Joseph A. Tetlow, S.J., is a leading writer on Ignatian spirituality and a world-renowned spiritual director. He served eight years in Rome as Secretary for Ignatian Spirituality on the Jesuit Superior General’s staff, overseeing 250 Jesuit retreat houses throughout the world. Earlier he served as dean of Loyola University New Orleans, president of the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley and associate editor of America. He is also the former director of Montserrat Jesuit Retreat House at Lake Dallas, Texas.
Father Tetlow’s last book, Always Discerning: An Ignatian Spirituality for the New Millenium, won the First Place Catholic Press Award in Spirituality for 2017. His other books include Ignatius Loyola: Spiritual Exercises, Choosing Christ in the World and Making Choices in Christ. On Oct. 26, I interviewed him by phone about the topic of discernment for lay people. The following transcript of our conversation has been edited for style and length.
How do you define discernment?
Discernment is living aware of the constant interplay in energy and among head, heart and hands. So what we think changes what we feel and what we do. What we feel changes what we think and what we do. And what we do changes what we feel and what we think.
Why should lay people care about discernment?
The reason is they do it constantly, but don’t reflect on it and might not be aware that they’re doing it. Ideas they pick up in the marketplace affect their feelings about the church. Things that they do in consumer society affect what they feel about their generosity, about their love of God, but they’re unaware of that. So the reason people need to learn about discernment is it’s what they’re doing all the time, and to be a mature Christian requires reflecting on what you’re doing all the time.
Article from America Magazine: The Jesuit Review