A Return to Discernment

As the holidays approach and the end of the year looms, personal and professional responsibilities tend to converge in ways that bring stress and anxiety. Good food and festive music summon smiles and fun gatherings, but during these next few weeks, it seems we're always in the process of trying to get things done. As we shop, cook, plan, prepare for parties and send out cards to loved ones, we can start to feel pulled into many directions.

The approach of Christmas also tends to bring a time of contemplation as people ponder the past and future. Maybe it's been a tough year. Perhaps you're considering a change in jobs or relationships, or maybe a big move.

Advertisement

In the midst of this reflecting and anticipating, it's helpful to remember once more the value a core element of Ignatian spirituality, and this is the practice of discernment. As David Lonsdale wrote, discernment

is the art of appreciating the gifts that God has given us and discovering how we might best respond to that love in daily life. It is a process of finding one's own way of discipleship in a particular set of circumstances; a means of responding to the call of Christian love and truth in a situation where there are often conflicting interests and values and choices have to be made. It is the gift by which we are able to observe and assess the different factors in a particular situation, and to choose that course of action which most authentically answers our desire to live by the gospel.

The fruits of discernment usually don't arrive immediately, and it's rare that we experience a voice from a burning bush. Discernment involves prayerfully stepping back from daily obligations and asking God for a sense of the whole, a sense of where the spirit is moving, a sense of peace and consolation amidst turmoil.

When we discern, we try to look at our lives with the long view in mind rather than fleeting needs, hoping to find an authentic, life-giving path of freedom.

Happy Thanksgiving.  

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

The latest from america

Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, Washington's retired archbishop, apologized Jan. 15 for what he called a "lapse of memory," clarifying that he knew of at least one abuse allegation against former U.S. Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, but he had "forgotten" about it.
Pope Francis meets with the leadership of the Chilean bishops' conference at the Vatican on Jan. 14 to talk about the sex abuse crisis affecting the church in Chile. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)
The pope wants the February summit “to be an assembly of pastors, not an academic conference—a meeting characterized by prayer and discernment, a catechetical and working gathering.”
Gerard O’ConnellJanuary 16, 2019
This week on “Inside the Vatican,” we explore the topic of women deacons.
Colleen DulleJanuary 16, 2019
Women served as deacons in Europe for about a millennium in a variety of ministerial and sacramental roles.
Brandon SanchezJanuary 15, 2019