The Affirmations in this course are thumbnail sketches in spiritual discernment inspired by St. Ignatius of Loyola. They can be a tremendous spiritual resource for your life. Most of them are lifted from St. Ignatius’ Rules for the Discernment of Spirits; called Rules for Weeks One and Two in the Spiritual Exercises. Week One Rules are more appropriate for understanding how to discern the different spiritual signatures of God and “the enemy of human nature” (St. Ignatius’ name for Satan) on the sensual level of life. Week Two Rules are designed to help with understanding the different spiritual signatures of God and the enemy of human nature at the spiritual level and in our intellect.
I have taken the substance of St. Ignatius’ “Rules” for both Week One and Week Two and translated Ignatius’ discernment guidelines into affirmative statements. Learning their wisdom can provide hope and encouragement on your spiritual journey through this life to Christ’s eternal kingdom. You can also avoid much suffering and grief as you learn the predictable ways evil manifests in your life history—your story—and learn to resist the spiritual assaults and deceptions that move you away from the pathway of light.
Because the Affirmations are so important and so beneficial to our spiritual journey, we examine each one and build a prayerful meditation around it to help you better understand its meaning for your own Sacred Story. The Affirmations were written for the book, Forty Weeks: An Ignatian Path to Christ with Sacred Story Prayer. Yet they are beneficial for any person of good will seeking to better understand the signals that point to the path of light and resist those that lead to the path of darkness.
In preparation for our Affirmations journey, I invite you to reflectively pray over one Affirmation each week and let its wisdom gradually sink into your mind and heart. All of them are valuable and important and each individual Affirmation will have specific significance at different points in your faith journey. The meaning and value of certain ones will strike your heart immediately while others may not make any sense at all. Don’t worry! All of them will eventually make sense and their meaning will only deepen as your spiritual journey unfolds.
Pay attention to those that speak to your heart. As you do, ask God why they are meaningful for your own Sacred Story. St. Ignatius always wants us to ask God for the grace of understanding. So don’t be shy! Tell the Lord: “this touches my heart - help me to understand why it is important for me in my life.” Note too, the ones that made no sense at all on your first pray-through. Ask that God’s Holy Spirit keep you open to the graced wisdom they can offer further down the road of your Sacred Story journey.
Lord Jesus, you promised to always be with each of us and with the Church until the end of the age. I pray that you keep me awake to the many helps you provide to me along the journey of life, especially the discernment wisdom in the Affirmations. May this series of spiritual lessons help me to open more fully to Your Creation, Presence, Memory, Mercy and Eternity alive in my heart.
The just rejoice and exult before God;
They are glad and rejoice.
Sing to God, chant praise to his name;
Whose name is the Lord.
(Psalm 68: 4-5)