Vincent de Paul’s method of discernment had three parts: an openness to God’s will, an evaluation of reasons for or against an action, and a consultation with wise persons, usually superiors or directors. Hugh O’Donnell defines discernment as a process by which the Spirit calls us to use our freedom to act in a certain way. He defines it as “a choice, not between good and evil, but between two or more goods.” We must listen to the way “God speaks to us as unique persons and as persons in communion with one another.” Discernment involves a purification of spirit, love, and “a shift to presence.” Activity remains important, but a shift to presence means that we are fully sensitive to the needs and feelings of others. There are three types of discernment. One is about vocation and we may receive more than one call regarding that. The second is about seeing God in all of daily life. The third is about finding the specific concerns that God is calling us to address.

– from the Abstract to the article “Vincentian Discernment,” by Fr. Hugh O’Donnell, C.M., Vincentian Heritage Journal

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