DWG1 – Guided by Grace – The Discernment of God’s Will in Everyday Decisions with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Guided by Grace – “What am I to do?” The Discernment of God’s Will in Everyday Decisions with Fr. Timothy Gallagher

Fr. Timothy Gallagher and Kris McGregor focus on discerning the will of God in Christian decision-making, particularly through an Ignatian lens. Fr. Gallagher teaches us that Christians seek to make choices consciously aligned with God’s will, ranging from daily decisions to major life choices; and the importance of preparation through spiritual exercises such as examination of conscience, meditation, and prayer, which dispose the soul to discern God’s will.

Fr. Gallagher provides various scenarios to illustrate discernment principles. For instance, he discusses choices between morally good and bad options, emphasizing the importance of choosing what aligns with God’s will. He also delves into decisions between competing goods, where fidelity to one’s vocation guides discernment. Additionally, he explores the process of prayerfully considering factors, making decisions, finding peace, and learning from the outcomes.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. Aligning Choices with God’s Will: How can I ensure that my decisions, whether small or significant, are consciously aligned with God’s will, reflecting a desire to live as a disciple of Christ?
  2. Preparation through Spiritual Exercises: In what ways can I incorporate spiritual exercises like examination of conscience, meditation, and prayer into my daily life to better prepare myself for discerning God’s will?
  3. Choosing between Morally Good and Bad Options: When faced with decisions between morally good and bad options, how can I find the courage to consistently choose what aligns with God’s will, even in challenging circumstances?
  4. Seeking Guidance from Church Teaching: How can I integrate the teachings of the Church, particularly in areas where societal norms may conflict with Christian values, to ensure that my discernment aligns with God’s will?
  5. Balancing Responsibilities within Vocation: Reflecting on Ruth’s situation, how can I discern between competing goods, ensuring that I prioritize fidelity to the duties of my vocation while also recognizing opportunities for service and growth?
  6. Prayerful Consideration of Daily Choices: In my daily life, how can I incorporate prayerful reflection and consideration of factors into my decision-making process, seeking God’s guidance in even the smallest of choices?
  7. Embracing a Disposition of Heart Like Mary’s: How can I cultivate a disposition of heart that mirrors Mary’s openness to God’s will, eagerly saying “yes” to whatever God asks of me, even when it involves sacrifice or difficult choices?
  8. Continuous Learning and Growth: How can I review my past decisions, both those that align with God’s will and those that may not have, in order to learn and grow in my ability to discern God’s will in future choices?

From The Discernment of God’s Will in Everyday Decisions:

Three Times in which a Sound and Good Choice May Be Made

The first time is when God Our Lord so moves and attracts the will that, without doubting or being able to doubt, the devout soul follows what is shown to it, as St. Paul and St. Matthew did in following Christ our Lord.

The second time is when sufficient clarity and understanding is received through experience of consolations and desolations, and through experience of discernment of different spirits.

The third time is one of tranquility, when one considers first for what purpose man is born, that is, to praise God our Lord and save his soul, and, desiring this, chooses as a means to this end some life or state within the bounds of the Church, so that he may be helped in the service of his Lord and the salvation of his soul. I said a tranquil time, that is, when the soul is not agitated by different spirits, and uses its natural powers freely and tranquilly.

If the choice is not made in the first or second time, two ways of making it in this third time are given below.”


Father Timothy M. Gallagher, O.M.V., was ordained in 1979 as a member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, a religious community dedicated to retreats and spiritual formation according to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.  Fr. Gallagher is featured on the EWTN series “Living the Discerning Life:  The Spiritual Teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola”. For more information on how to obtain copies of Fr. Gallaghers’s various books and audio which are available for purchase, please visit  his  website:   frtimothygallagher.org

For the other episodes in this series check out Fr. Timothy Gallagher’s “Discerning Hearts” page

DWG2 – God’s Guidance in Everyday Decisions – The Discernment of God’s Will in Everyday Decisions with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast

God’s Guidance in Everyday Decisions – “What am I to do?” The Discernment of God’s Will in Everyday Decisions with Fr. Timothy Gallagher

Father Timothy Gallagher and Kris McGregor explore the process of discernment using examples and insights from St. Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises, starting with the importance of seeking God’s will in all aspects of life, whether big or small.

Fr. Gallagher shares examples of discerning small daily choices, such as resolving tension with a friend or inviting someone to a parish event; going further into larger life decisions, such as discerning between marriage and priesthood or a career change. They discuss the complexity of such decisions, where both options are good and significant sacrifices may be involved. The discernment process outlined by St. Ignatius, which will be explored further in future episodes. This process involves prayer, reflection, and seeking clarity through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. How can individuals discern between good and bad choices in their daily lives, according to the principles outlined by Father Gallagher? Discuss the role of the Church’s teachings in this discernment.
  2. Father Gallagher mentions the discernment between good and good choices, especially concerning one’s state of life. How can one apply this discernment in their own life, considering their specific duties and responsibilities?
  3. The podcast delves into the importance of small daily choices in aligning one’s life with God’s will. Share personal experiences or thoughts on how these small decisions have impacted your spiritual journey.
  4. The concept of discerning God’s will in significant life decisions, like career choices or vocation, is highlighted. Discuss how St. Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises might aid someone in making these significant choices. What process would you personally follow in such discernment?
  5. Reflect on the story of Robert’s vocational discernment between priesthood and marriage. How does one find clarity in such profound life decisions, and what role does prayer and community advice play in this process?
  6. The example of Brian contemplating a career shift to become a doctor raises questions about discerning God’s will in professional life. Discuss how one might balance personal desires, family responsibilities, and God’s calling when considering such a major change.
  7. Father Gallagher underscores the virtue of prudence in decision-making. How can one cultivate this virtue in daily life, and how does it assist in discerning God’s will?
  8. The notion of living one’s life as a “living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” (Romans 12:1) is discussed. In practical terms, what does this mean for a lay Catholic in their everyday life?
  9. Father Gallagher suggests that discerning God’s will should include an examination of conscience and reflection on daily spiritual experiences. How can one integrate this practice into their routine?
  10. The podcast concludes with the idea that God cares about even the smallest decisions. How does this perspective influence your view of God’s presence and action in your life? How can you foster a deeper awareness of God’s guidance in every decision you make?

From The Discernment of God’s Will in Everyday Decisions:

Three Times in which a Sound and Good Choice May Be Made

The first time is when God Our Lord so moves and attracts the will that, without doubting or being able to doubt, the devout soul follows what is shown to it, as St. Paul and St. Matthew did in following Christ our Lord.

The second time is when sufficient clarity and understanding is received through experience of consolations and desolations, and through experience of discernment of different spirits.

The third time is one of tranquility, when one considers first for what purpose man is born, that is, to praise God our Lord and save his soul, and, desiring this, chooses as a means to this end some life or state within the bounds of the Church, so that he may be helped in the service of his Lord and the salvation of his soul. I said a tranquil time, that is, when the soul is not agitated by different spirits, and uses its natural powers freely and tranquilly.

If the choice is not made in the first or second time, two ways of making it in this third time are given below.”


Father Timothy M. Gallagher, O.M.V., was ordained in 1979 as a member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, a religious community dedicated to retreats and spiritual formation according to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.  Fr. Gallagher is featured on the EWTN series “Living the Discerning Life:  The Spiritual Teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola”. For more information on how to obtain copies of Fr. Gallaghers’s various books and audio which are available for purchase, please visit  his  website:   frtimothygallagher.org

For the other episodes in this series check out Fr. Timothy Gallagher’s “Discerning Hearts” page

DWG3 – Foundation of Discernment – The Discernment of God’s Will in Everyday Decisions with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Foundation of Discernment – “What am I to do?” The Discernment of God’s Will in Everyday Decisions with Fr. Timothy Gallagher

Fr. Timothy Gallagher and Kris McGregor discuss the importance of understanding the foundation of discerning God’s will according to St. Ignatius. Before delving into the specific techniques of discernment, it’s crucial to grasp why discerning God’s will is significant.

Drawing upon the biblical concept that we love because God first loved us and the personal experience of feeling deeply loved by God as the foundations for discernment. Fr. Gallagher uses real-life examples to illustrate how individuals discovered this foundational truth through personal encounters with God’s love, leading to a desire to respond in love by seeking God’s will. Fr. Gallagher connects this understanding to the profound truth that each person has a unique mission given by God, and the importance of faith in recognizing and responding to this call.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. Understanding the Foundation of Discernment: How does the principle “we love because God first loved us” inform your understanding of discerning God’s will in your life?
  2. Encountering God’s Love: Can you recall a personal experience where you deeply felt God’s love? How did this experience impact your willingness to seek and follow God’s will?
  3. Personal Mission and Purpose: Reflect on Blessed John Henry Newman’s assertion that “God has created me to do him some definite service.” How does this notion resonate with your own sense of purpose and vocation?
  4. Cultivating a Disposition of Openness: In what ways can you foster a disposition of openness to God’s will in your life, particularly during moments of discernment or ambiguity?
  5. Responding to God’s Love: How does understanding God’s unconditional love for you inspire your desire to respond in love by seeking and following God’s will?
  6. Embracing God’s Unique Plan: Consider the idea that each person has a unique mission given by God. How does this understanding influence your perspective on your own life’s purpose and mission?
  7. Practical Steps for Discernment: What practical steps can you take to deepen your awareness of God’s love and nurture a disposition of openness to discerning God’s will in your life?

From The Discernment of God’s Will in Everyday Decisions:

Three Times in which a Sound and Good Choice May Be Made

The first time is when God Our Lord so moves and attracts the will that, without doubting or being able to doubt, the devout soul follows what is shown to it, as St. Paul and St. Matthew did in following Christ our Lord.

The second time is when sufficient clarity and understanding is received through experience of consolations and desolations, and through experience of discernment of different spirits.

The third time is one of tranquility, when one considers first for what purpose man is born, that is, to praise God our Lord and save his soul, and, desiring this, chooses as a means to this end some life or state within the bounds of the Church, so that he may be helped in the service of his Lord and the salvation of his soul. I said a tranquil time, that is, when the soul is not agitated by different spirits, and uses its natural powers freely and tranquilly.

If the choice is not made in the first or second time, two ways of making it in this third time are given below.”


Father Timothy M. Gallagher, O.M.V., was ordained in 1979 as a member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, a religious community dedicated to retreats and spiritual formation according to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.  Fr. Gallagher is featured on the EWTN series “Living the Discerning Life:  The Spiritual Teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola”. For more information on how to obtain copies of Fr. Gallaghers’s various books and audio which are available for purchase, please visit  his  website:   frtimothygallagher.org

For the other episodes in this series check out Fr. Timothy Gallagher’s “Discerning Hearts” page

DWG4 – Deepening Spiritual Foundations – The Discernment of God’s Will in Everyday Decisions with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Deepening Spiritual Foundations – “What am I to do?” The Discernment of God’s Will in Everyday Decisions with Fr. Timothy Gallagher

Fr. Timothy Gallagher and Kris McGregor, they discuss the importance of laying a good foundation in one’s relationship with God for effective discernment and the significance of developing a disposition of complete availability to God’s will, likening it to Mary’s fiat: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord.”

He highlights the role of grace in cultivating this disposition and how it lightens the burden of discernment. It’s never too late to discern God’s will, emphasizing God’s boundless mercy and the Church’s role in providing support through pastors, spiritual directors, and spiritual friends.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. Foundational Relationship with God: How can I deepen my foundational relationship with God, recognizing His eternal and profound love for me?
  2. Disposition of Heart: Am I cultivating a disposition of complete availability to God’s will, like Mary’s fiat, in my life?
  3. Overcoming Obstacles in Discernment: What obstacles, whether spiritual or emotional, hinder my ability to discern God’s will effectively?
  4. Mercy of God: Do I believe in the limitless mercy of God, even in the face of past mistakes and failures?
  5. Importance of Spiritual Community: Do I actively seek support from pastors, spiritual directors, and spiritual friends in my discernment process?
  6. Role of the Holy Eucharist: How central is the Holy Eucharist in my spiritual life and discernment process?
  7. Future Spiritual Practices: How can I incorporate sacred scripture, silence, spiritual direction, and reviewing spiritual experiences into my discernment practice?

From The Discernment of God’s Will in Everyday Decisions:

Three Times in which a Sound and Good Choice May Be Made

The first time is when God Our Lord so moves and attracts the will that, without doubting or being able to doubt, the devout soul follows what is shown to it, as St. Paul and St. Matthew did in following Christ our Lord.

The second time is when sufficient clarity and understanding is received through experience of consolations and desolations, and through experience of discernment of different spirits.

The third time is one of tranquility, when one considers first for what purpose man is born, that is, to praise God our Lord and save his soul, and, desiring this, chooses as a means to this end some life or state within the bounds of the Church, so that he may be helped in the service of his Lord and the salvation of his soul. I said a tranquil time, that is, when the soul is not agitated by different spirits, and uses its natural powers freely and tranquilly.

If the choice is not made in the first or second time, two ways of making it in this third time are given below.”


Father Timothy M. Gallagher, O.M.V., was ordained in 1979 as a member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, a religious community dedicated to retreats and spiritual formation according to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.  Fr. Gallagher is featured on the EWTN series “Living the Discerning Life:  The Spiritual Teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola”. For more information on how to obtain copies of Fr. Gallaghers’s various books and audio which are available for purchase, please visit  his  website:   frtimothygallagher.org

For the other episodes in this series check out Fr. Timothy Gallagher’s “Discerning Hearts” page

DWG5 – Listening for God’s Voice – The Discernment of God’s Will in Everyday Decisions with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Listening for God’s Voice – “What am I to do?” The Discernment of God’s Will in Everyday Decisions with Fr. Timothy Gallagher

Fr. Timothy Gallagher and Kris McGregor discuss the importance of praying with Scripture and embracing silence as spiritual means to aid in discernment and the transformative power of engaging with the Word of God daily, allowing individuals to develop an intimate knowledge of Christ and grow in love for Him. Through prayerful reflection on Scripture, one becomes attuned to the voice of God and gains clarity in discerning His will.

Creating space for silence in one’s life, which enables individuals to hear God’s voice amidst the noise of the world.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. The Role of Scripture in Discernment: How does praying with Scripture, as described by Fr. Timothy Gallagher and Kris McGregor, deepen our relationship with God and aid in discerning His will?
  2. Embracing Silence: Why is silence essential for discernment, and how can we create spaces of silence in our daily lives, despite the busyness of modern culture?
  3. The Universal Call to Holiness: What does the concept of the universal call to holiness entail, and how does it intersect with the specific discernment of vocations?
  4. Discerning Vocations: In what ways does discernment play a role in choosing a vocation, whether it be marriage, celibacy, priesthood, or religious life?
  5. Recognizing God’s Voice: How can individuals know that they have heard God’s voice clearly enough to discern His will in matters such as vocation or career choices?

From The Discernment of God’s Will in Everyday Decisions:

Three Times in which a Sound and Good Choice May Be Made

The first time is when God Our Lord so moves and attracts the will that, without doubting or being able to doubt, the devout soul follows what is shown to it, as St. Paul and St. Matthew did in following Christ our Lord.

The second time is when sufficient clarity and understanding is received through experience of consolations and desolations, and through experience of discernment of different spirits.

The third time is one of tranquility, when one considers first for what purpose man is born, that is, to praise God our Lord and save his soul, and, desiring this, chooses as a means to this end some life or state within the bounds of the Church, so that he may be helped in the service of his Lord and the salvation of his soul. I said a tranquil time, that is, when the soul is not agitated by different spirits, and uses its natural powers freely and tranquilly.

If the choice is not made in the first or second time, two ways of making it in this third time are given below.”


Father Timothy M. Gallagher, O.M.V., was ordained in 1979 as a member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, a religious community dedicated to retreats and spiritual formation according to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.  Fr. Gallagher is featured on the EWTN series “Living the Discerning Life:  The Spiritual Teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola”. For more information on how to obtain copies of Fr. Gallaghers’s various books and audio which are available for purchase, please visit  his  website:   frtimothygallagher.org

For the other episodes in this series check out Fr. Timothy Gallagher’s “Discerning Hearts” page

DWG6 – Understanding Marriage and Priesthood – The Discernment of God’s Will in Everyday Decisions with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast


Understanding Marriage and Priesthood – “What am I to do?” The Discernment of God’s Will in Everyday Decisions with Fr. Timothy Gallagher

Fr. Timothy Gallagher and Kris McGregor discuss the discernment of vocations, focusing primarily on marriage and priesthood/religious life. Marriage is a natural vocation inherent in human nature, while priesthood and religious life are supernatural callings. Fr. Gallagher notes that both vocations entail a spousal gift of self and fruitfulness, whether through physical or spiritual means.

Using various stories, Fr. Gallagher showcases how some individuals inherently know their vocation to marriage without doubt, while others discern it through experiences and a deepening understanding of Christian marriage, advising those discerning marriage to deepen their Christian formation and human maturity.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. Reflecting on the Nature of Vocations: How does Fr. Gallagher describe the distinction between natural vocations, such as marriage, and supernatural callings, like priesthood or religious life? How does he emphasize the importance of understanding these distinctions in discernment?
  2. Understanding the Sacrament of Marriage: What insights does Fr. Gallagher offer regarding the sacramentality of marriage? How does he explain the significance of marriage as a symbol of Christ’s love for the Church?
  3. Discerning the Call to Marriage: Based on the examples provided by Fr. Gallagher, what are some indicators that suggest an individual may be called to the vocation of marriage? How does he suggest deepening one’s understanding of marriage as a vocation?
  4. Deepening Christian Consciousness of Marriage: Fr. Gallagher emphasizes the importance of transitioning from a secular understanding of marriage to a Christian consciousness. How can individuals cultivate this deeper understanding, and why is it crucial in the discernment process?
  5. Growing in Human Formation: In what ways does Fr. Gallagher suggest individuals can grow in their emotional and human maturity? How might this growth contribute to a healthier and more fulfilling marriage?
  6. Gratitude for Vocations: Reflecting on Fr. Gallagher’s closing remarks, how can we express gratitude for the vocation of marriage and the gift of life provided by our parents? How does this gratitude inform our understanding of marriage as a call to holiness within the Church?

From The Discernment of God’s Will in Everyday Decisions:

Three Times in which a Sound and Good Choice May Be Made

The first time is when God Our Lord so moves and attracts the will that, without doubting or being able to doubt, the devout soul follows what is shown to it, as St. Paul and St. Matthew did in following Christ our Lord.

The second time is when sufficient clarity and understanding is received through experience of consolations and desolations, and through experience of discernment of different spirits.

The third time is one of tranquility, when one considers first for what purpose man is born, that is, to praise God our Lord and save his soul, and, desiring this, chooses as a means to this end some life or state within the bounds of the Church, so that he may be helped in the service of his Lord and the salvation of his soul. I said a tranquil time, that is, when the soul is not agitated by different spirits, and uses its natural powers freely and tranquilly.

If the choice is not made in the first or second time, two ways of making it in this third time are given below.”


Father Timothy M. Gallagher, O.M.V., was ordained in 1979 as a member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, a religious community dedicated to retreats and spiritual formation according to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.  Fr. Gallagher is featured on the EWTN series “Living the Discerning Life:  The Spiritual Teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola”. For more information on how to obtain copies of Fr. Gallaghers’s various books and audio which are available for purchase, please visit  his  website:   frtimothygallagher.org

For the other episodes in this series check out Fr. Timothy Gallagher’s “Discerning Hearts” page

DWG7 – Understanding God’s Will – The Discernment of God’s Will in Everyday Decisions with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast


Understanding God’s Will – “What am I to do?” The Discernment of God’s Will in Everyday Decisions with Fr. Timothy Gallagher

Fr. Timothy Gallagher and Kris McGregor go into the process of discerning one’s vocation, this time focusing on the call to marriage. They discuss the importance of deepening one’s understanding of marriage as a Christian vocation and the significance of spiritual, human, and Christian formation in this journey. Fr. Gallagher talks about the need for growth in emotional maturity, spiritual life, and prayer, as well as seeking guidance and participating in retreats and community support.

They also touch upon the challenges presented by contemporary cultural conditions in dating and social interactions, highlighting the importance of healing and strengthening oneself before entering into the discernment process. Fr. Gallagher shares insights from St. Ignatius of Loyola’s spiritual exercises, outlining three modes of discernment: clarity beyond doubting, attraction of the heart, and a preponderance of reasons. They illustrate these modes with personal stories and scriptural examples; the importance of trust in God’s providence and seeking guidance from spiritual directors or companions.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. Understanding Marriage as a Christian Vocation: How can you deepen your understanding of marriage as a specifically Christian vocation?
  2. Emotional and Spiritual Formation: In what areas of your emotional and spiritual life do you feel you need growth or healing to prepare for discerning your vocation?
  3. Cultural Challenges in Dating: How do you navigate the challenges presented by contemporary cultural conditions in dating and social interactions as a faithful Catholic?
  4. Modes of Discernment: Reflect on times in your life when you have experienced clarity beyond doubting, attraction of the heart, or a preponderance of reasons in discerning God’s will.
  5. Trusting God’s Providence: How can you cultivate trust in God’s providence as you discern your vocation, especially in times of uncertainty or struggle?

From The Discernment of God’s Will in Everyday Decisions:

Three Times in which a Sound and Good Choice May Be Made

The first time is when God Our Lord so moves and attracts the will that, without doubting or being able to doubt, the devout soul follows what is shown to it, as St. Paul and St. Matthew did in following Christ our Lord.

The second time is when sufficient clarity and understanding is received through experience of consolations and desolations, and through experience of discernment of different spirits.

The third time is one of tranquility, when one considers first for what purpose man is born, that is, to praise God our Lord and save his soul, and, desiring this, chooses as a means to this end some life or state within the bounds of the Church, so that he may be helped in the service of his Lord and the salvation of his soul. I said a tranquil time, that is, when the soul is not agitated by different spirits, and uses its natural powers freely and tranquilly.

If the choice is not made in the first or second time, two ways of making it in this third time are given below.”


Father Timothy M. Gallagher, O.M.V., was ordained in 1979 as a member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, a religious community dedicated to retreats and spiritual formation according to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.  Fr. Gallagher is featured on the EWTN series “Living the Discerning Life:  The Spiritual Teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola”. For more information on how to obtain copies of Fr. Gallaghers’s various books and audio which are available for purchase, please visit  his  website:   frtimothygallagher.org

For the other episodes in this series check out Fr. Timothy Gallagher’s “Discerning Hearts” page

DWG8 – Two Modes of Discernment – The Discernment of God’s Will in Everyday Decisions with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Two Modes of Discernment – “What am I to do?” The Discernment of God’s Will in Everyday Decisions with Fr. Timothy Gallagher

Fr. Timothy Gallagher and Kris McGregor discuss the first two modes of discernment. The first mode involves receiving clarity beyond doubting, where individuals experience an unquestionable sense of God’s call. Examples include Anne and Gary, who had unshakeable clarity in their vocations. Seeking guidance from a spiritual director is encouraged in such discernment.

The second mode, discernment through the attraction of the heart, involves recognizing spiritual consolation and desolation. Spiritual consolation is marked by an uplifting sense of God’s presence, joy, and increased faith, hope, and charity. Examples from the lives of individuals like Raïssa Maritain and St. Thérèse of Lisieux illustrate this. On the other hand, spiritual desolation is characterized by heaviness, doubt, and a sense of separation from God.

Fr. Gallagher reminds us of the importance of recognizing and rejecting spiritual desolation’s discouraging tactics. St. Ignatius’s own experience regarding the vow of poverty illustrates discernment through attraction, where sustained experiences of spiritual consolation lead to clarity in discerning God’s will.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. Discerning God’s Call: How can we discern God’s will in our lives amidst the various choices and decisions we face?
  2. Spiritual Consolation and Desolation: What are some ways we can differentiate between spiritual consolation and desolation in our own spiritual experiences?
  3. Seeking Guidance: Why is it important to seek guidance from a wise spiritual director or mentor, especially during significant discernments?
  4. Recognizing God’s Voice: In what ways can we become more attuned to God’s voice and guidance in our lives, particularly during times of discernment?
  5. Patterns in Spiritual Experience: How can we recognize patterns in our spiritual experiences, such as consistent inclinations towards certain choices during times of consolation?
  6. Revisiting Spiritual Teachings: Why is it beneficial to revisit and deepen our understanding of spiritual teachings, such as those outlined in St. Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises?

From The Discernment of God’s Will in Everyday Decisions:

Three Times in which a Sound and Good Choice May Be Made

The first time is when God Our Lord so moves and attracts the will that, without doubting or being able to doubt, the devout soul follows what is shown to it, as St. Paul and St. Matthew did in following Christ our Lord.

The second time is when sufficient clarity and understanding is received through experience of consolations and desolations, and through experience of discernment of different spirits.

The third time is one of tranquility, when one considers first for what purpose man is born, that is, to praise God our Lord and save his soul, and, desiring this, chooses as a means to this end some life or state within the bounds of the Church, so that he may be helped in the service of his Lord and the salvation of his soul. I said a tranquil time, that is, when the soul is not agitated by different spirits, and uses its natural powers freely and tranquilly.

If the choice is not made in the first or second time, two ways of making it in this third time are given below.”


Father Timothy M. Gallagher, O.M.V., was ordained in 1979 as a member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, a religious community dedicated to retreats and spiritual formation according to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.  Fr. Gallagher is featured on the EWTN series “Living the Discerning Life:  The Spiritual Teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola”. For more information on how to obtain copies of Fr. Gallaghers’s various books and audio which are available for purchase, please visit  his  website:   frtimothygallagher.org

For the other episodes in this series check out Fr. Timothy Gallagher’s “Discerning Hearts” page

DWG9 – Second Mode of Discernment – The Discernment of God’s Will in Everyday Decisions with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Second Mode of Discernment – “What am I to do?” The Discernment of God’s Will in Everyday Decisions with Fr. Timothy Gallagher

Fr. Timothy Gallagher and Kris McGregor discuss the second mode of discernment according to St. Ignatius of Loyola. This mode involves a consistent attraction of the heart toward one option over a period of time, particularly during spiritual consolation.

They examine an experience from St. Ignatius’s life where he discerned whether the Jesuits should continue living in radical poverty. Ignatius sought God’s guidance through Mass for 40 consecutive days, experiencing spiritual consolation and a consistent inclination toward radical poverty until the 40th day, when he faced spiritual desolation and doubts.

Fr. Gallagher reminds us of the importance of spiritual guidance in discernment, noting that it’s a process over time rather than a single moment of clarity. He illustrates this mode with the stories of Richard, who discerned a call to Jesuit life, and Jessica, who felt drawn to religious life over time.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. Understanding Second Mode Discernment: How does St. Ignatius describe the second mode of discernment, and what are its key components?
  2. Ignatius’s Experience and its Significance: Reflect on Ignatius of Loyola’s discernment regarding the vow of poverty. What significance does his experience hold for understanding second mode discernment?
  3. Spiritual Consolation and Desolation: How does Fr. Gallagher differentiate between spiritual consolation and desolation in the context of discernment?
  4. The Role of Spiritual Guidance: What is the importance of seeking spiritual guidance in the discernment process, according to Fr. Gallagher?
  5. Pattern of Consistent Attraction: Discuss the significance of experiencing a consistent attraction toward one option over time in discernment according to the second mode.
  6. Richard’s Discernment Journey: Analyze Richard’s discernment process. How did his experience exemplify second mode discernment?
  7. Jessica’s Experience: Reflect on Jessica’s discernment journey. How did her story illustrate the consistent attraction of the heart over time?
  8. Comparison with First Mode Discernment: Compare and contrast first mode discernment with second mode discernment, considering aspects like clarity and doubt.
  9. Challenges and Resolving Conflicts: Explore the challenges individuals might face when their desires conflict with the attractions of the heart in discernment. How can these conflicts be resolved?
  10. The Importance of Time in Discernment: Fr. Gallagher emphasizes the significance of giving discernment the time it needs. Reflect on the importance of patience and perseverance in the discernment process.

From The Discernment of God’s Will in Everyday Decisions:

Three Times in which a Sound and Good Choice May Be Made

The first time is when God Our Lord so moves and attracts the will that, without doubting or being able to doubt, the devout soul follows what is shown to it, as St. Paul and St. Matthew did in following Christ our Lord.

The second time is when sufficient clarity and understanding is received through experience of consolations and desolations, and through experience of discernment of different spirits.

The third time is one of tranquility, when one considers first for what purpose man is born, that is, to praise God our Lord and save his soul, and, desiring this, chooses as a means to this end some life or state within the bounds of the Church, so that he may be helped in the service of his Lord and the salvation of his soul. I said a tranquil time, that is, when the soul is not agitated by different spirits, and uses its natural powers freely and tranquilly.

If the choice is not made in the first or second time, two ways of making it in this third time are given below.”


Father Timothy M. Gallagher, O.M.V., was ordained in 1979 as a member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, a religious community dedicated to retreats and spiritual formation according to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.  Fr. Gallagher is featured on the EWTN series “Living the Discerning Life:  The Spiritual Teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola”. For more information on how to obtain copies of Fr. Gallaghers’s various books and audio which are available for purchase, please visit  his  website:   frtimothygallagher.org

For the other episodes in this series check out Fr. Timothy Gallagher’s “Discerning Hearts” page

DWG10 – “What am I to do?” The Discernment of God’s Will in Everyday Decisions w/Fr. Timothy Gallagher

Father_TimEpisode 10 “What am I to do?” The Discernment of God’s Will in Everyday Decisions w/Fr. Timothy Gallagher.

In this episode with Fr. Gallagher,  we can continue our conservation on  “The Second Mode” of discernment.  In particular, we discuss the role of the spiritual director.  We then begin discussing “The Third Mode”.

St.-Ignatius-3

For other episodes in the series visit The Discerning Hearts “Discerning the Will of God” page

Father Timothy M. Gallagher, O.M.V., was ordained in 1979 as a member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, a religious community dedicated to retreats and spiritual formation according to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.  Fr. Gallagher is featured on the EWTN series “Living the Discerning Life:  The Spiritual Teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola”.

For more information on how to obtain copies of Fr. Gallaghers’s various books and audio which are available for purchase, please visit  his  website:   frtimothygallagher.org

For the other episodes in this series check out Fr. Timothy Gallagher’s “Discerning Hearts” page