The first of two phases of discernment is to recognize God as the center of my life. There are primarily two entities involved: God and me. In discerning, we ask ourselves:
- What type of thoughts or feelings direct me most toward God?
- What type of thoughts or feelings enclose me in my own world where I choose only my will?
There are four agents that interact in the process of discernment:
- The Holy Spirit
- The enemy/the tempter
How does the enemy act on the person oriented toward oneself?
The goal of the enemy is to separate man from God. When the person is oriented toward oneself, the enemy will try to keep reason and feelings united. Why? So the person feels a certain happiness and continues on the wrong road. In this case, the tempter acts especially on our feelings using sensuality, consolations and sensual pleasures. The objective will be to assure the person there are no obstacles or difficulties on the road; therefore, the person “will be fine.” The enemy finds every excuse to convince us we are on the right road. He tries to confirm the truth of our feelings and gives basic reasons for an attachment to ourselves. These reasons are often difficult to dismantle because we can have 10,000 reasons to justify our attitudes. In this way, the person continues to be oriented toward oneself and away from God.
How does the Holy Spirit act on the person oriented toward oneself?
The Holy Spirit will try to separate reason and feeling, provoking unrest so that the person pauses, reflects and changes direction. An inspiration can come from God and may cause great turmoil. The turmoil does not come from God; it grows from our resistance to the inspiration. When we welcome the inspiration or cease to resist it, our heart finds profound peace. The Holy Spirit works foremost on our reason by proposing arguments that direct us toward God. This is a totally different experience of inner peace. We can then begin to understand the difference between a peace produced by man and one that comes from God.
We can truly begin to discern only when we have had this profound experience and realize how to distinguish a superficial happiness from deep interior peace. This allows our relationship with God to go much deeper.
Next Issue — To recognize God as the center of my life, Part 2