A first-time choice is a decision that is unmistakably clear. We know what is right.
Ignatius cites two examples of first-time choice in the New Testament: Neither man had any doubt about what God wanted of him at least in these situations. First-time choices are not rare. We probably know people who never had any doubt about what they should do at major turning points in their lives. Some people are sure about their marriage spouse at a first meeting in this graced manner. Others are sure about their religious-life vocation or priestly vocation in a similar way. You may have had this experience yourself, at least in some circumstances.
Second-time choices are situations where the preferred choice is not entirely clear. We are presented with alternative courses of action that all seem attractive to some degree, and we are not blessed with the gift of a clear certainty about what to do. In these cases, Ignatius says that we can discern the right choice by attending to the inner movements of our spirit. Ignatius always carefully puts the word spiritual before consolation and desolation.
Spiritual desolation is just the opposite. The words Ignatius uses to describe it include darkness of soul, disturbance, movement to things low and earthly, disquiet of different agitations and temptations. The feelings of spiritual consolation and spiritual desolation must be carefully assessed. Complacency and smugness about a decision can masquerade as consolation. At times, desolation can be a timely sense of restlessness pointing us in a new direction. It seems surprising and somewhat risky to trust our feelings to the degree Ignatius does, but this approach to discernment is entirely consistent with his vision of the Christian life.
The Ignatian perspective tells us that we live in a world that is permeated by God, a world God uses to keep in touch with us. We seek to follow Jesus.
Discernment at Different Stages of Life - Ignatian Spirituality
I still wonder did I fulfill anyone or help someone in need… I could not have children and all my relationships ended poorly…so I stll wonder… what have done??? Dear Joy, I read your question with compassion for you. I am 30 yrs younger than you so that is the only catechism quote i memorized… they used other teaching methods in my formative years. Do not feel you have to accomplish something Great in a material way.
You ARE something great! Be content to be a resting place for the Holy Spirit in your heart. Love to you —. This article is good about discernment, God does reveal in various ways which way to follow. Such a great article! I am in the last chapters of my life and still look for discernment. I prayed and prayed after the death of my husband, for the Lord to let me know what my next phase of life was supposed to be.
A Spiritual, Personal, and Practical Approach to Discernment
I felt like I never got an answer to that. Then one day I realized maybe I was right where I was supposed to be. And maybe my gift now was simply prayer. I stopped asking our Father what my purpose was supposed to be because from what seemed like no answer, he was answering me. Sometimes the silence has answers.
As blessed John Henry Newman said To live is to have changed often. Approaching 60 I am facing more major life decisions, mostly imposed by circumstances…husbands ill health financial constraints and adult children with their own very demanding lifes. A 17 year old to hopefully get to the next stage in his life. I have found your thoughts on discerning useful. One can become overwhelmed by the at times strong emotions accompanying all these situations it is helpful to know ways of navigating stormy waters.
Especially small choices that we repeat, over and over again, can lead to habits, form attitudes, and push us in a specific direction that shapes larger events. Paul in Letter to the Romans 8: Make it your chief study to conform yourself to the will of God even in the smallest things….
Alphonsus de Ligouri in Uniformity with the Will of God. You are with me and around me. I am written on your hands. I surrender myself to you completely and forever. There are many ways storytellers describe plot:. The bonus of storytelling art is that seemingly random or disparate events are linked together by the storyteller in a way that gives them meaning. Although stories with surprise endings might require a second viewing or reading, in most stories we have the satisfaction of being able to clearly trace the progression of events, which gives meaning to the story.
For example, in some movies, the hero or heroine is a Christ-figure who sacrifices his or her life for others Luke Skywalker or Superman.
Sometimes the community will become an image of the Church as the members of the community minister to each other and begin to transform the world beyond themselves in The Dark Knight, Batman must decide whether to trust in the goodness of the people on the ferryboat. Together, they act in a Christ-like way. All of these ways of looking at stories can be helpful in discerning the meaning of a story and connecting it to our own lives. Reflecting on the stories that we watch and read can help us to see patterns more clearly: Life, of course, is not usually so neat and clear as a well-told story.
Narrative theology offers us another option: In other words, the actual events of the story—what happens to the characters—is the action of God or represents God in the story.
Take a moment, if you can, to read the entire parable. In this parable, Jesus talks about a sower that throws seed on various soils, with varying results. The seed on the pathway was eaten by birds; the seed on rocky ground grows up fast but is scorched by the sun; the seed on thorny soil is choked by weeds; the seed planted in rich soil grows and bears fruit.
Where are we in this parable? Most people would respond that we are the soil.