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Discerning the Will of God: An Ignatian Guide to Christian Decision Making

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Every Chrstian has a Mission. What's Yours? "Is it time to change jobs?" "Should I marry?" "Am I called to religious life?" Sooner or later, every thoughtful Christian asks such questions. For everyone ready to make the shift from "What do I want for my life?" to "what does God want for my life?" Fr. Gallagher offers this new book to help you make sense of your major life dec Every Chrstian has a Mission. What's Yours? "Is it time to change jobs?" "Should I marry?" "Am I called to religious life?" Sooner or later, every thoughtful Christian asks such questions. For everyone ready to make the shift from "What do I want for my life?" to "what does God want for my life?" Fr. Gallagher offers this new book to help you make sense of your major life decisions. Drawing from the timeless methods of Ignatius Loyola and richly illustrated with examples and stories, this book offers practical wisdom for aligning your will to God's will. Fr. Gallagher takes you through each step of the process, including opening your heart to whatever God wants; making use of silence, the Eucharist, Scripture, and spiritual direction; and finding clarity (and what to do when you lack clarity). While this book focuses on the major decisions such as marriage and career and vocation choices, the insights gained here can be adapted to other significant life decisions as well. Fr. Gallagher's clear style makes this book an important resource for all who want to discover where God is leading them, as well as for spiritual directors, retreat directors, and counselors


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Every Chrstian has a Mission. What's Yours? "Is it time to change jobs?" "Should I marry?" "Am I called to religious life?" Sooner or later, every thoughtful Christian asks such questions. For everyone ready to make the shift from "What do I want for my life?" to "what does God want for my life?" Fr. Gallagher offers this new book to help you make sense of your major life dec Every Chrstian has a Mission. What's Yours? "Is it time to change jobs?" "Should I marry?" "Am I called to religious life?" Sooner or later, every thoughtful Christian asks such questions. For everyone ready to make the shift from "What do I want for my life?" to "what does God want for my life?" Fr. Gallagher offers this new book to help you make sense of your major life decisions. Drawing from the timeless methods of Ignatius Loyola and richly illustrated with examples and stories, this book offers practical wisdom for aligning your will to God's will. Fr. Gallagher takes you through each step of the process, including opening your heart to whatever God wants; making use of silence, the Eucharist, Scripture, and spiritual direction; and finding clarity (and what to do when you lack clarity). While this book focuses on the major decisions such as marriage and career and vocation choices, the insights gained here can be adapted to other significant life decisions as well. Fr. Gallagher's clear style makes this book an important resource for all who want to discover where God is leading them, as well as for spiritual directors, retreat directors, and counselors

30 review for Discerning the Will of God: An Ignatian Guide to Christian Decision Making

  1. 5 out of 5

    Clare Wojda

    Discerning anything is hard, and if nothing else, this book offers comfort that you are not alone. Many of the anecdotes mirrored my own struggles. Our God is not one of confusion, and this helped me change my mindset from "Lord, let me choose your will above my own will" to "Lord, let my will BECOME one with yours." Gallagher takes the reader on a beautiful journey through Ignatius's steps in discernment. Discerning anything is hard, and if nothing else, this book offers comfort that you are not alone. Many of the anecdotes mirrored my own struggles. Our God is not one of confusion, and this helped me change my mindset from "Lord, let me choose your will above my own will" to "Lord, let my will BECOME one with yours." Gallagher takes the reader on a beautiful journey through Ignatius's steps in discernment.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    I had to read this for St. Lydia's. I don't believe if I've ever read a scholarly religious work, and I don't see myself reading many more (sorry, Papa). It's...odd. It's particularly odd if the book is written by a Roman Catholic, so it's full of intimations that, for instance, a person cannot be fully dedicated to life as a priest if he is married. (Back story: My dad is an Episcopal priest.) I had a hard time getting over some of the interviewees' examples because they're...not that applicabl I had to read this for St. Lydia's. I don't believe if I've ever read a scholarly religious work, and I don't see myself reading many more (sorry, Papa). It's...odd. It's particularly odd if the book is written by a Roman Catholic, so it's full of intimations that, for instance, a person cannot be fully dedicated to life as a priest if he is married. (Back story: My dad is an Episcopal priest.) I had a hard time getting over some of the interviewees' examples because they're...not that applicable to my life. The book is at least 80% excerpts from other books or quotes from interviews with individuals, so once you get the gist of where he’s going, it can be a bit tedious. “I get it, dude, the first mode is ‘you quite clearly feel that God is moving you to do a particular thing.’ That’s the easy one. I don’t need thirty examples.” Further, the examples tend to fall into a couple categories: people deciding between life as a nun/priest/monk and life as a married person; people deciding between a secular job or work in the church (probably as a nun/priest/monk). In all honesty, I could’ve done with FAR fewer examples, a much broader range of examples (and maybe some that aren’t so damn Catholic), and more commentary from the author. Near as I can figure, this is the meat of the matter Ignatius talked about three modes of discernment: 2. Divine command felt surely and without question (a sense that, in a flash, God has revealed the obvious/correct choice to you). 2. Consolation vs. Desolation: The option that, upon consistent reflection and prayer, brings you a sense of consolation/peace rather than desolation/confusion is the option God is leading you toward. 3. A preponderance of reasons (i.e., essentially a pro-con list). My impression was that you’re to choose the one that has MORE reasons, but it’s possible I misread. Still, it’s a pro-con list. God’s in that, too, man. Obviously, 1 is awesomest, but that’s hard to come by and doesn’t work on your specific timeline, frequently. The other two are also good options. I personally found 3 really interesting and it also gave a concrete example from Ignatius’ life, which was cool. So, the basic steps you should take when trying to make a decision: * Get in the right frame of mind: When deciding between two good choices, turn it over to God. Be open to whatever he wills. This will free you of the burden of making a “wrong” decision, because if God wills it, it’s right. * Pray daily * Keep a journal after your prayers. Note how you feel during certain circumstances, and any revelations you feel you’ve been shown. Particularly note contrasts: When you’re doing or thinking about a certain thing, how do you feel? Consoled? Desolate? (see: Mode 2) * Go to mass; be silent. All these people seemed to have revelations about stuff/find clarity in either silent retreats, repeated attending of mass, or a combination of the two. * Have a spiritual director and talk this stuff out regularly. I really wish I'd just read a pamphlet that said these things, to be honest.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rosemarie

    This is an interesting book. The process of discerning the will of God may seem mysterious, but this book breaks it down into a very simple process. There are three different and distinct parts - if one does not work you can simply move to the next one. I think everyone wants/expects the First Mode - that unmistakable certainty that hits you all at once. You MUST do the thing - you can't not do it. I have had that happen at times, but it's not the only way to discern and I didn't realize that. It This is an interesting book. The process of discerning the will of God may seem mysterious, but this book breaks it down into a very simple process. There are three different and distinct parts - if one does not work you can simply move to the next one. I think everyone wants/expects the First Mode - that unmistakable certainty that hits you all at once. You MUST do the thing - you can't not do it. I have had that happen at times, but it's not the only way to discern and I didn't realize that. It may not happen that way at all. The Second Mode is a bit more vague. It involves consolation and desolation. If you think one way in consolation and another way in desolation you can be sure the consolation is from God. That is an oversimplification though and the author has another book that goes into more detail on this Mode. The surprising part of this book for me was the Third Mode - it's really just reasoning. You need to be in the right disposition - that is wanting what God wants and not just what you want - but I feel like you wouldn't be interested in discernment if that wasn't already the case anyway. Then, you simply and logically think of all the pros and cons. The trick is you have to think of Spiritually based pros and cons. Reasons that support your personal and spiritual growth - because that is what God wants. I really like this idea - I have a tendency to think of the Spiritual over the practical and often people look at me like I'm crazy - but St. Ignatius is actually telling us to do just that! If you are like me, I think you will find this book interesting and enlightening. Well worth your time.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kelsey

    Borrowed this book from one of my parish priests who recommended it for me. My first time reading a book centered around Ignatian rules. I enjoyed the real-life examples given and this book gave me a background in Ignatian discernment. If I read another book on Ignatian rule, it will probably be "The Discernment of Spirits". Borrowed this book from one of my parish priests who recommended it for me. My first time reading a book centered around Ignatian rules. I enjoyed the real-life examples given and this book gave me a background in Ignatian discernment. If I read another book on Ignatian rule, it will probably be "The Discernment of Spirits".

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ken

    Sheds light on some of the most profound questions I have about discernment and how to navigate the often confusing and treacherous waters of spiritual development.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    I was significantly underwhelmed with this book. The writing itself is so surprisingly elementary, I don’t see why people love this author. It’s the first book I’ve read by him, and yes my standards are high. His grasp of the topic seemed so rudimentary to me, this struck me as one of those high school essays you add fluff to and regurgitate other people’s thoughts, in order to meet the word count requirement. He uses examples of real people discerning different decisions, but immediately then r I was significantly underwhelmed with this book. The writing itself is so surprisingly elementary, I don’t see why people love this author. It’s the first book I’ve read by him, and yes my standards are high. His grasp of the topic seemed so rudimentary to me, this struck me as one of those high school essays you add fluff to and regurgitate other people’s thoughts, in order to meet the word count requirement. He uses examples of real people discerning different decisions, but immediately then re-quotes the story he just told you. It’s annoying and frankly comes across as a tactic by an inexperienced author. There was good practical information in here. But it was buried in a bunch of fluff and could be summarized in a few pages. Basically read the short appendix of St. Ignatius’ text and you’ve got it. This might be more helpful to someone unaccustomed to spiritual reading or unfamiliar with the concept of discernment. For me, it was seriously lacking.

  7. 5 out of 5

    A

    It was good, and I appreciated that Fr. Gallagher outlined Ignatius's steps/guide with examples. I tend to be a "get to the point" type person (which I recognize may be at odds with deep spiritual discernment) so I actually thought there were too many examples/stories. I mean, I guess it makes sense because if the author just laid out the steps the book would be all of two pages. :) In that same vein, I wish there was a summary/outline of the whole process somewhere in the book, rather than havi It was good, and I appreciated that Fr. Gallagher outlined Ignatius's steps/guide with examples. I tend to be a "get to the point" type person (which I recognize may be at odds with deep spiritual discernment) so I actually thought there were too many examples/stories. I mean, I guess it makes sense because if the author just laid out the steps the book would be all of two pages. :) In that same vein, I wish there was a summary/outline of the whole process somewhere in the book, rather than having to piece out each individual part/step from the larger text.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Koreen

    “Voluntas tua pax nostra” — “In your will is our peace.” I've heard people say, "Make sure you discern before acting," or hear them talk about the importance of discernment so many times in my life, but I don't think I truly understood what that meant until I read this book. It breaks discernment down into a straight-forward process to finding peace and Christ in decision making, especially when at a life-changing crossroad. I enjoyed the real-life examples but a bit too many shares for my liking “Voluntas tua pax nostra” — “In your will is our peace.” I've heard people say, "Make sure you discern before acting," or hear them talk about the importance of discernment so many times in my life, but I don't think I truly understood what that meant until I read this book. It breaks discernment down into a straight-forward process to finding peace and Christ in decision making, especially when at a life-changing crossroad. I enjoyed the real-life examples but a bit too many shares for my liking.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Marco Armando

    A recommended book that is perfect for those in the middle of life crossroads. This is a very practical book that is very easy to read. As usual, St. Ignatius is good at explaining the realistic situation of our hearts when trying to make a difficult choice. And Fr. Tim has succeeded in delivering St. Ignatius's original sentences into incredibly easy words by using a large number of clear examples. A recommended book that is perfect for those in the middle of life crossroads. This is a very practical book that is very easy to read. As usual, St. Ignatius is good at explaining the realistic situation of our hearts when trying to make a difficult choice. And Fr. Tim has succeeded in delivering St. Ignatius's original sentences into incredibly easy words by using a large number of clear examples.

  10. 4 out of 5

    James Keogh

    Even though I am not Catholic I attended a Jesuit University for my grad program, so I am familiar with St. Ignatius and his teachings. While I do not ascribe to being a Jesuit, I thought this book was written very well. The author used many personal stories to highlight several ways to discern using St. Ignatius teachings. The book highlights how you can discern God's will in your life by taking specific steps that are easy to understand, although they are not always easy to implement. Even though I am not Catholic I attended a Jesuit University for my grad program, so I am familiar with St. Ignatius and his teachings. While I do not ascribe to being a Jesuit, I thought this book was written very well. The author used many personal stories to highlight several ways to discern using St. Ignatius teachings. The book highlights how you can discern God's will in your life by taking specific steps that are easy to understand, although they are not always easy to implement.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    Just fabulous. If you are choosing between two things, have life-decisions to make, are given opportunities & wonder whether to say yes or no - this is a great book to help you figure out God’s will in your life. So practical - based on St Ignatius’s rules of discernment - the rules provide an systematic approach to help figure things out.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Krysta Orscheln

    Very well explained and laid out. While I appreciated all the stories he included, I do wish he had a few more examples of "real-world" not vocational decisions. Regardless, the information provided was insightful and applicable to my life. Very well explained and laid out. While I appreciated all the stories he included, I do wish he had a few more examples of "real-world" not vocational decisions. Regardless, the information provided was insightful and applicable to my life.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lihsa

    Re read this in 3 hours. It was an easy read, filled with lots of good examples. Highly recommend. I read it pretty quickly to get to the meat but will definitely go back at some point in time to delve more deeply.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Leonardo

    Solid introduction on discernment with some real-life cases. The book provides some key insights, but I would not recommend it to someone looking for something more advanced.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Cardinal

    Extremely helpful in breaking down Ignatian discernment

  16. 5 out of 5

    David

    Most helpful if one reads the appendix first. It gives the context for the book. I think this would be a helpful process for discernment if any major decision.

  17. 5 out of 5

    MARY GRACE

    Offers a simple guide to help in choosing/deciding between two goods.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Roger Berkeley

    Quick and to the point. A great overview and guide to Ignatian Spirituality with ample anecdotal examples! The Ignatian text in the Appendix is a good reference.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Christian Engler

    Not all that long ago, the company that I worked for permanently closed its doors, and my job, which I thought would last indefinitely, was no more. Feeling blind-sighted and uncertain in what lay ahead, I wanted to know-with God’s help and grace-what my path, going forward, would be. What would I do, where would I go? I needed guidance and, admittedly, inner assurance. Herein, I came across Fr. Timothy Gallagher’s wonderful book on discernment. Excellently written and clearly laid out, Fr. Gall Not all that long ago, the company that I worked for permanently closed its doors, and my job, which I thought would last indefinitely, was no more. Feeling blind-sighted and uncertain in what lay ahead, I wanted to know-with God’s help and grace-what my path, going forward, would be. What would I do, where would I go? I needed guidance and, admittedly, inner assurance. Herein, I came across Fr. Timothy Gallagher’s wonderful book on discernment. Excellently written and clearly laid out, Fr. Gallagher’s book presents stories of real-life individuals who used discernment when they were at a crossroads in their lives. There are many “critical point” junctures that are addressed in this book: Am I being called to religious or diocesan life, should I get married, remain single, switch jobs, quit work to care for a loved one, et cetera, et cetera. And with the assortment of questions presented, Fr. Gallagher also brings to the forefront the three types of discernment that are most commonly used in the answering of those questions: 1) Clarity beyond Doubting 2) An Attraction beyond Heart and 3) A Preponderance of Reasons. This is all addressed in Part Two of the book, the most meaty part-in my opinion-of the work. In each chapter he breaks down the process and gives examples of how the discerning worked for those whom he interviewed. He also shows ways on how to be cognizant or sensitive to the “signs and or responses” that the intuitive sensing process brings forth. Many answers are yielded in Adoration, for God is always present and is always answering. It’s just that we’ve allowed noise to filter in to our lives and thereby shut Him out when it really has to be the reverse. That is just one aspect of the discernment process. For me, quiet was pivotal in the ability to hear. While this book is not a therapy or a magic potion for all the life complexities that a person can come across, it is indeed a great book on discernment than can at least help assist in the ultimate determination to the significant questions that a person may have. For me, modes two and three were of immense help in guiding me to make full-time caregiving for my loved one, who has dementia, my end goal. Originally, I did not have that clarity. This was certainly a positive and useful read, and I do recommend it.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    This is my second read of this book. The first go-round I found it elementary at best, hitting you over the head with incredibly obvious examples, and somehow lengthy, despite it clocking in at only 176 pages. The second go-round I liked it much more, and I think it's because I was in a state where I wanted to discern the will of God in my life, and was willing to work my way through obvious examples and the easy writing style. This book may be good for people who've never had to think about how This is my second read of this book. The first go-round I found it elementary at best, hitting you over the head with incredibly obvious examples, and somehow lengthy, despite it clocking in at only 176 pages. The second go-round I liked it much more, and I think it's because I was in a state where I wanted to discern the will of God in my life, and was willing to work my way through obvious examples and the easy writing style. This book may be good for people who've never had to think about how to discern the will of God. In many ways Fr. Gallagher talks about making pro/con lists without actually stating that, but instead points to thinking about those pros and cons while also taking them to prayer. The examples helped me during my second read of this book, but really it's the stuff outside the actual examples, the breaking down of those examples that helped.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Evan

    It's such an important subject, one that every single person faces daily, making good decisions. Every Christian ought to have these tools in their life, it would transform individuals and families, how they get along and thrive. The book itself was pretty good- I found it too heavy on the interviews, but they were pretty good examples and most likely if it was more theoretical there would be people asking for more interviews. I found the material pretty comprehensive even though it's a short re It's such an important subject, one that every single person faces daily, making good decisions. Every Christian ought to have these tools in their life, it would transform individuals and families, how they get along and thrive. The book itself was pretty good- I found it too heavy on the interviews, but they were pretty good examples and most likely if it was more theoretical there would be people asking for more interviews. I found the material pretty comprehensive even though it's a short read. Anyways, he's as clear in real life as in the book, and the guys a saint so I really respect his work. Read it in conjunction with the discernment of spirits, they're meant to be two sides of the same coin.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Estabrook

    This is one of the finest books on discernment I have read. This book answer's the question: "When people who love God and want to do God's will face choices between options all of which are good and that they are free to choose, how can they discern God's will?" This book should be read by all spiritual directors in helping directees discern God's will. This is one of the finest books on discernment I have read. This book answer's the question: "When people who love God and want to do God's will face choices between options all of which are good and that they are free to choose, how can they discern God's will?" This book should be read by all spiritual directors in helping directees discern God's will.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Logan

    This book has great examples and explains Ignatian Discernment in a simple format that makes it really easy to turn into action. Other discernment books can be a bit heady, but this one is quick and easy. Highly recommended if you need help with decision-making.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Susan Craycraft

    Awesome guide for discerment.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    Very clear and encouraging, as have been all of Fr. Gallagher's books. This one focused on discerning God's will in "large" decisions such a vocation, move, job change, etc. Very clear and encouraging, as have been all of Fr. Gallagher's books. This one focused on discerning God's will in "large" decisions such a vocation, move, job change, etc.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Scott

    All though I just started reading, there are great info/testimonies so far.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    Clear overview of St. Ignatius' methods of discernment. I have a feeling that I will be coming back to this book quite often in the next few years! Clear overview of St. Ignatius' methods of discernment. I have a feeling that I will be coming back to this book quite often in the next few years!

  28. 5 out of 5

    James

    Good examples of others discerning their calling to life and vocation. Tied in well with the Ignatian method(s).

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    This is an incredible book for people who want to grow in their spiritual lives. If you wish to stop making decisions about your life simply by yourself - but would prefer God's help and confirmation in the process - you will find great wisdom here. This is an incredible book for people who want to grow in their spiritual lives. If you wish to stop making decisions about your life simply by yourself - but would prefer God's help and confirmation in the process - you will find great wisdom here.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Trevor Koskela

    Was told to read this by a friend. Didn’t do much besides point at the obvious for how to discern the will of God. For some they will need a more rigid and set way to go about discerning the will of God and this is the book for them.

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