THE SCHOOL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
GROWING IN THE HOLY SPIRIT: DISCERNMENT OF SPIRITS
“Everything in discernment of spirits is directed toward action: toward firmly accepting what is of God and equally firmly rejecting what is not.”
― Timothy M. Gallagher
Rev. Fr. John-Mary Benedict Ntol Atep
Discernment of the spirits is the ability to know the movements of God or evil spirits, or our feelings in questions of life that borders on daily needs, vocations, decision-making and listening to the will of God. The key question it seeks to answer is: “Do I want only what God wants?” God communicates directly with us through our thoughts, feelings and desires says St. Ignatius of Loyola. However, there is no gainsaying that the Christian life is a warfare and such understanding is forcefully buttressed by our spiritual mentor St. Paul: “For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). The challenge about the foregoing pauline expression is that sometimes we may interpret the verse to mean we have no responsibility for the choices we make in life because we “struggle … not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers” or forces of this world that are beyond us. From this mentality, we can grow up in and with fear, blame game system, refusal to take responsibility for our lives, anxiety, superstition, obsessions and affinity to witchcraft and satanism, suspicion of people due to lack of trust, and ultimately a constant feeling of lovelessness. Holy Spirit of God renew us!
In our preceding prayer reflections, we have identified the fact that there is the Holy Spirit who by His will and personality is always ready to anoint and inspire us to do great works or undertake lofty actions. However, there are our human wills and the evil spirits that wrestle with the genuine Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit of God, anoints and inspires us through His promptings that urges us to do good and avoid evil, to decide wisely for the glory of God and to know the movements of the spirits in our lives. From the sacred sciences, we have other agents that could move us: ourselves, the world, the good angels, and the demons. St. John says: “Beloved, do not trust every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). The gift to discern is from the Holy Spirit and we need to consciously discover it, develop it and use it daily by listening to the promptings and voice of the Holy Spirit.
Discernment has two levels: On the spot discernment and long term discernment. On the spot discernment works through the principle/rule that says go for the promptings that lead to greater love of God and neighbour while long term discernment usually needs the services of a spiritual director.
- What is your notion on the gift of the discernment of the spirits?
- You and I have thoughts, feelings and desires running through us frequently for our personal health, marriages, families, work, sexual needs, breakthroughs and so on. Sometimes we think that doing God’s will, will limit us. What is the place of the will of God in your spiritual life?
- The Holy Spirit assists us in the discernment of the Spirits. What is the role of the Holy Spirit in your daily discernment processes?
- How does the Divine Love of God speak to you through your daily discernment processes?
- The Holy Spirit, if daily acknowledged and revered, assists us in our discernment processes according to our levels in the spiritual life. What is your level in the spiritual life with reference to our previous reflections?
Texts: Deut. 13:1-5, 1Cor. 12:10 and Heb. 5:13-14
HOLY SPIRIT FALL AFRESH ON US!