Ignatian Discernment
With Fr. Robert Chiesa SJ


On August 4, Fr. Robert Chiesa SJ gave an insightful presentation on Ignatian Spirituality at the Faith Formation Class for Adults Group Meeting. 

At the start, he provided a background to the topic by first outlining Pope Francis’s discussion of ‘the Evil One’ in his Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate (Rejoice and Be Glad). In the Exhortation, there is a section called ‘Combat and Vigilance’ where he speaks of the need not only to struggle against our own human weaknesses but also to struggle against the devil, the prince of evil. As the first letter of St. Peter (5:8) says: “He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”


In the midst of our struggles, Fr. Chiesa then asked the question, how do we know if something comes from the Holy Spirit or the devil? The answer is discernment. Without the wisdom of discernment we can fall prey to false, fake, and sinful ways of life. With this in mind, the Rules of Discernment in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola were introduced, which basically are a set of rules to help us in our spiritual struggles. Importantly, he outlined the prerequisites for discernment, namely, a desire to do God’s will, openness to God, and knowledge of God. A truly discerning person must be humble, charitable, courageous, and peaceful.

Then Fr. Chiesa followed with a summary description of the Rules of Discernment. These comprise a first set of fourteen rules for helping us discern how to know what is from the good spirit or the bad spirit and what to do when experiencing desolation. The second set of eight rules aims at discerning how the evil spirit tries to deceive good persons who are advancing spiritually.

For further information on the Spiritual Exercises and Ignatian Spirituality, please follow the links below. A big, sincere thank you to Fr. Chiesa for providing us with a clear insight into Ignatian Discernment and the tools that can help us in our daily spiritual battles.

Gaudete et Exsultate



The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, by Father Elder Mullan, S.J.



Podcasts with Fr. Timothy Gallagher
The Different Movements, which are Caused in the Soul


Daily Prayer of Discernment: The Examen Prayer




By Neil Day