Lesson: A fully directed 30-day retreat according to The Spiritual Exercises will often be made when one is discerning a major life decision. Thus, at the end of the Second Week, Saint Ignatius invites the person to make that decision. For those seeking to make a serious lifelong vocational decision, the help of a spiritual director is highly recommended. However, it is also very useful to use this meditation to discern the will of God regarding some other life decision.
Major life decisions may include how you more fully live your vocation, approach your life of prayer, handle your finances, approach a certain relationship, or any other pressing question you have in life right now. Throughout your life, God will call you to resolve more deeply, to surrender more fully, and to serve more completely. What is He calling you to do right now? This should be the focus of this meditation.
If you have not already done so, reading Chapter Eleven of Part One, “Discerning the Will of God,” will be useful preparation for this meditation.
Reflection: There are three methods by which Saint Ignatius describes how a person discerns the will of God:
- For Saint Paul and Saint Matthew, God called in a clear and unmistakable way. They responded with great generosity. Has God spoken to you in this way? Is there some invitation that He has given to you that you know is from Him? Ponder this question.
- If there is nothing that is abundantly clear after the first method is reflected upon, then spend time considering the various consolations and desolations of the previous weeks/months. How has God been speaking to you through the inner spiritual movements of your soul? What clarity regarding His will have you received through prayer recently? Focus especially upon the experience of consolation and desolation as was taught in Chapters Five and Six (Discernment of Spirits).
- If there are no clear resolutions that come to mind after pondering your consolations and desolations from the recent weeks/months, then consider the third approach as the best approach for you. This approach follows in a meditative format. (If one of the first two methods already helped you to know what God is asking of you right now, skip to the next section, “Making a Decision.”)
- Reflect upon the ultimate purpose of your life. You are to choose only that which gives God the greatest glory, and thus, saves your soul. Peacefully think about what that may be for you right now as you say this prayer: Lord, what can I do in my life right now that gives You the greatest glory? How may I glorify You more?
- Consider what advice you would give to someone else who came to you right now with the same question. Try to give yourself that objective advice.
- Consider also the day of your death. What will you look back at and wish you had done right now in your life?
- Consider also the day of judgment when you stand before our Lord. What choice can you make now that will make that judgment even more glorious?
Making a Decision: After prayerfully calling to mind the way in which you can amend your life so as to give even greater glory to God, it’s time to make a prayerful resolution. This can be done any way you choose, but it should be done with prayer and commitment. First, say a prayer that you can make a good resolution. Second, offer that resolution to our Lord in any way you desire. Perhaps say your own prayer, or pray a chaplet, rosary, litany, etc., for the intention. Or write out your resolution. When completed, return to that resolution often in the coming weeks in prayer.
- Life Decisions and Resolutions
- Palm Sunday
- Leading up to Holy Thursday
- Last Supper
- Agony in the Garden
- Jesus is Arrested and Brought Before Annas
- Jesus is Brought Before Caiaphas
- Jesus is Brought Before Pilate
- Jesus is Brought Before Herod
- Second Trial by Pilate
- Jesus Carries His Cross and is Crucified
- Jesus Speaks From the Cross
- Jesus Dies on the Cross
- Jesus’ Body in the Arms of His Mother
- Jesus is Buried
- Holy Saturday