Discussion and provisional decision


1. Gather in group and share the fruits of prayer.

2. For each option, the whole group looks at the disadvantages compared to the objective.

3. Personal prayer.

4. Seek emerging consensus.

5. Give time for confirmation.


When the members of the group have taken the time to pray with all the information received about the question (issue?) posed, a sharing of the fruits and of the spiritual motions will allow everyone to perceive what, for the group as a whole, appears to have more weight and importance for the decision that has to be taken.


This exercise may lead the group to want to reconsider the question posed or to rephrase it more precisely.


The moment then comes to seek the "pros" and "cons" or, as Saint Ignatius proposes in the Exercises, the "advantages" and "disadvantages" for each of the options or alternatives considered.  This exercise will be done always keeping before our eyes the identity, vocation and mission of the group and, even more ultimately, the greatest service and praise of God. When sharing in common, it will be a question of inviting to a great listening and inner freedom, taking care to stand like the needle of a balance and, from there, to pay attention to the reasons and the inner motions which make it lean one way or the other.


In the personal time that follows, everyone will be invited to make his/her choice.

By expressing it, with its reasons, to the group as a whole, the group will seek to reach consensus. It will be good to remind everyone of the difference between consensus and unanimity. In consensus one seeks to perceive what moves the group, as a group, beyond personal opinions. 


The decision that emerges will first be considered provisional. Time will be needed to present it to the Lord so that He may confirm it with the peace and joy it gives. The election, in the individual Exercises, is confirmed by the contemplation of the passion and resurrection of Christ. Exercises around the paschal mystery are appropriate in order to feel that Christ receives the election made as a participation in his own mission of salvation.



Whoever chairs the process tries to “read a consensus” and tests it against the group. If there is no clear consensus, the chair can probe for areas of consensus. At this juncture, some open debate may be useful. As a last resort, the group can decide by vote. 

Come together to share

Pros and Cons 

Personal prayer

Seek emerging consensus

Give time for confirmation

3 Key elements of Ignatian Leadership

De Castro - Key elements of Ignatian Leadership.mp4


For group members 

1.        Choose someone to be the timekeeper. (See below) 

2.        When a person is speaking, the others are silent.

3.        Listen with attention, devotion and reverence. 

4.        Welcome what is said with gratitude. Each person is the expert on his or her own experience.

5.        It is ok not to agree, but this is not to be expressed until the second round of sharing. 

6.        Share what you can, and what you want to share. 

7.        Share briefly and clearly

8.        The small group is not the place to resolve problems. 

9.        Times of silence are appropriate and necessary. Don’t rush to fill the silence. 

10.    Keep what is shared confidential

11.    Use “I” when speaking; do not use “we” or “you”. 


For the timekeeper 

Before the group begins: Tell everyone at what time the group will stop. Say how much time, approximately, each one will have for sharing during the first round. Please keep to the allotted time so that everyone will have a chance to share. 

 At the start of the meeting, around 10 minutes can be allocated to introduction of the process, followed by 30 minutes to 1 hour for personal prayer and review of one’s own reflections on the Universal Apostolic Preferences. (See attached “Universal Apostolic Preferences: Questions for prayer and reflection”) After this time of personal prayer, the group can begin the three rounds of sharing.


The three rounds of sharing

First round. One at a time, each person shares the fruit of his/her prayer. The others listen attentively. During this round there are no interactions between the participants except to ask for an explanation about a word or phrase, if necessary. As you listen, be aware of how you are moved, when you feel harmony with the others, when you feel tension, what struck you as the others shared.

 Silent reflection (maybe five minutes) on what has been shared, and your affective response.

 Second round. Whoever wishes may share the fruits of this moment of silent reflection. This will be followed by a time of dialogue on how another person’s sharing has affected you or given you deeper insights or a new perspective.

 Silent reflection (maybe five minutes) followed by sharing on any common themes or significant points that are emerging, as well as divergences of opinion if any.

 Third round. Gathering the fruit of the exercise, each person, if moved, may pray aloud thanking God or asking for a specific grace. 

 Short evaluation (maybe five minutes) on how the group proceeded.


Am I at peace with this decision? 

Am I at ease now, especially if what I earlier regarded as the best course of action is not the one chosen by the group consensus? Or am I uneasy? 

More resources on discussion and provisional decision