Discerning the Ignatian Way: True and False Spirits

Learning from “God’s Voice Within” by Mark E. Thibodeaux, SJ

[All these notes come from the book, and are not my own.] 

  • All our thoughts, feelings and actions are moving us either closer to God or further away from God.
  • By imitating the saints in their good practices, St Ignatius found consolation in these thoughts and remained joyful. When he thought of worldly matters, he found delight initially, but after growing weary and dismissing them, he found that he was dry and unhappy.
  • God, in infinite love and compassion for us, is at all times stirring our hearts with desires to do great deeds of life and love while another spirit leads us to lower dreams and moves us to act against the life-giving inspirations of God.
  • So in your decision-making, discern which is the true spirit: the inner pull towards God’s plan, life-affirmation, faith, hope and love. And which is the false spirit: restlessness, agitation, boredom, apathy, fear, worry and secrecy.

Reflect on these questions:

  • What have been the primary things on my mind and in my heart today? 
  • What were my goals for the day? 
  • Did those thoughts, feelings and goals, lead me toward being a person of greater faith, hope and love, or did they lead me away from these virtues? 

If you helped to do some house chores, ask yourself: Why did I do the chores? Was it out of love for my family / housemates? Or was it out of avoidance of something else I was supposed to work on today?
If you were feeling sad about someone moving away, ask yourself: Was the sadness my way of acknowledging my great love for my friend, or was it a self-indulgent refusal to get on with my life?

  • FAITH:
    Did my actions today give me greater trust in God, in the church, or in the God-given people in my life – or did my actions lead to unproductive and paralyzing doubts? 
  • HOPE:
    Have the feelings I’ve been experiencing lately led me to greater optimism for the future and deeper confidence in God’s providence – or have they led to despair and to forgetting that God will take care of me, no matter what? 
  • LOVE:
    Have the things that have preoccupied my thoughts today really led me to greater love of my neighbour – or have those thoughts coaxed me into isolation, secrecy, passivity, or aggressiveness? 




Author: Valerie

Live. Laugh. Love.

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