St. Ignatius of Loyola developed a way of thinking through challenging or complex decisions in light of one’s faith in God. In contemplating his experience of being struck by a cannonball and bedridden, and in reading about the lives of the saints, such as St. Francis of Assisi, he started to develop a process to help him discern God’s will and calling for his life. Ignatius used the language of consolation and desolation as a way to help discern the fruits of the Spirit. Consolation comes from experiences and feelings that bring great joy, hope, love, and energy. Desolation, on the other hand, leaves a person feeling anxious, stressed, worried, fearful, restless, drained or empty.
In the spirit of Ignatian discernment, we ask that parish teams and faith communities discern the fruits of the spirit to see if the FIELD project aligns with your goals and parish mission.
Begin with prayer. Ask God to be with you in this moment as you begin your discernment. One way of praying might be to begin with the Suscipe prayer, which means receive, rooted in Psalm 119 and developed by St. Ignatius.
Questions you might ask as an individual, a parish team, and a faith community include:
- What are my hopes and dreams for the young adults in my community?
- What was my experience of church and/or ministry as a young adult?
- What energy and resources (e.g., time) do I have to put into this work and ministry?
- What do I feel God is calling me to do in ministry with young adults?
- What reservations do I have about engaging in this project?
- What excites us about building this team and this ministry together?
- What energy do we have to put into this work and ministry?
- What fears do we have as we think about engaging in this ministry?
- What is our bandwidth as a church (ministerial team)?
- What resources do we have and would we need to successfully commit to this project?
- Does the pastor commit to growing ministry with young adults with his presence and support?
- Can we commit to at least a one year cohort process?
- How do we envision the wider faith community supporting and engaging with this work?
- How do we imagine this work bringing hope and energy to our parish?
- What challenges do we anticipate emerging from the community and how might our team address them as they arise?
Give thanks to God and ask for God’s grace as you begin to weigh all these factors, feelings, and prayerful experiences. Listen deeply and take each persons’ voice, experience, and ideas into your heart as you discern with God, self, and others, whether this project is right for your parish community. When you have reached a decision, spend additional time reflecting on whether this decision brings you consolation. If so, click here to start the application process.