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By Bishop James Conley, Southern Nebraska Register,  

St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus, wrote a great spiritual work entitled Spiritual Exercises. In the Spiritual Exercises, he gave 14 rules for the discernment of spirits. For St. Ignatius, the goal of the discernment of spirits was the identification of the spiritual realities happening within the soul.

Ignatius knew from personal experience that there are many stirrings within the human heart: joy and sorrow; hope and despair; fear and anxiety. By examining these stirrings through discernment, we can identify those that are of God and those that are not. Thus, the Christian knows what movements in the heart should be accepted and what should be rejected.

Those who discover the discernment of spirits in their spiritual lives are greatly rewarded. Ignatius essentially gives names to the spiritual things that are going on within us, and that is liberating.  …

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