Friar shares tools for discernment at workshop


An intimate group of 15 met in the Fireside Lounge for a workshop by a Franciscan friar called Practical Tools for Discernment: Listening to the Voice of God at 10 a.m. on Saturday. 

Over the course of the workshop, the Rev. Jonathan McElhone, TOR, discussed various methods of actively being open to God’s will, particularly prayer. 

“Prayer is the primary way that we hear God’s voice,” he said. 

McElhone led his listeners through the four steps of Lectio Divina, a traditional Catholic method of praying contemplatively through ScriptureThe group practiced the steps of Lectio Divina by slowly reading John 3:16, considering the message, raising one’s heart and mind to God and simply sitting in God’s presence in contemplation. 

Though this method of prayer might be difficult for many at first, McElhone said to persevere. 

“As we grow closer to God our prayer changes,” he said, comparing spiritual health to physical health, which requires regular nutrition and exercise. 

McElhone also recommended the setting aside of sacred space – a special slot of time or a place for habitual prayer. This helps to minimize distractions and promote a prayerful mindset.   

“Listening to God can be difficult at times,” he said, “and distractions are a part of being human.” Everyone will always need divine assistance in prayer, he affirmed. 

God speaks through creation, other people, circumstances, Scripture and in the stillness of our hearts, McElhone said. He reflected on the importance of learning to recognize God’s voice in the day to day of life. 

He recommended that individuals strive to keep reconnecting with God throughout the day and live according to the question, “Holy Spirit, what is it you’re inviting me to do now?” 

Sophomore Emily Adams said, “It was really helpful in my prayer life, overcoming obstacles that I’m dealing with right now. (It was) encouraging to hear practical things, … reminding me … and helping me to be encouraged in my prayer life, to keep going because sometimes it’s hard when you get discouraged. Things like this remind me how to keep going and why to keep going. 

McElhone’s next talk, titled Overcoming Obstacles Through Discernment, will take place at 10 a.m. on March 28 in the Fireside Lounge.