Regardless of what state of life we are currently in, we all have to practice spiritual discernment on a daily basis. Decisions can include anything from major issues at work to precarious situations with children at home that require careful attention.
It can be difficult to know what we are supposed to do, and on occasion our extreme emotions can make discernment a confusing task.
Italian priest Fr. Lorenzo Scupoli gave his thoughts regarding this situation already several centuries ago, in his spiritual classic The Spiritual Combat, published in 1589. In his book, Scupoli explains how being objective can be helpful in spiritual discernment.
According to Scupoli, “The cause of our not rightly discerning all these things and many others is, that we conceive a love or hatred of them at first sight. Our understanding is thus darkened, so that it cannot judge of them correctly.”
He goes on to say that, “When any object, then, is presented to you, view it with your understanding; and consider it maturely before you are moved by hatred to reject it, if it be a thing contrary to your inclinations, or by love to desire it, if it be pleasing to them.”
Objectivity is beneficial in this way as, “the understanding, being unclouded by passion, will be free and clear, and able to perceive the truth, and to discern the evil which lurks behind delusive pleasure and the good which is veiled under the appearance of evil.”
For this reason it’s important to consult a trusted spiritual director, as he (or she) can look at your situation in an objective way, not influenced by any personal emotions. Often after one meeting with a spiritual director, the situation looks much different and it is easier to make the right decision.
Sometimes, we simply need to take a step back and look at the situation in a new light to discern God’s will in our lives.
Here are St. Ignatius’ 8 rules for the discernment of spirits
What is discernment?