Guidelines For Discerning Spirits

Chapter 29 Orientations, Vol 2: Part B

As You Begin -- A Note!

       As you study this it may be wise to keep some of the references before you. Therefore I place the key ones such as the  complete literal text of the Spiritual Exercises discernment guidelines (click here) in a separate pop-up dialogue window. 

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Second Section -- click here
Third Section  -- click here
Complete Endnotes  -- stay here

A. Some General Observations

        These reflections are not intended to be a complete commentary on the Guidelines for Discerning Spirits [313]-[336]. More complete commentaries already exist. These reflections are my attempt to establish a more practical context that will equip you to make connections between your own interior movements of spirits, a careful reading of these notations, and an ongoing study of them through other commentaries.

        A good place to begin is with the following diagram. Before you read on, spend some time looking at the following and noting down what you see.

A story is told about one of the presentations at a conference for psychotherapists. Without a word, the speaker brought a stepladder on the stage. She climbed the ladder and hung up a large white sheet. With a felt marker, she drew a diagram similar to the above in the centre of the sheet. The audience watched in silence. The speaker came down the ladder, smiled knowingly, and invited the audience to look carefully and note what they saw. Then she instructed them to take a few minutes to share this with their neighbours. There was a buzz in the room. Different people came up from the back and checked their perceptions; some shook their heads and went back. Finally the speaker invited them to call out the kinds of things they saw. As they called out their perceptions, the speaker listed them on newsprint -- such things as a mountain, a river, a mask, a face, etc.  No one mentioned what was really there -- the white sheet!

        This story suggests an apt metaphor for understanding Consolation [316], Desolation [317], and Counterfeit Consolation [331]. Let the white sheet represent your awareness of God's presence which carries an over-all appreciation of the meaning of life such as the Principle and Foundation [23]. Let the figure in the centre of the sheet represent your own personal, here-and-now, real-life, historically-rooted experience. With these correlations in mind, you can make the following observations:

        On our spiritual journey, when we experience the different facets of life, represented by the markings on the sheet, without the wider perspective, represented by the sheet itself, we get into trouble. In the turmoil of Desolation, we lose the felt perception that God is present, and we are centred primarily on ourselves and tend to move into a turmoil either with a downward discouraging spiral or with an upward generalized mania. In the false peace of Counterfeit Consolation, we are so in love with God that we forget our groundedness and our real-life limits imposed by our historical situation, and we move into illusion. We get into difficulties whenever we forget the implications of our foundational belief that the Word was made flesh. The image contained in the following statement may sound medieval, but it is still helpful in our practical understanding of these Guidelines -- the enemy of our human nature is filled with glee every time he/she succeeds in persuading us to separate these two perspectives in our spiritual awareness during our day-to-day living!

        I prefer to name the `rules' in notations [313]-[327] the First Set of Guidelines for Discerning Spirits and those in notations [328]-[336] the Second Set. When we directors refer to this First Set as `First-Week rules,' we confuse ourselves and keep thinking that they apply only to directees in the First Week. Probably notation [313] lays the basis for this confusion where it states: "these rules are more suited to the First Week." There are other reasons for this confusion:

    1.    Notation [314], the first guideline of the First Set, describes "the case of those going from mortal sin to mortal sin."(1) These are persons living in an orientation of serious spiritual disorder. They are not averse to thinking and acting contrary to God's basic desires or fundamental commandments for them in their daily living. It strikes me that this notation, in some ways, should have been placed outside the First Set because it gives the impression that people fitting the category of the First Set easily move into the [314] category. This has not been my perception of directees making the Exercises journey according to either notation [19] or [20]. Even though they may need the First Set throughout the Exercises journey and hardly ever show a real need for the Second Set, they do not easily move into the notation-[314] category.

    2.    This confusion may also come from the traditional belief present in the Roman church from long before Ignatius' time until the mid-1960s; namely, that there are two different states of life -- that of the commandments on the one hand, and that of Evangelical Perfection on the other. The phrase, Evangelical Perfection, was used to indicate a life committed to a more radical discipleship which was considered the proper state for those who devoted themselves to life in a religious order of the church [135], [357]. Every Christian was understood as being called to keep the commandments; only certain Christians were called to a more radical discipleship. This latter was often referred to as the life of Evangelical Perfection or the `life of the counsels.' With the shift of the classicist worldview to a more developmental worldview and with newer theologies expressed in the Second Vatican Council, we now believe that all Christians are called to the same radical discipleship expressed in the beatitudes. The point I am making is that within this older framework, the Second Set of Guidelines came to be interpreted as belonging more specifically to those who desired and attempted to live a more radical discipleship -- and this is still somewhat true. However, because the two basic calls were expressed in static terms (i.e., states of life), spiritual directors came to consider that people who fit the Second Set would hardly ever need the First Set.(2) The First Set came to be understood as the set for those who were called only to the `life of the commandments' and therefore were primarily concerned with their struggles to live in obedience to the commandments.

        The rest of the First Set of Guidelines, as in notations [315]-[327], are intended for those going from good to better. Their hearts and actions are, for the most part, oriented to God. They struggle to cleanse themselves from the disorder in their actions and from the influence of the `world' [63](3) as they seek to grow in discipleship. Note Ignatius' description of them in notations [9] and [315]. They are not bad people. They do not oppress others. Though they are governed by Inordinate Attachments, their basic and overall orientation is toward God. When Ignatius writes about temptations as being "crass," he is not referring to people who are planning to make money by selling landmines and armaments to warring countries. Rather, he is referring to people who, "not versed in spiritual things," are "tempted grossly and openly." With them, the enemy of our human nature brings before their minds "obstacles to their advance in the service of God our Lord, such as labours, shame, fear for their good name in the eyes of the world, etc." These are people who are going from good to better, "going on intensely cleansing their sins and rising from good to better in the service of God." They are not people who belong to the category of notation [314] at all. Nor are they people who are at risk of easily falling into that category.

        Each of the three diagrams(4) below represents a way of visualizing Ignatius' understanding of the human psyche. The section between the dotted lines is the area of spontaneous thoughts and feelings (`affections') that move in and out of the psyche. The memory and imagination form a bridge between these affections and the intellect and will. These more habitual thoughts and feelings are represented by arrows which have a certain direction, towards God or away from God. The exclamation marks (!) represent the more sporadic thoughts and feelings -- temptations and inspirations caused by good or evil spirits -- which influence the psyche and, when chosen, contribute to one's basic orientation, represented by the oversized (>). Given our own psychological literacy, we understand the area of our spontaneous thoughts and feelings as being our conscious awareness of our own reactions, many of which come from the less-than-conscious parts of our psyche. We might think of the section below the bottom dotted line as the core of our being which is never known to us directly but only through the area of our spontaneous thoughts and feelings.

click here for Diagrams A & B

click here for Diagrams A & B

        Diagram A in the image above represents the hearts of those persons of notation [314]. They go from capital sin to capital sin, that is, from bad to worse.  Most of the arrows are pointed towards self. Such people are outside the First Set. They would not be persons interested in making the Exercises journey. Their overall affectivity is oriented away from God. One or two arrows may be pointed toward God, but their basic orientation is away from God.

        Diagram B above represents the hearts of persons who fit the category of the rest of the First Set of Guidelines [315]-[327]. Most of the arrows are pointed towards God. Although quite a few arrows are still pointed towards the self, the basic orientation is towards God. Their overall affectivity is oriented toward God. The exclamation marks (!) represent particular interior affective movements (from good or evil spirits) which influence one's psyche. The quality of these movements -- whether they lead towards God or away from God -- become evident by their harmony or disharmony with one's basic affective orientation. In notations [14] and [16], Ignatius gives some examples of some of these arrows which point towards the self. Notation [14](5) gives the example of persons who are immature and experience ungrounded enthusiasm. Notation [16] gives the example of persons who are unduly preoccupied with real estate and monetary advantages of a situation for their own gain and not for the primary benefit of God's reign. The classical term used to describe such persons represented in Diagram B is `purgative,' as in Purgative Way or Purgative Mode. Persons of notation [314], as in Diagram A, are not even in this way or mode.

        Purgative is associated with the verb "to purge" meaning to cleanse, to eradicate, to remove, to purify, to forgive, etc. As a working definition, Purgative Mode refers to those moments on our spiritual journey when we must become free from our obvious, and not so obvious, sinfulness and its effects on the choices we make. Both Healing-Mode and Call-Mode directees can be in the Purgative Mode.(6) Frequently during life, every single person -- including Call-Mode persons -- needs to enter into this Purgative Mode. The recurring Lenten season of our church calendars reminds us of this truth.

        Traditionally, spiritual writers have referred to the three successive stages of the spiritual journey over a lifetime as Purgative, Illuminative, and Unitive Ways. The paradigm of the Exercises does not give a description for the life-long spiritual journey. Rather, it gives a way of understanding and dealing with the transient moments within the journey. In the Exercises, Ignatius does use the term, Purgative Life or Way, but he uses it only once and this is in notation [10], not in the First Set of Guidelines. It is probably because of that notation that some directors have linked the First Set with the Purgative Way. This can confuse us into believing that this First Set is only for beginners in the spiritual life. However, Ignatius does not use this phrase in the First Set at all. If directors would like to associate this First Set with `purgative,' perhaps they could use the phrase Purgative Mode to help avoid this possible confusion. Thus, Purgative Way can then refer to the beginning stage on the spiritual journey, and Purgative Mode can refer to any moment along the journey when one needs to become freer from the effects of sin in one's life.

click here for Diagram C

click here for Diagram C

        Diagram C represents those persons who correspond to the Second Set [328]-[336]. Most of the arrows are pointed towards God. Only one or two of the arrows are still pointed towards the self. The exclamation marks (!) represent particular interior affective movements (good or evil spirits) which influence the psyche. The quality of such movements -- whether they lead towards God or away from God -- become evident by their harmony or disharmony with the basic affective orientation. Most of these persons' attitudes, attachments, feelings and thoughts are oriented to God. Thus, if some interior movement (!) is not similarly aligned, it is immediately recognized and rendered ineffective. Such persons are well on the way to being spiritually free.(7) Ignatius compares her interior freedom with those who are living in the `illuminative' stage. Since, with this kind of freedom a directee would usually notice anything that tempts her toward less loving responses, she would only be susceptible to Temptations Under the Guise of Light [10], [332] -- suggestions that give the impression of being helpful in her loving response to God. Since her basic affections are aligned with God's desires, usually she would notice and reject immediately the discordant thoughts or feelings.

        These guidelines apply primarily to the fluctuations and trends of our spontaneous feelings and thoughts during the Exercises journey.(8) They also apply in some fashion to the fluctuations of our daily experiences of prayer and life. But, except by way of analogy, they should not be used automatically to understand the larger sweeps or stages of life that we pass through on our life-journey. More specifically, they apply to the experience of one making a decision with prayer. They may also contain some light concerning other areas of discernment such as, the discernment of a `word of knowledge' or an `anointing' of charismatic prayer groups. A spiritual director may have `the special gift of discernment' given by the Spirit, but this special gift is not necessary in applying these guidelines.

        Spiritual movements are interior reactions which involve our feelings, emotions, and spontaneous thoughts that float in and out of our consciousness. Many of us in the work of spiritual guidance refer to these movements as affective movements. A working description of a `spiritual movement' includes the coalescence of 1) feelings and emotions; 2) the meanings within them; 3) spontaneous thoughts; 4) the direction of 1), 2), and 3); and 5) a faith context.

        In order to apply the Guidelines for Discerning Spirits, you do not have to believe in the world of angels and spirits presumed in the psychology of the Exercises. It is sufficient to acknowledge that we are constantly being influenced by urges, thoughts, movements, and drives which ebb and flow within us and influence our choices. Whether these influences come as a result of our less-than-conscious psyches or from external, personal, non-material beings need not be a concern for a practical application of these guidelines. It is more important to know that some influences are leading to God and some away from God. The direction of one's interior reactions is the important thing to know -- either to accept and cooperate with them, or to reject and not cooperate with them. Also, it is wise to avoid the exaggerations of either denying the possibility of such spirits or believing too much in them.

        In the Guidelines for Discerning Spirits, we are dealing not with a scientific measurable truth but with an art, a skill of recognition. The descriptions that Ignatius gives are indicators. They are meant as Ignatius himself suggests "... to be of some help." The colour red is a help in recognizing various shades of red, but it may not be of help in recognizing some shades of red that are closer to orange or purple. So also with the Guidelines. We grow in the art of using these Guidelines by practising them daily in our Awareness Examen and Review. Often a more sensitive knowledge of the Guidelines comes from making use of a spiritual director who uses them with us. There is also truth in the statement that we really only come to experience and know these Guidelines with the impact of discerning a decision in the concrete circumstance of life.

Our Rhetoric In Speaking Discernment-Type Language

        As you will note by studying the Guidelines, "peace" is not the only criterion of the presence of God. To say, "I am at peace. Consequently my decision must be in harmony with God's desires," is a naive and false use of the Guidelines. Persons habituated to a life of disordered behaviour, "going from mortal sin to mortal sin" can experience peace and this is not from God. In notation [331], Ignatius points out how persons can experience the peace of Counterfeit Consolation which comes from the Bad Angel.

        Remember that expressions such as "the Spirit moved me" or "God gave me great consolation," do not necessarily mean that the peace or Consolation is an immediate intervention of God with no natural causation. When a person is lifted in spirit to praise God because of a sunset, the sunset is part of the causality. When a person receives significant insight at a prayer meeting, the meeting itself with its atmosphere is large part of the causality. In the Second Set of Guidelines, Ignatius makes the distinction between Consolation Without Previous Cause -- an experience of God communicating directly -- and Consolation With Previous Cause -- an experience of God communicating indirectly through secondary causes. These secondary causes can be from the external environment or from the internal environment of the less-than-conscious parts of our own psyches. Most of the time during the Exercises journey or during ongoing spiritual guidance when we deal with spiritual experiences, they are of this second kind.

        In certain settings, devout people refer to their transient spiritual experiences as if they were coming from God directly. This is unfortunate because such an approach can easily lead them to absolutize their own personal experiences or the judgements of discernment they receive from others who themselves are usually using this level of secondary causation in their discernment.

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Third Section  -- click here
Complete Endnotes  -- stay here


1. This can also be translated as "going from capital sin to capital sin." Consult notation [244] where Ignatius gives an instruction called First Method of Prayer (probably for persons envisaged in notation [18]). This method is a way of praying over the seven capital sins which, in the Autograph version of the Exercises, is "pecados mortales."

2. From what I can understand, they meant this as applying not only to the Exercises journey but also to daily life after the Exercises journey was over.

3. Elsewhere in this manual, I refer to the "disorder in my actions" and "knowledge of the world" in notation [63] as Hidden Disordered Tendencies and the influence of the `world.'

4. Thank you to Michael Shields, S.J., for the idea behind these diagrams.

5. Some people may consider this notation as referring to Counterfeit Consolation [331], and I suppose, by analogy, it could. However, when you encounter enthusiasm of "beginners" in the spiritual life, you can easily recognize obvious self-centredness and Hidden Disordered Tendencies that co-exist with, or lurk behind, their enthusiasm. For me, their immaturity and lack of grounding indicate why such experiences belong to the First Set. I think such enthusiasm is an example of Incipient Desolation. Yes, Ignatius does call it "consolation" and, no doubt for the immature directee, not too much in touch with herself, it probably feels that way!

6. Thank you to Elaine Frigo, CSSF, staff member of Loyola House, for the insights behind this paragraph.

7. Spiritual Freedom exists in those moments when a person is grasped so much by God's love that the desires of one's heart and the actions, affectivities, thoughts and decisions that flow from these desires are oriented to God. Consult the description of Consolation [316], particularly the first sentence, and the description of the Third Class [155].

8. There are many confusions that directors and commentators can make in the understanding of the Guidelines for Discerning Spirits. The Guidelines can be understood best from the perspective of the personally directed Exercises journey according to notation [20]. However, commentators inevitably give explanations and illustrations from the experiences of life outside the time of the Exercises rather than from the actual process of the Exercises journey to which the Guidelines properly belong. They do apply to daily life outside the time of the Exercises, but only secondarily and by Analogy.

        The First Set of Guidelines is not limited to directees in the First-Week exercises. This confusion often exists because Ignatius:

The tendency to absolutize the concepts contained in these Guidelines results in the separation between the two sets of Guidelines!

9. Many Christian denominations more typically refer to `capital sins' as "deadly sins." Ignatius uses the Spanish, "pecados mortales," which can mean capital sins or mortal sins. In notation [244], he obviously uses this phrase to mean the seven capital sins. Here in notation [314], I believe that he means both capital and mortal sins; some commentators might disagree with this interpretation.

10. Ignatius probably included this notation here in the First Set because he also intended the First-Week material to be used for notation-[18] purposes. When we continue to think of notation [314] as integrally belonging to the rest of this First Set [315]-[327], we tend to trivialize the spirituality of those directees who need only the First Set and seldom require the Second Set.

11. John English, S.J., Spiritual Freedom (Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1995), p.115.

12. Spiritual Freedom, p.116.

13. Spiritual Freedom, p.116.

14. Some of the following phrases may also indicate the presence of Desolation:

15. Analogously (and I stress the word analogously), this more momentary experience sometimes feels like that desolate, more long-term experience which often occurs in the latter stages of the spiritual journey when a person has been faithful to a life of prayer and God seems to withdraw as God leads one to greater surrender. In this latter stage, a person's faith is definitely being exercised; it is a time when all one can do is persevere by pure faith since God's help is not perceived as present. Confer Analogy in the Glossary.

16. It goes without saying that one should learn to recognize the psychological experiences that need psychological and not spiritual help.

17. In daily life outside the Exercises context, often less spiritually mature persons seek spiritual, honeymoon experiences. It can become spiritual gluttony or a religious addiction, as they move from one "high" to another. I believe that persons who continually seek such experiences may find themselves in serious spiritual and/or psychological difficulties -- mental fatigue, mania, depression, hysteria, etc. It seems to me that this occurrence is often associated with more programmatic Christians who have simplistic and rigid attitudes towards life. How does this coincide with your observations?

18. I learned this from John Govan, S.J., staff member of Loyola House, who has come to name this experience `natural desolation.' As Ignatius does in notation [317], Govan names Desolation, `spiritual desolation.' As you can tell from this manual, I have been using the term Desolation, with a capital "D", for `spiritual desolation.'

19. Spiritual Freedom, p.120.

20. In our day-to-day lives outside the Exercises journey, these three reasons are not always helpful in understanding the reasons we go into Desolation. They are much more helpful in understanding the reasons why a directee in the Call Mode experiences Desolation during the Exercises journey. However, in daily living, Desolation is often more noticeable when we let ourselves be dominated by some Inordinate Attachment or Disordered Tendency; for example, when we allow ourselves to be dominated by a characteristic propensity to manipulate someone's approval and it is not forthcoming.

21. As well as being connected to notation [16], this fourth reason is connected to notation [327] with the image of "the captain seeking to enter a castle by the weakest point."

22. Desolation is usually a form of resistance to our Loving God. Our psyche is aware less consciously of something it does not want to surface into consciousness and Desolation is its conscious symptom of what is taking place -- some resistance before God's love. Psychologically, resistance can be described as one's conscious or unconscious psychic defenses against bringing less-than-conscious material (thoughts, feelings, images, memories, etc.) to light. During the Exercises journey, resistance manifests itself in many different ways:

In the larger segments of the spiritual journey as a whole, the metaphors of `desert' and `darkness' are words often used to express longer-term phenomena mostly resulting from our resistance to God at deepening levels of our being.

23. The typical temptation of the Second Set of Guidelines is the Temptation Under the Guise of Light.

24. In the Jesuit spiritual tradition, this came to be called "agere contra" which translates literally as "to act against."

25. It seems to me that Ignatius' application of the traditional stages of Purgation, Illumination and Union to the dynamic of the Exercises is a bit like applying Erikson's eight stages of human growth to the dynamic of learning a new language during one of those stages. The three traditional stages apply to the larger sweeps of the spiritual journey whereas the Exercises are an instrument of decision-making with respect to an important moment during any one of the three traditional stages. Perhaps this three-stage correlation helped to demonstrate how the Exercises fit into the mainstream spirituality of Ignatius' time. A colleague of mine has suggested that, perhaps, this was intended for the Inquisition, the 16th century's counterpart to the present Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the Roman church.

If approached analogously, the Exercises could be used as a dynamic model to understand the various stages of the overall spiritual journey. Thus, one could indeed refer to a person past the mid-life crisis and living a life of social awareness as being in a Third-Week stage. Or again, one could identify a person whose prayer has become "contemplative" and who is entering the "stage of contemplation" as being in a Third- or Fourth-Week stage. Consult Glossary for meaning of Analogy.

26. By "metaphysical," I mean the real possibility of freedom, not the illusion of it. By "psychological freedom," I mean sufficient freedom from the influence of the unconscious that one is actually responsible for one's decisions. Spiritual Freedom often would include a certain amount of psychological freedom, but psychological freedom does not necessarily include Spiritual Freedom.

27. I am grateful for a unique conversation with Jim Borbely, S.J., who shared this insight with me.

28. In an earlier understanding of the spiritual journey before a more developmental worldview, people for whom the Second Set is intended were considered so purified from their Inordinate Attachments that they were thought of as being free from all their disordered interior reactions. I wonder if the authors thought this was so because most of the classical spiritual writings were written by religious concerning religious who lived in fairly regulated environments. In the past two hundred years during the ages affected by rationalism, these authors paid more attention to the conscious mind. They considered that generalized logical distinctions made in the abstract were necessarily true in the particular, concrete experience.

       Some spiritual directors refer to their directees in a vein similar to the way the authors above categorized various stages of the spiritual journey. If a directee regresses into Desolation, as described in the First Set of Guidelines, they say, "... The directee couldn't possibly be a person of the Second Set!" For them, there is a discontinuity between the First and the Second Set.

        I find that there is lack of agreement among spiritual directors concerning the connections between the First and the Second Set of Guidelines for Discerning Spirits:

        Some directors of the Exercises seem to hold a `discontinuity theory': They suggest that temptations of the Second Set come only as thoughts and bright ideas, but not as affective movements. They hold this to be so because good and generous persons whose affectivity is in harmony with God would notice quickly the slightest disharmonious impulses and immediately reject them. The temptations of the Second Set, for these directors, are not just more subtle than the temptations of the First Set but arise from a different source: namely, `angels,' not `spirits.' Therefore, for them, there is a discontinuity with the First Set.

        This is not without merit. Ignatius is very careful in his description of how the temptations within each set differ. In notation [315], there are trends of feelings such as anxiety backed by fallacious reasons. In other words, the affective temptations come first, and the fallacious reasons develop after and then further contribute to these affective movements. A directee, for example, begins to feel sadness and only later feels like a failure, and this leads her to think that she can never do anything right. In notation [317], Ignatius observes that the thoughts that come from Desolation are not the same as those that come from Consolation.

        In the Second Set, as in notation [329], the affective anxieties are caused by fallacious reasons which the evil one insinuates into the Consolation. For example, a directee is in Consolation and has a desire to serve Jesus in a certain way. The thought comes to her that this is both hypocritical and pretentious: "After all," she thinks, "people with my history usually don't do such-and-such!" Then she begins to feel insecure, and little by little, she becomes distraught. In this way, in the Second Set, the thought usually precedes the anxiety.

        Other directors of the Exercises hold a `continuity theory': First of all, they admit that the use of the word `angel' does not occur in the First Set. However, in line with a continuity theory, they point to the fact that Ignatius makes use of both terms `angel' and `spirit' in the Second Set. Notation [335] seems to be an extension of notation [315] where Ignatius talks about how the Good Spirit makes all easy. Furthermore, the description of Consolation [316] is intended as a description of Consolation for both sets.

        I believe that there is a real difference between Ignatius' use of the term Bad Angel, with its Temptations Under the Guise of Light, and his use of the term Evil Spirit with its temptations. Because he uses both terms in the Second Set, and because of our more developmental worldview than that held by directors in favour of the discontinuity theory, I hold that there is a continuity between the First and the Second Set.

29. Is anyone ever totally spiritually free? The nature of the decision and of the issues involved would seem to require an amount of Spiritual Freedom that is proportionate to the decision being made in time and space. The proportion between the experience of Spiritual Freedom and the nature of the decision made helps to determine whether the decision has been sound and correct [175].

30. Using Jungian language, one might refer to these movements or temptations as "F-type" temptations or movements.

31. In Jungian language, one might refer to these as "T-type" temptations or movements. I owe the ideas in this paragraph to conversations I have had with Jim Borbely, S.J., John English, S.J., Judy Roemer, and the late George Schemel, S.J.

32. Although the distinction that is made between the confessor and the director of the Exercises is valid and to be acknowledged, it strikes me that what Ignatius intends in notation [17] is precisely the distinction which I make in this chapter. The "sins" to which Ignatius refers are one example of Private Thoughts. However, the sphere for spiritual direction is not the realm of Private Thoughts; it is the realm of spiritual movements. With this point, the Exercises harmonize with current psychology which acknowledges that our less-than-conscious thoughts and feelings have more motivational impact than our conscious ones.

33. This is a very important point that has often been forgotten during the history of the use of the Spiritual Exercises. Confer my Orientations, Vol. 1 (Guelph: Loyola House, 1994), endnotes 23 and 32. In order to foster a movement of spirits, Ignatius uses techniques based on the engagement of the imagination. This is no small point because every prayer exercise in the Exercises in both the notation-[19] and -[20] contexts makes use of the imagination -- story, images, and symbol. The two exceptions, namely the P&F and the Three Degrees, are not proposed as exercises for prayer but for reflections outside the prayer exercises.

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