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Out of the Darkness: Spiritual Warfare and Discernment of Spirits

Sometimes we are in darkness and believe that the distressing feelings and thoughts originate from within our own souls when, in fact, they were inspired by the enemy and we merely accepted them as our own.

Only through learning about and practicing discernment of spirits can we begin to recognize the voice of the enemy of souls and how we can reject that powerful whisper with the greater power of the liberating presence and truth of God.

WalterLangleyNeverMorningWoreToEvening1894SadDarkNightDepressionCryDo you struggle with desolation? Do you regularly wrestle with a dark pull downward that seems to own you? Does the voice of God fade into aridity as the voice of darkness expands in your heart and mind?

For about a year now I have been working on a course at the Avila Institute that even in its nascent form has been life changing for many of the participants. This year I will record the final live course that I plan to offer for some time.

He came to set the captives free. Will you be free? If you desire this freedom and want to leave the darkness and enter into His glorious light, join me for this six week adventure and you will likely discover a new path to joy and peace that you never thought possible.

The Avila Institute will be offering Discernment of Spirits during the Spring quarter. The details are as follows:

Dates: March 10, 17, 31, April 7, 14, 21 (6 weeks on Thursdays)

Time: 8:30 – 10:30 pm Eastern (USA)

Professor: Dan Burke

Cost: $150 (payment plans and scholarships are available)

How to Apply: Go to and fill in the application for School of Spiritual Formation.

Questions? Contact us at

The School of Spiritual Formation will also be offering the following courses:

Introduction to Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity

Holy Spirit in the Life of the Church

Foundations of Prayer and Union with God

For information on our Graduate Program or Personal Enrichment courses, please contact us at


Art: Never Morning Wore To Evening But Some Heart Did Break, Walter Langley, 1894, PD, Wikimedia Commons. Feature image: Magic Tree in the Cold Winter Night with Dark Blue Sky,, 13 December 2012, CCA, Wikimedia Commons.

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, and Divine Intimacy Radio, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, and his newest books Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep and Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • Victoria Campbell

    Would be interested but have weekly Cursillo grouping on that night

    • Dan Burke

      You don’t have to attend the classes live. You can watch the recordings a the next day.

  • Valerie

    Wonderful class! I just finished it. I have taken several classes at Avila Institute and can’t say enough good things about them. Avila has been a spiritual life changing experience for me.

  • Judy Silhan

    Often, people, despite trying to follow Christ, and His will for them, are plagued with depression, and as Dan mentioned, God’s voice fades. During those times, feelings of darkness, hopelessness, abandonment and even the desire to give up on life itself seems to dominate their hearts and minds. As a student just finishing this course, and as someone who struggled with these issues for many years, I can only say that I wish there had been someone to share this knowledge of how influential the enemy is during times of inner turmoil. Had I been given the tools to combat Satan’s attempts to control my mind and heart, and which I now have and use, I firmly believe that I would not have so often been overcome with the extreme darkness that I experienced for so long.
    Discernment of Spirits, among my many classes taken at Avila, was, for me, the key to implementing all that I have learned about building a deeper relationship with our Lord and my walk with Him towards Heaven. Thank you, Dan.

  • Rachel

    This sounds wonderful! I hope many people are able to come and are changed by the valuable instruction you give! I just wanted to thank you, Dan, for you wonderful words at the OneThing conference last week. I was sorry I didn’t get to meet you but your message was very transformative for me. Thank you so much for being there!

    • Dan Burke

      Hey Rachel – thank you for your kind words. It was a joy to be there and I am sorry we did not get to connect. I am curious about your reaction – was there anything specific that you found helpful? Yours in Christ.

  • Elizabeth

    Why dont you give some guidelines on this in this forum itself so that people who struggle with desolation but cant afford to come and attend the course in Avila can find some solace.

    • LizEst

      Elizabeth – Great question!

      First of all, please reread this post. You will notice a couple of things:
      1. The course is on line. So, no one has to leave their homes to attend. Students attend right from where they are. If they cannot attend a particular session or sessions, the classes are available on tape afterwards for free. We have students all over the world who do this.
      2. Where it gives the cost, you will notice that it says that scholarships are available. Just click on the address for inquiries and the system will automatically set up an email for you that you can send to the Avila Institute.

      Next, we also have pages of posts on desolation, aridity, dryness and issues associated with them. Just type the word or words you are looking for into the search box under the crucifix. I have done it for you here with the word “desolation”:

      Hope that helps…and God bless you Elizabeth! Love your name!

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