by Matt Malone, S.J.
If there is one thing I should know how to do after 10 years of Jesuit training, it’s this: make a decision.
St. Ignatius’s ideal of a Jesuit is “a contemplative in action,” meaning that a Jesuit is a man of prayer but his place is not in a monastic cell but rather in the center of activity, at the heart of the world. That means not only knowing how to make a decision but also making many of them, often quickly.
In my own work, the art of discernment is a work in progress; there isn’t a day—an hour even—when I do not use the tools of Ignatian discernment to make decisions. In weighing the “lights” and “shadows” in the choices I face, my 10 years of training is reduced to a few basic questions: What feels like faith? What feels like fear? What feels like an act of love? What feels like a cry for love? What path leads to greater freedom? What path leads to self-enclosure? What choice calls me out of myself and orients me toward others? What choice might leave me isolated and self-involved?
In the end, of course, after all the tools of discernment have been applied, whatever choice I make is always an act of faith—faith that the Lord will accompany me regardless of whether I have chosen perfectly; faith, that his love and his grace truly are enough for me.
Matt Malone, S.J., is the editor in chief of America magazine, the only national Catholic weekly magazine in the U.S. Malone, a former Massachusetts political speechwriter, was ordained a priest in 2012 and is the youngest editor in chief in America’s 104-year history.