The Discernment of Spirits: Setting the Captives Free
FOR PERCEIVING AND KNOWING IN SOME MANNER
THE DIFFERENT MOVEMENTS WHICH ARE CAUSED IN THE SOUL
THE GOOD, TO RECEIVE THEM, AND THE BAD
TO REJECT THEM. AND THEY ARE MORE
PROPER FOR THE FIRST WEEK.
The first Rule: In the persons who go from mortal sin to mortal sin, the enemy is commonly used to propose to them apparent pleasures, making them imagine sensual delights and pleasures in order to hold them more and make them grow in their vices and sins. In these persons the good spirit uses the opposite method, pricking them and biting their consciences through the process of reason.
The second: In the persons who are going on intensely cleansing their sins and rising from good to better in the service of God our Lord, it is the method contrary to that in the first Rule, for then it is the way of the evil spirit to bite, sadden and put obstacles, disquieting with false reasons, that one may not go on; and it is proper to the good to give courage and strength, consolations, tears, inspirations and quiet, easing, and putting away all obstacles, that one may go on in well doing.
The third: Of Spiritual Consolation. I call it consolation when some interior movement in the soul is caused, through which the soul comes to be inflamed with love of its Creator and Lord; and when it can in consequence love no created thing on the face of the earth in itself, but in the Creator of them all.
Likewise, when it sheds tears that move to love of its Lord, whether out of sorrow for one’s sins, or for the Passion of Christ our Lord, or because of other things directly connected with His service and praise.
Finally, I call consolation every increase of hope, faith and charity, and all interior joy which calls and attracts to heavenly things and to the salvation of one’s soul, quieting it and giving it peace in its Creator and Lord.
The fourth: Of Spiritual Desolation. I call desolation all the contrary of the third rule, such as darkness of soul, disturbance in it, movement to things low and earthly, the unquiet of different agitations and temptations, moving to want of confidence, without hope, without love, when one finds oneself all lazy, tepid, sad, and as if separated from his Creator and Lord. Because, as consolation is contrary to desolation, in the same way the thoughts which come from consolation are contrary to the thoughts which come from desolation.
The fifth: In time of desolation never to make a change; but to be firm and constant in the resolutions and determination in which one was the day preceding such desolation, or in the determination in which he was in the preceding consolation. Because, as in consolation it is rather the good spirit who guides and counsels us, so in desolation it is the bad, with whose counsels we cannot take a course to decide rightly.
The sixth: Although in desolation we ought not to change our first resolutions, it is very helpful intensely to change ourselves against the same desolation, as by insisting more on prayer, meditation, on much examination, and by giving ourselves more scope in some suitable way of doing penance.
The seventh: Let him who is in desolation consider how the Lord has left him in trial in his natural powers, in order to resist the different agitations and temptations of the enemy; since he can with the Divine help, which always remains to him, though he does not clearly perceive it: because the Lord has taken from him his great fervor, great love and intense grace, leaving him, however, grace enough for eternal salvation.
The eighth: Let him who is in desolation labor to be in patience, which is contrary to the vexations which come to him: and let him think that he will soon be consoled, employing against the desolation the devices, as is said in the sixth Rule.
The first is, because of our being tepid, lazy or negligent in our spiritual exercises; and so through our faults, spiritual consolation withdraws from us.
The second, to try us and see how much we are and how much we let ourselves out in His service and praise without such great pay of consolation and great graces.
The third, to give us true acquaintance and knowledge, that we may interiorly feel that it is not ours to get or keep great devotion, intense love, tears, or any other spiritual consolation, but that all is the gift and grace of God our Lord, and that we may not build a nest in a thing not ours, raising our intellect into some pride or vainglory, attributing to us devotion or the other things of the spiritual consolation.
The tenth: Let him who is in consolation think how he will be in the desolation which will come after, taking new strength for then.
The eleventh: Let him who is consoled see to humbling himself and lowering himself as much as he can, thinking how little he is able for in the time of desolation without such grace or consolation.
On the contrary, let him who is in desolation think that he can do much with the grace sufficient to resist all his enemies, taking strength in his Creator and Lord.
The twelfth: The enemy acts like a woman, in being weak against vigor and strong of will. Because, as it is the way of the woman when she is quarrelling with some man to lose heart, taking flight when the man shows her much courage: and on the contrary, if the man, losing heart, begins to fly, the wrath, revenge, and ferocity of the woman is very great, and so without bounds; in the same manner, it is the way of the enemy to weaken and lose heart, his temptations taking flight, when the person who is exercising himself in spiritual things opposes a bold front against the temptations of the enemy, doing diametrically the opposite. And on the contrary, if the person who is exercising himself commences to have fear and lose heart in suffering the temptations, there is no beast so wild on the face of the earth as the enemy of human nature in following out his damnable intention with so great malice.
The thirteenth: Likewise, he acts as a licentious lover in wanting to be secret and not revealed. For, as the licentious man who, speaking for an evil purpose, solicits a daughter of a good father or a wife of a good husband, wants his words and persuasions to be secret, and the contrary displeases him much, when the daughter reveals to her father or the wife to her husband his licentious words and depraved intention, because he easily gathers that he will not be able to succeed with the undertaking begun: in the same way, when the enemy of human nature brings his wiles and persuasions to the just soul, he wants and desires that they be received and kept in secret; but when one reveals them to his good Confessor or to another spiritual person that knows his deceits and evil ends, it is very grievous to him, because he gathers, from his manifest deceits being discovered, that he will not be able to succeed with his wickedness begun.
The fourteenth: Likewise, he behaves as a chief bent on conquering and robbing what he desires: for, as a captain and chief of the army, pitching his camp, and looking at the forces or defences of a stronghold, attacks it on the weakest side, in like manner the enemy of human nature, roaming about, looks in turn at all our virtues, theological, cardinal and moral; and where he finds us weakest and most in need for our eternal salvation, there he attacks us and aims at taking us.
St. Ignatius of Loyola – Fr. James Martin and the Holy Father on the life and influence of St. Ignatius of Loyola
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
TO THE FATHERS AND BROTHERS OF THE SOCIETY OF JESUS
Dear Fathers and Brothers of the Society of Jesus,
I meet you with great joy in this historical Basilica of St Peter’s after the Holy Mass celebrated for you by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, my Secretary of State, on the occasion of combined jubilees of the Ignatian Family. I address my cordial greeting to you all.
I greet in the first place the Superior General, Fr Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, and thank him for his courteous words expressing your common sentiments to me. I greet the Cardinals with the Bishops and priests and all those who have desired to participate in this event.
Together with the Fathers and Brothers, I also greet the friends of the Society of Jesus present here, and among them, the many men and women religious, members of the Communities of Christian Life and of the Apostolate of Prayer, the students and alumnae with their families from Rome, from Italy and from Stonyhurst in England, the teachers and students of the academic institutions and the many collaborators.
Your visit today gives me the opportunity to thank the Lord with you for having granted your Society the gift of men of extraordinary holiness and exceptional apostolic zeal, such as St Ignatius of Loyola, St Francis Xavier and Bl. Peter Faber. For you they are the Fathers and Founders: it is therefore appropriate that in this centenary year you commemorate them with gratitude and look to them as enlightened and reliable guides on your spiritual journey and in your apostolic activities.
St Ignatius of Loyola was first and foremost a man of God who in his life put God, his greatest glory and his greatest service, first. He was a profoundly prayerful man for whom the daily celebration of the Eucharist was the heart and crowning point of his day.
Thus, he left his followers a precious spiritual legacy that must not be lost or forgotten. Precisely because he was a man of God, St Ignatius was a faithful servant of the Church, in which he saw and venerated the Bride of the Lord and the Mother of Christians. And the special vow of obedience to the Pope, which he himself describes as “our first and principal foundation” (MI, Series III, I., p. 162), was born from his desire to serve the Church in the most beneficial way possible.
This ecclesial characteristic, so specific to the Society of Jesus, lives on in you and in your apostolic activities, dear Jesuits, so that you may faithfully meet the urgent needs of the Church today.
Among these, it is important in my opinion to point out your cultural commitment in the areas of theology and philosophy in which the Society of Jesus has traditionally been present, as well as the dialogue with modern culture, which, if it boasts on the one hand of the marvellous progress in the scientific field, remains heavily marked by positivist and materialist scientism.
Naturally, the effort to promote a culture inspired by Gospel values in cordial collaboration with the other ecclesial realities demands an intense spiritual and cultural training. For this very reason, St Ignatius wanted young Jesuits to be formed for many years in spiritual life and in study. It is good that this tradition be maintained and reinforced, also given the growing complexity and vastness of modern culture.
Another of his great concerns was the Christian education and cultural formation of young people: hence, the impetus he gave to the foundation of “colleges”, which after his death spread in Europe and throughout the world. Continue, dear Jesuits, this important apostolate, keeping the spirit of your Founder unchanged.
In speaking of St Ignatius, I cannot overlook the fact that the fifth centenary of St Francis Xavier’s birth was celebrated last 7 April. Not only is their history interwoven through long years in Paris and Rome, but a single aspiration – one might say, a single passion – stirred and sustained them, even in their different human situations: the passion for working for the ever greater glory of God-the-Trinity and for the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ to the peoples who did not know him.
St Francis Xavier, whom my Predecessor Pius XI, of venerable memory, proclaimed the “Patron of Catholic Missions”, saw as his own mission “opening new ways of access” to the Gospel “in the immense Continent of Asia”. His apostolate in the Orient lasted barely 10 years, but in the four and half centuries that the Society of Jesus has existed it has proven wonderfully fruitful, for his example inspired a multitude of missionary vocations among young Jesuits and he remains a reference point for the continuation of missionary activity in the great countries of the Asian Continent.
If St Francis Xavier worked in the countries of the Orient, his confrere and friend since the years in Paris, Bl. Peter Faber, a Savoiard who was born on 13 April 1506, worked in the European countries where the Christian faithful aspired to a true reform of the Church.
He was a modest, sensitive man with a profound inner life. He was endowed with the gift of making friends with people from every walk of life and consequently attracted many young men to the Society.
Bl. Faber spent his short life in various European countries, especially Germany, where, at the order of Paul III, he took part in the Diets of Worms, Ratisbon and Speyer and in conversations with the leaders of the Reformation. He consequently had an exceptional opportunity to practise the special vow of obedience to the Pope “regarding the missions” and became a model to follow for all future Jesuits.
Dear Fathers and Brothers of the Society, today you look with special devotion at the Blessed Virgin Mary, remembering that on 22 April 1541, St Ignatius and his first companions made their solemn vows before the image of Mary in the Basilica of St Paul Outside-the-Walls.
May Mary continue to watch over the Society of Jesus so that every member may carry in his person the “image” of the Crucified Christ, in order to share in his Resurrection. I assure you of my remembrance in prayer for this, as I willingly impart my Blessing to each of you present here and to your entire spiritual family, which I also extend to all the other Religious and consecrated persons who are present at this Audience.
© Copyright 2006 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana
The video above provides a wonderful telling of the experiences of St. Ignatius prior to founding the Jesuits. Contained in those stories is the encounter St. Ignatius had with a Moor on the road, and how a mule aided him in a time of much needed discernment. A fascinating tale.