The Epitome of Discerning Love

Something to think about | From his own experience Ignatius learned the essential importance of spiritual freedom. One can claim grace as genuinely and uniquely his or hers only if the conditions for a free encounter be sustained. Perhaps an even more crucial reason lies within the Ignatian understanding of discernment and its relationship to Christ. For Ignatius, Christ symbolized the privileged moment of human and divine encounter both within Jesus’ own consciousness and in his relationship to Abba, the beloved Father.

Discernment is not so much technique as it is an awareness of how God moves within one’s life and within the events that surround a person. Discernment for Jesus was whatever in him and in his mission—his work—led to life and to love, not to death and enmity. Consequently, Jesus’ choices, even his willingness to die faithful to his mission to reveal a loving Father, were expressions based on the affirmation of life and love over death and enmity. For this reason, in the act of discerning love, Ignatius saw the epitome of the Christian imitation of Christ.

Howard Gray, SJ


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