My family attended an invigorating retreat. It was about discerning God’s will in your life. Our retreat master was Fr. Roger Arnspager, former Parish Priest of St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Gastonia. He quoted seven (7) practical principles for knowing God’s will from the article of Peter Kreeft in “Making Choices”.
Seven Practical Principles for Knowing God’s Will
1. Love God
The person who loves God understands the law of God. If you love God, you will love His will, you will want to do His will; if you want to do His will, you will want to know His will.
2. By The Holy Spirit
We are able to discern God’s will and word by the same means it was first revealed: Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is like a wind. You cannot see it, but you see the difference that the Holy Spirit makes.
3. Removing Main Obstacle to Discernment: Sin
The main obstacle to knowing God’s will is not doing it. Sin that is not repented is sin that is rationalized. Addicts rationalized their actions, thus, they cannot see clearly. In order to repent, one must know it by the heart, mind and behavior. The will is like a captain. The mind is the navigator. The hands and feet are the engines of the ship. The whole ship needs to turn (repent).
4. Inability to Forgive: main block
Forgiveness is so important that Christ commanded us to mortgage our very salvation on it.
5. Discernment is a Habit, not a Quick Fix
Habits to form takes time. It is imperative that one practices the habit of putting himself in the presence of God at all times.
One of the four cardinal virtues is prudence. It also means practical wisdom.
7. Spiritual Triangulation
There are three factors to be sure that we have discerned rightly:
a. God’s objective moral law: Scripture, Tradition, Magisterium
b. The situation God providentially arranges for you.
c. The testimony of your own conscience, especially the inner peace that is a mark of the Spirit’s presence.
In conclusion, to discern the objective law alone is legalism. To discern the situations alone is relativism. To discern by private conscience alone is to drift into subjectivism. To discern by lining up all three is wise.
Remember conscience can err, of course. But, God is infallible.
Source: “Discerning God’s Will” Lecture, Fr. Roger Arnspager