St. Ignatius pointed out that the evil one is a master of deception. In the Spiritual Exercises he wrote that "the angel of darkness likes to masquerade as an angel of light." (Paragraph 332) Therefore the choices at hand may look really good, but one of them could actually contain a hidden evil, leading the person further from God rather than closer to Him. The temptation is to see something that is ordinarily a good thing as something to choose, when for you at this moment it will actually derail your progress. And sometimes the enemy is so bold that he makes something which is otherwise bad appear to be a good, viable choice by tempting us through rationalization. This is why a spiritual director is so important. He or she can assist in the process of discernment because the director is impartial and objective, whereas we are always biased by our own ‘baggage’ and inadvertent self-delusions. Thus, it is imperative to our spiritual life that we learn this process and make it a habit. The world we live in is steeped in an attitude of self-centeredness in which many are becoming their own god or are falling prey to the attitude which says "everything is okay because I say so, or everyone else is doing it, or because it feels good." Truth does not change just because we want it to. We can never be too careful in making choices because the evil one revels in getting us to stray off the course of goodness. Therefore, discernment is an essential tool for our spiritual life.
©Michele L. Catanese
Notes: Next post, August 26.
* One of the ways that St. Ignatius referred to the devil in the Spiritual Exercises was as "the enemy of human nature." It is an apt description.
** For decisions of greater importance, such as for major life decisions, the prayerful process takes longer than one or two days, and is done over more time, usually a number of weeks. Most of the time however, when we are discerning smaller, everyday matters we do it more quickly.
Links to fuller explanations of concepts highlighted in this entry: please click one or more of the following if you desire more information on Ignatian spiritual discernment.
Bishop Robert Barron on Finding God in All Things https://pivotalplayersfilming.com/commentary1/#top
More on the Spiritual Exercises from Bishop Barron https://pivotalplayersfilming.com/commentary2/
On the concept of agere contra https://www.ignatianspirituality.com/acting-against/
1. Inset of the sun from The Sower by Vincent van Gogh (1888): I chose this for the beginning because this sunrise over a wheat field gives me a similar sensation of wonder and awe as experienced when I viewed the sun rising from my room while in graduate school, as mentioned.
2. My photo, at the continental divide, Loveland, Colorado: This is one of my favorite photos and so I chose it because it was a place which evoked a sense of the presence of God. Indeed these mountains are His handiwork.
3. Pastel drawing, St. Ignatius at Prayer in Rome, Fr. William Hart McNichols: This drawing captures the reflection of Ignatius during his prayer. Perhaps he was discerning something.
4. My photo, the Jordan River, border of Israel and Jordan: I felt this this was an appropriate reference to our baptism from which the graces we need for discernment begin.
5. The Calling of the Apostles Peter and Andrew, by Duccio Di Buoninsegna (1308-11): This seemed to be an excellent reference to the discernment of the two future apostles who encountered Jesus while fishing, not knowing exactly who He was. They ultimately discerned to follow, a movement closer to God indeed.
6. My photo in the Highlands of Scotland, near Tomintoul: This photo taken while hiking in Scotland seemed to be a good representation of the spiritual journey. If we read the markings correctly, and do not stray off the path and get lost, we find our ultimate destination.
7. Icon, St. Ignatius and the Passion of the World in the 21st Century, Fr. William Hart McNichols: This seemed like the best image to finish the entry because we are in a confusing world. Like St. Ignatius, we can make a commitment to following the Lord, but we will need to continuously discern as we go. Our trust must be in the Lord who never leaves us. https://fineartamerica.com/featured/st-ignatius-and-the-passion-of-the-world-in-the-21st-century-194-william-hart-mcnichols.html
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