Robert Barron | – How to Discern the Spirits

What did St. Ignatius mean when he counseled followers to “discern the spirits”? How do we do this? In this episode of the “Word on Fire Show,” we unpack the “Spiritual Exercises” of St. Ignatius and offer practical tips on how to discern God’s will in your life. A listener asks how to discern whether God is calling him to marriage or the priesthood.

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About The Author

Bishop Robert Barron These are brief and insightful commentaries on faith and culture by Catholic theologian and author Bishop Robert Barron. The videos complement his weekly sermons posted and podcasted at

Comment (42)

  1. I’m married I already know my path I got that I have four children grown and gone but I am trying desperately to find a spiritual director and how to practice my mental prayer better and just frankly to be a better Catholic for the love of God I have a lot of questions as I’m reading Saint Teresa of Avila but I cannot for the life of me find a spiritual director . what does one do?

  2. My concern : what voice is Pope Francis a Jesuit listening to, or being led by as he ignores the divinity of Christ, and questions the existence of Hell despite what Jesus says and what is described in Revelations?

  3. Has Bishop Barron spoken out against the homosexual priests and Bishops because I've never heard him do that so is he against them or for them? Is he with God or against God? He has many subscribers so I think he would do well to clarify this matter and let the faithful know where he stands.

  4. I'm seeing this podcast eight months after it was aired. Bishop Barron , I hope you're taking care of yourself- in this podcast you look like you're in great pain and you look exhausted! Please take care of yourself!!!

  5. Always a pleasure to hear more on all subjects pertaining to the soul… "discerning" is a constant for me… as if something you shape… sculpt… give new form to… a visible expression inspired from up high!

  6. An attraction to the religious life happens through relationship with God and the ppl who are in your life, I think. 15 years after becoming a lay sister I am still deeply attached, and fully attracted.

  7. Hello, Bishop Barron. I understand the actual definition of CONSOLATION but I don't quite understand your usage of the word. Could you please elaborate on your usage of CONSOLATION? This escapes my understanding. Although I haven't read St Ignatius, I have always practice this "discernment of spirits" since being a youngster even though I never actually knew of this practice or label, which had gotten me into slight jams with parents. This discussion aided in the defining of this. Thanks Much and Take Care n' Be Cool.

  8. Have a spirit that was sad when I was afraid of him. I asked him if he knew Jesus and he didn't say anything but the holy spirit went through me and I was in tears. I said go to him and he said he can't cause their was a barrier. He was happy when I was. My friend who is latched on to asked why he is with her Then 3 blue light oval orbs appeared. Can you give me your opinion thank you

  9. A Summary of what is anti-Christ.

    For those who are saved by grace; and to the teachers of the world, I say:

    How evil does the world need to be?

    All the evils, crimes, violence, rape, exploitation and other woes of the human species have NOW come to be presented as WORDS in entertainment. Does every imaginable evil need be sought out and pursued so as to be lifted up to become sensationalized, idolized, worshiped? How many of you pursue violent, suggestive, and other questionable entertainment, living with or creating idols in your hearts? This IS anti-Christ.

    The dark web, pornography, scandal, is open admission to flaunting corruption; along with every drama, sitcom, mystery, crime show conjured. The media channels conditioning of the senses and mankind comes to consider it sensational; with consumerism as the backbone of supporting it as entertainment; even presenting it for the purpose of edification or teaching. How many of you apathetically accept what is deemed acceptable, so you can fit in? This IS anti-Christ.

    And now even more so, the supposedly good guys can now act with even more violence in retaliation to violence; and still be thought of as being good guys. Such grand entertainment for society, such spiritual evil and pain in reality. How many of you are waiting to see the fallen, be chasten? This IS anti-Christ.

    The world DOES NOT have to come to be completely shredded by evil, to expose evil; this is apparent by the evil which is obvious. But, it appears that many people want to see the likes of something that is truly evil, and even seem to be excited by the prospect. This IS anti-Christ.

    To these, Christ will say: I know ye not, because this is what is in your hearts.

    Besides those who create the evil of the world, how pathetic is this that Christians who count themselves as saved; haven't the foggiest idea, they can't take any compromise they've learned with them if they expect to enter heaven. Saved by grace, many don't want to do the work for which they have been created – to glorify the Father, Christ, and the Holy Spirit WHICH DWELL WITHIN THEM.

    They are waiting for some appearance event to be transformed (when Christ said: "Lo, I am WITH you…"); instead of considering upon the earth as how they are to "Be ye perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect." Nobody questions that the examples they are, is exactly why the world chooses evil daily, and not Christ.

    They were told to wash their robes, yet they do it not. They do not understand; they are waiting for some alleged teacher to gently acknowledge their feelings, And so they are complacent and slumber, waiting; as the world around them becomes more and more corrupt. Therefore both the alleged teacher who does not speak of the evil so as to expose it, and those asleep, will not enter the wedding feast.

  10. As one whose attempting to learn more about spiritual discernment myself, I think I can perhaps clarify (per Brandon beginning around the 2:50 mark) – God spirit = love/joy/peace vs the evil which engenders anxiety/sadness/fallacious reasoning. Based on my (limited) experience, it's not a 'feeling' that one would get exactly, but it's more like a visceral reaction which is stirred in you that falls under whichever category love, etc. or, anxiety and is brought out in you, not necessarily 'felt' by you. It's like comfortable vs uncomfortable – it's less like a feeling than a state of being in regard to what's presented at that moment. For me at least. I hope that makes some kind of sense???

  11. Your the one who told Ben Shapiro he was fine and would make it to Heaven. When he told you he keeps the law and poor works. The Bible says you must be born again through Gods son Jesus Christ, you have to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. Doing good works, rituals will not save you. But the catholic church doesn't teach that you need to have a relationship with Jesus Christ to enter Heaven, John 3:16 -17, 1 John 5:12, Acts 4:12, Eph 2:8-9, Romans 3:23/6:23, John 14:6, Galations1:6-9, 1 Timothy 2:5. Abd much more I encourage everyone to read the bible and see what God wants. Discerning what is right comes from God and his word the bible. How can we teach others if we don't have it right and thats what I pray for for everyone to come bthe truth. Gods family is one body not 50 million factions 1 Corithians 12:12-27. Not 50 million religions all teaching different things, we are one body all following the word of God the bible. God did not create all these religions nor al, these denominations in Christianity that is not Gods church, something has gone terribly wrong Revelation 1 2,3 Jesys tells us what his church is, and who is not. There are going to be a lot of so called Christians who will not make it to Heaven why? Because they do not have Gods true son in their hearts, and because they lost the truth Mathew 7:21-23. God bless you all.

  12. Bishop Barron, I was an eager follower of yours until you gave the keynote address at last years American National Prayer Breakfast honoring William Barr. I wish sincerely you had reflected as you describe prior to that mistake. I know it is the sinful side of me, but I find it very difficult to overlook your decision. Mea Culpa!