Today’s Memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola (July 31) provides a good opportunity to explore one of the choicest fruits of this saint’s extraordinary life: Ignatian discernment of spirits and of God’s will.

Of course, this article is only an introduction to a spiritual tradition that can be highly specialized. I wish to offer a simple, practical approach to this important part of our Catholic spiritual heritage. My hope is that you will find this approach to the spiritual life helpful in understanding yourself, the forces at work in your life—both internal and external, and in understanding how we come to know the will of God as we engage in the many different kinds of decision making our lives entail. I am eternally grateful to the priests who taught me Ignatian discernment, especially because it played such a critical role in helping me to hear and to say “yes” to God’s call to the priesthood.

Spirituality rooted in life

“May you attain full knowledge of God’s will through perfect wisdom and spiritual insight.” — Colossians 1:9b

St. Ignatius of Loyola was a sixteenth century Basque (Spanish) nobleman and soldier who as a young man seems to have had a mixture of high ideals and an easy-going personality. While serving as a soldier, the young Ignatius received a leg wound in battle, and returned home to recover from the  injury.

It was during this time of recovery at Loyola that Ignatius’ conversion began, as he read a book on the life of Christ and another on the lives of the Saints. Providentially, these books were given to Ignatius despite his request for novels, of which the household had none. After reading the books, Ignatius noticed a pattern of joyful feelings he experienced, both as he thought about the life of Christ and the lives of the saints, and afterwards. He also noticed that while worldly thoughts brought immediate pleasure, this pleasure was fleeting.

Read more at Catholic World Report.