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the discernment of spirits

The Discernment of Spirits

Jan 5, 2021

The phrase “discernment of spirits” refers to what St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, calls “the motions of the soul.” These motions are felt by all of us – thoughts, images, feelings, desires, and repulsions that flow through us and shape who we are.

But not many of our parishioners are skilled in determining what all of these motions indicate – or whether they indicate anything! But is is not challenging to become attuned to these movements of our soul so that we can reflect on what God is saying to us and respond accordingly.

Today, think about how your parish is or is not helping parishioners understand how to discern the movements of the soul. A great place to begin is by reading or re-reading The Discernment of Spirits: An Ignatian Guide for Everyday Living by Fr. Timothy Gallagher. Then ask yourself a few questions:

  • How can I put Ignatius’ rules for discernment into practice in my own life?
  • How does our parish teach or act on these spiritual principles?
  • How could we improve?

You may find your parish is excellent at teaching this style of prayer and reflection. Or you may find that more work needs to be done. What’s great about passing along this way of discernment is that it’s not another program, but it equips parishioners to make their own decisions about how God is calling them to live out lives of faith, hope, and love, and to act accordingly.