Today's must-read article (via Dawn Eden) is this piece: "How to Discern the Elements of Your Personal Vocation".
St. Ignatius instructs us to consider the pros and cons of each option. It might even help to write these out. Sometimes proceeding in this way eliminates all but one option and leaves nothing to discern, but often enough two or more options remain. At this point, it is time for emotion to play its part. St. Ignatius suggests that we imagine how we would advise someone else in our exact situation, and follow the advice we would give to that other person. He also has us imagine what we would wish we had chosen if we were looking back on our choice, first from our deathbed and then from the perspective of judgment day. He says we should decide now what we would then wish we had decided.The second part especially jumped out at me. I think there's a tendency to think that we should go in the opposite direction of whatever we feel inclined toward because, after all, God must be calling us to a life of sacrifice. But the point of discernment is to align our will to the will of God, and isn't it *possible* that our wills are already aligned to the point that the option that is attractive and pleasing to us is also what's pleasing to God?
The idea is that if we are upright, God speaks to us through the desires of our hearts. It makes no sense to tell an adulterer or a greedy person to follow his or her desires, but it makes perfect sense to tell someone who is interested in discovering and following God’s will to do so. This surely is what St. Augustine means in exhorting us to love and do what we will.
If we have eliminated the morally illegitimate options and sincerely strive to do God’s will, we can be confident that he will speak to us through the desires of our hearts. After some time of pondering the different options, one eventually will emerge as the more appealing, and we will be at peace with embracing it. When that happens, our discernment is over. Then we must accept the discernment by beginning to live it out.Read the whole thing. Then print it, take it to Adoration, and read it again (highlighting as necessary). Yes, it's that good.