Five Norms for the Discernment of Spirits

 

“Behold, do not believe every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they are of God.  For many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

(1 John 4:1)

 

For members of the faithful (both lay and cleric), to be able to “test the spirits” to see of what sort they truly are – that is, to see if they are truly of God, or of the devil (fallen demon angels) – we can evaluate by five (5) primary “Norms for the Discernment of Spirits.”  They are the following:

 

  • PEACE: Does the revelation, vision, dream, apparition, message, unusual experience, etc., bring peace to the person who is experiencing them?

 

  • JOY: Does the revelation, vision, dream, apparition, message, unusual experience, etc., bring joy to the person who is experiencing them?

 

  • ALIGNMENT WITH THE TRUTH OF JESUS CHRIST: Is the revelation, vision, dream, apparition, message, unusual experience, etc., in true accord with all that Our Lord Jesus Christ says and teaches and reveals to us in the Gospels, and by how He lived? [Note: Recall the truth from Scripture, here, that “Satan can appear as an Angel of Light.”
    (2 Corinthians 11:14)]

 

  • ALIGNMENT WITH THE TRUTH AS UPHELD BY THE BRIDE OF CHRIST, THE CHURCH: Does the revelation, vision, dream, apparition, message, unusual experience, etc., conform to the present teaching of the Roman Catholic Church as expressed by the Vicar of Christ (the Roman Pontiff), in continuity with what Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the Magisterium of the Church has always held to be true and as safeguarded by the Deposit of Faith?

 

  • CHARITY: Does the revelation, vision, dream, apparition, message, unusual experience, etc., prompt an increase in one’s personal love of God and the kind of love (charity) that truly serves one’s neighbor and which has a genuine concern for their overall good in this life and their ultimate good in the next life? (i.e., Heaven/Beatific Vision)

 

  • EVALUATING THE NORMS THEMSELVES: The more you possess of the five (5) above Norms of Discernment, the more you can be sure that you are not being deceived by the Evil One. That said, the final evaluation rests with one’s Confessor, Spiritual Director and/or bonafide Exorcist.