Heretics tortured and nailed to wooden posts.
"You don't know of what spirit you are." - Luke 9:55
As a foreword, I should explain that I don't always read comments left on my blog if they are too long - I'll skim them, but often do that a bit later. I did that last night. I also read a couple of blog posts on other blogs the long commenter(s) write. I may be wrong, but something is off - way off.
I've written before that people have to be careful what they read, especially by people who claim special spiritual insight, discernment of spirits, and sensitivity to the 'signs of the times'. As Fr. Angelo Mary Geiger writes:
[T]he autonomous personal conscience sometimes lays claim to a false discernment when it sets private revelation and presumed personal graces against the magisterium. The desire for union with God sometimes leads individuals to attach themselves to extraordinary manifestations of the “spirit,” but in such a way that weakens their attachment to the Church. Thus, Catholics continue to embrace New Age spirituality, or some dubious private revelation, or a personal insight even though they know that their conviction runs contrary to Church teaching or discipline.
The discernment of spirits is so important today because there are many voices competing for our attention, and it is all so easy to assume that that what we hear, or even what we think and say comes from God. - Fr. Geiger
The blind man who falls will not get up alone in his blindness, and if he does, he will take the wrong road. - John of the Cross
People who pray often have spiritual experiences and feelings - sometimes they are authentic, although sometimes they can be the result of natural reasoning accompanying a spiritual feeling - which makes it seem like spiritual insight. (That being the case, it doesn't mean we are holy.) The devil likes to play games with us - he likes to confuse and he likes to convince. At any rate, there are guidelines in spiritual direction and it is best never to esteem these experiences or become attached to them. Many, many, many good people are deceived that way. Feelings are not a gauge of spiritual anything. (How did you feel when Pope Francis was elected? It doesn't matter.)
Get a grip.
One exchange in my combox dealt with these things, springing from a sort of anxious concern that the Church is governed by the anti-Christ - the upshot being that anti-Christs are beginning to be seen hiding everywhere. The phenomenon reminds me of St. Teresa of Avila's statement about people who see the devil behind every column, saying she is more afraid of such people than the devil himself. Scripture tells us that anti-Christ is in the world, just as the devil prowls about the world looking for someone to devour. We know this stuff already.
Again, I think Fr. Angelo Mary identifies the problem here: "The desire for union with God sometimes leads individuals to attach themselves to extraordinary manifestations of the “spirit,” but in such a way that weakens their attachment to the Church." That's a huge problem - on both sides of the imaginary fences our divisions have built.
"My Lord Jesus, I want to love You but You cannot trust me." - St. Philip Neri
Because of my great pride I used to say things like, "I have more understanding than all who teach me because I do your will." It makes me cringe today. I thought because I lived chastely I was in union with God's will. I think I may have even said things like what I read in my combox, "I'm very good at discernment, I can spot a phony a mile away." Or, "I've got a pretty good track record on discernment - I've helped a lot of people." And how many people must believe the following about themselves or another: "I think God is using me for this or for that and I see myself as this apostle or saint, I've been given this or that ministry." Yet by whose authority?
God desires the least degree of obedience and submissiveness more than all those services you think of rendering Him. - John of the Cross
In the affective manner with which these souls proceeds there may be five defects manifesting a lack of the good spirit.
Once again I go back to my favorite spiritual master, St. John of the Cross. I fear I may misappropriate some of his sayings, or understand them in a too personal interpretation, but his writing has often brought me back after serious falls which resulted because of pride and imagining that I was secure in what was really self-opinion and vain rejoicing in spiritual goods. Hence, I often think of his "Censure of a nun". He wrote to the prioress saying the 'censure' wouldn't be so difficult a task if the nun wasn't 'so spiritual'. It seems to me many bloggers may fall into that category, a situation made worse by a theology major or a religious ed. certificate.
Censure and Opinion... a paraphrase of John of the Cross.
- First, it seems they bear within themselves a great fondness for possessing things and earning a living from the blog, whereas the good spirit strives for detachment in the appetites and leads one to fulfill the duties of one's state in life.
- Second, they are too secure in their spirit and have little fear of being inwardly mistaken. Where this fear is absent, the spirit of God is never present to preserved the soul from harm, as the Wise Man says [Prv. 15:27]. "I have a pretty good track record ..."
- Third, it seems they have the desire to persuade others that their experiences (or interpretation of prophecies and the 'signs of the times') are good and manifold. Persons of a genuine spirit do not desire to do this, but, on the contrary, desire that their experiences be considered of little value and despised, and this they do themselves. (In other words, they do not esteem their spiritual insights and apprehensions.)
- Fourth-and this is the main fault-the effects of humility are not manifest in this attitude. When favors are genuine, as these people concludes theirs are, they are ordinarily never communicated to a soul without first undoing and annihilating it in the inner abasement of humility. And if these favors had produced this effect in these souls, they would not have failed to say something about it, and even a great deal. For the first thing the soul esteems and is eager to speak of are the effects of humility, which, certainly, are so strong that they cannot be disguised. (I may be stretching it with this one.)
- Fifth, and here I depart entirely from St. John's list - the claims made concerning the crisis in the Church are in opposition to the teaching magisterium and authority which belongs to the Church. It is the Church Fathers who will discern the current situation in the Church and the world and it is their responsibility to discern and define the signs of the times we live in. As the Rule of St. Benedict reminds us: "You have placed men over our heads." (Ps 65:12).
Don't believe me though - you can't trust me either. Believe what the Church teaches. Do what the Pope and the Synod Fathers say - and if some give bad example - don't do as they do - but do as they say. Don't go to strangers online who sometimes are in it to make a living - they are 'divided' by that very fact. Remember, you can't be holier than the Church. Don't go to strangers online for spiritual direction.
Humility - strive for humility - with great confidence and love in the mercy of God.
Allow yourself to be taught.