“Rule #13: Break the Spiritual Silence” by St. Ignatius of Loyola

“The thirteenth: likewise he conducts himself as a false lover in wishing to remain secret and not be revealed. For a dissolute man who, speaking with evil intention, makes dishonorable advances to a daughter of a good father or a wife of a good husband, wishes his words and persuasions to be secret, and the contrary displeases him very much, when the daughter reveals to her father, or the wife to her husband his false words and depraved intention, because he easily perceives that he will not be able to succeed with the undertaking begun. In the same way, when the enemy of human nature brings his wiles and persuasions to the just soul, he wishes and desires that they be received and kept in secret; but when one reveals them to one’s good confessor or to another spiritual person, who knows his deceits and malicious designs, it weighs on him very much, because he perceives that he will not be able to succeed with the malicious undertaking he has begun, since his manifest deceits have been revealed” (St. Ignatius). 

“A false lover in wishing to remain secret and not be revealed”
  • “a false lover” = appears as a lover through seduction but it’s all false “love”. Whereas man is called by God to be sincere and give himself to the woman he loves, the enemy is insincere and a false lover.
  • “wishing to remain secret and not be revealed” = The enemy wants his work to go unnoticed, to shroud his deceits. The enemy gives troubling temptations, doubts, fears, burdens that take away our peace… and doesn’t want us to reveal it because he knows that the game is over as soon as secret is revealed.
  • “Such persons may find that they are “too busy” to ask to speak with the other or do not wish to “take the other’s time” for a problem that is “not all that important” (Gallagher, DS, 161).


  1. Spiritual trouble of heart = spiritual confusion, doubt, discouragement.
  2. Resistance to speaking with the appropriate spiritual person.

“one’s good confessor or another spiritual person who knows his deceits and malicious designs”

  • one’s good confessor = specific sacramental context – you’ve had previous contact with this confessor and know that they are good, that is, they know the enemy’s deceits and malicious designs.
    • Regular Confession.
  • another spiritual person = general spiritual context – someone familiar with the deceptive tactics of the enemy and, therefore, competent to listen to and spiritually assist one troubled by these tactics.
    • You may have a good, sincere, and faith-filled friend. But you still must ask: Does this person possess sufficient knowledge of the enemy’s ways?
    • Spiritual Retreats.
    • The more holy the person, the brighter and farther-reaching the floodlight you shine on the enemy’s work.

“wiles and persuasions… deceits and malicious designs”

  • These are spiritual burdens: troubling temptations, doubts, fears, and spiritual burdens of various kinds brought by the enemy.
  • What’s the 1 spiritual thing that holds us back from experiencing God’s love? What’s the 1 thing you are afraid to speak about? the hidden experience, memory, fear, burden, doubt, or pain that holds you back and causes much suffering.
  • Remember – Non-spiritual (psychological) burdens should be dealt with separately with an appropriate non-spiritual person. Non-spiritual captives also need to be set free but in a non-spiritual way.

The gap between the imagined & the real

  • The enemy’s wiles & persuasions will always put up a strong imaginary situation that is much different than the real facts.
  • Imagined scenario – will always be painful & embarrassing.
  • Real scenario – will always be joyful & freeing.

Excuses from the enemy:

  • “They are too busy” – Let that person make this decision. Never hesitate to approach the appropriate spiritual person.
  • “I am too busy” – This might be true for a certain period of time (1-2 weeks) but if it persists beyond 3 weeks, then you need to begin to think of this situation in light of Rule 13 – there’s an enemy who does not want you to speak.
  • “If I talk about this, he/she will laugh at me… or not understand me… or never respect me in the same way again… or not want to keep up with giving me direction” – If this person is truly one’s good confessor or an appropriate spiritual person, they will show reverence and respect.
GAME PLAN = “Breaking the Spiritual Silence”
  • Common temptation when thinking about revealing something to a spiritual director = “He’s too busy” = let him decide that, go ask him.
  • Tip = Never hold anything back from good confessor (knowledgeable. Doesn’t have to be super holy) or another spiritual person who knows the enemy’s deceits and malicious designs.
  • Tip = Never forget Rules 5 & 13 together – they will get you safely through any darkness in life – never change & always speak to wise spiritual director.
  • Tip = Review your journal notes before your next spiritual director & bring up those things that you think you do not need to bring up –> talk about exactly what you do not want to talk about to make spiritual director fruitful.
  • Tip = “Rely on your support network” (Fr. Thibodeaux). We need good & wise mentors. We need spiritual directors. We need companions. We need the Church – a spiritual refuge for battle-weary souls. TIP for mentor & spiritual director = If I think something is not important enough to discuss, I tell him anyway and let him decide whether or not we need to discuss it any further. There is nothing to lose by telling him about it and everything to lose by keeping it a secret.
  • Since the devil wants to keep his machinations hidden, no single method of dealing with temptations is more valuable than to act against this urge to secretiveness.  “If one manifests (these intrigues) to his confessor or to some other spiritual person who understands the devil’s malicious designs, the evil one is very much vexed. For he knows that he cannot succeed in his evil undertaking, once his evident deceits have been revealed.” Sharing these internal experiences with a competent spiritual guide will require humility; but humility merits grace to recognize the devil’s strategy and resist his instigations. It is also a mark of prudence to seek advice from accredited sources when the mind becomes troubled by vexatious thoughts, as happens in strong temptation; but again the proper use of our reason disposes the soul for divine assistance to overcome the enemy’s designs. ~ Fr. John Hardon, SJ
  • “To advance toward the Lord we always have need of a guide, of some form of dialogue; we cannot do it just with our own reflections. And finding this guide is part of the ecclesial nature of our faith.” – Pope Benedict XVI
Example: St. Therese of Lisieux on the night before final vows
  • St. Therese experienced a great trial of faith before her final vows. She thought about keeping it secret and not telling her superior. But she realized that it was a temptation from the devil and eventually recounted that “my doubts left me completely as soon as I finished speaking.”
“It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18).
  • This principle applies broadly to the human experience and especially in the spiritual life: it is not good for us to be alone on the spiritual journey, and, certainly, it is not good for us to be alone in living the discerning life.
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