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Discernment: What is it?

Discernment is basically taking time in prayer to discover God's call in your life. It's a time to not only think seriously about what you may be feeling called to do, but also to take some serious time and learn the skills of "seeing with the eyes of your heart" so you can choose life in God. Discernment is prayerful listening. It's an intentional process of reflection that focuses on how God's spirit is calling. No two discernment processes are the same, but the general steps are and the following are basic guidelines that can help you on your journey.

If you are to listen to God, PRAYER is essential. You need to take time to be in conversation with God, to ask God for help and guidance. The other part of this conversation is to also LISTENING. I encourage the use of a journal to write down the prayer experience, what you're thinking, feeling, noticing, etc.

Discernment is more than these basic four steps, but in general, these four movements take place:

Questions to ask yourself: Has anyone ever suggested that I might want to consider being a sister? Has someone invited me to be active in ministry? Has anyone recognized gifts and talents in me and called them forth? Do I acknowledge that these voices could be the voice of God? What do I hear? To whom am I listening? How much time do I spend in prayer?
Questions to ask yourself: What are my gifts? Where am I best suited? What motives are driving me in my choices? Where am I resisting God's invitation? What about this situation gives me life or energy? Am I willing to sacrifice my own comfort? If so, to what degree? What am I willing to give up? What am I not willing to give up? What about this situation do I need to talk over with someone who has more experience than I do and who knows me well? What about this situation do I need to take more time in prayer with?
Questions to ask yourself: What is the most loving choice I can make? What is the choice that will help your prayer, your relationship with God, your questions, your fears.
Questions to ask yourself: What is happening within myself since making this decision: Is there peace, even in the midst of some doubts? What happens when I share my choice with other people? How do I understand negative responses that within me? This step is the critical step in the process. The key in discernment is coming to a sense of PEACE within yourself and the decision you made.

*Sources: Lowe: Vision 2007; Mastin, VMMA (is now known as Religious Life Wisconsin) 2011.

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Discernment: What is it?

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