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Discernment of Spirits: Rule 1

Discernment of Spirits: Rule 1

This week, Dan and Melissa discuss the first Rule of the Discernment of Spirits by Saint Ignatius of Loyola.

Topics/Questions covered in the show:

  • Rule 1  “In the persons who go from mortal sin to mortal sin, the enemy will propose apparent pleasures, making them imagine sensual delights and pleasures in order to enslave them DivineIntimacyRadioWithDan&Melissamore and make them grow in their vices and sins. In these persons, the good spirit uses a contrary method, pricking them and disturbing their consciences through the process of reason and moral judgment.”
  • The devil will work to convince someone with a poorly formed conscience or who might be new to the spiritual life that peace obtained through sinful behavior is from God. However, this is a false sense of peace.
  • God will “prick us” to disturb the conscience through the process of reason and moral judgement. He will cause an uneasiness within us to bring us back to living a virtuous life.
  • Knowing how the enemy works and how the flesh works can help you fight sinful inclinations.
  • The life of Saint Augustine is a good example of overcoming habitual, mortal sin through the grace of God.


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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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  • Philip George Regan

    “…making them imagine sensual delights and pleasures in order to enslave them more and make them grow in their vices and sins.”

    Well they do say that everything you like is either Illegal Immoral or Fattening – I think though as I recall in todays Gospel we are told that He who claims that he does not sin – is a Liar – so what can I do ????

    Ah – Thank Goodness for the Blood of the merciful Jesus Christ – for try as I might – sooner or later – I will fall into sin – that’s why I guess why I have to go to confession – frequently !!

  • John Kennedy

    I have a question about mortal sin. St. Ignatius begins by speaking of those who go from mortal sin to mortal sin. But what about those who make some progress and then fall into mortal sin. It can be very discouraging to think we haven’t really made any progress at all or are returning to the start. I know in this life, there is a sense in which we are all beginners. When we fall into mortal sin and repent, do we regain the progress we made (slight though it be) or do we lose much progress every time we fall into mortal sin?

    • LizEst

      Mortal sin damages our relationship, our communion with God. So, yes, we necessarily lose progress each time we fall into mortal sin. At some point in our progress, we should not be committing any mortal sin. Later on, we should stop sinning venially, and so forth. The person who continues to fall into mortal sin, and a specific type of mortal sin, shows that, deep down, there is a root sin that has to be addressed, its roots cut off, dug up and eliminated. It’s hard work and, in most cases, it doesn’t happen overnight. The grace of the sacrament of confession is God’s great cauterizing tool for this hard work…and we must cooperate with that grace. We can regain the progress we have made if our contrition is deep and sincere. But, we cannot move very far in the spiritual life if mortal sin has not been eliminated from our lives.

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