Jesuit Pupil Profile
Attentive & Discerning


Pupils in a Jesuit school are growing to be attentive to their experience and to their vocation; and discerning about the choices they make and the effects of those choices.

Jesuit schools help their pupils grow by promoting the practice of attentive reflection and discerning decision making: in teaching, in the examen, prayer and retreats; and through the practice and example of school leaders and staff.

Understanding the Virtues: Attentive & Discerning
St Ignatius tells us that we need to be attentive to the big and the small things, to the responses of other people, to the stirrings in our hearts, and to the preoccupations that thread their way through our lives.  Being attentive takes practice; it is much easier to rush from one thing to the next, taking little time to notice anything.  Once we develop the habit of being attentive, we can begin to discern what is good for us and what is not; and what God calls us to be, and to do.
Some scripture passages on the theme Attentive & Discerning:
  1 Kings 3:9
  1 Samuel 16:7
  John 7:24
  Matthew 10:16
  Matthew 24:24
  1 Corinthians 2:14
  1 John 4:1
  1 Thessalonians 5:21
JPP Resources for Attentive & Discerning

JPP tagcloud image

Tagcloud greyed-out with attentive and discerning highlighted in red.

Tagcloud attentive & discerning (png)

The colour red used for Attentive & Discerning is R255 B0 G0

PowerPoint animation

A PowerPoint animation in which the JPP tree/tagcloud reduces to the virtue pair Attentive & Discerning. This resouce could be the first slide in an assembly. If these animations are used regualrly, pupils get used to focusing on a pair of virtues.

Attentive & discerning animation (ppt)


Staff briefing paper

This briefing paper aims to be a quick introduction to the two virtues and the thinking and theology behind them.

Attentive & Discerning briefing paper (pdf)

The Examen

The Examen is the key spiritual exercise which the Ignatian tradition offers to help us be attentive & discerning.

Examen resources
Examen leaflet (pdf)


"Just remaining quietly in the presence of God, listening to him, being attentive to him, requires a lot of courage and know-how."
Thomas Merton (1916-58)



Some hymns which fit the theme Attentive & Discerning:

Be still and know that I am God
Be still for the presence of the Lord


This painting by Catalan artists Gemma Guasch and Josep Asuncion hangs in the entrance to the spirituality centre at Manresa where, in the cave above which it is built, St Ignatius prayed and wrote the beginnings of the Spiritual Exercises in 1522. It is the first of four canvases representing the four weeks of the Spiritual Exercises.

This painting can help explain the dynamic of the First Week of the Exercises and especially of the examen.

The painting may be interpreted as representing me. The bright patches and lines in white, orange and yellow, represent all that is best in me. It is what Christian theology calls the 'imago Dei' doctrine: the belief that I am made in the 'image and likeness' of God, my creator (cf. Genesis 1:26), and brought to life with God's own breath/spirit (cf. Genesis 2:7).

In front of the bright colours are dark blotches and lines which may be represented as the less good side of me - the stuff that spoils my best self and gets in the way of my growing to be what God calls me to be.

All people are a mixture of the good and the bad. The examen is a spiritual exercise which helps us be attentive to the good and the bad, to focus clearly on it, to grow the good, and resolve to deal with the bad. This is the art of discernment.

Spiritual Exercises painting (jpg)

Photograph © 2018 Jesuit Institute London

Les Quatres Setmanes d’Exercicis Espirituales I
Gemma Guasch & Josep Asuncion
Cova de Sant Ignasi, Manresa, Spain


The Labyrinth

The labyrinth is an ancient way of being attentive to the twists and turns of life and the decisions we make and where they lead.

A labyrinth is different from a maze because it has no dead-ends. Whatever the twists and turns, the path is always the one on which God leads us towards himself, however hard that is to believe sometimes.

Chartres labyrinth b&w drawing (pdf)

JPP Attentive & Discerning
Scheme of Work

Donhead Preparatory School, a Jesuit school in London for boys ages 3-11, has two 30-minute sessions a week where the learning is based on the JPP virtue pairs. This is part of the RE and Personal/Social Development curriculum.

The scheme of work contains many suggestions and resources.

Scheme of Work: Attentive & Discerning
Donhead Preparatory School website

Copyright Notice
The Jesuit Pupil Profile, tagcloud image and logo, and resource material, are copyright. The Jesuit schools of the British Province have permission to use them freely. If you wish to use or adapt this material and are not a British Province Jesuit school, please ask first.
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