In a new book, Jesuit Father Joseph Tetlow makes a case for a wider and more deliberate practice of discernment, not only for the big decisions in life, but for the smaller, more mundane ones too.
Although it’s an old practice, Father Tetlow writes in Always Discerning: An Ignatian Spirituality for the New Millennium that discernment is a highly practical way for modern Christians to pray in the new millennium, to recognize God’s will in our lives and respond to it faithfully.
“People mean a lot of things when they talk about discernment,” he writes. “But the word names a distinctive experience – rich, clear, and deep in varying degrees. Discernment is more or less consciously employed when we are trying to reach meaning, or judgment, or decision and action. People who do not approach their lives with much conscious, spiritual intent will tend to discern only when something important comes up. Those who are more spiritually practiced will recognize that the experience we call discernment shapes ordinary incidents in daily life.”
Father Tetlow, a spiritual director and retreat leader, writes that discernment can be part of Christians’ daily lives. He draws on Scripture, the words of Pope Francis and Ignatian spirituality to show the interconnectedness between what one feels in the heart and knows in the head to make good decisions.
In his varied Jesuit career, Father Tetlow has taught university-level history and spiritual theology and led the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. He was editor at America House, and has been a writer, lecturer and spiritual director for both laity and clergy. He is considered a leading authority on Ignatian spirituality
The 86-year-old New Orleans native currently is retreat director at Our Lady of the Oaks Retreat House in Grand Coteau, La.
The book, published by Loyola Press, is available in paperback for $14.95. It can be ordered on the Loyola Press website.
The Ignatian Spirituality Program of Denver offers Ignatian group retreats, individual spiritual direction, the Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life, and trains spiritual directors and guides of the Spiritual Exercises.