What is Discernment?

July 09, 2017


Discernment is a process by which we are helped to reach a decision in the light of faith and in the context of our personal reality and the realities of the world in which we live. Discernment involves trying to identify what is of God, what is for our full happiness and for others and distinguishing or separating that from what is not of God or from what is simply driven by my ego, societal expectations, family or peer pressure.

Some Helpful Hints

  • Keep in mind that discernment isn’t easy and it takes time – be patient with yourself and God! 
  • You may find it helpful to keep a journal so that you can record your thoughts and reflections.
  • Come to your process of discernment with an open heart – be prepared to be surprised by God!
  • Remember that choosing one way means letting go of another way – no matter how good is. It’s always hard to choose between two or more “goods”. 

Some Discernment Steps

  1. Place yourself in the presence of our loving God. Make some quiet time and special space for prayer and try not to fill the time with lots of words in your prayer. Listen to your heart and to God in the movements of the Holy Spirit in you. Reflect on your vocation. You may find it helpful to pray in the quietness of your room, in Church in front of the Blessed Sacrament or in the quietness of nature. Ask God to speak to your heart.
  2. Find a spiritual director or wise and trusted soul-friend – someone you can be really open and honest with – who can help you deepen your relationship with God and know yourself better. 
  3. Pray for freedom to understand and choose what is in harmony with God’s designs for you. 
  4. You may find it helpful to take a piece of paper and write down what you think are alternatives for you and then look at the appeal and the advantages or disadvantages of each one for you and for others. Consider your reasons for choosing a particular way. Which reasons best lead to your loving service of God and others? In relation to each alternative ask yourself again how you best need to be loved and how you can best love. 
  5. Realistically consider your gifts and limitations, your deep desires and needs and how they might fit well with possible life choices. 
  6. Listen to words of confirmation or affirmation from others in your process. 
  7. Where are you feeling peace? What most draws you close to God? 
  8. Gently and with patience come to a decision and in prayer and action search out further confirmation of your choice. Offer the fullness of your choice and life to God.




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