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Discernment

“Wisdom is discernment to understand things in connection to God and eternal meaning and purpose…“Discernment is key to almost everything in the spiritual life. And the beginning of discernment is…to be humble enough…to realize that we are really bad at it.” (Lea Povozhaev, Fr. Michael Gillis, Sacramental Living Ministries) 


“…humility expands man’s spiritual powers and introduces him to the realm of freedom. We come to perceive our “gentle and humble in heart” Jesus in humility and this is the meaning of “you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32)… Discernment is regarded by the Fathers as “the highest of all virtues”. Therefore, we will not be mistaken if we place this virtue in the highest rank. What else is discernment other than ‘the spiritual eyes’, which perceive and discriminate the mysteries of the natural and spiritual world in all dimensions…” (Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi) 


“St. John gives this young monk a process by which he can begin to acquire humility and discernment. He tells the young monk that he is to do his best, “and no more.” Those words, “and no more,” are the secret to the first steps in acquiring humility and discernment. Here’s the problem: We so often set ourselves up for failure by thinking our best must mean that we should do what someone else, probably a saint, is doing or has done. And so, without discernment, we force ourselves to complete a rigorous prayer rule or fasting discipline, or to sleep very little, or attend copious church services, or to volunteer at every opportunity—all without discernment, often motivated by a pride that thinks that all we have to do is force ourselves and we will attain the spiritual heights others seem to have attained…We must do our best, and no more. And we must accept that our best may be much less than we think it should be. This will be the beginning of the humility which will bring discernment. ” (Fr. Michael Gillis) 


“When we look in the New Testament and in the liturgical language of the Church, we see two different kinds of vocabulary. We see a vocabulary of sanctity, stressing the holiness of the Christian…But there is another kind of language also, the language of unworthiness and humility…We confess ourselves unprofitable servants, the first among sinners. Such confessions are not false modesty, but only clarity of mind, precision of discernment, and the willingness to receive the verdict of our conscience when it smites us for our sins. We need both vocabularies to achieve spiritual balance…” (Fr. Lawrence Farley)


“…a successful “warfare against the passions” has its own rewards as the grace of God begins to illuminate genuine repentance. These “higher virtues” are: simplicity. “Simplicity is an enduring habit within a soul that has grown impervious to evil thoughts”…humility. “The man with humility… will be gentle, kind, inclined to compunction, sympathetic, calm in every situation, radiant, inoffensive, alert and active”…discernment. “Discernment is… understanding of the will of God in all times, in all places, in all things, and it is found among those who are pure in heart, in body and in speech.” (Fr. Stephen Kostoff, St. John Climacus)


"The Philokalia defines diakrisis as “discrimination [discernment]” It is a spiritual gift that enables one to distinguish between thoughts, to evaluate them and to treat them according. The glossary says that such discernment is a lamp that the soul uses to make its way “along the spiritual path without falling into extremes”…The says that it is the “mother of all virtues and their guardian”…Discernment distinguishes between what is good and what is evil…Thus, without it, no virtue can do its work of guiding our lives…” (St. Nikodimos, Fr. Basil)


“…diakrisis is key to…moral decision-making. “It is the virtue through which norms are interpreted and applied to the specific case in whatever way promotes the growth in holiness, the salvation of the unique persons involved…” (Professor Perry Hamalis)


“Discernment is “inner sight,” that is “insight” into the hidden thoughts and motives of those involved in the moral question. Therefore it can judge what is beneficial and not harmful and what is helpful and not a cause of stumbling for others. In summary, without diakrisis, moral principles are empty words, and ethical teachings are hollow. But discernment makes moral principles effective. It provides the link between ethical guidance and moral action.” (Fr. Basil)


“…how do we gain the crowning virtue of discernment?...“it is the greatest gift of God’s grace”…But this gift of the Holy Spirit…it is given to those who have trained their minds by practice. They advance from feeding on spiritual milk to the solid food of wisdom and understanding (Hebrew 5:14).” (Philokalia, Fr. Basil)

“Discernment is the crown of the virtues and a fruit of wisdom. Wisdom is Christ Himself…Wisdom, who is Christ, gives birth to discernment in a man….Christ, the Wisdom of the Father, begets discernment, the crown of the virtues, in His children…Discernment is… understanding of the will of God in all times, in all places, in all things, and it is found among those who are pure in heart, in body and in speech…” (Orthodox Study Bible, 3 Kingdoms 2:36, Proverbs 10:24, Wisdom of Solomon 7:1-6, St. John Climacus)


“Although we are created for relationship with God, such intimacy is uncommon. Discernment is a lost capacity, for our lives are corrupted by sin and pride. Our noetic faculties are darkened and a direct encounter with God remains beyond our experience.” (Dynamis 6/24/2019)

“Seeing reality for what it is is what we call discernment. The work of discernment is very hard.” (Lewis B. Smedes)

“We are never totally aware of how God is moving in our lives, how He is active in our existence. We do know that He is there, that “in Him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). We are in Him and He is in us. But we are never totally conscious of just how He is there, and what are His motivations for our lives. We try to comprehend it all rationally, with our heads, but it does not work like that. We know such things not with our heads; we know them with our hearts – we intuit, we perceive, we sense, we experience…it is truly the deepest kind of knowing. But even with this kind of knowing, God’s existence in our lives remains only partially in our awareness; the rest is out of our awareness.” (Metropolitan Philip Saliba and Fr. Joseph Allen)

"In truth, discernment comes from God as we struggle to purify our nous. Only then, according to Saint Maximos the Confessor, is the nous “divorced from ignorance and illumined by divine light.” As we act with the Lord for cleansing, our noetic faculty may be restored to its natural state.” (Dynamis 6/24/2019)

“…the more we mature spiritually, the more we can bring His energy into us, into our awareness, where it can then become expressed in our lives’ acts. We never completely exhaust this possibility because there will always be more; we are never totally “filled up” with God’s energy. Saint Gregory of Nyssa knew this when he said that our search for God was an “endless seeking…What he meant is that this energy is always coming to us, always active in us, always emerging, but we can become conscious of it, be aware of it, discern it, only partially. Although our consciousness, that is, our awareness or discernment of God in us, can only be in part, yet it constantly presses for expression.” (Metropolitan Philip Saliba and Fr. Joseph Allen)

“Being led by the Holy Spirit involves the desire to hear, the readiness to obey God’s Word, and the sensitivity to discern between your feelings and His promptings.” (Life Application Study Bible, Galatians 5:16-18)

“It’s not that signs and wonders are not real. They are. The Scriptures, lives of the saints, and lives of many attest to their truth. However, it does require a level of spiritual maturity to have discernment to recognize them properly. In our immature spiritual enthusiasm, if we are not careful, we can fall into what is called prelest, or spiritual deception, in which we start believing almost every event in our lives has some spiritual significance and direct intention from God.” (Sacramental Living Ministries, David Beck)

“To distinguish between our own feelings and thoughts and the guidance of the Spirit requires regular prayer, long practice in discernment, and the counsel of a spiritual advisor and wise pastor. The Scriptures help us to prepare our hearts to hear the Spirit. But we must remember that He cannot lead if we simply rush to the Bible, grasping for a verse, or thumb through the writings of the Fathers in search of a word we want to hear. Rather, we must develop a habit of reading and meditating on the great treasures of holy tradition so as to steep ourselves in the mind of Christ.” (Dynamis 7/4/2015)

“Only those who are mature in faith can hear and discern the promptings of the Spirit." (St. John Chrysostom)

“If we live sacramentally, our discernment will grow greater over time and we will know God’s continual presence despite how we may feel. When we have a consistent and continual prayer life with God, He illuminates us at His pleasure and for our own good at appropriate times.” (Sacramental Living)

“God reveals His will to those who are sensitive to His leading…Discernment is a gift from God.” (Foundation Study Bible, Acts 13:2-4, Dynamis 8/30/2012)

“If we live sacramentally, our discernment will grow greater over time and we will know God’s continual presence despite how we may feel. When we have a consistent and continual prayer life with God, He illuminates us at His pleasure and for our own good at appropriate times.” (Sacramental Living)

“In order to grow from infant Christians to mature Christians, we must learn discernment. We must train our consciences, our senses, our minds, and our bodies to distinguish good from evil.” (Life Application Study Bible, Hebrews 5:12-14)

“….sin starts with a lack of discernment.” (Dynamis 3/5/2015)

“Through human struggle, when aided by grace from God, men and women can attain what the Holy Fathers found, to live with God face to face. True, such is not common, although we are created for such relationships with the Lord. Largely, discernment is a lost ability… through a spiritual sense we will be able to discern if we are sincerely striving to become Christlike.”(Dynamis 6/24/2013, Sacramental Living)

“In this era of blogging, face-booking, twittering and self-publishing, everyone who chooses to have a “voice”…easily can, which is good in many ways; however…because so much information is available in so many forms, discernment of what is truth and what is not can prove difficult…true wisdom or discernment requires the believer to be guided by the Holy Spirit.” (Sacramental Living, Life Application Study Bible, 1 Corinthians 2:13)

“…it is a good idea to use the God-given faculties that we have of intelligence, curiosity, and reason to discern truth as best we can.” (Bishop John Michael Botean)

“If we live sacramentally [e.g., worship, Holy Communion prayer, Bible study, giving], our discernment will grow greater over time and we will know God’s continual presence.” (Sacramental Living)


#BishopJohnMichaelBotean #SacramentalLiving #FoundationStudyBible #LifeApplicationStudyBible #Dynamis #DavidBeck #StJohnChrysostom #LewisBSmedes #MetropolitanPhilipSalibaand #FrJosephAllen #StNikodimos #FrBasil #ProfessorPerryHamalis #Philokalia #OrthodoxStudyBible #StJohnClimacus #LeaPovozhaev #FrMichaelGillis #SacramentalLivingMinistries #ElderJosephofVatopaidi #FrLawrenceFarley #FrStephenKostoff

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