Friday, February 8, 2013

Openness: An Attitude Essential to Discernment of God's will

St. Ignatius of Loyola speaks of seven attitudes or qualities required for an authentic discernment process (Draw Me into Your Friendship: The Spiritual Exercises, A Literal Translation and a Contemporary Reading by David Fleming, SJ).   The first of these attitudes is openness:  we must approach the decision in question with an open mind and an open heart. We cannot find God’s will  if we enter into the decision-making process with a preconceived outcome based on our self-will, our biases, and what Ignatius calls “attachments.”  “Attachments” refer to areas in our lives where we limit freedom and put conditions on a decision. For instance, if I am considering religious life, I may say: “I will only serve in the Midwest or in the Southwest, or in the East.”  St. Ignatius is saying to us that the motivation needs to be: “Lord, you know to which religious community you are calling me; reveal your will to me.  You know where you want me to serve you, reveal your plans for me.”  As a newly professed member of a religious community recently stated in a recorded interview by  the NRCV/CARA study of vocations, “this religious community’s charism was already in me; I only needed to discover it” (Moving Forward in Hope: Keys to the Future,  2012 DVD).

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