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Making Good Decisions Part 3

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How do you make good decisions as a Christian who earnestly wants to collaborate with God? In this presentation, Anne Pate explores what the Ignatian tradition of Christian spirituality has to say.

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Making Good Decisions Part 3

  1. 1. Making good decisions - part 3 Cafechurch 13th November 2018 Anne Pate
  2. 2. Christ Has No Body Now But Yours (featuring Josh Garrels) Porter’s Gate Worship Project Change Gear
  3. 3. Gratitudes
  4. 4. Christ Has No Body Christ has no body but yours, No hands, no feet on earth but yours, Yours are the eyes with which he looks Compassion on this world, Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good, Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, Yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now but yours, No hands, no feet on earth but yours, Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world. Christ has no body now on earth but yours. Teresa of Avila (1515–1582)
  5. 5. Characteristics of a good decision Discernment is about choosing to work with Christ in building the Kingdom, in my own unique way. Good decisions move us towards God, community and each other. Good decisions integrate different aspects of ourselves. They ring true with who we are. Good decisions bring a sense of harmony and peace – even if living out the decision is difficult or painful at times.
  6. 6. Preconditions for discernment • I desire to make a choice that helps me to serve God in the best possible way. • I have a regular prayer life in which I seek to grow closer to the God who desires to grow closer to me. • The decision is between two ‘good’ options: eg. do I join religious life, or do I get married? • I have a clear sense of the alternatives before me. • There is some ambiguity or obscurity involved: it is not immediately clear to me which choice is the one God is calling me to. • I make the decision in a time when I sense God’s presence and love. • I am as interiorly free as I can be from the influences of self-centredness, prejudices, fears, anxieties etc. which would prevent me from hearing how God is leading me.
  7. 7. Group conversation Bring to mind a decision that you face at this point in your life. • Am I clear on the options before me? • How will I involve God as I make this decision? • What factors do I need to take into account as I make this decision – eg. significance of the decision; impact on other people; my feelings; any constraints on the course of action open to me?
  8. 8. Three spiritual situations Ignatius describes three situations, in any of which a good decision can be made: • The ‘revelation’ time • Discerning interior movements • Making a decision using reason and active imagination
  9. 9. The revelation time ‘When God so moves and attracts the will that without doubting or being able to doubt, the faithful soul follows what is shown, just as St Paul and St Matthew did when they followed Christ our Lord.’ [175]
  10. 10. The revelation time • The person is shown, decisively and unambiguously, which course to follow. The response is one of assent. • Leaves no room for doubt • BUT: Not every experience which does not contain doubt is inspired by God. • Although Ignatius is not clear on this point, we ought to reflect on this experience and be discerning. • What kind of experience is meant here? Something dramatic, or a more ‘ordinary’ sense of conviction?
  11. 11. Discerning interior movements ‘When sufficient light and knowledge is received through experience of consolations and desolations, and through experience of the discernment of different spirits.’ [176]
  12. 12. Discerning interior movements • Discernment may unfold over a long period. • The deep influences of good and bad ‘spirits’ manifest themselves through the interplay of feelings, thoughts and imagination. • We reflect on the origins of these movements and the directions to which they lead us. • Good decisions may involve change, relinquishment and cost, which can lead to desolate reactions. • Ignatius’ Guidelines for Discernment of Spirits are invaluable here.
  13. 13. Using reason and active imagination ‘The Third Time is one of tranquility. One considers first of all the purpose for which as a human being one is born, namely to praise God our Lord and to save one’s soul. Desiring this, one chooses as a means some life or state within the bounds of the Church, in order to find in it a help to the service of one’s Lord and the salvation of one’s soul. I call this a ‘tranquil’ time in the sense that it is a situation when the soul is not moved by various spirits and has the free and tranquil use of her natural powers.’ [177]
  14. 14. Using reason and active imagination Using reason • I put before myself the matter about which I want to decide • I recall the need for freedom from disordered attachment • I pray that the Spirit will act in my will and in my mind • I prayerfully consider reasons for and against each of the alternatives • I evaluate these reasons and decisions ‘After I have gone over and pondered in this way every aspect of the matter in question, I will consider which alternative appears more reasonable. Then I must come to a decision in the matter under deliberation because of weightier motives presented to my reason, and not because of any sensual inclinations.’ [182] • I offer the decision to God, seeking confirmation.
  15. 15. Using reason and active imagination Using active imagination When we feel drawn to one of the alternatives, this way helps us to test whether our motive is truly the love of God or a rationalization of our ‘sensual inclinations’. • Advising another person whom I have never met before • Looking at my decision from the perspective of my death bed • Looking at my situation from the perspective of standing before God on the last day
  16. 16. In weighing the “lights” and “shadows” in the specific choices I face, these few basic questions may help: What feels like faith? What feels like fear? What feels like an act of love? What feels like a cry for love? What path leads to greater freedom? What path leads to self- enclosure? What choice calls me out of myself and orients me toward others? What choice might leave me isolated and self-involved? (Matt Malone SJ)

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