DOS#7 The Fifth Rule – Discernment of Spirits w/ Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Episode 7 -The Fifth Rule:

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.

In this episode of the Discerning Hearts Podcast, Fr. Timothy Gallagher and Kris McGregor delve into St. Ignatius of Loyola’s fifth rule for the discernment of spirits, focusing on the importance of stability in one’s spiritual commitments during times of spiritual desolation. The discussion emphasizes not changing spiritual resolutions when experiencing desolation, as these periods are influenced negatively by the enemy.

Fr. Gallagher highlights the pivotal role of Rule Five, urging listeners to cling to their spiritual determinations when faced with the challenges posed by the enemy during desolation. Various scenarios illustrate how desolation can impact individuals, emphasizing the necessity of adhering to spiritual intentions set during times of consolation or tranquility.

The dialogue underscores the deceptive nature of the enemy in moments of spiritual desolation, illustrating how it can lead to doubt and discouragement. By referencing real-life examples and insights from St. Ignatius’s own experiences, Fr. Gallagher provides tangible guidance on recognizing and countering the enemy’s tactics, stressing the rule’s significance in maintaining spiritual direction and growth.

Listeners are encouraged to engage deeply with the content, reflecting on its relevance to their spiritual practices and challenges. The episode concludes with a call to further explore and apply Ignatius’s teachings, fostering a deeper understanding of discernment and spiritual resilience in the face of adversity.

Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

    1. Understanding Spiritual Desolation: Reflect on times when you’ve experienced spiritual desolation—those moments when you felt distant from God, devoid of consolation in prayer, or tempted to abandon your spiritual practices. Consider how these experiences align with Ignatius’s description of the enemy’s tactics during desolation.
    2. The Value of Spiritual Steadfastness: Meditate on the importance of being steadfast in your spiritual commitments, especially during challenging times. How have you responded to spiritual desolation in the past? Have you been tempted to make changes during these periods? Reflect on the consequences of these actions.
    3. The Role of the Enemy: Contemplate the idea that during times of spiritual desolation, the enemy tries to lead us away from God’s path. Consider how recognizing this can empower you to resist negative influences and stay true to your spiritual direction.
    4. Rule Five as a Lifeline: Think of Rule Five not just as a guideline, but as a lifeline during spiritual turmoil. In what ways can this rule provide you with a firm anchor in your spiritual life? How can it serve as a source of light when all seems dark?
    5. Application of Rule Five: Reflect on practical ways to apply Rule Five in your daily life. Whether it’s sticking to your prayer schedule, attending Mass, or fulfilling your role in ministry, consider how maintaining these commitments can fortify your spiritual resilience.
    6. Spiritual Growth through Adversity: Ponder the growth that can come from enduring spiritual desolation without making rash changes. How has your faith been tested and strengthened in such times?
    7. Seeking Guidance and Community: Reflect on the value of seeking guidance from spiritual directors, confessors, or trusted mentors during times of desolation. How can your faith community support you in remaining steadfast?
    8. Ignatian Spirituality as a Resource: Consider delving deeper into Ignatian spirituality to enhance your discernment skills. How can the principles and practices of this spiritual tradition enrich your relationship with God?

The Discernment of Spirits: Setting the Captives Free – Serves as an introduction to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola

The 14 Rules for Discerning Spirits –
“The Different Movements Which Are Caused In The Soul”
as outlined by St. Ignatius of Loyola can be found here

Father Timothy M. Gallagher, O.M.V., was ordained in 1979 as a member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, a religious community dedicated to retreats and spiritual formation according to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.  Fr. Gallagher is featured on the EWTN series “Living the Discerning Life:  The Spiritual Teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola”. 

For more information on how to obtain copies of Fr. Gallaghers’s various books and audio which are available for purchase, please visit  his  website:

 For the other episodes in this series visit
Fr. Timothy Gallagher’s “Discerning Hearts” page

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