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Teach your kids spiritual discernment

As teens grow older, they begin to make important life choices for themselves: vocation, career, post-secondary schooling, volunteer opportunities, and relationships, to name a few. You can help them face these decisions by introducing them to the spiritual practice of discernment.


Discernment involves perceiving which of two or more seemingly good or neutral choices best conforms to God’s will. Should you pursue a career in nursing, or music? Should you continue in a romantic relationship, or is it time to break it off? Should you enter religious life, or are you called to married life?

Christians don’t bear the burden of making these decisions alone. Instead, they strive to discern the best course by turning to God in prayer, then carefully attending to God’s response. The process of discernment, which may take some time to unfold, usually draws on rational analysis (such as listing pros and cons), critical examination of emotions and feelings (how do these options make me feel, and why?), and consideration of the wisdom and advice of others.

Over the centuries, saints and mystics have developed many methods of discernment that Catholics still draw on today. A full introduction to these methods is beyond the scope of this article, but links to resources on spiritual discernment can be found below.


Learn more

Finding God in the Hard Questions
Fr. Pat McGrath, SJ, speaks to students about “Finding God in the Hard Questions,” a series of seven videos available on YouTube. He gives an overview of how to make decisions based on what we would do if Jesus was standing next to us.


An Approach to Good Choices
St. Ignatius of Loyola developed a method of discerning God’s will that is widely practiced among Catholics today; IgnatianSpirituality.com, an outreach ministry of the Jesuits, offers a wealth of resources on the approach, including the following:


Stop Worrying: Your Vocation Is to Love
A great little article from LifeTeen, which also has many other articles on discernment.

Follow Jerry Windley-Daoust:

Publisher, Gracewatch Media

Jerry Windley-Daoust is a writer, editor, and father of five. He writes essays and stories at Windhovering and is the show-runner for Gracewatch Media, a small Catholic publisher. You can follow his latest publishing projects at gracewatch.org.

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