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  #1  
Old Nov 14, '05, 7:30 am
Joysong Joysong is offline
 
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Default Discerning the Serpent's Tail

Many times on Sunday, especially in the winter, I catch up on organizing and deleting a lot of older files and correspondence. Yesterday was one of those good days, and as I read some messages from a dear and very spiritual friend on the forum, I thought it might be good to open up the topic for others. It is very useful to learn some practical points in the discernment of spirits, especially if we have not received this charism from the Holy Spirit, per se.

Our correspondence became a little deeper than what I would like to begin with here, but as the need arises, maybe we can explore this as well. A great master in discernment was St. Ignatius, so I post a couple examples to invite your thinking and experience on this subject.

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/ignatius/exercises.xix.ii.html

First Rule. It is proper to God and to His Angels in their movements to give true spiritual gladness and joy, taking away all sadness and disturbance which the enemy brings on. Of this latter it is proper to fight against the spiritual gladness and consolation, bringing apparent reasons, subtleties and continual fallacies.

Fifth Rule. We ought to note well the course of the thoughts, and if the beginning, middle and end is all good, inclined to all good, it is a sign of the good Angel; but if in the course of the thoughts which he brings it ends in something bad, of a distracting tendency, or less good than what the soul had previously proposed to do, or if it weakens it or disquiets or disturbs the soul, taking away its peace, tranquillity and quiet, which it had before, it is a clear sign that it proceeds from the evil spirit, enemy of our profit and eternal salvation.

Sixth Rule. When the enemy of human nature has been perceived and known by his serpentís tail and the bad end to which he leads on, it helps the person who was tempted by him, to look immediately at the course of the good thoughts which he brought him at their beginning, and how little by little he aimed at making him descend from the spiritual sweetness and joy in which he was, so far as to bring him to his depraved intention.


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  #2  
Old Nov 16, '05, 5:16 pm
springbreeze springbreeze is offline
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Default Re: Discerning the Serpent's Tail

Dear Carole


I am very sorry to have missed this thread of yours. I don't know where my eyes were but I didn't notice it until now, sorry for that.

I believe it is very hard to discern spirits (even if a soul has been given the gift of discernment) unless the interior of a person is very quiet, that is in the habit of practising silence interiorly and is attentive to every detail of their interior life. Here in this silence if the Lord approaches such a soul, I guess that that souls silence is sweetly graced and the silence is not lost nor the thoughts disturbed, but if an evil spirit approaches that soul this silence is broken and I don't mean, as often can happen, the soul is distracted, because distraction is a part of prayer and not something to worry about at all, but by this I mean that the soul is disturbed, that silence is no longer peaceful but is either excited in some way or plunges into noise which can at first seem a pleasure to it, but the soul knows that this pleasure is not the sweetness of the Lord.

I am hoping others post in this thread with their thoughts because when we pray we enter into a spiritual realm and in 'stepping' into that spiritual realm we are open both to the forces of evil as well as God and the soul that sincerely strives to draw closer to God by His grace is drawn by Him in prayer and immediately satan is infuriated by this and will attack the means of this deepening of closeness with God, and therefore satan will attempt to attack, among other things, their prayer life.

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05028b.htm

Without any preceding cause, that is to say, suddenly, without previous knowledge or sentiment, God alone, by virtue of His sovereign dominion, can flood the soul with light and joy. But if there has been a preceding cause, either the good or the bad angel may be the author of the consolation; this remains to be judged from the consequences. As the good angel's object is the welfare of the soul and the bad angel's its defects or unhappiness, if, in the progress of our thoughts all is well and tends to good there is no occasion for uneasiness; on the contrary, if we perceive any deviation whatsoever towards evil or even a slight unpleasant agitation, there is reason to fear. Such, then, is the substance of these brief rules which are nevertheless so greatly admired by the masters of the spiritual life. Although requiring an authorized explanation, when well understood, they act as a preservative against many illusions.

I'll leave off here and hope others post their thoughts.

God Bless you and much love and peace to you

Teresa
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  #3  
Old Nov 16, '05, 5:19 pm
Joysong Joysong is offline
 
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Default Re: Discerning the Serpent's Tail

Speaking of "distracting tendencies" that are not my concern, I have to follow my own advice, friends, for I see that I have involved myself where I ought not to go.

There is another tactic the enemy uses that scripture speaks of in Rev. 12:10:
"Now has come the salvation and the power and the kingdome of our God, and the authority of His Christ; for the accuser of our brethren has been cast down, he who accused them before our God night and day."

When we find ourselves being continually nagged with feelings of guilt for past sins, failings, shortcomings, or sins of omission ... accompanied by forlorn sadness, despair, depression or other melancholy emotion ... the enemy's design is to cause us to distrust the infinite mercy of God and to feel unworthy of His love.

This is a treacherous attack and all heaven rejoices as we saw in the above scripture, when he is cast down! The Lord's Spirit may at times have to correct us, but true humility cheers and gladdens the soul rather than cast it into these gloomy and anxious worries.

I welcome all of you to share your ways of conquering and overcoming satan's wiles, for we can learn much from one another. After all, our battle is spiritual!

Carole
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  #4  
Old Nov 16, '05, 5:22 pm
Joysong Joysong is offline
 
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Default Re: Discerning the Serpent's Tail

WOW, Teresa, we were posting and thinking similar thoughts simultaneously! Now THAT, I believe is the Lord! Praise be to God!

Carole
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  #5  
Old Nov 16, '05, 5:31 pm
springbreeze springbreeze is offline
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Default Re: Discerning the Serpent's Tail

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joysong
Speaking of "distracting tendencies" that are not my concern, I have to follow my own advice, friends, for I see that I have involved myself where I ought not to go.

There is another tactic the enemy uses that scripture speaks of in Rev. 12:10:
"Now has come the salvation and the power and the kingdome of our God, and the authority of His Christ; for the accuser of our brethren has been cast down, he who accused them before our God night and day."

When we find ourselves being continually nagged with feelings of guilt for past sins, failings, shortcomings, or sins of omission ... accompanied by forlorn sadness, despair, depression or other melancholy emotion ... the enemy's design is to cause us to distrust the infinite mercy of God and to feel unworthy of His love.

This is a treacherous attack and all heaven rejoices as we saw in the above scripture, when he is cast down! The Lord's Spirit may at times have to correct us, but true humility cheers and gladdens the soul rather than cast it into these gloomy and anxious worries.

I welcome all of you to share your ways of conquering and overcoming satan's wiles, for we can learn much from one another. After all, our battle is spiritual!

Carole
Dear Carole

Now I have never seen a truer post! Satan loves to manipulate the soul decieiving it that the action is one of the Holy Spirit in convicting the soul of it's sins and attempting to increase holiness and piety, but that soul then finds they are beaten down day after day with every sin no matter how large or small from the past and so they may make a confession, but a moment after leaving confession they are tormented by a 'forgotten' sin or days after are reminded by even more past sins and the torment begins again and satan succeeds in stealing their inner peace with Christ and plunges them into fear and agony. We must remember it is satan who torments souls in hell with their sins, not our Sweet Lord Jesus. Jesus draws us away from sin by grace, forgives our repenting and contrite hearts and brings us to Himself in Love granting peace and grace.

For this soul I would recommend making a confession stating they have committed sins against all of the commandments in the past, are truly sorry and they will find that all of these torments will come to an end and we can trust then if we remember a sin from the past it is only a reminder of the weak nature of our humanity and the Lord is pleased to remind us of how we have grown in His grace and on these few occassions then we should offer thanks to God and be glad and joyful for all He has done for us.

God Bless you and much love and peace to you

Teresa

Last edited by springbreeze; Nov 16, '05 at 5:44 pm.
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  #6  
Old Nov 16, '05, 5:37 pm
springbreeze springbreeze is offline
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Default Re: Discerning the Serpent's Tail

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joysong
WOW, Teresa, we were posting and thinking similar thoughts simultaneously! Now THAT, I believe is the Lord! Praise be to God!

Carole
Dear Carole

WOW! That's no co-incidence!


Amen

God Bless you and much love and peace to you

Teresa
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  #7  
Old Nov 17, '05, 4:47 am
Joysong Joysong is offline
 
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Default Re: Discerning the Serpent's Tail

Dear Friends,

Another deception to watch out for is indignation and anxiety over the failings, imperfections, even sins, of another! A biggee, and a favorite point of distraction that satan loves to inject, especially in spiritual persons who then set about to right the perceived wrong.

There was an incident in scripture with the two "Sons of Thunder" who noticed that Jesus was not accepted by the crowd, and they wanted to know if it was good to bid fire and brimstone come upon them and consume them! Our Lord rebuked them saying that they did not have the right spirit.

Now these two (James and John) were named thus, no doubt because they were noted for aggressive zeal that new no bounds. They were young disciples at that time, however, and came to understand well, as they grew in the Spirit, the Lord's ways of treating men. For this same son of thunder, James, wrote that beautiful epistle describing very well that:

Quote:
Wisdom from above is first of all chaste, then peaceable, moderate, docile, in harmony with good things, full of mercy and good fruits, without judging, without dissimulation. The fruit of justice is sown in peace by those who make peace. (Ch. 3:17-18)
Speaking a bit more about distractions, there is a temptation of this sort that Peter faced when he became concerned about another disciple (Jn. 21:21):

Quote:
Lord, and what of this man? Jesus said to him, "If I wish him to remain until I come, what is it to thee? Do thou follow me."
Though we may be full of zeal and right intention, it is not always a godly inspiration to be concerned about the affairs, sins, mishaps, of another. Until and unless we are sure of being led by God to concern ourselves, this is a futile distraction designed to upset our spirits and prevent our concentration on other good works of the kingdom. "Do thou follow Me!"

I think we might be alert for the serpent's tail when we discern whether following what we believe is "inspiration" brings us true peace in carrying it out, even though externally there may be conflict. The suffering, which is real, does not disturb our inner spirit and take away our peace.

St. Teresa of Avila had a very important paragraph about this matter, but I need to look for it before sharing, and I believe it belongs in the "fruit" thread.

God's peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,
Carole
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  #8  
Old Nov 17, '05, 5:17 am
springbreeze springbreeze is offline
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Default Re: Discerning the Serpent's Tail

Dear Carole

Thank you for the beautiful insightful post.

I read somewhere in the psalms that 'Love excuses', so the first thing we do is look to the good in a person, excuse their faults and sins, feel sadness for the offense against God and pray for them and ourselves, but as you say this never should disturb our inner peace with Christ Jesus because we too are sinners and indignation within a soul over another sins has no place in the Christian heart.

This is a tool of satan to destroy forgiveness, unity and peace between brothers and sisters. It is rampant in the Church and society, this society that is now one of blame, gossip and accusation and mercilessly pursues the sinner, switch on the news and you can see that everyday and satan is having a field day with it!

No matter what the sin of another we firstly attempt to preserve their good name and only ever in peace do we speak to our brothers and sisters in respect of their sins.

Jesus is not a condemner nor an accuser, His Love illuminates the sin by the power of the Holy Spirit and it is a gentle as snow fall neither causing harm to innner peace nor destroying the character of a person, rather it heals and nurtures, pouring water and life into the soul.

This is one of my sayings 'I am a sinner, I am fragile and broken, please handle with care'

God Bless you and much love and peace to you

Teresa
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  #9  
Old Nov 17, '05, 6:59 am
Joysong Joysong is offline
 
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Default Re: Discerning the Serpent's Tail

Oh my! ... dear friends in Christ,

My last post was submitted before I went to Mass, so I had no idea what our readings were for the day. I am in awe of the Lord's guidance to all of us, for the reading spoke about the ardent zeal of Mattathias in 1 Machabees, Ch. 2. His wrath was kindled according to his judgment of the law, and he slew those who were offering the sacrifice unlawfully. (vs. 23-25)

The gospel for St. Elizabeth of Hungary was from Luke 19, where we find Jesus weeping over the city of Jerusalem. "If thou hadst known, in this day, the things that are for thy peace, but now they are hidden from they eyes ... (snip) ... because thou hast not known the time of thy visitation."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Teresa
I read somewhere in the psalms that 'Love excuses', so the first thing we do is look to the good in a person, excuse their faults and sins, feel sadness for the offense against God and pray for them and ourselves ...
May we reflect on the difference between being a "son of thunder" (Old Testament theology) and a son of Christ's peace (New Testament reign of God). I pray Our Lord will enlighten us all to His ways.

P.S. Teresa - excellent insight, as well - thank you for sharing!

Carole
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  #10  
Old Nov 17, '05, 7:43 am
Joysong Joysong is offline
 
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Default Re: Discerning the Serpent's Tail

From the Life of St. Teresa of Avila, Ch. XIII

"Another temptation comes from the distress caused by the sins and failings which we see in others, for we all have a zeal for virtue and so we must learn to understand ourselves and walk warily. The devil tells us that this distress arises solely from our desire that God should not be offended and from our concern for His honour and then we immediately try to set matters right.


This makes us so excited that is prevents us from praying, and the greatest harm of all is that we think this to be a virtue, and a sign of perfection and of great zeal for God. I am not referring to the distress caused by public offenses in a religious congregation, if they become habitual, or of wrongs done to the Church, such as heresies, through which, as we see, so many souls are lost; for distress caused by these is right, and, being right, causes us no excitement.


Safety, then, for the soul that practises prayer will consist in its ceasing to be anxious about anything and anybody, and in its watching itself and pleasing God. This is most important. If I were to describe the mistakes I have seen people make because they trusted in their good intentions!"
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  #11  
Old Nov 17, '05, 11:59 am
Pentecost2005 Pentecost2005 is offline
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Default Re: Discerning the Serpent's Tail

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joysong
Another deception to watch out for is indignation and anxiety over the failings, imperfections, even sins, of another! A biggee, and a favorite point of distraction that satan loves to inject, especially in spiritual persons who then set about to right the perceived wrong.
As a repentant "son of thunder" myself, I can only say... mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.
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  #12  
Old Nov 17, '05, 12:47 pm
Jenlyn Jenlyn is offline
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Default Re: Discerning the Serpent's Tail

A timely thread. Thank you.
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  #13  
Old Nov 18, '05, 7:09 am
gardenswithkids gardenswithkids is offline
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Default Re: Discerning the Serpent's Tail

Thank you very much for posting this thread. I almost missed it because I didn't understand what the title meant.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joysong
Fifth Rule. We ought to note well the course of the thoughts, and if the beginning, middle and end is all good, inclined to all good, it is a sign of the good Angel; but if in the course of the thoughts which he brings it ends in something bad, of a distracting tendency, or less good than what the soul had previously proposed to do, or if it weakens it or disquiets or disturbs the soul, taking away its peace, tranquillity and quiet, which it had before, it is a clear sign that it proceeds from the evil spirit, enemy of our profit and eternal salvation.
Much of what has been posted on this thread addresses a personal struggle with prayer that I have experienced for many months. I know that these distractions are the devil's attempt to get me away from prayer, and he has succeeded to a large degree. I often merely mumble through words now because I donít want to think or reflect too much. This problem began shortly after I learned some very disturbing information about some people I knew and loved. The previous year I had prayed fervently about a situation that turned out to be so much worse than I ever imagined. I know God answered my prayers, but trying to resume those same prayers (or that level of prayer) brings a constant flood of tears. I know that God can bring good from sin, but I fear how low He allows humanity to fall so that He can accomplish this. I would like to escape from these thoughts and resume an active prayer life, but I donít want to cry constantly when I pray. Iíd appreciate help with this matter if any can offer it.
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Old Nov 19, '05, 5:28 am
allhers allhers is offline
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Default Re: Discerning the Serpent's Tail

Quote:
Originally Posted by gardenswithkids
Thank you very much for posting this thread. I almost missed it because I didn't understand what the title meant. Much of what has been posted on this thread addresses a personal struggle with prayer that I have experienced for many months. I know that these distractions are the devil's attempt to get me away from prayer, and he has succeeded to a large degree. I often merely mumble through words now because I donít want to think or reflect too much. This problem began shortly after I learned some very disturbing information about some people I knew and loved. The previous year I had prayed fervently about a situation that turned out to be so much worse than I ever imagined. I know God answered my prayers, but trying to resume those same prayers (or that level of prayer) brings a constant flood of tears. I know that God can bring good from sin, but I fear how low He allows humanity to fall so that He can accomplish this. I would like to escape from these thoughts and resume an active prayer life, but I donít want to cry constantly when I pray. Iíd appreciate help with this matter if any can offer it.[/font]
Remember this? "Be not afraid!"
Let the tears flow, go forward in your praying as it is the Holy Spirit who prays in us. He prompts, we act. Pay no attention to the evil one, as he is a liar. (I believe he wants everyone in the pit of hell with him, misery "loves" company.) As if he were capable of any kind of love....
God's mercy knows no bounds, His mercy endures forever. Some need more prayer than others, and things are only revealed as needed. Just pray, and trust in God. Two people whom I love very much always say...."there but for the grace of God, go I."
__________________
"A child is God's greatest gift to the family, to the nation, to the world. The child is a life from God, created in the image of God, created for great things, to love and to be loved."--Blessed Mother Teresa
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  #15  
Old Nov 19, '05, 6:43 pm
springbreeze springbreeze is offline
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Default Re: Discerning the Serpent's Tail

Quote:
Originally Posted by gardenswithkids
Thank you very much for posting this thread. I almost missed it because I didn't understand what the title meant. Much of what has been posted on this thread addresses a personal struggle with prayer that I have experienced for many months. I know that these distractions are the devil's attempt to get me away from prayer, and he has succeeded to a large degree. I often merely mumble through words now because I donít want to think or reflect too much. This problem began shortly after I learned some very disturbing information about some people I knew and loved. The previous year I had prayed fervently about a situation that turned out to be so much worse than I ever imagined. I know God answered my prayers, but trying to resume those same prayers (or that level of prayer) brings a constant flood of tears. I know that God can bring good from sin, but I fear how low He allows humanity to fall so that He can accomplish this. I would like to escape from these thoughts and resume an active prayer life, but I donít want to cry constantly when I pray. Iíd appreciate help with this matter if any can offer it.[/font]
Dear friend

Satan knows that if he can stop or lessen your conversations with God he has corroded your relationship with God extensively...nothing happens without prayer, prayer is the beginning and end of everything, nothing can happen without prayer because prayer is the road to grace and God is the source of grace.

Just as sins exist in the material realm they also exist in the spiritual realm or more correctly all sins exist firstly in the spiritual realm and then manifest in the material realm. So just as we need the gifts of the Holy Spirit to overcome sin in the material realm by God's grace and not from any of our own merit, so we need them in the spiritual realm. (Spiritual sins being spiritual pride, spiritual gluttony, spiritual sloth etc etc etc)

In this instance you may like to pray for the gift of courage in prayer and ask this from the Holy Spirit as He is the bearer of these graces and assists you to pray within you and with you to the Father ,in by and through Christ Jesus.

By the way the Lord heals us in our tears and sometimes a soul needs to weep alot and their heart then softened will be graced by the Lord.

Remember to thank God for this trial and offer all of your sufferings to Him for His will (and I know this has been a trial and a suffering to you and very painful) because out of evil God has brought good. God has allowed satan to reveal your achilies heal in prayer and now friend, you know what to ask God for and for His will to be done. Trust now Jesus will heal you.

I hope this has been of some help and you remain in my heart and I'll keep you and the situation you mention in my prayers, will you remember to say a little prayer for me from time to time

God Bless you and much love and peace to you

Teresa

Last edited by springbreeze; Nov 19, '05 at 7:02 pm. Reason: because i am a fool
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