Counseling for Good Decision Making

Ignatian Ideals for the Counseling of Forming Decisions

St. Ignatius in his Spiritual Exercises focuses on many spiritual dilemmas and decisions.  In particular he emphasizes the importance in making good elections or decisions.  A critical

A moral compass can help lead one in the right direction
A moral compass can help lead one in the right direction. If you are interested in becoming a Christian counselor, then please review
element in Christian counseling and spiritual counseling is helping others form good life decisions.  These decisions may range from vocational life decisions to everyday life decisions.  Regardless of the magnitude, St. Ignatius believes decisions should be made carefully and deliberately when they involve the life of the soul.
As a Christian Counselor it is important to help a spiritual child find peace and resolution in a decision but the process sometimes can be a heavy burden especially when the decision can have so many ramifications upon oneself or others.  In these difficult times, St. Ignatius laid out a guideline to help others form good decisions or elections about their life.
The primary theme in any decision according to Ignatius is that the end serves the ultimate purpose of salvation.  If the decision contradicts the laws of God or endangers one’s eternal salvation, then that decision must be aborted.  Christian Counselors should only lay out options that correlate with scripture and the moral law of God.  If the decision corresponds with this or at least is neutral in value, then one can begin to evaluate the various options.  Christian counselors should help one weigh the various options with all the benefits of one versus the other.  In some extreme cases, the person may have to experience the various alternatives to see what best fits for him or her.  One should be encouraged to pray to the Holy Spirit for wisdom in these times of uncertainty.
St. Ignatius also points out what conditions point towards a positive election.  The first instance is if God divinely intervenes.  He used the case of St. Paul to help illustrate this.  St. Paul’s conversion and life choice to serve Christ was a wise and correct choice because Christ himself intervened and pushed St. Paul towards the proper decision.  Another example for spiritual certitude is if the person has commited enough time to prayer.   In addition to this, the person should possess adequate knowledge and experience with the situation to form a decision.  Finally, when one is free from the noise of spirits or other internal confusion one can make a clear decision.   This spiritual tranquility is needed because one cannot form a good decision if his or her conscience is in doubt or is hampered by the noises of the evil one.
In finalizing one’s decision, St. Ignatius also offers this good advice.  One should be able to imagine the choice chosen being applied to another.  If the choice can be willed to another, then it potentially can be applied to oneself with at least a positive moral value.  One should also be able to feel no regret if this choice was made on one’s death bed and finally one should feel no regret if this choice was made before the final judgment of Christ.  If any of these choices cannot be seen as positive for these events, then they should be avoided.
With these ideals in mind, Christian Counseling emphasizes the importance of making good choices with clear conscience that corresponds with the teachings of Christ.  Some decisions however present issues that are beyond bad and good values but carry a neutral value.  In these cases, the soul must search deeper in prayer and meditation and seek the will of the Father in determining the outcome.  These solutions are not found easily but through time and spiritual soul searching.
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Lent Beyond Tradition and Christian Counseling

Christian Counseling Should Prepare the Faithful for Lent

Christian Counseling sessions should prepare souls for Lent.  The Church has set aside a special time for Christians to prepare themselves for the Resurrection of Christ. Far from merely just a historical memorial of an event, it is a living tradition where the Mystical Body of Christ together as one unit, spiritually renewing itself in union with its head, Jesus Christ. While the event in question happened two millennia ago, one still can simultaneously reflect on Christ’s death and carry one’s own cross. This is the supernatural mystery of Lent because one’s sacrifice escapes the temporal prison of time but is offered to God in one clear precise eternal moment. In this way, while reflecting on a historical event, one still, within the eyes of God, can participate and offer his or her consolations to Christ as he dies for mankind. So one does not weep for Christ’s death in the past but weeps in the present with Mary and the Holy Women.

Lent in this regard is a reflection of the past but also a spiritual exercise of the present which is offered to an eternal God who is not bound by time. Christian Counselors should emphasize this aspect of Lent as a time to offer oneself to Christ and console Christ in his darkest moments. One during this time should take up his or her cross and carry it up Calvary with Christ via sacrifices, fasting, and virtue building.
Christian Counselors during this time should encourage Biblical study time where the story of Christ and his passion is meditated upon. In addition to Scripture, one should also partake in a deeper prayer life. Catholics should partake in the Stations of the Cross, make frequent confessions, and visit the Eucharist. Protestants also can partake in various Lenten traditions in their own home or church.
Christians in general, should also work beyond the mere required fast days and individual sacrifices, but also work on a particular virtue they would like to cultivate. Through a thorough examination of conscience, one should be able to identify the core element of one’s spiritual life that needs addressed and focused upon. In addition to this, one should not only work on oneself but also apply the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy to one’s fellow man via good deeds of compassion and love.
The purpose of Lent while reflective on Christ’s passion is also a reactive time where one living in the present offers contrition to God and reparation via spiritual rebuilding and good works. This goes beyond mere rituals of abstaining from meat on Friday but involves a living and interactive faith with God that is fed by love and not habit. Lent is not about who can fast the most or not grumble about fasting but is a time to suffer and later resurrect with Christ. Without this love, abstaining from meat is merely a foolish ritual with no true meaning.
Christian Counseling should emphasize these elements to all spiritual children and should help and guide others in making the best out of one’s Lent. As a Christian counselor one can not only help a person understand fasting but also help someone build sanctity and a better relationship with Christ through prayer, virtue and charity.  If you are interested in becoming a Christian Counselor, please review the program.
Mark Moran, MA