The Discernment Process and Qualification

The Christian faith is not just a private affair, which has to do only with “God and me,” but is a complex social dimension requiring inseparable group interaction. Because of this, when we come together to do the “work of God” it is imperative that we do the “will of God”, not ours. In order to assure that we are doing God’s will, the San Jose Cursillo Movement has selected Saint Ignatius’ discernment methodology for making major decisions and for the selection of its’ leaders.

As a Cursillista of this Movement it is important that you understand how our leaders are chosen.


Before an individual is eligible to discern to lead a weekend or lead the Secretariat, they must meet certain basic qualifications. The following are the initial qualifications for the respective leader positions:

Rector and Rectora:

  1. Baptized and practicing Catholic
  2. Never been a prior Rector or Rectora (if there are no candidates, former Rector/a’s who served more than 8 years ago are called).
  3. Worked minimum of five Weekends
  4. Been a member of a Core Team
  5. Worked on the Service Team
  6. Given a Rollo
  7. Understand and be willing to follow the Cursillo Guidelines

Lay Director:

  1. Baptized and practicing Catholic
  2. Never been a prior Lay Director
  3. Active member of the Secretariat and/or a Committee(s)
  4. Cursillo is their primary ministry
  5. Worked at least three Weekends
  6. Have been on a Core Team
  7. Have been on the Service Team and the Rollo Team
  8. Understand and be willing to follow the Cursillo Guidelines

The Actual Discernment:

The Discernment usually takes place at a local church with three or more qualified candidates and the Community. After the opening ceremonies (song and prayer), the candidates meet with a facilitator while the Community continues to pray for the Holy Spirits guidance.

Because each of the candidates is technically qualified to take on the position, it is during the Discernment process that each candidate openly looks at themselves and answers questions which are designed to make them truly determine whether the Holy Spirit is choosing them at this time. The participants in the Discernment Process must agree with whom they feel the Holy Spirit is choosing. There is not a winner or looser or a right or wrong person but is this the right time. After the Discernment the Community welcomes the decision and the individual, and later, that person is commissioned into Rector/Rectora position.

The following are abstractions from the books sited, regarding the Discernment Methodology and how the San Jose Cursillo Movement employs it:

What Is Discernment?

Christian discernment is not just any process of decision-making taking place in a vaguely prayerful setting. It is a specific methodology of decision making with roots dating back to Moses and which was defined and refined by St. Ignatius Loyola in the 16th century. It is a method to make sure that the Holy Spirit is guiding the thought process and is applicable for both individual and group decision making.

The Essential Components of the Discernment Process

  • Assiduous Prayer Good discernment requires regular and serious prayer so that those involved can be open and hear the Holy Spirit talking to them. They must be aware that the Devil and their own egos will also be trying to command their thought process.
  • Adequate Information Good decision making requires that sufficient information, relevant to the choices, is available and known.
  • Reflection On Affective Responses In Relation To God This process requires noting, interpreting and reflecting on the feeling and desires that are experienced during the decision making, especially as it pertains to our relationship with God. St Ignatius stated, “each person must realize that they will make progress in all spiritual matters in proportion to their flight from self love, self will and self interest.”
  • Weighing The Reasons Participants need to be adequately informed and to give due weight to all the known reasons for and against each and every option applicable to the decision. Objectivity through honesty, flexibility and openness.
  • Confirmation Once the decision is made, the participant(s) will experience either peaceful confirmation or uneasiness, and the latter meaning that additional discernment is required.

Reflections on the Discernment Process:

  • Group discernment may appear to be democratic in nature, in that each participant has an equal voice, however, it is very important that the group be aware of, invoke and respond faithfully to the presence and movement of the Holy Spirit and thus find “God’s will” in their decision. Each element and component of the process is intended to work towards this end.
  • Both individual and group Discernments require implementation of all of the components listed above.
  • It is very important that the purpose, ground rules and ramifications of the group Discernment are both known and accepted beforehand, by all participants.
  • The Discernment process used by St. Ignatius ensures that each person in the group has the opportunity to state clearly what they wish to say both for and against all the options in question. This should not be done as persuasive rhetoric, debating, winning votes or intimidating but with candor, confidence, simplicity and love. It is often wise to have participants purposely express both the pros and cons of their desired option/position so that they are “forced” to be aware of both sides of the options/decision.
  • The group Discernment process requires a considerable level of trust, in-depth participation and the willingness to listen to others with an open heart. Participants must also try and overcome their own personal fears, prejudices and biases.
  • It is very important to be aware of where you are personally in regards to your spiritual and emotional life and whether you are as St. Ignatius stated either in a state of consolation (close to God and experiencing his love) or desolation (having a block with God which affects your love and relationship with him).
  • It is important to be aware of both your intellect and your emotions when making decisions. In other words, use your head but trust your feelings.

In the event that additional reading on the discernment process and/or St. Ignatius is desired, please consult the following books from which the aforementioned information was derived:

“Listening to the Music of the Spirit-The Art of Discernment”
By David Lonsdale,S.J.
Ave Maria Press
Norte Dame, Indiana 46556

“The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius”
Translated by Anthony Mottola, Ph.D.
Published by Doubleday
666 Fifth Ave.
New York, NY