Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Discernment via Disillusionments

One of the tools that God uses to lead us to "the pearl of great price," a treasure for which we are willing to sell all is the disappointments or disillusionment of our life.  It is true, I believe, in looking for the right person to marry--that person with whom one is called to form a lifetime commitment/partnership. Before finding that "treasure," that finest of pearls, an individual may date more than one person, suffer the heartbreak of broken relationships or even broken engagements.  The same process may occur in searching for the right major or minor in college, in finding the career or job that is a good fit. No less arduous, time-consuming and sometimes difficult, is finding the right religious community to which one belongs.  The Foundress of my religious community entered an active, apostolic community at age 21. Sixteen years later, at age 37,  she enter a cloistered community and eight months later God called to her to leave that community to establish one that combined action and contemplation. The road was difficult, filled with disappointments and disillusionments. Those disappointments and disillusionments were not unilateral but mutual. All of them led to seeking the will of God (discernment) and committing oneself to the Lord alone: our ultimate call. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Discerning your Spiritual Well-being

Discernment: Every day we are faced with discerning, “diagnosing, if you will,” the health of our hearts, not our physical health but our spiritual health.  In other words, is the Word of God, as it comes to you through the Scriptures, through the events of your day, through your relationships, falling  on soil in which it will bear good fruit, fruit that will last, or will the seed rotten, return to the earth without yielding the fruit within it?  If the soil of your heart is hardened by anger and hatred, jealousy and envy, judgmentalism and pride, selfishness and narcissism, by deceitfulness and meanness, then God’s word is choked off and eaten by “birds of prey,” unable to take root.  On the other hand, if your heart is made fertile by your humility, your honesty and openness,  by your generosity and love shown  to the poor and needy (especially within your family or, if a member of a religious community, the members of your community); if your heart is porous and softened by “rain” poured forth by daily prayer, reflection on the Scriptures, by taking time, in solitude, to bask in God’s loving gaze, then the seed of God’s Word, in whatever form it comes to you, will bear fruit that will last.


Can you discern the condition of your heart?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Discernment: Paying attention as Moses did

Discernment:  In today’s first reading, Ex 3: 1-6, 9-12, God revealed his mission for Moses to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt.  This plan is revealed in an unusual way.  Moses notices a burning bush but it is not being consumed by the fire.  So he decides to examine it.  God sees Moses approaching and calls his name: “Moses, Moses!”  Moses answers: “Here I am!”  God then reveals the mission of Moses leading the people out of Egypt, where they have become Pharaoh’s slaves.  Moses objects, saying: “Who am I to lead the people out of Egypt?”  God replies: “I will go with you.”

This story of salvation contains some elements of how we discover God’s plan for us: 1) God takes the initiative; God does the calling 2) God enters the ordinary circumstances of our daily lives—Moses is simply attending his father-in-law’s flock, and 3) our past, no matter how bad it might have been, is not something God holds against us.  These three elements are very important for us to realize. God is in charge. We belong to God!  Secondly, we are servants to one another and need to be going about our ordinary jobs, being responsible and dependable in carrying out our ordinary duties as servants.  Thirdly, our past is not a deterrent on God’s part and we needs to let go of the past and not use it as an excuse for doing what God calls us to do in fulfilling our role in salvation history.

Furthermore, Moses teaches us that discernment includes 1) paying attention, 2) examining the events around us—God may be trying to get our attention in those events, 3) being honest with God, and 4) seeking clarification from God, and 5) listening.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Discernment: Your Faith Commitment

Discernment of your commitment to Christ

As you reflect upon the following four movements in your journey as a committed disciple of Christ, where would you place yourself? in the first or second or third or fourth movements or in all four? 

First Movement: Exploring Christ

·         Seekers who have a relationship with God but have not necessarily had an encounter with
·         Persons who are seeking meaning and belonging and are trying to find their way.

Second Movement: Growing in Christ:  People who have had a personal encounter with Christ and are beginning to grow in their knowledge of God and our Catholic faith

Third Movement: Close to Christ:  People who are praying every day and are working at trying to seek God’s will

Fourth Movement: Committed Disciples of Christ: 

·         Every decision a person makes is Christ-centered.
·         This person gets it that this means continuing to develop a mature conscience and integrating
        one’s faith into all aspects of one’s life.
·         This person fully participates in the sacramental life of the church and service in the church and
       wider community.

(Source:  Rickard, Theresa, OP, “The new evangelization is interwoven with vocation ministry,” Horizon, Spring 2013, p. 10)


Discernment: "I want to be a sister"

You may be wondering how you will know that your desire to be a Sister is God’s will for you.  You might gain some insights into the answer to that question by viewing it from the perspective of how you would have known that you are called to marriage.  I suggest that you reflect back on a time when you  were dating and considering marriage.  How did you know whether marriage might have been right for you and that God might have been calling you to that vocation?  First of all, if you are a God-centered person, you  shared your thoughts about  marriage with God and sought God’s thoughts of marriage for you. You will have wanted to know God’s thoughts about you finding the right partner with whom to raise a family in the faith.  Second of all, both you and the gentleman would have sought certitude that you are meant to become husband and wife, to commit to each other in love forever.  You would have talked about it with each other.  You would have supported one another right up to the altar and beyond.  Both, not just one of you, if you both view life from a God-stance, believed marriage is a call from God for both of you.

Applying that experience to your desire to become a Sister, you and God have talked about it.  You have shared your thoughts with God and God with you.  In your relationship with God, you would have taken the position of a child talking to his/her parents, holding nothing back and seeking God’s input and His approval.  Second of all, you will have shared your thoughts with the Vocation Director of the religious community to which you feel called. Both you and the Vocation Director will have come to believe that consecrating your life to the Lord as a Sister is, in fact, God’s call to you and that this particular community is a good fit; namely, that you have the potential to commit yourself permanently to live out your baptismal call to build up God’s Kingdom here on earth as a member of this religious community,  giving expression to the charism and mission of the community and by being a faithful  community member.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Discernment: Where do I begin if I want to become a sister?

You begin this incredible journey, as any journey, by knowing where you want to go.  In which religious community are you interested?  Find out by doing some research. Go to the Internet, type in “Women Religious Communities.”  You will be directed to a website. In that website, click on the name of the religious community. That community’s website will open to you. Browse it! Read and reflect on it several times.  What about that particular community sparks a desire in you to consecrate your life to the Lord as a member of that religious community.  If what you are learning does not resonate with you, go to another website; search out another religious community.  Do so on the web and in person or over the phone.  Get to know the sisters in person. Attend “Come and See” sessions that a religious community sponsors.  “Hang out” with the Sisters.   Meet the vocation director in person or get to know her and let her get to know you via phone conversations.  

Discernment:  Vocation Directors have all sorts of materials that will help you in the discerning of your vocation and beginning this first step of the journey. Ask if she will share those with you  and then arrange phone conversations to discuss that material, piece by piece.  If interested in this first step, email me at and I will gladly assist you.  So will any other vocation director of the religious communities you found listed in the Women Religious Community’s Directory.  I encourage you to step out of your “shyness” and contact any one of them.