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.