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Above all, trust in the slow work of God. We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay. We should like to skip the intermediate stages. We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new. And yet it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability— and that it may take a very long time. And so I think it is with you; your ideas mature gradually—let them grow, let them shape themselves, without undue haste. Don’t try to force them on, as though you could be today what time (that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will) will make of you tomorrow. Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be. Give Our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.
—Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ, excerpted from Hearts on Fire
May it please the supreme and divine Goodness to give us all abundant grace ever to know his most holy will and perfectly to fulfill it. —St. Ignatius of Loyola
Grant me, O Lord, to see everything now with new eyes, to discern and test the spirits that help me read the signs of the times, to relish the things that are yours, and to communicate them to others. —Pedro Arrupe, SJ
When I turn to the right or when I turn to the left, may my ears hear a Word saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Based on Isaiah 30:21)
The following prayer was composed by John Veltri, S.J., a Canadian spiritual director and expert guide for those presenting the Spiritual Exercises. He died in 2008. May he rest in peace.
Teach me to listen, O God, to those nearest me, my family, my friends, my co-workers. Help me to be aware that no matter what words I hear, the message is, “Accept the person I am. Listen to me.”
Teach me to listen, my caring God, to those far from me– the whisper of the hopeless, the plea of the forgotten, the cry of the anguished.
Teach me to listen, O God my Mother, to myself. Help me to be less afraid to trust the voice inside — in the deepest part of me.
Teach me to listen, Holy Spirit, for your voice — in busyness and in boredom, in certainty and doubt, in noise and in silence.
Teach me, Lord, to listen. Amen.
O Spirit of God, we ask you to help orient all our actions by your inspirations, and carry them on by your gracious assistance, that every prayer and work of ours may always begin from you and through you be happily ended.
(We have a variant of this in our Book of Common Prayer.)
We owe a great deal to Ignatius of Loyala and his followers, in the understanding of spiritual discernment. Here is a fine introduction to the idea of discernment:
The Suscipe (Latin for “Take”)
Take Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all that I have and possess. Thou hast given all to me. To Thee, O lord, I return it. All is Thine, dispose of it wholly according to Thy will. Give me Thy love and thy grace, for this is sufficient for me. – Ignatius of Loyola
A simplified version:
Take, Lord, my freedom, my understanding, and my will. You are the source of all I have; I return it to you. Use it in accordance with your purposes, and let your love and grace be sufficient for me. Amen.