Discernment of Spirits in the Diary

By Marc Massery

Turn to any page of the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska and you find spiritual gems. Like these words from St. Faustina:

The eighteenth year of my life. An earnest appeal to my parents for permission to enter the convent. My parents' flat refusal. After this refusal, I turned myself over to the vain things of life, paying no attention to the call of grace, although my soul found no satisfaction in any of these things. The incessant call of grace caused me much anguish; I tried, however, to stifle it with amusements. Interiorly, I shunned God, turning with all my heart to creatures. However, God's grace won out in my soul. (8)

In this early passage from St. Faustina's Diary, we learn that, as holy as she would become, St. Faustina was tempted to lapse from the devout life just as we all are. Like us, she even gave in to those temptations early in her spiritual life.

We can see what she was going through spiritually by considering St. Ignatius of Loyola's first rule for the discernment of spirits. He says:

In the persons who go from mortal sin to mortal sin, the enemy is commonly used to propose to them apparent pleasures, making them imagine sensual delights and pleasures in order to hold them more and make them grow in their vices and sins. In these persons the good spirit uses the opposite method, pricking them and biting their consciences through the process of reason. (Spiritual Exercises, 313-336, emphasis added).

In this instance, St. Faustina records that while she focused on vain things, grace caused her incessant anguish. Though she found vain things pleasing on some level, she became increasingly aware that they could not truly satisfy. Grace pricked at her conscience until she finally gave in to the Lord.

When we find ourselves spending an inordinate amount of time watching Netflix, gossiping, or lazing around with no sense of purpose, we will likely have an initial aversion to doing things like praying the Rosary or going to Mass. When we sin, we go against our own conscience. We fail to live up to the truth of who God made us to be. In His mercy, to get through to us, the Lord allows us to feel this spirit of anguish. It's similar to how He allows us to feel pain to save our skin if we put our hand on a hot stove. He wants to keep our souls safe, even if He can only grab our attention by causing us a little pain.

Jesus says to us: Sin never satisfies. Turn away from it at all costs. Though at times sin may look appealing, it always leads to misery. Instead, turn to My grace. Trust that by following Me, I will satisfy your aching heart.

My Prayer: Jesus, shine a light on all the ways I turn from You. Help me to realize the destruction and misery caused by sin. Help me to know that the only way to find true satisfaction is to follow You.

Read the previous Discovering the Diary .


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Turn to any page of St. Faustina's Diary, and you'll find spiritual gems. 

Turn to any page of St. Faustina’s Diary and you’ll find spiritual gems. Like this one: