St. Ignatius Personal Experience of Rule 12

Ignatius, in his twelfth rule, writes of what he himself has experienced. In his Autobiography he describes an incident from his early days in Manresa, shortly after his conversion:

“Until this time he had remained always in nearly the same interior state of great and steady happiness…. During those days … a harsh thought came to trouble him by pointing out the hardships of his life, as if someone were saying within his soul, “How will you be able to endure this life for the seventy years you have yet to live?” Believing that the thought came from the enemy, he answered inwardly with great vehemence, “O miserable being! Can you promise me an hour of life?” So he overcame the temptation and remained at peace” (33-34).

As soon as the “harsh thought” comes “to trouble him” Ignatius responds “with great vehemence.” His resistance to the temptation is immediate, energetic, and decisive; and the temptation ceases. There is no snowball effect, no “state of general discouragement”; on the contrary, Ignatius remains “at peace.” The essential weakness of the enemy in his temptations is clearly evident here. Ignatius’s twelfth rule, like all the earlier rules, is born not of speculation but of experience. If dedicated persons endeavor to respond in this same firm way to the deceptions of the enemy, they, like Ignatius, will find themselves freed from these deceptions and will, also like Ignatius, remain “at peace.”

Gallagher, Timothy M. . The Discernment of Spirits (pp. 222-223). The Crossroad Publishing Company. Kindle Edition.

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