DWG10 – Steps in Spiritual Guidance – The Discernment of God’s Will in Everyday Decisions with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast

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

Fr. Timothy Gallagher and Kris McGregor continue the discussion on the three modes of discernment, using the example of Jessica, a woman discerning her religious vocation. Fr. Gallagher explains that Jessica experienced a consistent attraction toward religious life whenever she felt spiritual consolation, an example of St. Ignatius’s second mode of discernment.

The second mode involves recognizing a pattern of spiritual attraction over time. He also describes the necessary prerequisites for discernment, such as a disposition of heart open to God’s will and the use of spiritual means like prayer, scripture, and spiritual direction.

The conversation shifts to the third mode of discernment, which involves a “preponderance of reasons.” This mode is used when neither the first nor the second mode provides clarity. It involves listing and weighing the advantages and disadvantages of each option in a time of spiritual tranquility, always considering God’s greater glory.

Fr. Gallagher outlines how Ignatius approached this mode, seeking a time of peace, praying for guidance, and maintaining a disposition of openness to God’s will. Discernment requires ongoing spiritual formation and the support of a competent spiritual director.

Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. Understanding Attraction in Discernment: How have you experienced consistent spiritual attraction towards a particular vocation or life choice?
  2. Disposition of Heart: Are you truly open to accepting God’s will, whatever it may be?
  3. Use of Spiritual Means: How regularly do you engage in prayer, scripture reading, and seeking spiritual guidance?
  4. Recognizing Spiritual Consolation: Can you identify moments of spiritual consolation in your life, and what choices do they seem to draw you towards?
  5. Identifying Spiritual Desolation: Have you experienced spiritual desolation, and how has it influenced your discernment process?
  6. Importance of Spiritual Tranquility: Are you able to find a state of spiritual tranquility, free from strong emotional highs and lows, to aid in your discernment?
  7. Advantages and Disadvantages: How do you weigh the advantages and disadvantages of your options in terms of God’s greater glory?
  8. Seeking Confirmation: Do you seek confirmation from God through prayer that your discernment is aligned with His will?
  9. Role of Spiritual Direction: How can a competent spiritual director assist you in your discernment journey?
  10. Continuous Spiritual Formation: What steps are you taking for ongoing spiritual formation to better understand and follow God’s will?

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

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