When we face a serious choice, we will try not to have made our minds up before we have to. We will be alert to having deep-seated prejudices and to making implied or even overt demands on God that the Lord crown our own self-originated choice with grace and happiness. On the contrary we set ourselves to live this way: We will wait when alternatives are emerging. We will try not to favor one over the others until we are clear whether God is telling us something.
Joseph Tetlow, SJ, Choosing Christ in the World
An Ignatian Book of Days, Jim Manney, 279
Last week, I received two books from Loyola Press, the one mentioned above and Charged with Grandeur, also by Jim Manney. I started reading them and am finding them both to be great Ignatian resources. I know they will be valuable companions on my journey.
The quote given here is the entry for September 28, about the time I received this book. It brings up the topic of discernment, which often befuddles my brain, because I tend to make decisions based on instinct rather than reflection.
Discernment, however, is the reason why, twenty years ago I signed for three weekends of Ignatian Discernment at the Cenacle in Geneva, Switzerland. I was putting the cart before the horse, wanting to find out about discernment without knowing first about Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. But I was driven to those weekends out of fear toward a looming possible future which I really did not want.
I wanted to find out about discernment to know how to look at a situation, see all its angles, and hopefully understand and reign in my fears (and, undoubtedly, avoid the final outcome).
A Jesuit father and a woman collaborator led us through three weekends of discernment, taking us through the main points and steps that Ignatius had discovered and elaborated upon.
One very important point came out during a question and answer session: Godde wants us to be happy and would not expect us to elect a path that would make us feel miserable. Huge sigh of relief here. The discovery that Godde wants my happiness was an incredible revelation. It had never crossed my mind until then. This became a landmark in my journey of faith and it changed my relationship with Godde. From then on, I could trust Her. This was, and still is, truly a very big deal.
A second point has remained with me: to pray and weigh in my heart the ins and outs of a decision, to choose being the good and the better, and in the end lifting the final decision up to Godde. This has helped me over the years letting go of something I think I truly want to happen or to do. “I would like to be able to do this. If it is not possible, O Godde, give me the grace to accept whatever comes.”
I may sound like I now know how to discern. I am not sure. I do not feel this way. I certainly lift my desires, wishes, hopes up to Godde. Do I truly wait for an answer or don’t I rather take my hunch for Her will?… As I look back over my life, I see that I was led to the good things that I have done. As to the sins I have committed and still fall into: “What I do, I do not understand. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate.” (Rom 7:16).
Anyway, all these thoughts and memories because I have just received An Ignatian Book of Days…
Art: Andy Warhol, The Scream (after Munch)