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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Discerning the Spirits

Reading Fr. Timothy Gallagher's The Discernment of Spirits: An Ignatian Guide for Everyday Living helped me to understand so much of my experiences, especially over the last year or two since I have been intentionally focusing on my relationship with God in a deeper way than earlier in my adult life.

I mentioned previously that I read a Life Teen book last summer that introduced me to St. Ignatius' teachings, followed by reading Fr. Gallagher's Discerning the Will of God in March. Essentially, True North combined the concepts from both of Fr. Gallagher's books into one, so it laid a good starting point foundation to then revisit some months later in more depth.

After an introduction and prologue, this book goes into depth with each of St. Ignatius' 14 rules, followed by a conclusion. I remember that certain rules resonated for me this summer, while others seemed to resonate as truth on a certain level but I wasn't quite sure I fully "got" them. The concepts of consolation and desolation had stuck with me but it was easier for me to connect to properly identifying consolations. As I began to revisit the concepts with this book, one week I tried to track consolations and desolations, I later ended up crossing out desolations, upon realizing that I wasn't confident enough to use that term.

As if God noticed the teachable moment, shortly after I was pondering the concept, a desolation hit. It was a brief, short term one but impacted the majority of the day. I didn't immediately recognize it as desolation; however, as I continued reading, the concept started to make more sense. More importantly, I was able to reflect on whether or not it was specifically spiritual desolation. Having a clearer sense of the concept helped me to have deeper comprehension for the rest of the book.

I now feel more capable to recognize and know how to respond to the different movements in my spiritual life. I would like to re-read True North and know that I will also refer back to Fr. Gallagher's books over time. It helped me to reflect back on St. John of the Cross' Dark Night of the Soul, another book I would like to re-read. It put the quote from St. Frances de Sales that I love in proper context, as well "Do not lose your inner peace for anything, even if your whole world is upset." From the time I first saw that quote, I was drawn to it, knowing it was something I wanted; however, it was still baffling to me how I would be able to counteract the natural inclination to have my inner peace disturbed in response to external tensions and stress. Now I feel like from Fr. Gallagher's books (especially this one) and other resources, I am better equipped to maintain that inner peace. That will make all the difference.

I am so grateful that Sr. Hope happened to recommend this two books to me - the perfect suggestion for this phase in my life and something I really needed to make sense of occurrences. I am now better positioned to navigate my on-going faith journey.

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