Movement this evening: Change gear and gratitudes; reflecting on ourselves; some cultural norms; making decisions in collaboration with God; closing with an Examen.
Decisions are a continual part of life. 1:13 to 3:54 What influenced his decision not to ‘cut Teddy’?!
Am I a hasty or hesitant decider? A hasty decider tends to jump too quickly to a decision and without thoroughly discerning. A hesitant decider drags their feet, usually because the decision requires an uncomfortable choice.
In each case, the ‘bad spirit’ will try to take advantage of my particular weakness. Note on the meaning of ‘bad spirit’, from https://www.ignatianspirituality.com/making-good-decisions/discernment-of-spirits/introduction-to-discernment-of-spirits
‘Ignatius believed that (our) interior movements were caused by “good spirits” and “evil spirits.” We want to follow the action of a good spirit and reject the action of an evil spirit. Discernment of spirits is a way to understand God’s will or desire for us in our life. Talk of good and evil spirits may seem foreign to us. Psychology gives us other names for what Ignatius called good and evil spirits. Yet Ignatius’s language is useful because it recognizes the reality of evil. Evil is both greater than we are and part of who we are. Our hearts are divided between good and evil impulses. To call these “spirits” simply recognizes the spiritual dimension of this inner struggle.’
See TedTalk by Sheena Iyengar on the art of choosing https://www.ted.com/talks/sheena_iyengar_on_the_art_of_choosing
Standaert: Our culture of self-determination means that people want to make more decisions themselves; are able to make more decisions; and have to make more decisions. ‘Self-determination has become a life mission’. p35
Choice is seen as central to our identity. It is not universal or the only way. Yet we are invited into a different narrative where we are not alone in our decision-making.
Decision dice – spotted in Readings.
Decision dice: What is your response to this? At least it attempts to include some ‘ways’ to make decisions. It also shows how much we struggle with decision-making and suggests there is a hunger and desire in our culture to make decisions wisely.
A short video on this is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=In8zcAa3jP0
Who do you know who inspires you with how they make decisions and focus their choices?
Ignatius insists that our love for Christ ought to show itself in actions rather than in words . However, we are called to be discerning and to make decisions in collaboration with God.
We are talking here about decisions between two ‘good’ things, not between good and bad. The goal is always to find what is more pleasing to God in my particular case (we are each unique!). We are invited to discover that which is most life-giving for me and for the world.
God wants to be involved in your decision-making. Collaboration with God is key to making good decisions. The Ignatian tradition is concerned with ‘discerning love made concrete in apostolic action that embodies the original spirit, gives flesh to the word’ (Joseph Veale SJ).
The ‘loving collaboration’ model of discernment involves an ongoing and increasing intimacy with Jesus who is active in the world.
Spiritual freedom is when God’s spirit brings us to an affective equilibrium neither to do nor reject some activity unless one recognizes that God’s Spirit is moving us to do this or reject that. We often become aware of our attachments when we are trying to make a decision!
The rich young man Matthew 19:16-22 16 Then someone came to him and said, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; 19 Honor your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “I have kept all these;[b] what do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money[c] to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
Jesus in the Garden Jesus struggles with his desire to avoid the suffering he knows awaits him but he is able to surrender freely to God. How is this possible? Notice how he wrestles with this in prayer. Notice too that his surrender is not dutiful, without feeling, but emerges from his deep love for the Father and knowledge that he is loved in return.
Matthew 26:36-46 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. Then he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.” And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.” Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again he went away for the second time and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” Again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.”
Conversation in groups – what is your response to these biblical stories?
These suggestions are drawn from Ignatius’ wisdom on how we can respond when we become aware of our unfreedom or ‘disordered’ attachments. Disordered attachments are the things that get in the way of being available to God. See this link for more: https://www.ignatianspirituality.com/25828/what-is-an-unhealthy-attachment
We will return to this theme in September.
Discernment examen from ‘Reimagining the Examen’ by Mark Thibodeaux. Handouts supplied.
Music: Deep calls to deep, by Mary Kathryn Lyrics: Deep calls to deep And my soul finds no resting place but Him He is my God The yearning of my soul His touch can still And each rare moment I felt His presence I shall remember and forever cherish Deep calls to deep And at His feast I am a welcomed guest He gives me food The hunger of my soul is laid to rest And each rare moment I felt His presence I shall remember and forever cherish Deep calls to deep For He created me to be His own He understands The joy of pain and life He too has known And each rare moment I felt His presence I shall remember and forever cherish.
Cafechurch Making Good Decisions part 1
Making good decisions
Tuesday 21st August 2018
How do I generally make decisions?
• How have I made significant decisions in my life so far? What has
guided my decision-making?
• Of those significant decisions, how have I made the ones that have
brought me life? Those that have been destructive?
• What does this tell me about the way to make good decisions?
One cultural paradigm
Self-determination has become a life mission.
Some (American/western) cultural assumptions:
• If a choice affects you, then you should be the one to make it.
• The more choices you have, the more likely you are to make the best
• You must never say no to choice, including when it involves life or
death decisions. Research shows that having this choice can make
the outcome harder to live with afterwards, but people in our culture
still want to have the choice.
Values Based Decision Making
• Our values shape our decisions about priorities in
• Our goals and life purpose are grounded in our
• What we value determines what life means to us and
what actions we take.
A graced collaboration with God
Ignatian spirituality is taking
your holy desires
to serve God,
and transforming them into action
in everyday life.
Becoming more spiritually free
To recognize how God is moving our heart, we need to be
spiritually free, that is, willing to follow God’s call. This freedom is
God’s gift: but we can ask for it and open ourselves to receive it.
Mt 19:16-22 The rich young man
Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the
money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When
the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
Mt 26: 39-46 Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane
Then he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake
with me.” And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, “My
Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.”
Becoming more spiritually free
What can we do when we realize our lack of freedom ie. a
disordered attachment which distorts our decision-making?
• Be honest: name and own your attachments
• Hold yourself as if you are spiritually free and the attachment is
• Pray for the opposite, asking God to transform your feelings and