Discernment is a process of giving conscious attention to what we think and what we feel in relation to particular choices we are making. Discernment is the basis for the practical and experiential application of Ignatian Spirituality to every-day life. In order to make good decisions, we need to "read" the data available to us both in terms of factual information and also our feelings about what we know. Our immediate experience contains elements of both intellectual understanding and spiritual appreciation. Attention to these two components of our thought and feeling processes enables us to recognize and choose what is better rather than what is less good.
Individuals use discernment regularly to help them with large and small decisions. Groups also make use of principles of discernment to assist them in coming to agreement on matters of importance.
Fr. Randy Roche, SJ has written some Essays on Discernment in Decision-making that are contemporary applications of Ignatian principles of discernment. Essays on Discerning describe every-day experiences that relate to the "Rules for Discernment" which St. Ignatius of Loyola included in the text of The Spiritual Exercises.
For another treatment of "Discerning" see Jesuit Fr. John Veltri's website page: Discernment .
Photograph by David Niblack
Last Updated: 12/6/12