Making the most of a Discernment Retreat
Monday, November 23, 2009 by Fr. Santo Arrigo C.Ss.R.

What can I tell you about Discernment?

In short, Discernment is NOT Decision Making!

When we make a decision, we weigh the pros and cons of a choice and see which option we will do. It is very much a methodical, or mental exercise.

Discernment seeks understanding and clarity of options, but uses the heart instead of the mind to move towards a decision.

One way to think of it is to come to understand God’s will for us. God’s heart wants to speak to our heart. Taking time to discern and pray, allows us to stop ourselves from over thinking, and allow God to speak to us. Decision making is an act that we do with our minds. Discernment is the opportunity for us to see with our hearts the mind and heart of God.

Are we to just figure out what God has planned for us? Or does God give us some space to make the final decision?

God moves our hearts. Sometimes, we are slow to listen, and often misunderstand what is being spoken of inside of us. God invites us to live the mission of our baptism through the gift of a vocation. How we are called to live that baptismal call will depend upon us, our discernment, and the gifts that we have been given. God cooperates with our free will. If we give over to the opportunity to discern, and eventually come to a sense of peace, then we are probably in the right place. Peacefulness is often a good sign that we are coming close to know the mind and heart of God.

God knows us better than we know ourselves. We have to let God into the conversation!

Therefore, we need to make prayer an important part of our life, as well as keeping a journal, spiritual reading, and spiritual direction.

St. Alphonsus Liguori, our Founder, had incredible insight into how we are called to be in relationship with God, and how we might come to know and understand God’s will for us. Firstly, we need to understand our relationship with God as a friendship. Secondly, Jesus came to save us out of love, not out of condemnation. Thirdly, we need to open ourselves to talk with God as a we would our best friend, and allow our will to dialogue with God’s will.

May God bless you during this time of retreat!

Fr. Santo Arrigo C.Ss.R.
Coordinator of Redemptorist Vocation Ministry

Prayer of St. Alphonsus to the Holy Spirit

Spirit of God, you made Mary full of grace and set the hearts of the apostles aflame.
You are the Spirit of God. Be my strength against evil.
You are fire. Make me bright with love.
You are light. Give me insight into what really matters.
You are a dove. Give me purity of heart.
You are a breath that is full of sweetness. Temper the storms within and around me.
You are a tongue. Teach me to praise you without ceasing.
You are a cloud. Cover me in the shadow of your protection.
You are the giver of heaven’s choicest gifts. Give them to me in abundance.
Grant that I may love you always, then, do with me as you will.
St. Alphonsus, pray for me.
Our Mother of Perpetual Help, pray for me.

“Your God is ever at your side – indeed, within you.”

St. Alphonsus Liguori
Conversing with God as a Friend, # 8


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