Holiness, the Beatitudes, and Discernment

Pope Francis has released his latest apostolic exhortation, Gaudete et Exsultate (Rejoice and Be Glad). The title comes from the Beatitudes in Matthew’s Gospel, specifically, Jesus’ exhortation to rejoice when people “insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.” (5:11) Gaudete et Exsultate is a meditation on the call to holiness in everyday life. (The word holiness appears 87 times.) Francis points to the “saints next door,” […]

Autumn Stirs Interior Reflection

Autumn brings with it changes in weather, sending many of us indoors more regularly. We experience bright, sunny days that are quickly followed by torrential rains, cooler temperatures, and even the first flakes of snow. As we move to the interiors of homes and workplaces for refuge from these weather events, it’s a good time to consider the interior of our hearts. God is present with us at all times, of course, but autumn invites […]

Discernment Is a Choice of Courage

In a recent address to seminarians, Pope Francis highlighted three aspects of Ignatian style: friendship with the Lord, discernment, and cultivating the magis, or “more,” for the Kingdom of God. In speaking of discernment, the Pope said: Discernment is a choice of courage, contrary to the more comfortable and reductive ways of rigorism and of laxness, as I have repeated many times. To educate to discernment means, in fact, to flee from the temptation to […]

Desires and Discernment

Sean Salai, SJ, interviewed writer, spiritual director, and Jesuit novice director Mark Thibodeaux, SJ, about discernment of spirits in the Ignatian tradition. When asked about distinctive features of the Ignatian approach, Thibodeaux replied: Probably the most surprising feature of the Ignatian approach is the premise that God’s will can often be discovered in our “great desires.” Much of Christian spirituality presumes that our desires are bad and will lead us to sinful actions. Ignatius believed […]

Discernment as Common Vision

As I deepen my love for my friend, I come to know what she likes and dislikes. I come to see the world through her eyes, and thereby experience it anew. What once was trite and meaningless to me now becomes an object of wonder, when I look at it with her. This deepening friendship gives rise to regular moments of conversion. In the early days when I was just coming to know the woman who was to […]

Discerning as a Couple

Discerning as an individual is something that’s covered at length in the world of Ignatian spirituality. But what about discerning as a couple? The framework my husband Chris and I use for discernment is not that different from the framework I recommend people use for discerning as an individual. The major difference is there are two people’s voices and experiences of prayer, and there is the larger context of marriage and family life in which […]

Discernment at Different Stages of Life

A major gift from Ignatian spirituality is its wisdom about discernment. Discernment enables us to assess situations, pay attention to various clues, approach our decision making prayerfully, and ultimately choose well according to our faith and our life situation. But discernment is not the same at every stage of life. Each season presents unique challenges that require yet another nuance of Spirit-helped discernment. When we’re young—in late childhood and the teen years—much discernment has to […]

Discipline Our Hearts

William A. Barry, SJ, writes for the Ignatian Volunteer Corps blog: Ignatian discernment of spirits is one way to discipline our hearts so that we become more adult in our desires and thus more in tune with reality, which is God’s dream for our world. We can attune our hearts to God’s ways and thus become images of God, human beings who are friends of God, of one another and of the rest of creation. […]

Discernment and the Joy of Love

Friday saw the release of the much-anticipated apostolic exhortation on love in the family, Amoris Laetitia, (The Joy of Love). Two responses to the document emphasize the importance of understanding discernment to understand the message Pope Francis conveys in Amoris Laetitia. First, James Martin, SJ, writes for America that the Pope’s “use of discernment is closely tied to the idea of conscience, also highlighted in this document, particularly for those facing complex spiritual decisions.” For […]

Making Room This Advent

My father recently moved in with us, and it’s been a time of great squishing. Making the journey to our home, we all squished, with all of his belongings, into a rented minivan. We then proceeded to squish everything into our home. It has been a little hard to move around all the stuff. Our house has been feeling markedly like a sardine can. And so, the great purge of every nook and cranny of […]

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