From the BlogSubscribe Now

Discernment of Spirits

It takes me forever to read a spiritual reading book. Forever. A year or two forever. The Discernment of Spirits: An Ignatian Guide for Everyday Living by Timothy Gallagher, OMV was one of those books. It is one of the few books recommended me by my spiritual director (mostly because I take so long to read them).

Now from the cover of the book, I would have discounted the work almost wholesale as something that was connected with the horrible parts of 70’s Jesuit spirituality. It has reviews by people whom I never heard and who I would be less likely to trust. But, this is one where you can’t judge a book by its cover. I trusted my spiritual director to continue past the less than desirable exterior.

Fr. Gallagher, who apparently teaches about the Ignatian Rules of Discernment around the world, spends his words and thoughts on giving practical guidance to the spiritual life through the text of the 14 Rules of Discernment St. Ignatius of Loyola spells out in his Spiritual Exercises. These words and thoughts are put forth in a colloquial style, like he was giving a retreat on these fourteen points. He uses stories and examples to bring to light, in relatable ways, the truths of these rules and how to apply them to the normal everyday humdrum Jane Doe spiritual life (not sure why I used Jane Doe).

I must say I gained an incredible amount of insight in how to notice what is going on in my interior life through what he outlines in this book. Have you ever wondered why you react the way you do in a certain situation? Do you notice movements in your spiritual life like the peaks and valleys of waves moving toward the coast of the unknown? This is the book for you.

He explains what spiritual consolation is and what spiritual desolation is and how we need to deal with it. These rules are hard and fast and super helpful, and Fr. Gallagher is able to communicate them in such a way as to allow the spiritual novice or spiritual athlete to grow in their understanding of their spiritual life.

I have and will recommend this book to anyone needing a greater understanding of the spiritual life.


So I haven’t been writing a whole lot in this space as of late. Although there are many excuses I can and will give, I personally accept none of them. I took up this blog as part of my mission as a Christian. Now that I am a priest, it has taken a while for me to reorganize and refocus this particular part of my mission. Priesthood, like parenthood, has many demands on its time. I am continually inspired by parents of many children who still are able to be prolific in their writing.

Being that I have been out of the habit of writing (other than with homilies) I felt I needed a jump start, a way I could get a little rocket boost to propel me back into the writing which I so enjoy, where I find rest (the biggest attraction), and that can also be a means for evangelization (which is always on my heart). I have heard over the past few years from different corners of the info feed that is my time on the internet of something called NaNoWriMo. This immediately conjured for me images of rhinos listening to tiny iPods and had little other importance other than an inside joke with myself. Needless to say I didn’t pay much attention to it. As November moved closer to being actualized, I began to see small snippets about NaNoWriMo in the days before, well, today. Now normally I don’t shave during the Man Month of November, which really means I don’t trim my beard as often. I decided due to the aforementioned desires NaNoWriMo would be the little rocket boost to propel me back into creativity.

For those who are still thinking of rhino’s and iPod’s NaNoWriMo means National Novel Writing Month, or sometimes called November. People from all around the country decide that in one month they will write a rough draft on a novel that has been floating around in their overstimulated underused brains. The goal: write 50,000 words in 30 days towards the completion of a rough draft of a novel.

Now being that I’m Catholic. I decided the rules didn’t apply to me. I don’t have a novel idea, or rather, an idea for a novel. What I do have is a blog (thank you for reading), a promise to write for another blog (I’m super excited about fulfilling that promise), a new parish website that goes live next week in which I will be writing on the documents of the Second Vatican Council for the Year of Faith, and an unfinished short story in the vein of Father Brown and Sherlock Holmes with an American, New Orleans variant. Amongst those I will have ample opportunity to write 50,000 words. The novel will have to wait and I will not ‘win’ per se because there will be little cohesion to the topics about which I will be writing.

I’m also glad that I am not alone in this endeavor. I have connected with a local group of NaNoWriMo’s here in New Orleans, two of which are serendipitously parishioners. I will also be supporting and getting support from two friends, Erica who writes for Writers Read and Readers Write and Emmy who writes for Journey of a Catholic Nerd Writer.

I will take all the support I can get from you. Feel free to drop me an encouraging tweet @colonel4God or even an email at