Monday, February 26, 2018

Discernment

Recently I overheard the radio station playing in the background from another room in our house. The person speaking caught my attention because she was explaining three practical steps of discernment according to the Ignation Rule.

This is a certain type of spirituality and one of my favorites. St. Ignatius of Loyola, whom the rule is named after, spent a lot of time teaching his monks how to discern well.

Statue of St. Ignatius at Monserrat Jesuit Retreat House
Discernment meaning the ability to judge well the direction to take when at forks in the road--should I go this way or that? Through this door or another? We all face these decisions.
In all your ways be mindful of him, 
and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3: 6 
Door of St. Ignation Chapel

Here are the 3 steps:

1) This first one is probably more familiar. Write a list of pros and cons in a wholistic approach. Put down everything you can think of. On the pro side all that is positive and on the con side all that may be negative. Remember just a few cons can outweigh many pros.

For example: A father may be offered a new job that pays a lot more money so he will be able to provide better for his family. It's also a higher promotion in the workplace. But he will be traveling 40% of the time and miss many of the senior year high school activities of his son.

Traveling and missing the senior year activities trumped the decision to accept this job offer in this circumstance.

I personally have found it very helpful to make this list of pros and cons when facing important decisions.

2) Now we're going to get much more Ignation in our approach. Sit and picture yourself making that decision. Be aware of your emotions. Do you feel anxious, fearful, doubtful?

Remember the Holy Spirit produces the fruit of peace, joy, relief, trust, calm...
Read Galatians 5: 22-23


Continue with this second step by asking yourself how you feel by not making this decision. In this example it was by not accepting the job offer. Again, do you feel peace or not?

3) This third step is really important and I'm sure I've failed to do this many times. Now picture yourself before the final judgment. Yes, before God and he is asking you to make an account for your actions. He knows the motive behind every decision we make so we can't hide from him. "So then each of us shall give an account of himself to God." Romans 14: 12

The question remains: on this earth when I make this decision, am I being mindful of the eternal consequences? As believers this is what we will ultimately face.

Undoubtedly we have all made wrong decisions at times and have learned that God can redeem those situations and work all things together for good if we truly desire His will. Rms 8: 28

Hopefully, recalling these three steps of making a list of pros and cons, checking your emotions and visualizing the final judgment will help you in making the best decisions in your life that bring you greater peace.

I pray we will all have divine grace to make wise and fruitful decisions that also bring salvation to souls and glory to God.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Wisdom

Who wants the treasure of wisdom? 

"Happy is the man who has found wisdom. Even more happy is the man who lives in wisdom, for he perceives its abundance." These are words from a sermon by Saint Bernard.

And here are three ways he shares "for wisdom to abound in you":
     First, "if you confess your sins";
     Second, "if you give thanks and praise";
     Third, "and if your speech is edifying."

This morning I was struck by this reading entitled "On the Search for Wisdom". How simple it seems to abound in wisdom if we follow St. Bernard's instructions rooted in the Word of God.

1 John 1: 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
James 5: 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.

So, sisters and brothers, let us quickly confess our sins that we may be forgiven, cleansed and healed. What I do spontaneously is cry out, "Lord, Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner!" I believe it's one of the most powerful prayers ever.

     Psalm 106:1 Praise you the Lord. O give thanks to the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endures for ever. 
    1 Thessalonians 5:18 Give thanks in all circumstances;...His praise shall be continually be in my mouth.
     Psalm 100:4 I will enter his gates with thanksgiving in my heart; I will enter his courts with praise.

Truly we can enter the Lord's holy presence through praise and thanksgiving. Let us resolve that this become a daily habit in our lives. Is this not where we wish to dwell forever--in the house of our Lord? And so, I cry out also, "Praise you, Lord, thank you..." and just let that spontaneously flow.

     Ephesians 4:29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

This instruction is a helpful reminder that we have the power to bless or curse with our mouths--to build up or to tear down. Let us choose to be blessings to each other--to speak life!
A Prayer
Lord Jesus, we ask you for the grace to abound in wisdom. Give us your merciful grace to humbly confess our sins knowing we are forgiven by you and knowing you have paid the price for our sins. Give us a wellspring of thanksgiving flowing from our hearts for all the good you have done for us and a song of eternal praise ever on our lips. Bless our mouths that we may have enlightened conscientiousness and self control to speak words that are life-giving and edifying to one another. Amen.