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Matt Malone, S.J.June 23, 2016

If you are familiar with the spirituality of St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, then you will likely know his famous “Rules for Discernment” or, to put it simply, his method of decision-making. James Martin, S.J., once described this method in our pages: “Discernment for St. Ignatius means being aware that God wants us to make good decisions, that God will help us make good decisions—but that we are often moved by competing forces: ones that pull us toward God and ones that push us away.”

Discernment, then, involves entering into a spirit of prayerful questioning, using the imagination to envision the various alternatives and to weigh them with both our heads and hearts. What feels more like an act of faith? What feels more like an act of fear? What opens my heart to the world in generosity? What closes me in on myself and narrows my field of vision? What feels more like an act of love? What feels more like a cry for love?

Sometimes this method of questioning is called weighing the lights and shadows in our lives. It is true, of course, that no human life is all light or all shadow. It is also true that discernment never leads to certainty precisely because certainty is the opposite of faith. If we are certain, then we have no need for faith. Discernment is rather a process for choosing acts of faith that are as well-informed and truthful as possible.

It will come as no surprise to readers of this magazine that America Media is experiencing a major transformation, evolving from a single print magazine to a multiplatform media ministry. In print, on the web, through radio, events and film, America Media is working to realize anew in the 21st century the vision of our founders. I am pleased to say that this process is not a matter of our mere survival, but of our prospering. America Media, unlike many traditional magazines, is financially sound. This autumn we will move to a new state-of-the-art headquarters and will add additional talent to our mostly lay staff. The Society of Jesus in the United States and Canada has also made America Media a top priority and generously placed several young Jesuits at the service of this apostolate.

All of this growth and change is at your service. America Media is more than a media organization: We are a diverse community of leaders, scholars, politicians, businessmen and women, clergy, teachers, volunteers and community members who are committed to pursuing the truth in love; committed to a civic and ecclesial conversation that is intelligent, balanced and above all charitable. It is in that spirit of community that I invite you into this discernment about our future. What are the best ways that we can continue to serve you? As a reader, audience member, friend or benefactor, what do you see as the lights and shadows in our work? What would you encourage us to do more of? What might you discourage us from ever doing again?

Many of you have been a part of this community for decades. As we enter into this discernment about how to adapt our tradition and charism to a new century, we need your experience and prayerful insight. So I encourage you to let us know what you think. You can send us an email at newamerica@americamedia.org. I assure you that we will prayerfully consider what you have to say.

These are exciting days for this century-old ministry. A new America is coming. I invite you to be a part of it. And, as always, I am deeply grateful for your continued support.

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Richard Booth
7 years 11 months ago
Discernment reaches far beyond the religious/spiritual domain. However, the author naturally approaches it from this perspective. To him, "discernment is rather a process for choosing acts of faith that are as well-informed and truthful as possible." I agree. However, well-informed how and truthful according to what grounding in truth? To what extent is "choosing acts of faith" really encouraged by the Church? Hasn't the Church already told us what we need to believe, using Tradition, the Fathers, Scripture, and so on as some of the bases of truth? I have never felt that I was free to determine what was true in Catholicism; I have perceived the process as received dogma. I am not arguing the author's point about his definition of discernment; I am merely suggesting that we do not have the option for individual decision-making if we wish to remain "non-cafeteria" Catholics.
Robert O'Connell
7 years 11 months ago
One suggestion that I have is twofold in character: avoid polarizing opinions on that which is not dogma and consider explaining views which differ from those of America when addressing other topics.
William Rydberg
7 years 11 months ago
Might make sense to bring back the suggestion/feedback webpage on your website. It was dropped a few months ago because it went unreplied to by Management for at least a year, maybe longer. In my opinion, the Magazine would benefit if it actually took an Editorial Position. As things stand now, the current approach (or non-approach) is thoroughly post-modern. Certainly, not Catholic in the ordinary sense. Not even an inkling of the Apologetic... If the Magazine wants to continue on this course, it should acknowledge that the roots of its "non-judgemental" approach to the Ordinary teachings of the Magisterium are de-facto suspended to favorite a philosophically post-modern approach.... In that way, it will give license for the Editor in Chief, Editors, and whole Editorial Board to continue sitting on their hands.
Barbara Sirovatka
7 years 11 months ago
Thank you, Fr. Malone, for your editorial guidance. I have noticed a positive difference in America since your leadership. Please continue to inspire us with essays and articles of faith and spiritual guidance. When I am moved and educated by the words of your columnists (James Martin, Bill McGarvey, John J. Conley, Helen Alvare, John Martens are some of my favorites), my heart and mind are often opened to consider diverse topics not of my political inclination, if they are treated with respect for the opposing view. Faith in Focus and Generation Faith are also my go-to columns. Recently, contributions by Marc Barnes and Adam D. Hincks have helped me reach out to friends and colleagues with an expanded perspective on faith. More please!
Anne Chapman
7 years 11 months ago
There was a brief effort to add women to the writing staff. Unfortunately, Sr. Walsh died too soon. I would like to see both more women writers, and a broader range of views represented among them. You have Helen Alvare. Sr. Walsh had a somewhat broader perspective than Ms. Alvare. There are women theologians such as Cathleen Kaveny (currently at Boston College) and Lisa Fullham (Santa Clara) who would be welcome additions. Not only are about 90% of the articles written by men, even Sean Salai's interviewees are mostly men.

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