Guidelines For Discerning Spirits

Section 3

As You Begin -- A Note!

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C. Second Set Of Guidelines

        The purpose of this section is to explore how the Second Set of Guidelines is different but still connected with the First Set. When spiritual guides and spiritual directors gather for peer-peer supervision or team meetings, the question is sometimes asked: "How does a Second-Week temptation appear in a directee's prayer experiences? What does it look like? ... Please give some examples." During the ensuing discussion, cases such as the following are usually given:

a) The experience of Bill who takes Consolation to himself.

During the early phases of the notation-[19], Exercises journey, Bill has two days of prayer filled with Consolation. For the third day, he decides to remain with the same scriptural passage because "things are going so well." He expects Consolation again. To his dismay he experiences just the opposite -- Desolation! Thus he was tempted by wanting what seemed to him a good thing but for a wrong reason. It is not the passage that makes it work, since true Consolation is a free gift of God. Bill probably assumes that prayer is good only if one experiences Consolation. Hence he goes deeper into Desolation because he considers the struggle with Desolation to be a failure rather than a common outcome in the process of prayer. Thus he blames himself.
b) The experience of Susan who decides to imitate her husband's method for her own prayer.
Susan and her husband are making the notation-[19] Exercises journey with different directors. Often, in the evening, they share the day's happenings. One day, Susan, struggling and yet doing quite well herself, discovers that her husband seems to be having a great deal of success using a different approach from the one she was given. Not too aware of her own competitive nature, she tries to use the approach he was given and gets into difficulty and experiences Desolation.
c) The experience of Jim who hears a presentation on prayer and doubts his own experience.
At this time, Jim is preparing for the notation-[19] Exercises journey. He is doing fairly well. His director is teaching him different methods of prayer. However, she has to contend with some of Jim's fears concerning past attempts with some of these methods which represented for him an old time pulling-yourself-up- by-your-own-bootstraps spirituality. He remembers these past experiences in negative terms. Jim often attends conferences about the spiritual journey given by well-known speakers. Four days before his next interview with his director, he decides to go to one. During one of the presentations, Jim hears some advice concerning prayer that causes him to doubt that he is doing well. As a result, he has the good idea of doing something to improve, but he gets into more doubt and experiences Desolation.
        In dealing with situations like those above, some spiritual guides might want to apply the Second Set of Discernment Guidelines, particularly [332] and [333]. After all, in each case, the Desolation began with an attempt to do something good or worthwhile. A lack of proper understanding or maturity contributed to the movement into Desolation. In a sense, the three directees were all "deceived" because, from their perspectives and with good intentions, they chose an approach that seemed to be helpful. A spiritual guide might assess these movements along the lines of notation [332] and check the beginning, middle, and end of the spiritual movement: its beginning to discover the point of entry of the Deception; its middle to understand what happened as the Deception developed; its end to notice the end result. This is good advice and applicable in many different areas of human experience and behaviour. Thus, a spiritual guide could use these guidelines here. But if he did so it would be by way of analogy only.

        You could use the edge of a pair of pliers to bang a nail into soft wood, or a spoon to eat your salad, though these are not the intended purposes of the pliers or the spoon. In much the same way, these three cases do not need the instrumentation of the Second Set of Guidelines since these cases are adequately covered by the First Set, notably notations [317], [325] and [327]. All three cases are the kinds of examples very common among `unskilled' directees. In each example, there is an obvious Inordinate Attachment involved:

The situations represented in these cases are not the situations which Ignatius had in mind when he set down the Second Set of Guidelines. The affective indicator that these situations belong in the First Set is Desolation. Unfreedom and Inordinate Attachments lead to Desolation in the spiritual neophyte or `unskilled' person.

        On the other hand, the temptations envisaged by the Second Set ordinarily appear when generous followers of Jesus experience interior freedom from such Inordinate Attachments. The affective indicator that a temptation belongs with the Second Set is Counterfeit Consolation, described in notation [331]. The directee is still in Consolation, but there is something wrong with the Consolation -- a drop of water on a rock rather than a drop of water on a sponge [335]. A directee is ready to use the Second Set when she has been tricked by a temptation under the pretence of being invited to do a good thing.

When the one who is giving the Exercises notes that his directee is being assailed and tempted under the appearance of light, then is the proper time to explain to her the rules of the Second Week ... [10].
The following example is more in keeping with what is meant by Temptation Under the Guise of Light.

        Veronica, a 27-year-old doctor, has just completed two very frustrating years in Northern Manitoba. Too few peers and many serious diagnostic decisions without up-to-date equipment made for two years of loneliness, worry and dissatisfaction with her career as a doctor.

        Veronica has just taken a six-month leave to assess her future. She could accept a new position in a Toronto hospital that will be open in six months. She had made several directed retreats before. Now she is making a shortened version of the Spiritual Exercises in daily life. Should she give the Toronto position a try for a couple of years? Or should she follow a childhood dream and become a medical sister in the Third World? The only reason she did not allow herself to get too close to several male friends in her life was to keep that dream as a possible option.

        During the Exercises journey thus far, she has had to face her excessive need for approval and feedback which seems to be somehow associated with her father's death when she was twelve. She has also had to look at the possibility that, out of misguided duty, her career was carrying on her father's work as a doctor and the possibility that her dream of being a sister was associated with two aunts who became very significant for her in her teen years.

        During the prayer on the Two Standards, she looks at all these realities again and comes to understand more deeply how she hates ambiguous situations. She recognizes and acknowledges her propensity to jump from one stance to another in order to clear up the ambiguity. No doubt, this was part of her frustration in Manitoba where many diagnoses had to be made without the luxury of more data from modern equipment. She prays the Triple Colloquy for a greater dependence on God and for an ability to live with ambiguity and not to make rash decisions. In the Three Classes, she realizes that she is very much part of the Second Class with respect to her dream of being a medical sister. She has taken for granted all these years that to be a sister is the only way that she could grow in holiness. She realizes too that her desire to be a doctor is not a duty she is burdened with but something she really desires. She further acknowledges her deep desire to raise a family. So in the Colloquy, she continues to ask for help in being more dependent on God when she finds herself in ambiguous situations and to be open to any path that harmonizes with God's designs.

        During her Monday night interview, she discovers with her spiritual director various images of God's will. She comes to realize that God's will is not a prefixed, predetermined plan with clear details requiring only that she discover it and fit into it. She realizes that God's will is more associated with salvation and the meaning of creation evident in our reflected-upon-human-experience; that is, it is her responsibility to determine the particularities of it. In some sense, she makes God's will through her every decision -- God's will is somehow consistent with her deeper ordered desires. It is all right to be married if she truly desires to be married! A great burden is lifted from her as a result of this interview, and so she determines to face the next week of prayer -- praying the call of the disciples -- from the stance of remaining a doctor with an openness to marriage.

        Tuesday morning she wakes up with a big smile on her face realizing that it is all right with God for her to be a doctor and get married. Something has lifted which has weighed her down for a long time. After all, it makes sense that her situation in Manitoba was one of almost total frustration due to the context of ambiguity in diagnosis resulting from insufficient feedback. There was a lack of up-to-date equipment and there were no colleagues to consult except by computer and phone. She looked forward to her prayer exercise in mid-afternoon.

        Using Luke 5:1-11, the call of Peter, she enters the Gospel Contemplation easily. Most of the period she stays on the shore, taken up with the presence of Jesus, while at the same time listening and watching Jesus as part of the crowd as he preaches from Peter's boat. She carries on a conversation with one of the onlookers and expresses how wonderful Jesus' words are. "Blessed are those who suffer persecution for my sake" seems to coincide with the situation in Manitoba when she felt so alone. From time to time in her Colloquies, Jesus tells her not to be afraid of ambiguity and encourages her to consider some of his own experiences of ambiguity -- his confusion during the time of the temptations in the desert; his surprise and confusion and the subsequent ambiguity concerning how to proceed when being confronted by the deep faith of non-Jews such as the Canaanite woman and Jairus, etc.

        Later, in the Review she begins to feel disappointed as she notes that she was not one of the apostles. Reflecting on her day, she thinks that she herself is to blame for this because she had determined to be a married doctor but it wasn't for Jesus' sake!

        With this in mind, on Wednesday she goes into her prayer exercise having decided to change her stance; now she makes the prayer exercises taking the stance of being a medical sister. She makes a Repetition of yesterday's prayer exercise, and this time she places herself in one of the boats with the apostles. She talks with them asking them how they feel when Peter goes through his antics. She tells them how she wants to be a sister and spends some of the time imagining what it would be like belonging to a religious order of nuns. She thanks Jesus for the influence of the two aunts in her life.

        Each day passes by smoothly and each prayer period is quite peaceful as she continues to take the stance of a sister. By Saturday she uses the scripture text on the Feeding of the Five Thousand and spends time as a sister talking to the people about how great Jesus is. She tends to their needs and they are very grateful for her presence.

        During her interview on the following Monday, Veronica relates what went on during the week. The director quietly listens to the prayer of each day of the past week with only a few clarifying questions in order to understand more clearly the overall flow and movements. The dialogue with her spiritual director continues ...

D. So you seemed to have had a very peaceful week.

V. Yes, that conversation we had last week lifted a burden from my shoulders. I sense a great deal of freedom when I return here.

D. Did you experience the same kind of freedom throughout the week?

V. Why, yes, I think so.... I had a very peace-filled week.

D. What confuses me is the way you took the stance of being a sister from Wednesday onwards when I thought you had determined to take the stance of being a married doctor for the whole week....

V. Why, yes, ... it seemed the thing to do.... Even though I knew that God would go with any decision I would make, I wanted to make the decision for God. I realized that I was the one who had chosen to be a doctor, but I wasn't sure it was for God.

D. Do you mean that you didn't articulate it and tell God that explicitly? ... Or do you mean that you actually interiorly did not want to be a married doctor for God?

V. I didn't make it explicit.... Of course, I want to be a married doctor for God.... I just didn't articulate it....

D. Oh ... (there is a longish pause ... What I can't fathom is how Veronica is being trapped by such an evident inconsistency!) ... Okay, let's put that on a shelf for a moment. You also mentioned that you experienced "consolation" throughout all your prayer periods -- having "a very peace-filled week." Did you note a difference between the peace you experienced on Tuesday and the peace you experienced on the other days of the week?

V. Umm ... let me see.... No, not really.... But I do notice the difference between the peace all week and the peace during the week when I was praying over the Nativity. During that week Jesus was closer, and I was more absorbed and less conscious of myself.

D. Yes, I remember. During the prayer unit on the Nativity, you almost completely forgot about yourself....

V. Yeh.... Yes.... This past week I was active, and Jesus was there.... Although I must admit that on Tuesday, while I was on the shore, I was still completely taken up with Jesus....

D. You mean that while you were on the shore, you were still very much involved with Jesus, ... not as actively involved, but still completely absorbed? ...

V. Why, yes, ... though I was more active than in the Nativity exercises. On Tuesday, on the shore, I felt it was just as loving....

D. Sounds to me you were in deep consolation on Tuesday on that shore.... What about after Tuesday? ... Less involved? ... More self-conscious? ... Almost drier, perhaps?

V. Yes, ... yes, that's it. I'm sure of it.... As a matter of fact, I seemed to be much more conscious of myself from Wednesday onwards....

D. (Wednesday onwards feels to me like a drop of water on a rock. The alternative to choosing to be a married doctor not for God is not necessarily choosing to be a medical sister but rather choosing to be a married doctor for God.... Here is Veronica's "one extreme to another" rearing its ugly head again!!! ... ) Veronica, you made a decision to take the stance of a sister because you wanted to do it for God.... Remember a couple of weeks ago, we talked about how you want clarity and tend to jump from one extreme to another when you are not absolutely sure. You could have chosen to be a married doctor for Jesus' service and that would have probably been the corrective your prayer needed on Wednesday if it needed any corrective at all. You didn't articulate your desire explicitly but you still had it.... (big smile) ... How did you get confused over that one?

V. (smiling) ... Guess I needed to be black and white -- no - ambiguity - Veronica" and all that jazz!

D. (with smiling emphasis!) Yee - es! ... Let's look at number [332] and [333] and see how these two Guidelines apply.... (then after sufficient time to read them over) ... Let's look at the beginning of the movement where the idea came to change your stance.... Your initial thought that something was wrong ... when was it?

V. ... During the prayer Review, I realized I was on the shore.

D. Yes, ... and comparing it with the Nativity experiences, you seem to equate the geographical distance from Jesus with real distance from Jesus, and I think you began to doubt your Consolation here.... You presumed it should be different ... "more involving," I think you put it. You were disappointed because you were not actually in the boat with the apostles. You could have discussed this with Jesus in the next prayer period, but you presumed you knew what it meant.... Do you remember how you used to presume that being a sister was the only way to serve Jesus! Well, here, you remembered that you did not even tell Jesus that you wanted to be a married doctor for his service, so you jumped to the conclusion that you didn't really want to be a married doctor for Jesus' service, and so on....

V. Oh, ... I guess, ... I'm beginning to see....

D. I think you have been tempted under the guise of light by the angel of darkness....

V. Oooh! ... I guess ... I was fooled.

D. I think so.... Reflect for a moment now on the quality of the "consolation" after Wednesday and before Wednesday.... Notice that though there was more activity in your prayer exercises from Wednesday onwards, there was actually less involvement. You were far more the centre of things from Wednesday onwards. What do you notice?

V. I was less focused on Jesus, ... more focused on myself.... Even though I was more active and thinking I was more involved, I was less present to Jesus than when I was on the shore.

D. You continued to be in "consolation," but it was skewed ... like a drop of water on a stone rather than a drop of water on a sponge (as in notation [335]). Or to use another metaphor ... a violin note that is not quite perfect in its sound....

(then after further discussion)

D. ... For the coming week, once again use the Feeding of the Five Thousand. Then move to the Transfiguration. Then make four Repetitions. Each day during the prayer exercises and in between the prayer exercises, take the stance of being a married doctor for the sake of Jesus. (This is the Trying-It-on-for-Size method.) Remember to allow Repetition to develop into the Application of Senses if that is how you are being drawn.... Next interview we'll discern together what God has been communicating with you through the experiences of the week's daily events and prayer exercises.

        Why is this case about Veronica a good example of the Second Set of Guidelines? Veronica is generously trying to discover God's will. She is growing in Spiritual Freedom, but she was drawn into a misguided path by being tempted under the guise of light. First, she did not articulate explicitly that her desire for being a married doctor was for God. Then she mistakenly concluded that to be a married doctor was only for herself and not for God (the beginning [333]). Since her interior affectivity and desires that flowed from this were aligned to choose only that which is in harmony with God's will, she tried to correct the situation (the middle ... and another good thought!) by unwittingly choosing to follow an interpretation connected with the very disorder that she recognized and handled, to a certain degree, earlier in the Exercises journey -- her impatience with ambiguity and her attempt to clear it by moving from one extreme to the other. By the time of the Two Standards, she had arrived at a great deal of self-knowledge and had gained some freedom with respect to this. Though Veronica was becoming freer, the Inordinate Attachment was still present but in a more subtle way. In the last few days, her attempts at following a good and generous course ended in false peace, whereas at the beginning of the week, Veronica was experiencing true peace. The indicator that she had succumbed to this type of temptation(23) was her skewed thinking along with Counterfeit Consolation. During the session with Veronica, the spiritual director probably felt that what he was hearing was like a drop of water on a stone [335], or it was like a musical note that was slightly off key.

        The previous cases about Susan, Bill, and Jim give examples of interior movements more typical of the First Set of Guidelines with Desolation as the usual indicator. Though such typical movements may flow from self-doubt, Inordinate Attachment, inadequate self-knowledge, or lack of training, such persons are still focused on God and their affectivity is, in an overall sense, moving from good to better [315]. Yet these persons may not be very free from their Disordered Tendencies. They are good persons and they love God. They are generous and have largesse of spirit in the same sense that Peter had in his early encounters with Jesus. However, they are not very aware of how their Hidden Disordered Tendencies affect their prayer, discernment, and choices -- Susan is not aware or free enough to let her husband have a better experience; Bill is not aware or free enough to put up with pain in prayer; Jim is not aware or free enough to trust himself in front of the expert. The First Set is sufficient to deal with these three cases. As Ignatius suggests if the directee is unskilled in spiritual things, and thus is tempted grossly and openly -- for example, with such things as obstacles to her advance in the service of God, such as labours, shame, fear for her good name in the eyes of the world, etc. -- the director of the Exercises should not explain the Second Set of Guidelines. For while the First Set of Guidelines will be very helpful, the Second Set will be harmful since it deals with matter that is too subtle and advanced for a spiritually immature person to understand [9]. When the director of the Exercises perceives that the directee (such as Veronica) is being harassed and tempted under the guise or appearance of light, then is the proper time to explain the Second Set [10].

Subtlety Of Second Set: True Peace Versus False Peace

The guidelines of the Second Set are more subtle than those of the First Set. They deal with spiritual phenomena that are more sophisticated:

        The temptations envisaged in the Second Set are those that take place when a directee manifests a more mature love and generosity with a greater degree of Spiritual Freedom. At these times, a directee needs to discern a sense of true peace from a sense of false peace -- and all in the context of God's love. During these moments, a directee is not easily led astray by Inordinate Attachments and impulses arising from them for she easily recognizes and deals with such obvious temptations.

        The Second Set also presumes, as the First Set did, that a directee is moving from good to better; but, now, this basic orientation has more completely aligned her feelings, thoughts, and attachments according to God's ways. Her interior spontaneities and reactions are focused away from self-centredness. She is close to being a balance at equilibrium as described in the Third Class [155]. During these moments, the only way a directee can be led astray in her choices from her loving orientation towards God is through some misinterpretation that appears to be consistent with a balanced generous love, not by affective, disordered impulses or Inordinate Attachments that come from habit, sinful tendency, or disordered affectivity. Within the context of Spiritual Freedom and generosity, a directee is not very susceptible to selfish impulses and self-centred desires but is susceptible to inspirations and thoughts leading to actions of generosity.

        Ignatius adopted the psychology of his day to understand and explain the phenomena of the psyche. In this psychology, Angels caused thoughts directly and Spirits caused feelings directly. In the First Set, the term Angel is never used because the kinds of temptations are those associated with more obvious trends of feelings and emotions arising from Inordinate Attachments. In the Second Set, Ignatius uses the term Angel, along with and more frequently than the term Spirit, because the temptations are intended for a more mature directee. In such a mature directee, the spontaneous feelings and emotions and the attitudes and understanding associated with them are more aligned to God's ways; and so, the enemy can only enter her psyche with light-filled temptations of thought, in other words, some "misinformation."

        The temptations that are governed by the First Set are understood as coming from the influence of the Evil Spirit. The word Evil Spirit is associated with feelings, urges, impulses and, if with thoughts, it is because the thoughts are closely associated with these feelings and urges. In fact, the discouraging thoughts of the First Set flow from feelings [317].

        The temptations that are governed by the Second Set are understood as coming mostly from the Bad Angel, and sometimes from the Evil Spirit. The Bad Angel is associated primarily with insight -- false knowledge, false understanding, some sort of intellectual guidance that masquerades as light. At first, the temptation that comes as a thought or insight looks good, but much later it rears its ugly head. Sometimes the temptation of the Bad Angel, masquerading as light, might be recognized by the trend of feelings which flow after the victim has accepted and acted upon the deceptive thought.

Points Of Comparison Between The Two Sets Of Guidelines
First Set
Second Set
Temptation comes from Evil Spirits Bad Angel
Phenomena of temptation Mostly feelings, urges, impulses Mostly thoughts, interpretations, insights
Affective movements are described in terms of Consolation and Desolation True Consolation and Counterfeit Consolation
Mode usually involved Purgative mode and/or Healing Mode Call Mode and/or Healing Mode
Level of spiritual maturity


Temptations are more crass, open, evident, and associated with Desolation and Inordinate Attachments.


Temptations are less materialistic. They insinuate themselves as part of the loving dynamic. They are associated with Consolation which proves to be counterfeit.
Basic "therapy"


Discover the source of the Desolation. Fight against(24) the Desolation and wait patiently for Consolation to return. Do some penance. Be faithful! Discover the deceptive reasoning and the false line of reasoning. Note the pattern for the future. Be attentive!
When do you explain the Guidelines?


At any point early during the course of the Exercises as soon as they become relevant. Probably they begin to make sense to a directee when she begins to recognize her turmoil as Desolation. Only and if the directee has been experiencing a Temp-tation Under the Guise of Light.


To whom do the Guidelines apply?


To all directees making the Exercises journey -- going from good to better and serious about improving their relationship God. They are `unskilled,' i.e., lacking of spiritual awareness, missing obvious connections between their symptomatic exper-
iences and their interior reactions; they are immature -- still dominated by Inordinate Attachments.
To directees more `skilled' in spiritual awareness -- with greater self-knowledge and knowledge of some subtleties; to those more mature -- having become freer from evident Inordinate Attachments. They are in the mode of loving response and eager to discover God's call.


When do the phenomena occur? At any time when one is growing in prayer and spiritual maturity. At a time of spiritually free generosity and serious decision-making.

      Do all directees making the Second Week need the Second Set of Guidelines? These guidelines may be useful, or they may not be useful. It depends on what is happening in the movement of the directee's experiences both during and after the time of the prayer exercises. Ignatius indicates that they should not be explained to the directee unless the need arises, i.e., when the directee is experiencing a Temptation Under the Guise of Light. This implies that the need may not arise.

        Probably Ignatius presumed that the Second Set would generally be needed once the First Week was over. He assumed that his readers understood the dynamic of the notation-[20] Exercises in the light of the classical pattern of spiritual growth generally accepted in his time: from the Purgative to the Illuminative to the Unitive Way. When we consider the Exercises from this assumption,(25) then we might conclude that the directee would have completed the stage of purification by the end of the First Week. By this point in the course of the Exercises journey or by this time in her life, the directee would no longer be considered in the Purgative Way. Rather having been sufficiently healed, forgiven or in touch with her own identity as a saved sinner, the directee would be, by this point, in the Call Mode -- with a heart filled with gratitude and generosity, eager to discover the best means to follow Jesus in both the private and public spheres of her world. Therefore, the Second Set would be usually needed for the Second-Week directee.

        For some directees, the Second Set is not suitable at all. Certainly this is true for those directees who fall into the category of notation [314], who go from capital sin to capital sin. Directees in this category would have difficulty in discerning spiritual movements because the underlying focus for all their energy is their self-centredness. This type of person does not have the appropriate affective orientation that even the First Set of Guidelines presumes.

        Even the tone with which Ignatius refers to the Second Set of Guidelines implies that some persons making a discernment may not need this Second Set. Note the words I have underlined from notation [10]:

.... For ordinarily the enemy of our human nature tempts more under the appearance of good when one is exercising herself in the illuminative life. This corresponds to the exercises of the Second Week. The enemy does not tempt one so much under the appearance of good when in the purgative life, which corresponds to the exercises of the First Week.
        A Second-Week directee is presumed to be a generous person in the Call Mode and yet we know from observation that she can still experience spiritual movements that are more aptly explained by the First Set. This seems to be implied in the introduction to the Second Set of Guidelines [328].

        Is it possible that this maturity and generosity would have been more easily achieved in the culture of Ignatius' time? Is it possible that most directees, after the Kingdom Exercise, would be "skilled spiritually"; that is, would they be no longer dominated by their Disordered Tendencies such as resentment or fear or being rejected, and, at the same time, be very aware of their own interior reactions with an ability to reflect on these and know how to deal with these?

        In Ignatius' time, we know that people made life choices earlier and died younger. Life was physically harder but psychologically simpler. There was no awareness of the split between the unconscious and conscious mind, nor between the private realm and the public realm as there is now. People also thought of themselves as having more metaphysical and psychological freedom than we believe or think of ourselves as having today.(26)Then, very few people had a mid-life to have a mid-life crisis. In our time, there are many more aspects of our lives and our psyches to integrate with our shadow. It is interesting to note that in the scripture passages Ignatius suggests for prayer on Jesus' public life, there are no suggestions for the healing miracles.

        Since Ignatius was interested in people who would do great deeds for the church, he was often very choosey about the character of the person making the Exercises. He preferred persons with many natural gifts and energies to be candidates for the Exercises. Also, in earlier times, writers on spirituality theorized about persons being in a spiritual stage or "state," as for example, the stage of Illumination. In a more static worldview, such stages were interpreted as being more fixed than we would expect today.

        Now, people live longer and have more time for self-reflection and interiority. Now, there are more transitions through which to pass, more things requiring the surrender of the past into the unknown of the future. People continue to develop, and at every stage of development, there is need for healing and `purgation' or forgiveness. Today, a twenty-two-year-old woman discerning a future career and/or a choice of state of life, could be in a Call Mode. That same person at twenty-eight may find herself in need of healing and forgiveness. Years later, she might be in a Call Mode again. There are always moments on the life journey when the "stuff" of our past needs to be dealt with through forgiveness and healing. If we take into account the experiences and needs of directees on the Exercises journey, we will come to a more developmental view of both sets of Guidelines for Discerning Spirits.

        The following diagram may give further insight into the connections between the two sets of guidelines. With its accompanying explanation, the diagram intends to illustrate the following truths:

The use of the Second Set is connected with one's level of maturity.
        The following diagram illustrates these and other interconnections between the two sets of guidelines. Within the unfolding dynamic of the Exercises journey, the first two vertical panels indicate the sinful tendencies of which our hypothetical directee might become aware during the First Week. Note how the directee's awareness of such tendencies (represented by the First or Second Exercise) become more subtle by the Third Exercise when the directee is brought into contact with her Disordered Tendencies that are more hidden. As she enters the Call Mode (indicated by the double vertical bars), her motivations are now transformed -- the self-centred tendencies are other-centred. Yet these new-found strengths are still connected to the history and weakness from which they were born. The person who lied and cheated in order to win recognition now desires to do something significant for Jesus. The need for recognition has been changed but could easily be reactivated.
click here for diagram

click here for diagram
        This diagram can also be applied to the journey of life. A person matures towards a greater identity and self-acceptance. During this growth process, one exercises discipline over some of one's disordered habits. As one moves toward mid-life, one is moved more by love and wisdom than by selfishness and the need to prove oneself. One's basic character becomes more subtle. Where one used to prove oneself by lying (first panel) and later by achieving (second panel), now one reaches a point of desiring to go beyond oneself in doing something significant for God. If this "doing something significant" is twisted by a disordered generosity or a misguided overextension of one's energy, one can regress to early forms of one's immaturity. Thus in the Call Mode (to the right of the double bars), one's very desires, which are now in transformation, become the points of entry for the Bad Angel.

        The full diagonal arrow indicates that typical temptations of the Second Set enter in the third panel and if the temptation remains undetected long enough, the directee is led down the arrow into experiences that are more typical of the First Set of Guidelines. A directee, fooled by the Bad Angel masquerading as light in the prayer exercise on Monday, may, by Saturday, find herself wallowing in some of the experiences of the first or second panel. All three panels indicate a consistency with the same directee's character.

        The separated diagonal arrow indicates what happens in those whom Ignatius calls `unskilled' and who experience crass and more obvious temptations [9]. When these less subtle temptations remain undetected, there is a regression down the separated diagonal line. In our culture, many generous persons, who have developed quite an intense prayer life and who are in need of healing and forgiveness, experience such temptations. Examples of Healing-Mode directees experiencing this type of temptation were given in Chapter 24.

        This diagram illustrates the phenomena behind the image of the enemy captain seeking to attack at the weakest point -- the last of the First Set of Guidelines [327].

The conduct of our enemy may also be compared to the tactics of a leader intent upon seizing and plundering a desirable position. A commander and leader of an army will encamp, explore the fortifications and defenses of the stronghold, and attack at the weakest point.... Similarly the enemy of our human nature ... attacks at that point where he/she finds us weakest.
With this image, the First and the Second Set of Guidelines for Discerning Spirits come together in notation [327]. This last guideline of the First Set can serve as a good introduction to the Second Set as a whole.(27)

        The Second Set can be considered a more subtle continuation of the First Set. We can verify this by observing what happens to good people of prayer and generosity in various phases of their human development. However generous or purified a person becomes, one still keeps one's basic character even after many conversions and years of cooperating with grace. For example, Paul of Tarsus seemed to remain the same single-minded workaholic after he fell in love with Jesus as he was before. He continued to be difficult to deal with.

        Although the Bad Angel tempts with a deceitful thought, it will usually be in keeping with the kind of person he/she is dealing with! If such a connection were not intended, why would Ignatius ask a directee to note down the pattern of the deceptive thoughts to protect herself against these temptations in the future?. Surely Ignatius would believe that the Bad Angel is smart enough to change his/her patterned tactics! The connection between the First Set and the Second Set can be demonstrated by noting the experiences of those good and generous directees who regress into some of the phenomena of the First Set.(28)

        There are always moments on our journey of life when the stuff of our past and present needs to be dealt with through forgiveness and healing. A Call-Mode directee, perhaps having passed the stage of purification long ago, always has need for some healing and purification and remains vulnerable to experiences of Desolation. We always need purification and healing. The issue in guiding directees is to facilitate sufficient freedom to discern a particular choice here and now.(29) The ideal of total Spiritual Freedom must always be measured by the real situation of time, place, personality and sufficient grace of the moment. Even when there is sufficient self-awareness, spiritual maturity and inner freedom, no matter where a directee is located on the theoretical continuum between the First and Second Sets, we will need to use the First Set most of the time and the Second Set some of the time during the Exercises journey.

Some material for your study, reflection, discussion.

        In numbers [17] and [32], Ignatius makes reference to the distinction between private thoughts and those thoughts caused by the action of the Good and Evil Spirits. In the Second Set of Guidelines [331] and [332], we notice that there is another kind of thought caused not by spirits but by angels, the Good and Bad Angels. Note, however, Ignatius does not use the term "angel" in the First Set of Guidelines.

Here are some working definitions
of these technical expressions

"Thoughts Caused By The Good And Evil Spirit"

These are urges, feelings, thoughts and images moving in and out of a person's psyche from the memory, imagination, preconscious, etc. They are spontaneous reactions. The code name often used to connote them is affective responses. Feelings contain within themselves an `intentionality'; that is, they have meaning and point to meaning. Thoughts caused by the `spirits' are thoughts and feelings that come from inside ourselves, our inner world, and often surface from our feelings. Today they would be understood as reactions surfacing from our psyche.(30)
"Thoughts Caused By The Good Angel And By The Bad Angel"
For Ignatius, these are thoughts suggested to us by personal angels, good and bad. In our culture, we could equate these with ideas and suggestions coming to us from other persons, also from cultural values and structures, including thoughts that we refer to as inspirations from the Spirit or temptations from the devil. Also the bright idea that seems to occur to a person from nowhere would fit here. All these influences are ideas coming to us from outside ourselves.(31)
"Private Thoughts"
For Ignatius, Private Thoughts is a technical term which refers to those thoughts that we actually make our own -- our thought-out thoughts. Examples of such thoughts are the sinful thoughts referred to in notations [17](32) and [36], but other examples would be those thoughts that we add in the time of the Afterglow -- resolutions, plans coming "from our own reasoning on the relations of our concepts and on the consequences of our judgments..." [336]. Private Thoughts are the thoughts we make our own -- our willed thoughts, our more analytical or discursive thoughts -- not the thoughts that come and go through our minds. Private thoughts are usually not the arena for discernment. In order that discernment, properly speaking, can take place, a directee has to be open to thoughts and feelings coming spontaneously from her deeper self or the heart.(33)
First Section  -- click here
Second Section -- click here
Third Section  -- stay here
Complete Endnotes  -- click here