the case of Jon, the young man we met in the first chapter who went to Africa to work with AIDS patients when he decided he needed a. If we love God first, God will point us in a direction that is consistent with our deepest desires. In the course of our relationship with God, we will get to know more about God and more about ourselves.

This relationship with God may take us to surprising places, but these will not be places that are repugnant to us or that alienate us from ourselves. This is one of the many lessons about discernment that Ignatius learned through personal experience. For a time he practiced the most severe ascetic spirituality.

He prayed for hours every day, fasted heroically, let his hair and nails grow, and inflicted punishing penances on himself. The result was disastrous. He was tormented by terrible scruples and deep depression—to the point where he was afflicted by thoughts of suicide. Ignatius eventually realized that these radically exacting spiritual practices led to spiritual ruin rather than spiritual growth. Mortifications and penances have their place. They free us and strengthen our willpower so that we might more easily pursue the end for which we are created. But they are not the end in themselves.

The one necessary thing is that we praise, reverence, and serve God. This should be consistent with our deepest desires; it should not make us miserable. Sometimes people think discernment is a mysterious process of reading the signs or deciphering a code: God scatters a bunch of clues, and discernment helps us read them and solve the mystery. There are three problems with this idea. First, it suggests that God hides things from us and enjoys making decisions difficult for us.

But the problems are our divided hearts, our pride, our desire to have it all, and our ability to delude ourselves. Many of these messages come from our culture. These messages, not God, make it harder to find the end we seek. Discernment helps us come to grips with such obstacles and determine the course of action that truly satisfies us. The second problem is that the notion of decoding a puzzle is a very linear concept of discernment. We start at point A, launching a process of discernment whereby we read tea leaves and chicken entrails, decode secret messages, and decipher clues.

We move to point B, where we choose point C or point D on the decision tree, depending on our analysis. Eventually, we arrive at a conclusion. It can be frustrating to aim for a model of discernment like this, because in real life we sometimes go over the same ground more than once, and we only slowly appreciate the deepening significance of some of the factors involved.

What is more, and this is the third problem, placing too much emphasis on coming to a final conclusion can obscure the one thing necessary: our relationship with God. God invites us to a much more dynamic relationship, one that is ever deepening and in which we are constantly learning more about ourselves and others and God. God is not opposed to hot tubs and margaritas, but real life is much richer. As the saying goes, life is not a problem to be solved but a mystery to be lived. A geometrical image that captures this better than straight lines is a spiral.

We do go over the same ground sometimes, but if we are open to God, we can go deeper rather than back-and-forth. It is more a pattern of dancing together than of pacing alone. The meaning of discernment is a bit hard to pin down. The term originated in the context of sorting through, or discerning, the various feelings that occur when we are in the process of making a decision. Here we will use a more popular sense of the term, which refers to the broader decision-making process.

Discernment is something that involves the concrete circumstances of daily life. Discernment is about a choice that needs to be made between options that are real possibilities. God touches us personally. Discernment is practical and personalized. It involves a relationship with God, with the world around us, with the people around us, and ultimately with ourselves. The rhythm of this relationship is call-and-response; God invites, we answer. Decision-making can be compared to the back-and-forth call-and-response music of a gospel choir. The price of admission to this gospel concert is a desire to choose the best of a number of good options.

Putting God first is quite demanding. Many of the meditations that Ignatius included in the Spiritual Exercises are intended to challenge the ideas we have grown comfortable with. One of the most thought provoking is an exercise that raises the question, How free are we to follow God? Ignatius poses this situation: Three men have each acquired a fortune. All three are good people who want to serve God.

All three recognize that the fortune they own brings difficulties. The money threatens to control their lives. They are enticed by the wealth, drawn to it, and tempted to organize their lives around it. All three men resolve not to let their fortune get in the way of what God wants of them. Ignatius invites us to reflect on the different ways these men relate to the problem. The first man is all talk and no action. He acknowledges that the fortune stands between him and God. He talks a great deal about how he wants to be free. He considers many ways that he might loosen the hold the money has on him.

But he never does anything about it. When he dies, he is still thinking about making a larger place for God in his life. The second man does all kinds of things to relate more deeply to God. He prays more, he works harder at doing good for other people, he gives money away to the poor and needy. He might even use his fortune to set up a charitable foundation. But he retains control. He is negotiating with God. The third man resolves to follow God wherever he leads.

Note that this third man does not assume that God wants him to give his fortune away. The point of the parable is having the freedom to follow God wherever he leads. We should not fix our desires on health or sickness, wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or short one. For everything has the potential of calling forth in us a more loving response to our life forever with God.

In other words, the goal is to be free—free at last! Achieving this freedom is a process. All we need at the beginning is a desire to be free. That is the one necessary thing to deal with the problem of our divided hearts. Once we desire to be free, we can move on to the next job: to understand the meaning behind the conflict in our hearts. Now comes the work of dealing with our divided hearts. Long ago, St. Every human being who has ever lived has experienced an inner struggle, a push and pull in the longing for something more.

This maelstrom of emotions has many causes. Some of this is simply caused by our immediate circumstances—our own fatigue, our family genetics, and our unique personalities.


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We humans are spirit wedded to flesh. Spiritual forces are at work in our divided hearts. Ignatius was a soldier, and so it was only natural that he would describe this inner struggle as a battle. Ignatius believed that God is constantly inviting us into a deeper union with the divine. He also believed that contrary spiritual forces are constantly pulling us away from God. Ignatius wrote during the sixteenth century, and thus he did not use the language and concepts of modern psychology. He did not describe our inner turmoil in terms of conscious and unconscious motivation welling up in our libido or arising from our id.

But he was a shrewd observer of human nature and a passionate, practical researcher into the realm of spiritual experience. He observed the reality of our divided hearts. He knew about spiritual conflict intimately, and he used the language of spirits to describe it. People today are all over the map on the question of good and evil spirits. Some dismiss talk of angels and devils as superstitious nonsense. Some see demons everywhere.

Modern popular culture certainly seems comfortable with the idea that spiritual realms of good and evil are real. Certainly all religions of the world rest on the premise that we human beings can know something of the divine because God chooses to reveal it to us. Christian teaching is quite clear that good and evil spirits are at war in creation and in every human heart. Are there personal good and evil spirits? Jesus believed in them. So did Ignatius and a host of other spiritual masters. So do the authors of this book. If this kind of talk makes you uncomfortable, it might help to think of the Good Spirit and.

But make no mistake; spiritual conflict is real. We will look at three dimensions of our spiritual experience. First is the inner conflict we experience. Second, we consider the way we are influenced by society and culture. Finally, we look at how spiritual forces fit into the picture. With the gift of free will comes the ability to choose good or evil. Most of the misery in the world stems from free human choices. There are parts of ourselves that are self-destructive. As the Bible says, they lead to a kind of spiritual death see Deuteronomy —20; Wisdom — A wonderful cinematic depiction of this is found in the character Gollum in the film trilogy The Lord of the Rings, based on the novels by J.

Gollum has degenerated into a piteous creature through his possession of a magical ring that destroys all who use it. Gollum agrees to help his pure-hearted master, Frodo, find his way to the fire where the ring can be destroyed once and for all. But Gollum struggles with his decision. One unforgettable scene shows Gollum arguing with himself, one moment speaking from the part of. This conflict is written in the heart. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate. For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want.

Miserable one that I am! Susan, a college professor, is a gifted teacher who loves her students. She spends much time with them outside of class. Year after year, students rate her the most popular and effective teacher on campus. But Susan is insensitive and unforgiving to everyone else. She is harshly critical of the university administration. She dislikes her colleagues, who, not surprisingly, find her difficult and thus avoid her.

Mike is a brilliant, hard-working software engineer who gets along well at home and at work—until he explodes in anger. Rage will suddenly overtake him. Mike and Susan illustrate something we know well. We may not choose the good even though we know what it is. Within all of us is an inner struggle with those parts of our spirit that are good and those parts of ourselves that are selfdestructive or evil. The Culture of Death We live in a world that is similarly divided. The cultural forces in our world influence our choices for good or ill. These forces exist within our families, our friendships, our corporations, our government, and our church.

Sin is social as well as personal. Chapter 3 of the book of Genesis tells the story of Adam and Eve, who each personally chose to disobey God and eat of the forbidden fruit. God punishes this arrogance with a confusion of language at the tower of Babel. Sinful structures abound in our culture today. Bob is a faithful member of a prayer group. He is known to others as a man of great virtue. But Bob struggles with a secret addiction to pornography.

He would not have nearly as much trouble if pornography was not so easily available on the Internet. For Bob, the Internet is a powerful social influence that causes him great trouble. But Illinois is also home to a long tradition of political corruption. This climate of corruption transcends any one individual, yet influences all those who live there. Four of the last six governors have been indicted, two have gone to prison, and another has been removed from office.

Everyone breathes the same air. When the air is pure, we flourish. When the air is polluted, we are in danger. Struggle in the Spiritual Realm The third dimension of inner conflict is the spiritual realm. Spiritual powers are at work, and they influence our decisions for better or worse. But then Peter goes on to argue with Jesus about the suffering that Jesus predicts is coming for him. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the.

Ephesians —12 A biological example may be helpful here. In ages past, bacteria were unknown. People attributed sickness to fate, unbalanced humors, or the action of the gods. Our understanding of this microscopic battle helps us to fight disease. In the same way, there is an unseen spiritual battle going on within us, a struggle for the health of our soul. Understanding something of this battle can be very helpful in maintaining our spiritual health.

How can it possibly be helpful in making decisions? Here is where the Ignatian tradition has much to offer. First, the Ignatian tradition helps us understand the inner life by providing a vocabulary with which to talk about it. Ignatius took the maelstrom of our feelings and emotions and classified them into two broad categories. Consolation is any felt increase in faith, hope, and love that leads to a holy peace.

It is commonly experienced as feelings of peace, serenity, and joy. But consolation also includes feelings of sadness about circumstances and personal shortcomings as long as these lead to a resolve to draw closer to God. That is, desolation is anything that takes us away from love of God and others. It is commonly experienced as a troubled spirit: anxiety, restlessness, doubt, upset. It sometimes includes feelings of pride and smugness about a life centered on pleasure. One of the surest signs of desolation is spiritual lethargy. Typically, a person in desolation is not naturally inclined to pray.

Consolation and desolation are somewhat old-fashioned words coined in a previous era of spiritual writing, but they are really quite familiar emotional states. Consolation and desolation are not rarefied spiritual states of bliss and despair. They are feelings—and the thoughts connected to feelings—that we experience all the time in the midst of daily life.

We can identify these states by looking at where they are pointing. True consolation points toward God and other people. We are happy, joyous, and at peace because we are joined with others. Our work is bearing fruit. Our family is happy. Desolation points us away from God. Consolation feels like coming home. Desolation feels like having lost our way home. Home is where we belong. Reflection on our emotions can thus become a trustworthy tool for making decisions. Generally speaking, consolation is the work of the Holy Spirit and desolation the work of. We want to make decisions associated with consolation.

This is something of an oversimplification— discernment of spirits is tricky business, as we will see in the next chapter. But the language of consolation and desolation is extraordinarily helpful. It makes our emotional life part of our decision making. The Examen occupies a place of special importance for those of us working in the tradition of Ignatian spirituality. We take our cue from Ignatius himself, who regarded the Examen as the one indispensible form of prayer. He said that busy people who find it very difficult to find time to pray should always find some time to pray the Examen.

The Examen has taken many forms over the centuries. The approach we like best has five points. Begin by praying for light. We recognize that we will never be able to see the truth of our lives without help from God. We begin the Examen by humbly asking God for the grace to see clearly.

We want to want what God wants in our lives. This is prayer with humility. We need help understanding the deeper truth of our life. To begin by praying for light is always the first step toward making a good decision. Pray in thanksgiving. This step is important because it puts our problems in perspective. Many of us have a tendency to exaggerate the difficulties in our lives and to dwell on the negative. Beginning with thanksgiving puts things in perspective. We begin by recognizing that God is blessing us in good times and in hard times. Through all the movements of our hearts and minds and through all the activities of our day, God is calling us to greater life.

Begin by thanking God for these blessings. Be honest. Mention what you are truly grateful for, not what you think you should be grateful for. Of course you should be grateful for your children, but if your children are driving you crazy today, thank God for a soft chair or a quiet corner of the house.

The point is not to lie or to try to butter up God but to find the interior places where true thanksgiving resides. Review the emotions of the day. Every day is filled with events and encounters and thoughts that trigger emotions. Reflect on these feelings. The feelings are more important for discernment than the events that cause them. How did you react to that comment, that memo, that idea, that view of the sunset on your commute home? Let the Holy Spirit guide you in these reflections. Look at both positive and negative emotions.

Look at the joy and the happiness, the laughter and the love. Look at the sorrow and the anger, the jealousy and the sadness. Choose one of these emotions and pray from it. Now, choose one of these feelings and probe it deeply. Experience it. Pray from it. Praying from your emotions means allowing the emotion to become your input in a conversation with God.

Or you might choose the emotion that you most want to avoid exploring. You might find yourself dealing with several emotions clustered together like grapes on a vine. Be as honest as possible with God. Name the feeling as specifically as you can, and tell it to God. You may feel a stirring in your heart, or a picture may pop into your mind, or you may suddenly remember a forgotten memory. You may hear a word or phrase in your imagination.

You may hear or sense nothing at all. Look forward to tomorrow. What are the lessons learned that better equip us to face tomorrow? This is the assurance God offers St. Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, the former archbishop of Chicago, used to make it his daily practice to do an Examen. He once told a group of priests that he felt this practice was particularly helpful to him because he was a bit of a worrier. The Examen helped him realize that 90 percent of what he worried about never happened, and for the 10 percent that did happen, he was always given the grace to cope.

Practicing the Examen is a necessary prelude to making good decisions. It sharpens our awareness of the inner movements of our hearts. It builds confidence in prayer, and it strengthens humility in acknowledging our sin and weakness. This practice fortifies our trust to face the future free from fear. Regular practice of the Examen will make us more aware of the ebb and flow of consolation and desolation in our spirits. This makes us ready for discernment. His problem is the nagging feeling that he should be doing something different.

On her bad days, Anne is sure she made a terrible decision when she quit a good job and enrolled in graduate school. On her good days she thinks she did the right thing. She is seldom happy and the radical shifts in her emotions trouble her greatly. Jon realizes that his decision to work with a nonprofit in Africa was foolish and impulsive. Back in the United States, he is confused and depressed about his next step. In fact, he thinks there might be something wrong with his mind. Ignatius of Loyola was a widely read person, and he had an advanced degree from the best university in the world at the time, the University of Paris.

But his greatest skill was the ability to closely observe and interpret what was going on in people like Charlie, Anne, and Jon. He became intimately acquainted with hundreds of them. He paid attention to the inner motions of their hearts as well as his own. These rules have proven to be very useful for people making decisions, but they have broader application as well. For Ignatius, the ebb and flow of spiritual consolation and desolation were windows into the action of God. He believed very strongly that God is constantly trying to draw each of us closer into friendship.

For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want. But if you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like. I warn. In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

Against such there is no law. Paul says that a struggle between the good spirit and the bad spirit is being waged in every human heart. His rules for discernment provide criteria to recognize when the Holy Spirit genuinely guides us and when the evil spirit has deceived us. The rules help us in four ways. They help us become aware of our inner life. They help us understand what the movements of our inner life mean, where they come from, and where they are leading us. They help us judge the right course of action by indicating which alternative leads us closer to God.

They help us know how to act in times of consolation and desolation. Ignatius wrote two sets of rules. The first set of fourteen rules applies to basic discernment; they are for people who are just beginning to recognize the influence of the different spirits on their decision making. A second set of eight rules helps more experienced people deal with the subtler influences of the spirits. Set 1: The Basics The first four rules in set 1 lay out the basic ideas of discernment. Rule 1: This is how spirits work in a spiritually regressing person.

The evil spirit attacks the good. For someone who is regressing spiritually, or moving away from God, the evil spirit will reinforce this condition. It will make evil appear to be good. The good spirit does just the opposite with a spiritually regressing person. It will stir up unpleasant feelings, raise doubts, and sting the conscience. The goal is to encourage the person to change course.

Rule 2: This is how spirits work in a spiritually maturing person. The spirits operate in the opposite way in someone who is moving toward God. The evil spirit attempts to knock us off course by harassing us with anxiety, sadness, and doubts. The good spirit reinforces our direction by giving us feelings of peace, assurance, and joy. It throws our faults, our failings, and our sins in our face in an attempt to discourage us. The Holy Spirit is our advocate and consoler. This good spirit encourages and strengthens us, inspires us, and fills us with peace.

Rules 1 and 2 introduce the first complication in discernment. Feelings of peace and satisfaction are not always. The way the spirits work depends on our spiritual orientation. We are nearly always making progress in some areas and sliding backward in others. The spirits operate in different ways in the same person and at the same time, depending on the virtue or defect at hand.

Mural de Recados do Tigão

Carmen is the executive director of a nonprofit clinic that provides free medical services to the poor. As a Christian, Carmen does her work because she feels that God has called her to it. She is deeply committed to it; she finds it personally satisfying and socially constructive. But she is a demanding boss who is frequently harsh with her subordinates. She is also fiercely aggressive with local politicians and she nurses deep resentments over political battles she has lost.

For Carmen, the good spirit is likely to stir positive feelings about her work with the poor. At the same time, it may stir feelings of unhappiness and distress when she thinks about her relationships with her staff and with local political leaders whose support she needs. We all have a mixture of selfless and selfish motives similar to those of Carmen. This mixture makes discernment tricky.

We need to look at ourselves carefully and honestly. More about that later. Ignatius wrote his rules for discernment for people whose fundamental spiritual orientation was toward God. A desire to choose the good predominates over lapses, weaknesses, and character defects. He assumed that this would be the case for anyone interested in discernment, and we assume that this is the case with you. But keep the challenge in mind.

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Identifying the work of spirits is no simple task. Rule 3: Ignatius describes consolation. We have already described consolation in chapter 5. See pages Briefly, consolation is any felt increase in faith, hope, or love and all interior joy that leads to a holy peace. Rule 4: Ignatius describes desolation. The fourth rule describes desolation, which we also discussed earlier pages Desolation is the opposite of consolation.

It tends to reinforce feelings and thoughts that take us away from God. Where spiritual consolation makes it easier to have faith, hope, and love, spiritual desolation tends to involve a decrease in these same virtues. When we are in desolation, we are in a state of pain and God seems distant. Our natural tendency is to want to do something, anything, to get out of that state.

But Ignatius wisely counsels us not to run from the pain. Because desolation is the worst possible time to make an. We are confused, anxious, and hurting. We have no perspective on our condition. We are likely to bolt rather than to carefully assess the situation. Wait for the desolation to pass before making a decision. Good counsel for Anne, the unhappy MFA student in Iowa, would be to put aside any notion of quitting graduate school while she is in turmoil. Her decision to return to school was well considered.

She made it during a time of emotional equilibrium, and she felt a deep sense of peace about it. Perhaps it was not the best decision. But Anne should wait for a calmer time to consider whether to do that. Meanwhile, she should continue her studies; she might want to work even harder at them. Other good suggestions would be for her to accept her feelings of turmoil and pray more, to reach out to friends, to trust in God one day at a time, and to be patient and remind herself that her time of desolation will eventually pass.

She would do well to practice the next rule as well. Lethargy often sets in when we are in desolation. Sometimes we are depressed. We feel helpless. We sit and do nothing except daydream about what might be or might have been. Or we engage in things that dull the pain, like turning to unhealthy substances or activities like alcohol, drugs, food, gambling, or spending to give ourselves a high.

These things. It is desolation. Ignatius counsels us to take direct aim at these passive impulses by getting active. He suggests praying more, gently but firmly examining our consciences, training our bodies, and doing good works for other people. When in desolation, do whatever it takes to get your mind off yourself. Spiritual desolation is not the same as depression. Depression is a psychological state that can accompany spiritual desolation, but they do not necessarily go together. A person can experience both spiritual desolation and depression at the same time, but eventually the desolation will lift, leaving the depression to be dealt with.

Characteristics of desolation. Desolation usually relates to a. The root cause of desolation is temptation. Desolation usually extinguishes hope—or threatens to do so. Characteristics of depression. In depression, the complaint. Depression can make a person listless and apathetic, as desolation does, and hope may or may not be present. Most depressed persons also struggle with hope, for often depressed people are also desolate people.

William Lynch counsels the depressed to use their imagination to picture creatively how things might improve. Sometimes, however, there is a graced sense that God loves and cares for us even. Clinical depression calls for specific help. There are usually identifiable signs that accompany clinical depression: abrupt changes in appetite and sleep patterns, decreased ability to concentrate, listlessness, loss of sexual desire, feelings of hopelessness, and thoughts of suicide.

This condition requires a visit to a physician who is qualified to make a diagnosis and go on from there. Sam was devastated when Sally broke off their engagement. They shared a strong religious faith, had many common interests, and cared deeply for each other. He sank into self-pity and lethargy. He drank and gambled. But being a man of faith, Sam began to face his dark side. He increased his daily prayer, began to fast, started attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and ceased his gambling. God is always with us. In desolation we feel alone.

It seems as if God has departed on a long vacation. We feel miserable and unworthy, so we. The disciples panic and fear that they are sinking. When they awaken Jesus, he calms the storm and rebukes them for forgetting that he was always there Mark — When our storms rage, we need to remind ourselves that God is with us. Mary Ellen is accustomed to being alone, but she knows herself well enough to know that too much solitude is dangerous for her.