Ignatian Discernment: the good spirit vs. the bad spirit

The following are some notes I made from Fr. Thibodeaux's book on 
Ignatian discernment, called God's Voice Within.

The good spirit:

  • Often referred to as “the true spirit.”
  • The good spirit = “the Holy Spirit + good in the world + happy life circumstances such as good health and sunny weather + life-affirming experiences and behaviours + psychological well-being and strength” ~ Fr. William Huete
  • Therefore, Consolation = the state of being under the influence of the good spirit.

The true spirit: the “inner pull” toward God’s plan and toward faith, hope and love ~ Fr. Thibodeaux, SJ


  • If I’m kind to my father one day, is it b/c of the Holy Spirit within me or b/c my father raised me well or b/c I had a good night’s sleep? My answer is yes! The convergence of these factors pulls toward life affirmation that we call the influence of the true spirit (Fr. Thibodeaux, God’s Voice Within, pgs. 12-3).

The bad spirit:

  • Often referred to as “the false spirit,” or “the evil spirit,” or “the enemy of our human nature.”
  • The bad spirit = “the devil + the trauma of tragic circumstances such as cancer or hurricanes + destructive experiences & behaviours + psychological baggage + emotional weaknesses, and so on” ~ Fr. William Huete
  • Therefore, Desolation = the state of being under the influence of the enemy.

The false spirit: the “inner pull” away from God’s plan and away from faith, hope and love. ~ Fr. Thibodeaux, SJ


  • When I snap at my father, is it because the “devil” moves me to do so or b/c of some childhood psychological wound or b/c I didn’t get a good night’s sleep? Again, my answer to this question is yes! All these factors combine to pull me away from God. This influence, we call the false spirit or evil spirit (Fr. Thibodeaux, God’s Voice Within, pg. 12).


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