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Wednesday, 13 November 2013

More, more on discernment

Returning to St. Ignatius seems a good thing to do today. Talking with someone revealed yet more confusion about the term discernment, and the major understanding of discernment for us comes through the writings and direction of St. Ignatius, as well as the Doctors of the Church. I have written about this before, so check out the tags.

I think the problem is that the new agers and the charismatics have co-opted the term to mean something which it is not. Discernment for all is the recognition of the movements of the soul and the movements of God in one’s spiritual life.

Now, some people need a confessor or a spiritual director to do this type of examination. But, discernment is connected to wisdom, and to our baptismal virtues and gifts. A child can experience discernment, and some do, if they are in the state of grace.

That is the first key to understanding discernment. One must be in the state of grace to see and hear the Voice of God in one’s soul.  Meditation, using the Scriptures and daily examination of conscience develop discernment.

If one is working on one’s predominant faults, discernment grows.

The intellect and the will are involved in the development of discernment, which is why so many anti-intellectual charismatics do not exhibit discernment.

Sadly, there are too many false prophets and teachers, who are not orthodox and do not understand the basics of either sacramental theology or the theology of prayer. I have met too many people who are leading Catholics astray by a false emphasis on feelings and experiences, and I have many articles on such here on this blog. That the charismatic emphasis on experience has infiltrated many retreat and conference centers reveals a weakness in the Church.

The enemy of the soul can take a small bit of truth and wrap it up in heresy.

If a person who is giving a talk or presenting a retreat or workshop is not absolutely, completely orthodox, do not go and do not listen. Recently, I encountered someone who was off on some aspects of Church teaching. I cannot trust him, as he is thinking like a Protestant. Satan will use such people not only to undermine the authority of the Church, but to cause confusion as to the process of becoming holy.

I can see that the person has a gift, but because of the imperfections and sin of heresy, the gift is not free to be used as God would want it used. The need for purgation would clarify that man’s soul so that the gift would be available for the building up of the Catholic Church and not for the building up of that person’s personal ministry.

There is no such thing as a personal ministry, but only calls within the Church and within the Tradition and Teachings of the Church. Anything else must be suspect. One of the weaknesses of the Church in our times has been the undermining of the authority of the Church by those who are off doing their own thing.  There is no automatic virtue in being on the fringes of the institutional Church. Can people be called to such? Yes, but rarely, and the numbers doing so do not indicate necessarily the movement of the Holy Spirit, but the egos of those setting up their own patch.

Discernment comes with obedience to Mother Church is all things, in all details. Remember that the great saints who give us direction in the spiritual life, such as SS. John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Francis de Sales and others all had grounding in the doctrines of the Church. 

There are too many false leaders claiming infused knowledge, which again, is a grace at the later stages of holiness.

Discernment is built on orthodoxy, and there is no difference between doctrinal and pastoral approaches to truth. If a person claims that something pastoral trumps a doctrine of the Church, that person is in error.  The Holy Spirit works in order and in and through the Church.

Please remember that. Those false prophets who are going about “discerning” spirits or vices, or the need for “inner healing” and who are not straight down the wicket orthodox will be deceiving you as they have deceived themselves. They will do more damage than good.

Again, the real gifts come to fruition in the Illuminative State, and one cannot even enter the middle and later stages of the Dark Night without moving away from serious sin, such as unorthodoxy.

To be anti-intellectual is not to be a Catholic. To be caught up in thinking that theology is not part of discernment is to be in serious error.

Discernment involves the intellect and the will. True discernment follows the heart and the mind of the Church.