INTERNAL STRUGGLE – DISCERNING THE WAY AHEAD
‘What disturbs me inwardly and makes me troubled does not come from God, whose Spirit always brings with it freedom and great peace.’ (Mary Ward)
‘God loves light; the enemy is darkness, what troubles the soul is not from God.’ (Teresa Ball)
We have all made important decisions in our lives – for example, the decision to enter a religious order or change the direction of our lives. The way to a final decision can be a long journey. Looking back, we can see clearly how God has led us along the path to a decision which brings us peace. We can name what led us to God along the way and where we took a detour. Mary Ward and Teresa Ball also had to make many decisions in their lives and used Ignatian discernment to come to a place of freedom and peace.
Apart from the big life decisions, we are faced with many small decisions in our daily lives. This is where our spirituality can help and guide us. I (Katharina Maria) work in a psychiatric clinic. I constantly have to decide how much attention each patient gets. Besides the needs of the individual patient, it is also important to see what resources are available and what signal the decision sends to other patients. I (Nathalie) work in a parish and often have to make decisions based on opposing or contradictory opinions of different people in the parish. All of them claim to base their decisions on their faith. Where to find God’s voice in the many voices?
Despite discernment, we do not always decide correctly. In his message for the Ignatian Year, Pope Francis emphasizes that discernment does not mean always being successful from the start. ‘It’s rather about navigating, about having a compass to be able to set out on the road which has many twists and turns and letting oneself be guided always by the Holy Spirit who is leading us to an encounter with the Lord.’ Other people we meet along the way can be signposts through whom God wants to speak to us. It is worth looking for such signposts – even where we might not expect them, the Pope says.
Mary Ward and Teresa Ball made decisions that had an impact beyond their lives. Today we try to live their vision. In doing so, we may go forward courageously and be merciful to ourselves if a decision we have made turns not the right course of action. We may trust that God can make something good out of everything we hold out to him.
Where do I have to make decisions in my everyday life and what helps me to discern God’s voice among the many voices?
Where do I experience other people as signposts on the way to a good decision?
Sr Katharina Maria Bald CJ, Sr Nathalie Korf CJ – Middle European Province/Germany