of the process: “Good discernment
consists of prayerfully pondering
the great desires that well up in my
I let God dream in me
Are desires good or bad? Many spiritual writers of Ignatius’ day spoke of
desires as obstacles to God’s will. One
solution was to suppress desires, to
eliminate them whenever possible.
Ignatius, on the other hand, held the
radical notion that God dwells in the
desires of a good person.
How, then, do I tap into these
desires? I daydream, that’s how! I
fantasize about great and beautiful
futures. I let God dream in me, and I
sit in silent awe and wonder as these
holy dreams come to life before the
eyes and ears of my soul. Now that’s
a different approach to prayer than
most of us know. But that’s what
Saint Ignatius taught.
If I have to choose among several
I then start all over again and
different options, I might start with
one option and ask God to show me
the marvelous things he could do
with this possibility. I think crazy
thoughts and mull over preposterous
proposals. I have galactic visions of
new worlds of possibilities opening
up merely by saying yes to God’s invi-
tation to that option.
dream about a second option, a third
one, and so on.
Let’s take an example. Say I’m a
manager who has just been given an
offer to relocate to a faraway city and
join a more prestigious company. My
immediate inclination might be to
feel frightened of all the unknowns:
Will I be happy in this new place?
Will I like my new bosses? Will I find
affordable housing? Will I be burning bridges with my current firm? All
of these are reasonable concerns and
will have to be considered later.
Saint Ignatius would argue that
these negative considerations are not
the proper starting point for discernment. Instead, he said, start with
dreams and desires. I might begin by
asking, what is my purpose in life?
The answer Catholics learned as chil-
dren applies: To praise, reverence, and
I might then ask, how am I
uniquely called to do this? Right now,
as a generous single Catholic. Then,
what are my dreams in my current
roles? In my roles as a professional, a
citizen, a member of my family, and a
parishioner, to further the reign of God
I imagine the
option. For now, I
dream of glorious
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