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14 July 2024
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Decisions! Decisions!

I discovered Ignation (St Ignatius of Loyola) spirituality some years ago and find that, along with other spiritual perspectives, that it has brought me into a deeper heart-space of prayer and relationship with God, myself and others. It allows me a greater freedom to live peacefully with some uncertainty having found that the state is usually the testing of direction and decision. As part of the discovery, I realised the process of Ignatian discernment and engage in it cyclically. Life Coaching might be the secular equivalent with the acknowledgment of God's presence being the greatest difference between the two methods.

This time of year is decision making time for many people; some with trepidation about making the wrong choice. Some decisions are bigger than others. Decisions need a process and a testing time of experience. I've never bought a piece of furniture or kept a piece of clothing without trying it for size, comfort and general suitability. (Well, that's not true re my clothes - you should see my wardrobe - point in principle!)

What does Ignatian discernment look like?
It's God focused. It brings us to the heart of the reality for those who believe that we are created by God, with the gift of free will, with many talents and accordingly, with many good choices that can be made to arrive at a variety of right decisions and places. It is not a matter of there being only one right path at any stage which consequently provides us with a life that is a real adventure in which we hold the compass/free will and can choose many paths as we wind our way to destination.

Process of Ignation Discernment
1. Identify the choice for discernment, e.g. college course, change of job, issue with a relationship, ....
Note pros and cons.
2. Formulate a concrete positive proposal - I'll take X course/job or change course/job in order to ....
3. Pray for openness to God's direction so that the choice will be to give glory to God and as a means of own best self-expression.
4. Gather all information, talk to people with knowledge, with family, friends to test the plan and how it really might sit with you - look at the offered possibilities, drawbacks and obstacles also.
5. Bring it back to chatting with, and listening to God as in point 3.
6. What are the advantages and disadvantages? How does either side of decision sit with one's own inner peace, love, joy, courage, confidence - fruits of the Holy Spirit - possible signs of being at one with God & self?
7. Confused still? - pray for freedom and openness with broader conversation with trusted people.
8. Trust God. Test the decision. Make a decision. Be grateful for choice. Discernment is ongoing in its cycle through life.

Cathy Burke
Catechist in the Partnership of Parishes in Lucan