Have you ever had to discern something? Tami Kiser takes a lesson in the Ignatian way of discernment and finds a new way to follow God’s will for her life.
A few months ago, I discerned that I needed discernment. In other words, I realized that I had a big decision to make, and I should take it to prayer.
After I prayed for several days and did not get any answer, I thought I'd better up my game. I decided to really take it to prayer this time and use the Ignatian 14 Rules for Discernment. Isn’t that what “spiritual people” do? I really liked the idea of following 14 simple rules and “viola!”—my answer would be apparent. This is what I thought discernment was: weighing pros and cons and with God’s help coming up with an answer.
If you have ever studied these 14 Rules of Ignatian Discernment, you probably are shaking your head at me right now. They don’t work like that, which I quickly found out.
I diligently studied the 14 Rules by taking an online course and reading a couple of books. And even though I did not get my formulaic way to make a decision like I was expecting, I did gain incredible spiritual wisdom and perhaps another way.
Basically, St. Ignatius gave these 14 Rules of Discernment so that people could judge the feelings, stirrings, or signals that they have to tell if it's a Good Spirit, like one from God, or a Bad Spirit, like from a demon.
Have you ever heard a small voice saying, “You should try to go to Mass today.” Or maybe one that says, “Praying like this in the morning is a waste of time, you have better things to do.” These can be examples of a spirit speaking to you.
Fr. Timothy Gallagher, who taught the course I took, says, “We have alternating moods, but they are full of spiritual meaning.”
Having taken this course, I am trying to pay more attention to these “moods or stirrings” in my heart. I have learned to stop and listen more closely. Just being able to consider certain messages like “praying is a waste of time” to see where that might be coming from has been helpful to stop these lies in their tracks. As I also learned, the bad spirit always tells lies.
I’m nowhere close to doing this all of the time, but that’s my goal. It’s like always seeking to find Jesus and doing God’s will.
Fr. Gallaher observes,
We are capable of doing God’s will once we properly discern it. Learning to interpret our feelings/emotions is one of the best ways to discern God’s will for our choices in life. St. Ignatius believed that God deals directly with us. He works in our minds and our feelings.
So maybe I will get that answer I sought out in the first place. I just need to keep close to Jesus, making one decision at a time, both big and small.
Speaking of trying to make the right decisions, on a recent podcast, I look at what it would be like if Saint Martha and Saint Mary in the event at Bethany had followed this Ignatian discernment process. You can listen right here, or on Spotify and wherever you find your podcasts.
Copyright 2023 Tami Kiser
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About the Author
Tami Kiser is a wife, mother, teacher, author, and speaker. She runs a video production studio featuring Catholic speakers. These can be purchased or viewed on Formed. She also is the co-owner and host of a new Catholic Retreat and Cultural Center in the Carolina Mountains called Heart Ridge. She has taught everything from NFP, Zumba, cleaning toilets, Catholic crafting, the hula, bullet journaling, tap dancing, and liturgical living to Saxon Math 54 for the 10th time.