Monday, November 19, 2012

Thinking through Discernment

The other day I found myself in awe of and grateful for an after-dinner conversation with St Francis House students. For my own remembering and for benefit of others, this post is simply the questions and observations in note-form from that conversation, on the topic of discernment.

What is discernment?

From the dictionary:
The ability to judge well.

Synonyms:discrimination - perspicacity - acumen - judgement

Observation: discernment in the Church usually indicates a formal process, most frequently centered around ordination; but the benefit of such a process for those not seeking ordination is also apparent.

What does it mean to be discerning, generally?

Give an example of a time you exhibited discernment.

What role did God and/or faith play in this particular discernment process in your life?

What are some obstacles to discernment?

What scriptural images come to mind when you think of discernment?

How do these images shape us as Christians toward faithful discernment?

What is the role of the community of faith in/for discernment?

What constitutes a successful life?

MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

- Thomas Merton, "Thoughts in Solitude"

A hymn-response to our conversation, selected by a student:

Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy,
Whose trust, ever childlike, no cares can destroy,
Be there at our waking, and give us, we pray,
Your bliss in our hearts, Lord, at the break of the day.

Lord of all eagerness, Lord of all faith,
Whose strong hands were skilled at the plane and the lathe,
Be there at our labors, and give us, we pray,
Your strength in our hearts, Lord at the noon of the day.

Lord of all kindliness, Lord of all grace,
Your hands swift to welcome, your arms to embrace,
Be there at our homing, and give us, we pray,
Your love in our hearts, Lord, at the eve of the day.

Lord of all gentleness, Lord of all calm,
Whose voice is contentment, whose presence is balm,
Be there at our sleeping, and give us, we pray,
Your peace in our hearts, Lord, at the end of the day. 

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