We all suddenly paused in the middle of our meeting. I looked around and could sense that others felt what I was noticing: the strong presence of the Holy Spirit. It almost took my breath away. For months, our small group of priests, religious, and lay people had been meeting to discern starting a spiritual direction training program in Baton Rouge.
Essays on Discernment
Essays on Discernment - Loyola Marymount University
As I discerned marriage with my girlfriend, Sarah, I began to think about how alone the process can be for many couples. Sarah and I made a point to do an Ignatian style discernment, complete with an Ignatian Election. We prayed and discussed on our own but made it a point to share the fruits of our discernment with our spiritual directors, speak to close friends about it, discuss the relationship with our siblings and families. The discernment became not just for us, but for the community. Tapping into the communities they touch is critical for discernment.
A Framework for Communal Discernment
The Ignatian tradition offers many gifts, one of which is the gift of Discernment which invites us to be open to God's spirit as we consider our feelings and rational thought in order to make decisions and take action that will contribute good to our lives and the world around us. Ignatian discernment, first articulated by St. Ignatius Loyola, offers a paradigm for making choices, in a spiritual context, between several possibilities all of which are potentially good 2.
A few years ago I sat with a student to talk about colleges and potential majors. I tried to offer him the best advice I could from the tradition of discernment, specifically the framework I've inherited from my own Catholic faith and the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola. I spoke about desolation and consolation, and I asked him to consider what he most wanted to study. Eventually, though, I began to realize that there was a disconnect between our ways of understanding what was at stake.