Archive for the ‘discernment’ Category

Discernment – when unsure

November 20, 2017

Ignatius talks of three ‘times’ of discernment; the first refers to moments of great clarity; the second, to times of inner conflict between attraction to two or more good choices. The third ‘time’ that Ignatius refers to is when we don’t particularly feel drawn to one thing above another, in fact there seems to be little going on inside, and we can feel a bit lost in the decision we need to make.

Ignatius makes a number of suggestions to help move us from this state towards a decision.

The first help…advice

Consider a person you have never met before but who is trying to make this decision. What advice would you give to them? How might you talk with them about the decision.

Many of us are much better at advising others than at knowing what to do ourselves, so hearing the advice we would give can help us to move forward and follow our own advice!

 

Discernment – A reasonable consideration

November 15, 2017

pathI remember clearly as a child thinking that when people ‘found their
vocation’ it was because God had somehow sent them a clear message (like a voice speaking or a flash of light). Even when I began to realise that God didn’t always act in that way I still expected that God would really only speak to me in times of prayer.

Of course prayer is about communication with God – the communication of our desires and the interior listening to those of God – but sometimes a decision does not become so clear.

St Ignatius speaks of ‘times for making a good election’, and in the second time he reminds us that by giving careful consideration to the consolations and desolations connected with this choice we can often gain enough light to be able to a) make a choice, and b) await its confirmation.

The second, when enough light and knowledge is received by experience of consolations and desolations, and by the experience of the discernment of various spirits. (SpEx)

 

Times of Discernment – Clarity

November 11, 2017

clear pathThere are moments in our lives when we are faced with a choice and we simply KNOW what we must do. There is a great clarity about what God is asking and we are freely able to respond because regardless of the consequences our path is clear.

St Paul’s conversion is a good biblical example – in a moment of clarity he was able to understand completely that God was calling him to change direction, and he responded. Perhaps you know more ordinary examples – people who experience ‘love at first sight’ marrying and remaining faithful throughout the whole of their lives to a single moment of clarity; people who have always had a certainty about a particular vocational choice, where even in spite of opposition or discouragement they have ‘known’ it was the right choice.

Some people may say that at these times discernment isn’t necessary – simply a decision. It may be more true to say that the discernment has already taken place in opening us up to God’s grace and enabling us to have the courage to respond freely and wholeheartedly.

The grace to trust and respond to God’s clear prompting comes through the daily opening up of our lives and the growth in trust that God is with me.

Challenge:

What have been the moments of clarity in my own life?

How can I grow in my ability to trust these moments and to act on them with confidence?

Discernment and Decision making – two good choices

November 8, 2017

DiscernmentHave you ever felt paralysed by a decision? Have you ever felt so aware of more than one really good possibility that it seems impossible to choose?

Although Ignatian discernment is so much more than simply a way to make decisions, the principles or guidelines inherent in an Ignatian understanding of discernment help us to understand the motivation behind our decisions and so to choose wisely.

In a few blog posts I am going to address some aspects of discernment in the Ignatian tradition and look at some of the ways in which we can cooperate or resist the action of God in our decisions.

Two Good Things

It seems obvious. St Ignatius reminds us that discernment only takes place between two or more GOOD things. We do not discern between something good and something bad. In fact our conscience should be alert enough to prompt us not to make a choice towards something which may lead us away from God.

This seems obvious, but in my experience it is often more subtle that in might at first seem. It presupposes an alert and attentive listening to our conscience. 

So the first step in discernment is that of waking our conscience… being aware of the ways we avoid issues, fail to be informed of the consequences of our choices, accept the status quo or even maybe take on attitudes and stances of the society in which we live without ever really questioning whether they are our values and attitudes.

Today’s challenge:

Recognise one area of my life in which I should try to become better informed before making judgement.