Divine Word Missionaries
Arnold Janssen Spirituality Center
Sr. Clarette Ramirez SSpS - 2005
"SSpS-women disciples of Jesus, the Missionary, living a contemplative attitude of discernment" is the theme of this recollection. We begin by going down to the level inside us where we are most ourselves-where "we live". Our goal is to literally share God's life in all God's mystery. This kind of union from moment to moment, in the most ordinary activity-not just in our prayer timers our desire. It touches everything we do, lets God share his life with us, and is also known as "doing God's will."
To do the will of someone is really to experience his person. Yet in our daily discernment we often find ourselves separating the will of God from the person of God. We tend to focus on rules and norms and commandments that give us direction to lead a good life. Yet, inside the heart of someone approaching discernment this way, one finds something different from what's inside the heart of one for whom life has become a deepening love affair with the person of God who takes the initiative in each one of us, usually quietly and quite undramatically, urging us, provoking us.
The important question in our daily life is: "What is my Beloved calling me to now?" In giving myself to this call, I experience more of God's love. I find God is "here" and not "there." Discernment involves a radical openness that leads me to a very Personal Experience of God. This awareness of my own personal identity in Christ serves as a touchstone experience in me, for discernment entails a comparison of interior experiences. It helps me to know whether God is or is not in an experience.
What are these interior experiences, these "spirits" within? Usually they are not concerned with actions. Yet I often make my life a matter of doing good actions and avoiding bad ones... without looking at the root of my actions I also ought not to limit myself to the level of thought-good, clear, orthodox thoughts about God, self and life. Although these levels are part of me, I cannot limit myself to them. (Jn 14:21-23) To live in a contemplative attitude of discernment helps me focus on a quality of my being, the affectivity at that inner unique core where I am myself and cannot be anyone else. This affectivity has no logic to it, but is all mixed up – feelings, desires, impulses -- the stream of consciousness that everyone of us is -- not has, but is. This is where I need to be converted -- at the core. "How should I enter into this situation so that God can share with me more of his life? "What will this feel like in me?"
These interior affective movements are "who I am." Whether I am in touch with them or know what to do with them is another question. Often these urges, feelings, impulses make us playthings of them... they run us, e.g. the bad mood. We hear people say "Don't go near her today; she's in a bad mood.” In other words when the mood is no longer in control of her, then deal with her. Discernment is precisely a faith process whereby the individual is not a plaything of these affective movements. It allows the grace of God to get on top of them and control them… allowing my affectivity to painfully be converted into the affectivity of Jesus. This is where conversion happens... in these tendencies, urges, impulses and desires. The more I allow my affectivity to be converted into that of Jesus, the more I become an inner-directed person, no longer needing external rules.
To live in an attitude of contemplative discernment, then, means that
To sum up, there are 3 essential foundations for living in a contemplative attitude of discernment.
Adapted from the article on Individual Discernment by Fr. George Aschenbrenner, SJ