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Benjamin Jansen S.J.Sep 16, 2023 12:00:00 AM1 min read

16 September 2023

Memorial of Saints Cornelius, Pope, and Cyprian, Bishop, Martyrs

A key component of Ignatian spirituality is the discernment of spirits, which ultimately involves carefully scrutinizing one’s own thoughts, inclinations, words, actions, and even simply how we felt in moments in everyday life. Taking stock of these things on a regular basis allows us to be intentional about our spiritual progress: where have we been, where are we now, and where do we ultimately want to be? 
A big part of this process is knowing how to approach the question “How do I know if such and such thing is really from God?“. The quickest way to evaluate such questions is simply to ask what are the fruits that are being born from the activity or movement in question? Are they bringing us closer to God? Are they filling us with light and life? Do we feel a fire in our hearts or are we lifted up or strengthened in a deep and abiding sense of peacefulness? These are all hallmarks of movements that tend to be of or from God. On the contrary, does a given activity make us feel even more empty than we were before? Do we feel unsatisfied? Do we feel isolated and alone? Do we try to hide things from others? All of these movements tend to be movements of the evil spirit and fruits that are not from God.
It takes a bit of practice to get used to intentionally examining one’s life in this way, but  I would invite you to ask yourself as you go about your day, “What are the fruits that are being born here?” Are they of openness, peacefulness, sharing, love, warmth, and light? Or do they promote isolation, emptiness, darkness, dissatisfaction, and focus on self?