AL writes: “I am sending this article from www.americancatholic.org for your discernment. Fr. Mark’s use of the word praydream sounds a little like New Age. I have studied from Fr. Timothy Gallagher’s Discernment of Spirits book and listened to his teachings which I believe are very informative. I would like to know what your discernment is of this approach to discernment.”
There is nothing to fear in either of these books. The article you cite by Fr. Mark Thibodeaux, S.J., comes with an imprimatur from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati which means nothing contained in it is contrary to the faith.
What he calls praydreaming is really just making daydreams into prayers.
This is how he describes it: “Say I’m a manager who has just been given an offer to relocate to a faraway city and join a more prestigious company. My immediate inclination might be to feel frightened of all the threatening unknowns: Will my family be happy in this new place? Will I like my new bosses? Will I find affordable housing? Will I be burning bridges with my current firm? All of these are reasonable concerns and will have to be considered later.”
Fr. Thibodeaux says that St. Ignatius would not want negative considerations such as these to be the starting point for discernment, however. Instead, he would recommend considering our dreams and desires, such as the manager pondering the dreams for his life and career.
“Now, I begin to daydream—or better—to praydream! I ask myself, ‘How might I make these goals for my family and my job come to life, remaining here in my current job?’ (Option A). I dream great dreams of all that could happen in the life of our family and work if I continue in my current job or place.
Then I dream Option B: ‘How might I make these goals come to life moving to the new job and city?’ To prayerfully explore my options, I praydream all of the possibilities.”
After allowing oneself to imagine all the possibilities, he suggests that we discern which scenarios filled us with holy and wholesome desires and which ones caused anxiety or fear.
Fr. Thibodeaux is also the author of Armchair Mystic: Easing Into Contemplative Prayer and God, I Have Issues.
Fr. Timothy Gallagher’s Discernment of Spirits is another book based on Ignatian spirituality that is also a good one. In fact, Fr. Gallagher is featured on the EWTN series Living the Discerning Life. His books, shows and podcasts are highly recommended!
Send your New Age questions to firstname.lastname@example.org