I wanted to read Spiritual Warfare and the Discernment of Spirits by Dan Burke so I could understand more about discernment of spirits and such. Plus, I had a spiritual director awhile back, but that has passed, and I have none now.
Here’s what I liked about the book: The author really gets into distinguishing various levels or rules of “discernment of spirits” – or more like how your spirit is going or your soul is working. These rules are very helpful for one who is starting out in trying to obtain spiritual direction and progressing in the spiritual life.
There are a few precursory chapters in this book before the rules of discernment of spirits are laid out. One chapter discusses spiritual healing. Most of us may want to go to that chapter first. I know in this day and age we all need some sort of healing – maybe from past abuses, past relationships, or whatever “baggage” we carry with us. I highly suggest we read and think about asking or even “begging” God for a spiritual healing. In our times right now, this is even needed more with lack of access to the Sacraments.
Now, I will briefly cover some of the rules of discernment of spirits.
Rule #1 is a bit different than the others. This one is for those who are in mortal sin and are moving from mortal sin to mortal sin. So, this is for the lowest level. Maybe, someone is struggling with one particular sin that thrusts them into this state.
Dan Burke states,
In person (in this state) … the enemy will propose apparent pleasures, making them imagine sensual delights … in order to enslave them more and make them grow in their vices and sins. In these persons the good spirit uses a contrary method, pricking them and disturbing their consciences through the process of reason and judgement. (35)
The first rule is a bit different than the others – because the person needs to get out of mortal sin, so the spirit of good – for example, the person’s guardian angel – will be there to help the person in mortal sin get out of it by “pricking” the conscience. Under the other rules, the good spirit usually helps encourage the person – so that is why this is different rule. If one is not sure of their state of soul and feel prick-y thoughts, then this might be best to go to Confession and sort it out with a priest if uncertain. The priest will help sort it out if possible, but one should try to do your own act of examination and more.
Rule #2 From those moving from good to better:
In persons who are … cleansing their sins and rising from better in the service of our Lord, it is the contrary to that in the first rule, for then it is the way of the evil spirit to disturb, sadden, and put obstacles, disquieting with false reasons, so that the person may be stopped in their progress…It is proper to the good spirit to give courage and strength, consolations, ears, inspirations and quiet, easing, and removing all obstacles that one may be encouraged in their progress. (39)
So, we find that if someone is trying to do good and become a better person, then the evil one is not happy and wants to disturb us.
There are more rules for discernment in the book and that is a lot to go through. The book defines consolations, desolation, and so on. I believe we can think of ourselves in a time of desolation, but there will be consolations at the end of all this time for us and our loved ones. Let us not be fearful. Say, “I trust in Jesus” every time you go out and do your necessary shopping, and more!
In conclusion, I highly recommend taking up Spiritual Warfare and the Discernment of Spirits to read. I believe one will receive more insight into your own spiritual life and battles. I also am reading some of Dan Burke’s other books. I believe that all his books are really great reading especially as we get into the Easter season.
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Copyright 2020 Julie Larsen
About the Author
Julie is a mom to four wonderful blessed children, a doula "servant" to mothers for pregnancy to postpartum and owner of spiritual based doula training. She loves sewing, nature, mysteries, sci-fi, drinking tea, and more. Check out her other websites: CatholicDoula.com, Find a Catholic Doula, St. Zelie Parent Education, and Moms of BLOOM: Bettering Lives of Outstanding Moms.