DWG11 – Three Modes of Discernment – The Discernment of God’s Will in Everyday Decisions with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Three 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 continue the discussion on St. Ignatius of Loyola’s three modes of discernment. The first mode is “clarity beyond doubting,” where a person has an unmistakable sense of certainty about God’s will. The second mode involves “attraction of the heart,” where spiritual consolation consistently attracts one to a specific option over time.

The third mode, “preponderance of reasons,” is used when the first two modes don’t provide clarity. This involves:

  1. Clearly identifying options.
  2. Gathering relevant data.
  3. Maintaining an open heart to both options.
  4. Evaluating advantages and disadvantages of each option in light of God’s greater glory.
  5. Reviewing reasons prayerfully to see which option has a greater preponderance of reasons.

Fr. Gallagher illustrates this with Patrick, who discerned whether to accept a full-time position in prison ministry. Through prayer, reflection, and spiritual guidance, Patrick used this method and gained clarity, which was confirmed by scripture and peace in his decision. This structured approach helps many people discern God’s will.

Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. Understanding Modes of Discernment: What are the three modes of discernment according to St. Ignatius of Loyola?
  2. Clarity Beyond Doubting: Have you ever experienced clarity beyond doubting in your discernment process?
  3. Attraction of the Heart: How do spiritual consolations guide you in discerning God’s will?
  4. Preponderance of Reasons: How can you apply the method of preponderance of reasons to your current decisions?
  5. Identifying Options: Are you clear about the options you are discerning between?
  6. Gathering Relevant Data: Do you have all the necessary information about each option?
  7. Maintaining Open Heart: Is your heart truly open to whichever option God may call you to choose?
  8. Evaluating Options: How do you evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of each option concerning God’s greater glory?
  9. Seeking Confirmation: How do you seek confirmation from God once you believe you’ve discerned His will?
  10. Role of Spiritual Guidance: How important is spiritual guidance in your 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

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