Good Angels and Bad

In the 16th-century Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius Loyola spends a good bit of time on the practical exercises (contemplating, meditating, examining one’s conscience) that help distinguish the influence of the good and bad spirit within. Although his vocabulary is theological, the conundrum makes sense psychologically – say, against the screen of my “Pleasure and Happiness” blog. Sometimes our choices lead us toward the happiness commensurate with a life of virtue, and sometimes our choices are hijacked by an appetite-driven addiction falsely presenting itself as a source of happiness. St. Ignatius sums it up quite beautifully:

“The good angel touches the soul sweetly, lightly and gently, like a drop of water which enters into a sponge; and the evil touches it sharply and with noise and disquiet, as when the drop of water falls on the stone.”