Saturday, March 2, 2013

Discernment: Looking at pros and cons

The fifth step of discernment according to the Ignatian method of discerning God’s will is to list the advantages and disadvantages of each choice we are considering. This does not only apply to choosing a state of life-- the single state, marriage, and/or religious life—but to every choice we make. If, for instance,  we pass on a story about someone, what will the consequences be is the question a person asks if eager to be one with the Father.  Looking at such realities in the mundane choices of daily life is as important as looking at the advantages or disadvantages of choosing one lifestyle over the other.  Whether to withhold a kindness, whether to greet a certain person with whom I am at odds, whether to participate in a parish event, whether to do this or that chore for the good of the family—weighing the consequences  of those choices are also part of discerning what Jesus would do. We know that Jesus always did what the Father asked of Him.  He tells us that in John 5: 19: “…I tell you, by himself the Son can do nothing; he can do only what he sees the Father doing; and whatever the Father does the Son does too.” And at Cana, Mary, noticing an unmet need, says to the servants: “Do whatever He tells you.”

So no matter what decision we are contemplating, Ignatius suggest that we take time to look at the pros and cons of that choice. , that we weigh all sides. Pay close attention to the reasons for each choice. If contemplating a State in Life, compare each. You will then be in a position of knowing which vocation is best for you. Before making a final decision, be sure you are not being carried away by passion or natural inclinations. Discuss your findings with a qualified spiritual director, someone who has training in the art of spiritual direction, someone who will lean neither to one choice or another, to one state of life over the other for you , does not tell you what to do or not to do, what choice to make or not make, but is totally open to what God is asking of you and, with you, is seeking God’s will, someone who will allow you to list the pros and cons of either choice without swaying you more toward one than the other and can be objective in working with you.

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