Our Spiritual Condition- Test It!

Test the passions and ascertain your spiritual condition




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We continue our series with Part V, Chapter 7, “Examination As to the Affectations of the Soul, from An Introduction to the Devout Life. Here Saint Francis continues our examination by considering the things our soul desires.

I have dwelt thus at length on these points, on a due examination of which all true knowledge of our spiritual progress rests; as to an examination of sins, that rather pertains to the confessions of those who are not eager to advance. But it is well to take ourselves to task soberly concerning these different matters, investigating how we have been going on since we made good resolutions concerning them, and what notable faults we have committed. But the summary of all is to examine into our passions; and if you are worried by so detailed an investigation as that already suggested, you may make a briefer inquiry as to what you have been, and how you have acted, in some such manner as this:– In your love of God, your neighbour, and yourself.

In hatred for the sin which is in yourself, for the sin which you find in others, since you ought to desire the extirpation of both; in your desires concerning riches, pleasure, and honour.

In fear of the perils of sin, and of the loss of this world’s goods; we fear the one too much and the other too little.

In hope, fixed overmuch it may be on things of this world and the creature; too little on God and things eternal.

In sadness, whether it be excessive concerning unimportant matters.

In gladness, whether it be excessive concerning unworthy objects.

In short, examine what attachments hinder your spiritual life, what passions engross it, and what chiefly attracts you.

It is by testing the passions of the soul, one by one, that we ascertain our spiritual condition, just as one who plays the lute tries every string, touching those which are discordant, either raising or lowering them. Thus having tried our soul as to love, hate, desire, fear, hope, sadness and joy, if we find our strings out of tune for the melody we wish to raise, which is God’s Glory, we must tune them afresh with the help of His Grace, and the counsel of our spiritual father.


Questions to ponder:

  1. If the soul is the higher part of our being (above the body), why do you think it is so easy for us give into the desire for things instead of desiring and seeking holiness to that degree?
  2. How often do you ponder the eternal perspective? Meaning, how often are you actions, thoughts, and words done with eternity in mind? Where in your life could you use some eternal perspective?
  3. How can we find the balance of detesting the sin in others without being judgment or “high and mighty”?

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