Ignatian Resources

A bibliography of Ignatian resources for student, faculty, and staff of the university

What is Discernment?

The Ignatian Way presentations speaks of Ignatius’ experience of contrary impulses in his heart when he wanted to live his life according to his faith. He discovered that spiritual forces, good and evil, were behind these urges. Ignatius learned how to become sensitive to these inner movements, how to interpret them, to understand where they come from and where they lead us. This experience is the foundation of Discernment. 

Reflections - What is Discernment?

Our hearts are often divided. Discernment of Spirits is the interpretation of this struggle. Ignatius developed language and touchstones for speaking about our struggles. Ignatius’ rules for interpretation are not meant to be imposed from the outside, rather applied to ourselves with the guidance of others. A sample of Ignatius’ observations is that evil often isolates an individual through secrecy whereas bringing our fears or shame to light has the effect of breaking their hold.

Discernment isn’t something we do alone. It is part of a relationship with God where we sit down with God and look at things together. It is a challenging task requiring maturity, inner quiet and an ability to reflect on our interior life. It is about more than making a decision, it is about developing a discerning heart which is attuned to God.

Recent books on the subject include: “What’s Your Decision?” How to Make Choices with Confidence and Clarity" by J. Michael Sparough, SJ, Jim Manney, & Tim Hipskind, SJ; "Call to Discernment in Troubled Times" by Dean Brackley, SJ; "God's Voice Within : The Ignatian Way to Discover God's Will" by Mark E. Thibodeaux, SJ; "The Discernment of Spirits: An Ignatian Guide for Everyday Living" by Timothy M. Gallagher.

An additional starting point for information on discernment can be found on the Ignatian Spirituality website at https://www.ignatianspirituality.com/making-good-decisions/discernment-of-spirits