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Discernment of Spirits: Rule 13 “False Quiet”

Description: The enemy of our souls wants to keep us quiet and our burdens secret when we enter spiritual desolation. This week Dan and Melissa discuss the way out of this “false quiet” with the wisdom of St. Ignatius’ thirteenth rule of Discernment of Spirits.

Topics/Questions covered in the show:

  • Rule 13: “The thirteenth: Likewise, he acts as a licentious lover in wanting to be secret and not revealed. For, as the licentious man who, speaking for an evil purpose, solicits a daughter of a good father or a wife of a good husband, wants his words and persuasions to be secret, and the Discernment of Spirits: Rule 13contrary displeases him much, when the daughter reveals to her father or the wife to her husband his licentious words and depraved intention, because he easily gathers that he will not be able to succeed with the undertaking begun: in the same way, when the enemy of human nature brings his wiles and persuasions to the just soul, he wants and desires that they be received and kept in secret; but when one reveals them to his good confessor or to another spiritual person that knows his deceits and evil ends, it is very grievous to him, because he gathers, from his manifest deceits being discovered, that he will not be able to succeed with his wickedness begun.”
  • Is there ever a time when a soul matures to the point of no longer experiencing spiritual desolation?
  • How can a soul discern between experiencing suffering and desolation?
  • The importance of making known the temptations of the enemy to combat his power over the soul.
  • To whom should one reveal his or her spiritual battles, temptations, or desolation?


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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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  • Jeanette

    A couple of years back, I attended a two day conference on Discernment of Spirits by Father Timothy Gallagher himself which was put on by the Sisters of Life in Toronto. The day after the conference, I was slammed with spiritual desolation (lies of Satan about me), the absolute worst that had ever happened to me, even to this day and it went on for about two weeks. It was also coupled with natural desolation inflicted by another person. Do you think with that training that I knew what to do? I prayed the rosary, which helped somewhat, I went to Adoration which helped dispel the desolation to maybe half of what it was but it wasn’t until my spiritual director called me and I told him what was happening to me, that the spiritual desolation left. This was a very deep desolation and even though I had learned the rules of spiritual discernment, it was very hard to wade out of the mire of a pit on my own. Of course, the Lord has perfect timing, being right after the conference and by inspiring my spiritual director to call me. This helped me to learn a very hard lesson and that is to let another spiritual person know what’s happening, even if you aren’t able to even explain it properly. This will expose the lies of the evil one and will dispel the spiritual desolation. Thanks for this important teaching Dan & Melissa.

  • Kris S.

    Peace be with you! Your website and on-line presentations are very helpful. I also often have problems with sleeping and for a long time it just seemed so futile, especially when I was crabby the next day. But through a Benedictine course on Spiritual Direction I heard about the “Hour of the Wolf” (3-4am-often when I would awaken). You probably know that’s also the hour when many religious communities get up for Divine Office. What struck me about this is that often at night, there are people,(especially those who are not so spiritually aware) who are vulnerable to the attack of the enemy and need our prayers. Looking at it this way, I try to pray and surrender to however Jesus wants to use this “wake” time.
    Finding a spiritual director…this has been a challenge. When I was a young woman a Franciscan priest directed me for over seven years. Also a lay woman also provided spiritual companionship for another seven years. (She’s dead now.) When I took the two year course in spiritual direction a few years ago, we had some interesting discussions about “charging” money for this.
    Since neither of my experiences had involved money, I was opposed to this.
    (Freely had I been given, freely should I give.) The argument was that since we had paid money for the spiritual direction course, we were within our rights to charge a fee. I still have moral objections about this practice since most SDs charge $60/hr.or more. It reflects a business mentality in the church which is destructive…who can afford to send their children to Catholic schools? (Yes, you can beg for a variance. The point is that even though my parents had 10 children, we all went to Catholic grade school….not easy but doable without having to beg.) I made a retreat in India…very simple food and accommodations but spiritually rich. Their brochure mentions what the cost for one retreatant was but said that no one would be turned away for lack of money and that folks could do some work around the monastery in lieu of payment. USA retreats and retreat centers often charge $100/night. What’s worse is we’ve started to put dollar amounts on sacraments: First communion, confirmation, etc…
    We need to pay bills, that is understandable. But could we as a community fund raise instead of putting price tags on the spiritual? I do appreciate that you ask for modest donations (not the same thing as a price tag) to continue your work and materials (books do have a cost) need to be paid for. Your thoughts, solutions and perspectives on this issue are welcomed.

  • Grandmama 16

    I suffer from depression, since childhood which was unrecognized and I was not raised Catholic but was baptized baptist at 8. Fast Forward…married a lapsed Catholic in’63…we became Episcopal in ’68 but not for long. Kids were baptized. I studied and entered the Catholic church in ’72. As you know, that was a tough time in practice and doctrine. Husband returned later. I am now OCDS and am having a hard time with what Jeanette talked about but didn’t have a name for it until now…desolation. Thank you. I have a prayer life and a S. Dir. A dear friend of 45 years and a Monk/Priest, in his mid 80’s. I fear he gives me too much leeway in direction. I am just plain stuck in my spirituality, easily distracted, praying while doing other things except when at Holy Hour, and blaming Depression tho I have been on meds for years. It is a factor but also maybe an excuse. I also have chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia and diabetes. Those sites recommend Yoga but I don’t do it. We’ve learned it somewhat for stretching, relaxation years ago…taught by a priest. Now we learn that it can be evil and that adds to my feeling of desolation. Did I let the Yoga in so that years later it hurts my prayer life? Or am I overthinking this? We have become almost hermits with little social life except with kids, grands etc. Husband has Parkinsons so we go to his group and I have OCDS things. He doesn’t have an obvious prayer life except Mass and one Holy Hour. Another factor is losing our oldest daughter to cancer 10 yrs. ago and to mormonism before that causing an anger and yes, desolation that’s been difficult to overcome tho we have a good relationship with her family. Our 2 boys are not religious at all, plus oldest’s boy’s family but our 2 girls are good Catholics. I thank God for that. At 72, I need a deeper prayer life…better than just getting OCDS prayers done. Could use advice and prayer. Talking to people is difficult and as with Kris S. so is sleeping so I think I’ll plug in to your podcasts with headphones and see what happens. Thank you.

    • Connie Rossini

      Hi, Grandmama. I hope you don’t mind if I chime in here. First, yes, I highly encourage you to listen to all Dan’s podcasts in this series. Desolation can have many roots.

      I also was stuck in my spiritual life a few years back after being OCDS for 17 years. For me, it was trusting God that held me back. I had held onto some fears and doubts for far too long, and I was frustrated with my lack of growth to a point I was tempted to despair. St. Therese taught me how to trust God. (I wrote a book about it, Trusting God with St. Therese, but I don’t want this comment to become an advertisement.) I encourage you to read and meditate on not only Story of a Soul, but also some lesser-known writings of St. Therese, such as her letters and the Last Conversations her sisters recorded. Also, The Way of Trust and Love by Jacques Philippe and I Believe in Love by Jean D’Elbee are excellent for helping one put the Little Way into practice. Understanding that the root of the Little Way is trust has changed my life and I have begun to grow again, besides having much more peace. I pray it does the same for you. God bless!

      • Grandmama 16

        I appreciate so much your suggestions about reading St Terese. She is my patron saint in OCDS as well as for Confirmation as an adult. I’ll try to find the other books you mentioned on her Little Way. I do have her letters. I need that trust. Thank you and God’s blessings be with you. M.A.

        • MariaGo

          The book, “Consoling the Heart of Jesus ” by Father Michael Gaitley MIC also helped me learn about trust. It’s about Divine Mercy and St Therese of Lisieux. 🙂

  • Amy Fenner

    Can you provide a more exact quote (or chapter reference) to the quote from St Teresa of Avila on her feeling that an ant could knock her off course? Thank you!

    • LizEst

      Hi Amy – It’s a paraphrase of something she says in Chapter 38 of “The Way of Perfection”, which is on the words, ‘Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.’ It is paragraph 6 in my copy (the Kavanaugh and Rodriguez translation, Volume Two) which begins with the words ” I also want to tell you something else…” About 2/3 of the way in it says, “Another day will come in which I won’t find the courage in me to kill even an ant for God if in doing so I’d meet with any opposition.” So, it’s paraphrasing this by saying that an ant could knock her off course.

      God bless you, Amy. Hope that helps.

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