An extract from Rules for the Discernment of Spirits for the First Week in The Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius of Loyola:
"314 THE FIRST RULE: 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.
"315 The second: In the persons who are going on intensely cleansing their sins and rising from good to better in the service of God our Lord, it is the method contrary to that in the first Rule, for then it is the way of the evil spirit to bite, sadden and put obstacles, disquieting with false reasons, that one may not go on; and it is proper to the good to give courage and strength, consolations, tears, inspirations and quiet, easing, and putting away all obstacles, that one may go on in well doing."
An extract from "Chapter 5: The Tactics of God and the Enemy" in Fr Thomas Green's book, Weeds Among the Wheat:
"THUS ONE WHOSE fundamental option is against God will be 'consoled' by the devil and disturbed by God. Why? Because the devil wishes to maintain the present course and direction of the soul, whereas the good Lord wishes to shake her out of her evil complacency.
"Just the reverse is true for souls 'who go on earnestly striving to cleanse their souls from sin and who seek to rise in the service of God our Lord to greater perfection' (#315). Such souls have chosen God and his service as the basic orientation of their lives. They may fail in many ways -- the just man sins seven times a day -- but their fundamental option is for God. In such a case, disturbance of desolation comes from the devil and peace from God:
" 'Then it is characteristic of the evil spirit to harrass with anxiety, to afflict with sadness, to raise obstacles backed by fallacious reasonings that disturb the soul. Thus he seeks to prevent the soul from advancing. On the other hand, it is characteristic of the good spirit to give courage and strength, consolations, tears, inspirations and peace. This he does by making all easy, by removing all obstacles so that the soul goes forward in doing good.'
"This insight of Ignatius concerning the diverse ways the good and evil spirits work, depending on the fundamental life commitment of the soul, is of extreme importance in practice. It explains why persons apparently committed to an evil life seem to be serene in their wrongdoing. If they are stubborn enough in their refusal of grace, the good spirit may well give up on them; they can, as it were, 'kill their conscience.' The evil spirit will do everything possible to avoid rocking the boat. He will lull them into a false sense of security; he will convince them of the value of the perquisites of power and of the pleasures of the flesh. He will even, as C.S. Lewis notes in his masterpiece on discernment, The Screwtape Letters, persuade them that he, the devil, [or God Himself] does not exist! In short, he will use every means to preserve the complacency, the pseudo-consolation, of the soul going 'from mortal sin to mortal sin.'
"By contrast, the soul truly committed to God will find the devil working overtime to shake his or her commitment. And the Lord will do everything possible to encourage the soul to persevere in the basic orientation of life it has chosen. Thus, for example, a person who is sincerely seeking to serve the Lord in a religious community may have many failings and shortcomings. The Lord will seek to correct these and to purify the person's commitment. But he will never act in such a way as to call into question his or her fundamental commitment to God. The devil, though, will do precisely this. He will seek to discourage the person, to convince her that she is a failure, that Go is displeased, that the whole enterprise is a mistake."
This morning, threw the free October issue of a trashy woman's magazine down where it belonged (the rubbish chute). The cover page featured a scantily dressed woman and a seemingly naked man just behind her. The theme of all the highlighted features in the book seemed to be sex. On one page with a graphic photo of two people "in the act", a reader wrote in to sympathise with another reader who had written about a man sleeping with a married man. The whole magazine also reeked of consumerism: buy this, eat this, wear this... The publisher seemed to have assumed that a woman's life involves only sex and shopping!
By great contrast, while watching the recently released Mother Teresa movie which stars Olivia Hussey, was struck by how evil forces had sought incessantly to discredit this living saint in every way possible. How disheartening to have given up everything for the poorest of the poor in a foreign land, only to be persecuted in so many ways -- by religious fanatics, biased reporters, bureaucratic civil servants... Yet how Mother Teresa had persevered dodgedly to bring hope to the hopeless all over the world! How she urged her followers and helpers onward, "No matter who says what, you should accept it with a smile and do your own work"!