Does the Lord or the Evil One Guide You? A Priest's 4 Steps to Improve Your Spiritual Health

The prayer advice in this article is based directly on Fr. Robert Bolding’s homily on Luke 6:39-45:

“A good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For people do not pick figs from thorn bushes, nor do they gather grapes from brambles.“A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil; for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.”

I suggest listening to it directly. (Skip to minute 20.)

Father says that the starting point in understanding this passage is not the question, “How do I produce good fruit?” But rather, “How do I become the kind of tree that produces good fruit?”

The Catholic faith is about a relationship with Jesus, which then results in good actions. It is not merely a moralistic guide on how to primarily do good acts.

Furthermore, he encourages an examination of the “fruits” of your life to best determine your level of spiritual health.

Are you being guided by the Lord or by the Evil One?

If you’re filled with anxiety, frustration, anger, or lust and find your faith decreasing, the answer is likely the latter.

The alternative is of course guidance by the fruits of the Holy Spirit expounded in Gal. 5. 

Note: Click here for the text of Saint Ignatius of Loyola’s Rules of Discernment. It’s only three pages.)

Thus, the way to become good is to be “rooted in the soil of the Lord.” This is what authentic prayer and meditation do. It roots one in the Lord Himself. The more rooted in the Lord, the healthier and more fruitful your life will be.

He suggests praying in two cycles for at least 15-20 minutes daily, following these steps:

1) Examen your heart.

Take two minutes to become aware of your thoughts, feelings, and desires. God ordinarily works within our hearts. Our “work” is determining which of those thoughts, feelings, and desires are from Him.

2) Next, communicate those thoughts, feelings, and desires. 

Next, communicate those thoughts, feelings, and desires to God directly even though He already knows what they are. He desires a relationship with you. Relationships demand communication.

3) Be silent as He responds to you.

Even if you don’t perceive an answer, give Him the space and freedom to work “underneath the level of your consciousness.”

4) Repeat this cycle (Steps 1-3)

This time, begin with a Scripture passage.

Final Prayer Tip:

Pay attention to what’s happening in your heart. Do you perceive joy and gratitude or frustration? This will help you determine which thoughts, feelings, and desires are from God and which are not.

Father Bolding ends the homily challenging parishioners to try this method and see if miracles abound when getting to know the Lord!

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