Both the faithful and bishops are called to learn and to teach. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, the faithful of the local church witness to the apostolic tradition with their lives, and so are teachers. Learning to receive and respond to the sense of the faithful is an essential way the bishop grows in his personal ability to teach the church's faith in authentic and meaningful ways. How is the bishop's ministry of discernment formed by spirituality, and what structures strengthen it? Ignatian spirituality and the structures of discernment in the Society of Jesus model ways for bishops to cultivate discernment as a spiritual habit and provide insight for renovating diocesan structures to incorporate discerning dialogue with the faithful. In A Ministry of Discernment, Amanda Osheim moves from ecclesiological theory to imagining spiritual practices and church structures in the hope of contributing not only to the academic conversation about the sensus fidelium but also to the ways the church practically lives out our response to the Holy Spirit.
Amanda C. Osheim, PhD, is associate professor of practical theology at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, where she is presently the Endowed Professor of the Breitbach Catholic Thinkers and Leaders program. She earned her doctoral degree in systematic theology from Boston College and is a contributor at Daily Theology.
"Recently, theologians have explored the sensus fidelium, an ancient concept more honored in theory than in practice. Utilizing Vatican II and documents promulgated since then, Amanda Osheim outlines how an understanding of the Church as a communion invites bishops to a practice of discernment through dialogue with the people of the local church. Her perspective yields new theological insights. She further argues that this discernment requires new practices and structures. By plumbing the riches of The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius and the structures of the Society of Jesus she offers concrete suggestions for seeking the sensus fidelium."
Zeni Fox, School of Theology and Ministry, Seton Hall University
"Exploring a critically important topic in today's church, A Ministry of Discernment looks at the essential role of the laity in receiving God's revelation. Suggesting bishops are the gateway between the sensus fidelium found in the local church and the consensus fidelium that guides the church as a whole, Dr. Osheim offers Ignatian discernment as a mode for discovering and cooperating with the action of the Spirit in the apostolic community. There is a freedom in what is offered, with the teaching function of the bishop grounded in mutual learning and listening with the faithful. The process offered here would also serve pastors and parish staff as they discern the movement of the Spirit within their parishes."
Marti R. Jewell, DMin, Associate Professor, School of Ministry, University of Dallas
"This is deeply pastoral theological work in that Osheim's ecclesiological reflections all lead to its suggestions for practical development and even reform in order to allow bishops to fulfill their mission within the local church."
Anglican Theological Review
"This is a timely book, echoing the concerns of Pope Francis for a listening church, a more dialogic church, a synodal church. Amanda Osheim here enriches the current theology of the sensus fidelium by demonstrating the value of Ignatian discernment as a model for local bishops in listening to the Holy Spirit in their churches and bringing local senses of the faith to bear on the teaching of the universal church. This important book will be welcomed by bishops, theologians, and laypeople for its deep spirituality and practical insights."
Rev. Dr. Ormond Rush, Associate Professor, Australian Catholic University
"Amanda Osheim demonstrates that discernment of the sensus fidelium is the work of the whole Church, clerics and laity alike. A very important resource for those in episcopal authority as well as those who surround bishops and undergird their leadership."
Stephen S. Wilbricht, Catholic Books Review
"A Ministry of Discernment views episcopal authority through the lens of Christian spirituality. By doing so, Amanda Osheim offers a fresh approach to both `teaching' and `listening' in the church. A Ministry of Discernment displays a fine understanding of the ecclesial dimension of faith and an equally impressive grasp of Ignatian discernment, including its implications for those who exercise oversight in a body whose every member is called to discern the movement of the Holy Spirit. This book is rich in insights for the present and future of the Catholic Church."
Richard Lennan, Professor of Systematic Theology, Boston College, School of Theology and Ministry
"Osheim's study is an enlightening proposal for true episcopal spirituality: one connected to habitual discernment, both personal and communal; in dialogue with the sensus fidelium of the local church; working in tandem with diocesan structures, those already existing as well as those yet-to-be-created; and oriented toward mission."