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Sunday, September 18, 2016

Discerment as a way of life

To continue to talk about my year in the Institute of Religious Formation which really changed my life and gave me new ministry.
We were in what we called, the IRF and we were IRFers!
1. It was a wonderful group of priests, brothers, and Religious from many different congregations. Many of them were in training to be Master or Mistress of Novices, Formation Directors, or just going into Spiritual Direction; we had a few who had been Provincial and were having this year to prepare for other ministry. The schedule was class all morning with our Jesuit Directors, Liturgy and social every Tuesday evening, faith-sharing groups that met in late afternoon or evening, and then workshops on week ends given by some of the best presenters brought from all over. Each of us also had spiritual direction with an approved person from a list. I had Father Tom Prag, S.J. and had the good fortune to have asked him to give me my first individually directed retreat before the IRF began and he also directed my 30-day retreat in Spain at the end of the course.
Discernment was taught and practiced by us all during the year. It is always learning to choose between two good choices. For me, the question is what does the Lord want me to choose? For this, one must really be indifferent and then pray. Sometimes we just know in prayer that this feels right and so the choice is clear. At other times we need to weigh the reasons for and against each choice and see what is more pleasing to the Lord and more in line with the Gospel. Other times we need to examine how the Lord has been leading us to know what is the better choice at this moment. Sometimes we think we have made the correct choice, but then something happens and it is not confirmed.
When I was doing the ongoing formation in Chile, I had to do what we call communal discernment with communities. Sometimes it would be about an important decision for the Province, other times it only involved the community. Sometimes, even after a good decision was reached, the circumstances would change or new information came to light that would not confirm the decision. It became a way of life for many of us and even today I take time to discern before agreeing to many things that are important in my life but may not be important to others. I want to do always what pleases Jesus; discernment is necessary to make the right choice.

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