“Who is the bad spirit?” by St. Ignatius of Loyola

From an Ignatian discernment of spirits perspective, “the bad spirit” or “the false spirit,” or “the evil spirit,” or “the enemy of our human nature”, is a comprehensive meaning for any person and/or force – natural or supernatural – working against God.

  1. The devil. Some God-opposed movements will come directly from this personal angelic being.
  2. General weakness of our humanity. In our wounded human nature, we have “desires against the Spirit” (Gal 5:17). Theologians call this pull “concupiscence” and explain how the 7 capital sins lead us away from God.
  3. Specific weakness of our humanity. We all have a personal life history and specific wounds – hurts, fears, doubts, experiences – that have a big influence on our direction of life.
  4. The world around us. The society and culture in which we live has a big influence on us too – this is the world to which we “do not belong” (Jn 17:14-16).

Therefore, we consider “the bad spirit” in a global & broad way.

  • “In using Ignatius’s rules, we can and should give the term “evil spirits” a broader meaning which, besides Satan and demons, includes the tendencies in our own psyches which spring from egoism and disordered sensuality and also from other individual human persons or society insofar as these are an influence for evil in our lives” (Toner, DSE, 64).

Any forces that are working against God = “the bad spirit”

  • “From the point of view of discernment we can take the “evil spirit” or the “devil” to mean whatever forces are working against God, whether they be “natural” or strictly “diabolical” (Green, WW, 103).

Here’s another good definition of “the bad spirit”

  • The bad spirit is the “inner pull” away from God and away from His loving plan for me and for the world (Fr. Thibodeaux).

Here’s an interesting list of “the bad spirit”

  • “Jesuit Father William Huerte puts it this way: The false spirit equals the devil plus the trauma of tragic circumstances such as cancer or hurricanes, plus destructive experiences and behaviours, plus psychological baggage, plus emotional weaknesses, and so on. The false spirit is anything that draws me away from God and from God’s loving plan for the world” (Fr. Thibodeaux).

Here’s a helpful example to explain the identification of the bad spirit:

  • “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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