Discernment - Making Inspired Choices

Discernment: Making Inspired Choices

by Joe Paprocki, D.Min.

“Just do it.”

Sounds easy, right? On the one hand, there's something to be said for spontaneity. On the other hand, some of our choices in life require deep thought, prayer, and consideration, lest we find ourselves facing the consequences of a poor decision. That's where the art of discernment comes in.

Discernment is a time-honored practice in the Christian tradition. In essence, discernment is a decision-making process that honors the place of God's will in our lives. It is an interior search that seeks to align our own will with the will of God in order to learn what God is calling us to. Every choice we make, no matter how small, is an opportunity to align ourselves with God's will. Here are some tried-and-true pointers that can help you discern God's will.

Talk to Someone You Respect.
God often speaks to us through the wisdom of others. Seek out the wisdom of at least one and perhaps several people who you feel have the gift of wisdom and ask for their advice.

Find Some Solitude.
It's good to talk to other people when making important decisions, but at some point, it is crucial to make some time to be alone with your thoughts and with God. Invite God into your decision-making process.

Start with What You Know.
Lay out all of the facts in front of yourself so that you can deal with the known before you delve into the unknown!

Tell God What It Is That You Desire and What You Fear.
Be honest and tell God what your deepest desires and fears are in this situation is. Before you can say the words, “thy will be done,” be sure you are truly in touch with your own will; otherwise it will come back to bite you anyway!

Let God Speak to You.
Most of us don't actually hear a voice when God speaks to us. However, pay attention closely to the ways that God is speaking to you. What kinds of thoughts, feelings (especially love, joy, and peace, or a lack thereof), and memories might God be stirring within you to help you make your decision? What Scripture story or saint's life comes to mind that might enlighten your decision? Find the passage or story and prayerfully read it.

Know That God Has a Plan for You.
Remind yourself that you are not on your own and that you don't have to yell and scream to get God's attention to help you in this matter. On the contrary, remind yourself that God has a plan for you and that his plan is driven purely by love.

Pray to Do God's Will.
As difficult as it may be, pray the words, “thy will be done,” asking God to give you the strength you need to continue to discern his will and to follow it.

If circumstances allow, wait before making your decision. Continue to pay attention to your feelings to see which direction you are being drawn to.

Prayerfully Commit.
At some point, you need to act. Knowing that you have sought God's will, set forth to do the loving thing.

Check Out the Fruits.
Discernment is ongoing. After you make a decision, prayerfully evaluate it. If the fruits (outcomes) of your decision—your words, actions, and behaviors—are good, then it is a good indication that the decision you made is good. If the fruits are “rotten,” then that is a good indication that you may need to alter your course. True discernment results in good fruit (even if it's something we wouldn't normally pick out for ourselves).

Discernment can help you when you face decisions. Even though making good decisions can be difficult at times, trust that the Holy Spirit is with you to guide you and help you choose what is good and true.

Joe Paprocki, D.Min. 

Joe Paprocki, D.Min., has been a catechetical leader and religious educator in the Chicago area for more than thirty years.

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Books by Joe Paprocki, D.Min.

La caja de herramientas del catequista

Este libro es ideal para nuevos catequistas, La caja de herramientas del catequista te entrena mientras llevas a cabo tu ministerio como catequista. 

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Under the Influence of Jesus

The Transforming Experience of Encountering Christ

In Under the Influence of Jesus, Joe Paprocki explains that by opening ourselves to encountering Christ, we can learn how to live the Gospel and be models of faith.

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Más allá de la caja de herramientas del catequista

Catequesis que no solo informa, sino que también transforma

Más allá de la caja de herramientas del catequista le permite a los jóvenes encontrar a Jesús en la oración de manera que puedan convertirse en discípulos de Cristo para toda la vida.

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La mochila del catequista

Lo indispensable para el camino espiritual

La mochila del catequista brinda a los catequistas recursos que atienden a la dimensión espiritual de su llamado a compartir la fe católica.

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The Catechist's Toolbox

How to Thrive as a Religious Education Teacher

The Catechist’s Toolbox offers catechists tips, advice, and a methodical approach that will help them succeed as educators of the faith.

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A Well-Built Faith

A Catholic's Guide to Knowing and Sharing What We Believe

In A Well-Built Faith, Joe Paprocki makes it easy for Catholics to feel confident in teaching the Catholic faith. He makes complex teachings of the Catholic faith accessible to average Catholics without compromising Catholic teaching and tradition.

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Beyond the Catechist's Toolbox

Catechesis That Not Only Informs but Also Transforms

Joe Paprocki, best-selling author of The Catechist’s Toolbox series, has written the first, step-by-step book that demonstrates how to teach a 75-minute catechetical session with practical techniques that expand upon the textbook to create a more prayerful climate in the classroom.

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Practice Makes Catholic

Moving from a Learned Faith to a Lived Faith

Why do Catholics do what they do? Practice Makes Catholic from Loyola Press gets to the heart of the question-and to the heart of what it really means to be Catholic.

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Una Fe Bien Construida

Guia catolica para conocer y compartir lo que creemos

Una fe bien construida,—desarrollado con enorme creatividad usando metafóricamente el tema de la construcción— facilita enormemente a los católicos el conocimiento de su fe y les da seguridad al momento de compartirla.

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Amos/Hosea/Micah: A Call to Justice

Six Weeks with the Bible: Catholic Perspectives

The prophets tell us what God thinks about oppression, injustice, and neglect of the poor.

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La experiencia transformadora de encontrarse con Cristo

Bajo la influencia de Jesús

La experiencia transformadora de encontrarse con Cristo es la rotunda respuesta del reconocido autor Joe Paprocki a esa pregunta: ¡Sí, es posible!

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Vivir la misa

Cómo una hora a la semana puede cambiar tu vida

Explica detallademente cómo cada parte de la misa se relaciona con la llamada que recibimos en el bautismo, poniendo en estrecha relación la misa dominical y el resto de nuestra semana.

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Los planos de Biblia

Una guía católica para entender y acoger la Palabra de Dios

En Los planos de Biblia, el exitoso autor Joe Paprocki ayuda al católico de la calle a entender fácilmente la Biblia, y lo hace con humor.

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The Bible Blueprint

A Catholic's Guide to Understanding and Embracing God's Word

In The Bible Blueprint, best-selling author Joe Paprocki makes understanding the Bible not only easy for the person in the pew, but downright fun!

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7 Keys to Spiritual Wellness

Enriching Your Faith by Strengthening the Health of Your Soul

In 7 Keys to Spiritual Wellness, best-selling author Joe Paprocki provides a prescription for spiritual health based on the rich wisdom of Catholic Tradition.

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Living the Mass

How One Hour a Week Can Change Your Life

In Living the Mass, Joe Paprocki, DMin, and Fr. Dominic Grassi convincingly show how the one hour spent at Mass on Sunday can truly transform the other 167 hours of the week.

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A Church on the Move

52 Ways to Get Mission and Mercy in Motion

52 specific, practical, and achievable strategies to help Catholic parishes embody the broad themes of Pope Francis’ papacy—mission, mercy, and evangelization.

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The Catechist's Backpack

Spiritual Essentials for the Journey

Written by two nationally known, expert lay catechists, The Catechist’s Backpack gives catechists the resources that speak to the spiritual dimension of their call to share the Catholic faith.

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