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|
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.
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