Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Midweek Meditation: "Nouwen on Discernment 1"

TITLE: Discernment: Reading the Signs of Daily Life

"Henri emphasized that Christian discernment is not the same as decision making. Reaching a decision can be straightforward: we consider our goals and options; maybe we list the pros and cons of each possible choice; and then we choose the action that meets our goal most effectively. Discernment, on the other hand, is about listening and responding to that place within us where our deepest desires align with God's desire. As discerning people, we sift through our impulses, motives, and options to discover which ones lead us closer to divine love and compassion for ourselves and other people and which ones lead us further away.

In Henri's sermons and retreats, as well as in his thirty-five books, he highlighted a distinctive vision of Jesus Christ that was thoroughly grounded in Scripture and Catholic theology. To understand what Henri meant by discernment, it's important to repeat that for Henri the name of Jesus meant the eternal presence of the one who is God's continuing incarnation in human form. Henri was interested in the timeless dimension of Jesus Christ, the life that the crucified and risen Jesus shares with us now. According to Henri, the historical life of Jesus opened a new frontier in human experience so that the incarnation of Christ - which has no beginning and no end - could become an ongoing event for all human beings and, indeed, for all creation. Eventually, we can learn to discern the face of Christ everywhere and at all times. Henri's view often reminded me of the medieval Dominican friar, Meister Eckhart, who advised, 'Expect God evenly in all things.'"

(Robert A. Jonas, on "Henry's Way of Discernment" in Discernment, New York: NY, HarperOne, 2013, xvii)

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