Archive for the ‘Ignatian Spirit’ 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.

 

 

 

Times of Discernment – Clarity

November 24, 2015

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 19, 2015

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.

 

 

 

Laudato Si – Climate change and security

July 2, 2015

In the encyclical Laudato Si, Pope Francis repeatedly calls us to become aware not only of the immediate consequences of environmental degradation – deforestation, loss of habitats, etc. but also of the repercussions on the global community. In the paragraph quoted below he reminds us of the potential consequences of further multinational control of water resources.

Greater scarcity of water will lead to an increase in the cost of food and the various products which depend on its use. Some studies warn that an acute water shortage may occur within a few decades unless urgent action is taken. The environmental repercussions could affect billions of people; it is also conceivable that the control of water by large multinational businesses may become a major source of conflict in this century.[LS 31]

I read an article recently which looks at the main findings of ‘A New Climate for Peace‘ – an independent report commissioned by G7 members. The report refers to climate change as “the ultimate threat multiplier” in fragile situations, and looks at how related issues such as food insecurity, migration and competition for water can leave fragile states and regimes unable to provide for their citizens.

International and national security is very much on the political agenda, and the report acknowledges that there are multiple factors involved in any conflict, but it also recognises the significant impact of food and water insecurity in conflict.

Laudato Si – Addressing the throw-away culture

June 24, 2015

pc-dumpIn the next few weeks I invite us to have a look as some parts of Laudato Si to consider areas of personal conversion that each one of us is called to. Pope Francis reminds us that awareness enables us to discover what can be done.

Following a period of irrational confidence in progress and human abilities, some sectors of society are now adopting a more critical approach. We see increasing sensitivity to the environment and the need to protect nature, along with a growing concern, both genuine and distressing, for what is happening to our planet. Let us review, however cursorily, those questions which are troubling us today and which we can no longer sweep under the carpet. Our goal is not to amass information or to satisfy curiosity, but rather to become painfully aware, to dare to turn what is happening to the world into our own personal suffering and thus to discover what each of us can do about it. LS19

Pope Francis invites us to reflect on our current situation so as to allow the suffering of the world to become our own suffering.

One area that is addressed in the encyclical Laudato Si, is that of our throw-away society.

We have not yet managed to adopt a circular model of production capable of preserving resources for present and future generations, while limiting as much as possible the use of non-renewable resources, moderating their consumption, maximizing their efficient use, reusing and recycling them. A serious consideration of this issue would be one way of counteracting the throwaway culture which affects the entire planet, but it must be said that only limited progress has been made in this regard. LS22

Change is certainly needed on a macro level, with industry and governments playing a key role. However we are reminded that the individual cannot abdicate responsibility and there are small lifestyle choices that each of us can make.

Perhaps as a practical step each one of us might consider the waste produced in our households each week. Are there choices that we can make with regard to food, clothing, transport etc that might reduce our personal consumption of the earths resources? Here’s are just a few simple questions that might provoke reflection:

  • Do we buy food with a lot of packaging?
  • Do we repair or dispose of damaged goods?
  • Do we compost or send to landfill?
  • Is all recyclable waste separated in our house?
  • Are we overly influenced by fashions – clothing, technology, etc?

The video addresses the question of manufacturing in a way that has less environmental impact.

Laudato Si – To begin our reflection

June 22, 2015

It is worth watching all of this presentation if you havent already, but in particular I invite you to watch Prof Schellnhuber from 1:00:00 – 1:18:50. (Much of the video is in Italian but the interventions, including Prof Schellnhuber, are in English)

It is not poverty that destroys the environment, it is wealth, consumption and waste.

[Prof.John Schellnhuber of the Potsdam Institute]

Our lives are cyclical

June 16, 2015

Although we are often aware of the cyclical nature of life, I guess that most of us think of our life in a linear way much of the time: Events happen, years pass, we have to plan for the future.

As we move towards summer in the northern hemisphere there are lots of daily reminders though of the cyclical nature of life – in our garden there are fledgling sparrows and robins and the blackbirds are still busy with their chicks. Caterpillars have stopped eating our gooseberry bush and are in that wonderful process of metamorphosis to butterfly. The lovely flowers of spring have died away and are beginning to set as fruits and ripen. There are daily reminders of life and death and life again. The seasons turn and nature renews itself.

butterfly3In ministry its also a time of change – students have completed degrees and are preparing to leave, whilst others are coming to open days and preparing to join the university. My planning, circles back to preparation for the new intake.

There is so much evidence around me of life coming from death, and letting go being a natural part of life … but still each letting go is a leap of faith – who knows if we will die or rise?