“Our only desire and our one choice should be this: I want and I choose what better leads to the deepening of God’s life in me” - St. Ignatius of Loyola’s First Principle and Foundation
Principles of discernment can be used for any decision, but often come into play particularly when considering major decisions of life and vocation: whether to get married, join a religious order, pursue ordination, and/or live an intentional single life; what field of study to pursue; which career path to travel.
Discernment, a key principle in Christian (and especially Ignatian) spirituality, is the process of making decisions. The discerner weighs opportunity and choices, seeking to determine and then choose the option that leads to greater wholeness and deepening of God’s life. Ignatian spirituality maintains that God’s deepest desires for us match our own deepest desires, so a key part of Ignatian discernment is considering one’s own feelings and desires, discovering what is most deeply held, and determining how to live out those desires in one’s own unique life and circumstances.
Principles of discernment can be used for any decision, but often come into play particularly when considering major decisions of life and vocation: whether to get married, join a religious order, pursue ordination, and/or live an intentional single life; what field of study to pursue; which career path to travel. These decisions, which often relate to the core of our being and identity, are vocational decisions; that is, decisions related to our vocation, or call.
Campus Ministry, the Jesuit Community, and the Archdiocese of Milwaukee offer specialized resources for students discerning state of life questions, particularly those discerning marriage and religious life:
For more information, please contact Sara Knutson, Assistant Director of Campus Ministry at (414) 288-3689.
Ongoing Campus Ministry programs also offer a variety of opportunities to explore discernment and vocation:
- Spiritual Direction, in which you are paired up with a director with whom you meet monthly, is open to all Marquette undergraduate and graduate students and often particularly helpful for those in discernment. Contact Sara Knutson, Assistant Director of Campus Ministry, if you would like to explore this option.
- Participants on retreats are often engaged in questions of identity and discernment.
- Ignite speakers regularly talk about their vocations and how they discerned them.
- Liturgies offer time for reflection, prayer, and community while discerning.
If you’d like to learn more online, there is a great series of articles about vocation here. If you would like to talk with a campus minister about discernment and/or your vocation, please contact Mary Sue Callan-Farley.