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St. Ignatius of Loyola

Deciding Like A Jesuit

We face decisions every day. 

Some are simple: What’s for lunch? Should I watch one more episode of that new show? 

Some are more complex. Should I get married? Move to a new city? Take that big job offer? It can be hard to know what to do, and we might be left feeling paralyzed. 

Worry not! As crazy as it may sound, a nearly 500-year-old Catholic saint — and our founder — has the answer to your decision-making questions. St. Ignatius of Loyola was a master decision-maker, and the spiritual tools he’s passed down through the Society of Jesus can help you sort through of life’s bigger questions. (You’re on your own deciding what’s for lunch.)

Fr. Michael Rossmann, SJ, is a Jesuit priest who has experiencing with helping people make decisions — and practice Ignatian spirituality. In the following series of videos, he walks us through how we might use Ignatius’ spiritual tools in our own lives to make the decisions we’re facing today.

“The human person is created to praise, reverence and serve God … we should desire and choose only what helps us more towards the end for which we are created.”

— St. Ignatius of Loyola

Begin your decision-making process.

When you find yourself asking, “What should I do?” wouldn’t it be nice to know? Do you ever “slide” into a situation, rather than actually “decide” to do something? St. Ignatius of Loyola was a master decision-maker, and his insights are just as relevant as ever. The discernment of spirits is a way by which we come to understand God’s will for us. This is the first of seven videos in the “Deciding Like a Jesuit” series.
Have you ever noticed the difference between a challenging call from God and the gnawing anxiousness characteristic of desolation? Consolation is a movement toward faith, hope, and love. Desolation is the reverse. Consolation and desolation are not the same thing as feeling happy and crappy. This is the second of seven videos in the “Deciding Like a Jesuit” series.
When we experience desolation, we should ask ourselves, “Have I actually tried to spend time with God?” A big reason we experience desolation is because of our own laziness, but that’s not the only reason. Even the saints experienced desolation. As tough as the experience is, we can learn a lot about ourselves and God through desolation. What’s important to remember is that we should never change a decision that was made during a time of consolation while we are currently experiencing desolation. This is the third of seven videos in the “Deciding Like a Jesuit” series.
Might you need to *be* more and *do* less? Ought you give a HELL YEAH to a few things and politely decline many other possibilities? Consolation is a time for going out and doing something beautiful with your life. Cause a ruckus – for the greater glory of God. This is the fourth of seven videos in the “Deciding Like a Jesuit” series.
What gives you joy? Are you good at it? Does anyone need you to do it? What would you do if you weren’t afraid? When discerning, we need to gather data and prayerfully reflect on that data. Patterns will emerge. This is the fifth of seven videos in the “Deciding Like a Jesuit” series.
If someone came to you in the exact same situation in which you find yourself, what advice would you give to that person? What would the best version of yourself do? Even when we give ourselves to the process of trying to pay attention to the stirrings of the heart, we may not know what to do. In that case, we will need to rely more on our reason and judgment. Thankfully, St. Ignatius and contemporary psychologists have some helpful exercises to do just that. This is the sixth of seven videos in the “Deciding Like a Jesuit” series.
We might think, “Why can’t God just make things clear?” But isn’t it incredible that our God trusts us to make decisions? This process may be nerve-wracking, but it’s also an incredible opportunity for growth. A good way to seek confirmation from God is to live for a while as if we’ve made the decision we’re considering but without burning any bridges or signing on the dotted line. Then, at a certain point, we dive in. We make the decision, trusting that God has been with us in this process and that God will continue accompanying us on the road ahead. This is the last of seven videos in the “Deciding Like a Jesuit” series.