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Communal Discernment Part II_ Notes on Methodology and ...

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CommunalDiscernmentPart II: Notes on Methodology andCapacities to CultivateMary Pellegrino, CSJTransformation of Religious Life in North America:An Action-Oriented Initiative
A Working Definition
Communal Discernment:Process undertaken by a community as a community to discover God’s desire/direction within a particular set of circumstances leading to some sort of action by the discerning community.Shared workSeeking GodHere and nowExpressed in action
Notable nuance
A discerning communityMembers are attentive and intentionally cultivating their capacities for discernment (noticing, naming and making meaning of the movement of the Spirit and call of God within and among them).A community discerningA community actively and intentionally engaged in a group process intended to discover for themselves God’s desires/direction within a particular set of circumstances.
Matters for communal discernment
Matters that involve the expression of mission/purpose/communal vocation for and in a particular timeMatters for which it is important that all group members be engagedand responsible, i.e. direction setting, disposition of corporate resources. . .Matters that are worthy of the time, energy, discipline and rigor of communal discernment
Some Characteristics of A Discerning Community
Prayerful/Praying CommunityContinually seeking God, God’s desires and the freedom to act on those desiresContemplative prayer intended for listening for God/SpiritSense of Identity and RelationshipGrowing in shared understanding of itself, its history, comprehension of its spheres of influenceGrowing in comprehension of how it is influenced and how it influences
LearningCommunityOpen to change, transformation and the broadening ofperspectives (personal and communal)Names what is real; is honest toward reality (Sobrino)Leaders and members growing in capacities to acknowledge, invite and consider diverse and new thinking
Capable of holding tension, tolerating ambiguity, chaos,unfinishednessRecognizes itself, its members, the world as being in processEncourages and cultivates imagination, creativity, personal initiative in service to the community
A Community Discerning
Engaged in deciding a matter of significance for the groupBelieves that God has a desire/intent/purpose for them AND intends to follow God’s desire/intent/purposeDevotes personal and communal time and resources to the discernment process
A Framework for Discernment: Preparation and Process
Seek interior freedom – personally and communallyGather informationPrayerfulconsideration of thematter: alternatives, pros/cons, rational and affective experienceThese elements may be serial through the processMovetowardconsensus/decisionMake decisionActondecisionSeekconfirmation of decision: what are the fruits?
Fruitfulness relies on personal preparation/capacity
Personal capacities effect the quality of the community’s discernmentPersonal is in service to the communalPersonal narrative, story, reality is read in service to larger social/communal narrative, story, realityOrder our personal preference for the greater, common good
Skills/capacities to cultivate for communal discernment
Self-AwarenessKnow/claimyour personal and communal storiesPersonal and communal patterns of grace given/receivedIdentity and mission are inseparableLearn to read our personal and communal narratives in service to the larger social reality
Appropriate self-disclosureAllow ourselves to be known by othersBuilds trust and confidence in self and othersLearn to speak about what is important and appropriate to matter at handPractice non-violent communication
Broaden thinking, expand consciousness, deepen understandingExpose self/community to diverse thoughts and perspectivesEngage in social analysis, theological reflection, contemplative conversations
Notice interior movementsPersonal and communalWhat’s going on inside of me/among us? What meaning might it have?Be honest toward realitySpeak the truth. . . even if your voice shakes.
Befriend resistancesPersonal and communalResistance is valuable – has something to teach usLearn to stay with resistance – without judgment – long enough to learn from them
Cultivate curiosityPersonal and communalCuriosity and fearbiochemically the same – differ only in degreeWondering about something, asking questions can dispel fearLearn to ask good questions
Learn to take the long, broad viewThe world, our communities, ourselves are unfinishedPerspective mattersGet comfortable with chaos
Cultivate patience, humility and openness to surprise
“Do one thing every day that scares you.”Eleanor RooseveltCultivate a sense of humorThe only thing we should take more seriously than we already do is God’s love. . .for us, for others, for all of creationLearn to laugh at yourself and with others

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Communal Discernment Part II_ Notes on Methodology and ...