“Synderesis of Reason” – St. Ignatius

“In persons going from mortal sin to mortal sin, Ignatius writes, the good spirit works by “stinging and biting their consciences through their rational power of moral judgment.

A more literal translation would read: “through the synderesis of reason,” one of the few places in which Ignatius uses a technical theological term.

  • Synderesis refers to the sense of and tendency toward the good, ultimately toward God, which is innate in every human person and that no person, however confirmed in sinfulness, can ever fully ignore.
  • Synderesis is the intuitive knowledge or “the primordial perception of the good proper to man” (Servais Pinckaers).
  • Synderesis is “an inner sense, a capacity to recall, so taht the one whom it addresses, if he is not turned in on himself, hears its echo from within. He sees: ‘That’s it! That is what my nature points to and seeks” (Ratzinger).
  • Synderesis is a natural habit of the mind to know the 1st principles of the moral order (eg. do good, avoid evil).

The good spirit, says Ignatius, makes this synderesis felt in the one moving away from God.

  • This is profound! God will never give up on us. The good spirit will unfailingly work on even the person immersed in mortal sin through the synderesis that is deeply inscribed in the human heart.

Gallagher, Timothy M. . The Discernment of Spirits (pp. 267-268). The Crossroad Publishing Company. Kindle Edition.

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