By Peter Baugher
Tom Biegle, a permanent deacon in the Archdiocese of Chicago and Coordinator of the Archdiocesan Office of Spiritual Healing Ministry, spoke on discernment of spirits to Franciscan students and faculty on April 17.
The night began with the singing of “Rest on Us” by Upperroom and Maverick City Music.
Biegle began his talk by describing the difference between the discernment of spirits as a gift of the Holy Spirit and discernment of Spirits as described by St. Ignatius of Loyola.
The gift of discernment of spirits, according to the Biegle, is the “the ability to be able to discern whether or not a demonic present may be operating within a person’s life and potentially what that spirit may be.”
Biegle said that the discernment of spirits referenced by St. Ignatus of Loyola is a method of distinguishing between the voice of God, yourself, and the devil.
“What St. Ignatius would say you should be able to know, and you should be able to discern which is voice speaking to you,” said Biegle
He added, “the bishop of any diocese is really the only one who can truly say whether or not someone actually has a charism or not.”
Biegle moved on to discuss to the idea of authority in the Catholic Faith and the practice of “laying on of hands.”
“The laying on of hands in a sacerdotal act, meaning it is a priestly act,” Biegle said. “It is the taking of two hands and placing them over the crown of the head of the individual.”
“There is a difference between power and authority” said Biegle. “Power is what moves something or does something, heals something, this all comes from God.”
Biegle added that authority is, “the permission and the right to use that power.”
Biegle added that if a member of the laity tries to participate in the laying on of hands, it is a breach of clerical authority.
Biegle closed the talk by discussing safety in prayer ministry, saying, “the most important thing is that you direct your prayers directly to God; let God handle it.”
Biegle recommended never to pray over people one on one and to avoid praying over people of the opposite sex without a witness, as well as to remain a state of grace, receive the sacraments and pray daily.
“It is far more important that a person attend Mass than you pray over them,” he said.
After a blessing and a closing song of worship, Biegle spent over an hour talking with students and answering questions.