Monday, January 04, 2021

Memorial of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, religious

The “discernment of spirits” is a phrase rich in meaning, calling us to “test the spirits.” St John in his first letter urges us in no uncertain terms to test, or discern, the spirits that come from our hearts. These “spirits “ are connected to our desires, attitudes, mindset and when these inner spirits come from God, our lives will be anchored in God’s will for us. Inner peace flows from spirits emanating from God.

But oftentimes these inner spirits come from spirits that are not holy but against God’s purposes. These are the “spirits” that cause us pain and inner turbulence. Testing the spirits simply means determining their origine: do they come from God or from some other “source?”

St. ignatius of Loyola made the discernment of spirits the foundation of his Spiritual Exercises. We have to become aware of what drives us, or moves us, to make the choices we make in our lives. For most of us, it’s our egos, our selfish desires and our flawed way of thinking that drive our lives.

Ignatius encourages all of us to take a few minutes in the afternoon and a few minutes at the end of the day to “discern the spirits” by reviewing our day, getting a glimpse to how we have been instruments of God’s grace in our ordinary daily life. But we must honestly look at the ways we have inhibited God, and blocked God’s purposes.

Take two or three minutes twice a day and look back at yourself as if you are watching a movie that filmed your words, actions, encounters in your day to day life. Test your inner spirits in these encounters:

  • Maybe the words I used to the person in the checkout line were harsh...
  • Perhaps that encounter with the Streetwise person opened my eyes...
  • I actually turned off the radio in the car and simply became present to the moment.... I’m filled with anxiety over someone close to me....
  • I made a decision to volunteer and am committed to following through....

Go over your day, review your inner disposition and your outer communications. How have you allowed God to act through you? How have you blocked God from working within you?

Fr. Frank