This post is the second in a series devoted to identifying ways to respond to the inevitable and never-ending swings of faith. For a more detailed introduction, click here.
In fact, you might click there even if you read it before. Rules 1 and 2 really go together.
Again, quoting from Gallagher’s translation of Ignatius’ rules for discernment of spirits, these are “Rules for becoming aware and understanding to some extent the different movements which are caused in the soul, the good, to receive them, and the bad to reject them.” (from page 7 of Discernment of Spirits: An Ignatian Guide for Everyday Living, by Timothy M. Gallagher, OMV).
The invitation, as always, remains open to post your own understandings and/or rewrites of each rule. In class each night, several people always offered to read their versions, and each one helped shed a bit more light on that particular rule for the rest of us.
RULE 2 (Gallagher)
The second: in persons who are going on intensely purifying their sins and rising from good to better in the service of God our Lord, the method is contrary to that in the first rule. For then it is proper to the evil spirit to bite, sadden, and place obstacles, disquieting with false reasons, so that the person may not go forward. And it is proper to the good spirit to give courage and strength, consolations, tears, inspirations, and quiet, easing and taking away all obstacles, so that the person may go forward in doing good.
RULE 2 (mine)
In persons who are actively working at becoming more aware of the presence of God, they are drawn away from God by doubting their sense of God’s presence and fears that they are simply imagining God’s presence. When they doubt and think they’re imagining things they become anxious and turn inward on themselves, attacking and berating themselves for their foolish and irrational feelings and emotions. However, these persons are drawn back to God when they are affirmed and reassured in their sense of God’s presence. They are comforted by the personal testimony of others who have had similar experiences of God (thus reassuring them that they are not crazy) and by the insistent and steadfast love of God’s self-revelation.