Monday, January 08, 2007

Prayer and discernment

On this solemnity, the Baptism of the Lord, it seems fitting to talk about prayer. The Baptism of Jesus was the beginning of His visible, earthly work, and in this new liturgical year, which began with the first day of Advent, we have a chance for a new beginning in our earthly work as well.

Recently, I was praying about and attempting to discern God's will in several areas of my life. I headed out to a holy hour at church, and took with me a book by Fr. John Hardon, A Retreat with the Lord: A Popular Guide to the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of
, which I borrowed from my spiritual director an embarrassing six years ago.

In the book, I found a quick guide to discernment. St. Ignatius urges us to examine the people and things in our lives, and to ask God for His guidance concerning where they fall in one of these four categories:

  • Things/people God wants us to enjoy
  • Things/people God wants us to endure (or suffer)
  • Things/people God wants us to remove (because they lead us to sin)
  • Things/people God wants us to sacrifice (willingly give up, even though they don't lead us to sin)

I wanted to share this, because I found it immensely helpful in discerning several things, from the seemingly small issue of how to spend my limited online time, to larger issues with which I was wrestling.

I hope that this simple exercise in prayer and priorities will be helpful to you, too.


Jennifer said...

That is giving me a lot to think about. I am going to be questioning how a lot of aspects of my life fit into these categories. What a post!

Margaret in Minnesota said...

Let's hear about those larger issues!

Only teasing. Certainly we all have them and from time to time, yes, we blog about them.

Wonderful post. Very Helpful List.

The Bookworm said...

Yes, very helpful. I need to do some discerning about things in particular.

Kristen Laurence said...

These are great questions, sort of an overall conscience examination. I'm printing them for my own use. Thank you!

Jennifer said...

Thank you for listing these, the four points are are very thought provoking.