Discernment is a word often used to refer to a process of making a decision or finding direction in one’s life. For those of us who have made a commitment of stability to the Benedictine life, discernment is a fundamental and on-going practice as we seek God in community. I would like to share some reflections on discernment with you.
Benedict begins his Rule or guide for life in community by encouraging each monk to “Listen … with the ear of your heart.” In The Rule of Benedict, Insights for the Ages, Joan Chittister, OSB, comments on this fundamental Benedictine stance toward all of life:
Benedict says, “Listen.” Pay attention to the instructions in this rule and attend to the important things in life. Let nothing go by without being open to being nourished by the inner meaning of that event in life.
Whether you are discerning a call to monastic life, a move into a new career path, or simply trying to be more faithful in listening for God’s movement and direction in your life, it may be helpful to take time to listen to and be nourished by the following thoughts from Inner Movements: The Practice of Discernment (Center for Spiritual Development, Orange, CA):
- God is interested in me and loves me.
- God wishes to deal directly with me and to communicate both love and direction.
- God’s revelation is such a pervasive reality in life that God can be found in all things.
- I am a unique individual and capable of seeking truth within myself, in prayer and through relationships.
- God has sent the Spirit to help me choose.
- Some choices are more helpful than others in building up the New Creation.
- God is greater than each of us and all of us together.
And, once again from Joan Chittister:
To the wise, it seems, life is not a series of events to be controlled.
Life is a way of walking through the universe whole and holy.