Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Discernment of God's Will

Discernment:  Discernment involves knowing when we are in sync or out of sync  with God’s will.   In  Ezra 6: 7-8, 12, 14-20, we read about how the Jews, having returned to Jerusalem following their exile in Babylon, rebuilt the Temple at God’s command and through the cooperation of the pagan king Cyrus and Darius, the encouragement of the prophets and financial help of the Persian empire.   All worked together to bring about the will of God for the good of the Chosen People, the People of God.  The Jews needed to recognize that God used even their pagan neighbors and those who imposed exile upon them , those whom they perceived as their enemies, to communicate His will and bring about His plans for their salvation.   In our day, we, too, need to be open to everyone and everything as an instrument in God’s hand to reveal what He is asking of us. This was drove home to me this morning. Five minutes into my hour of prayer, the fire alarm blared through the building. All were escorted to one “safe” place.  Ten minutes later, thinking all was clear, I returned to chapel, only to be called back to the “safe” place for another 30 minutes.  My hour of prayer was, to say the least, disrupted and basically close to its conclusion. I am boiling inside when, all of a sudden, the Lord says to me in the quiet of my heart:  “My will for you this morning is to be respectful of procedures put in place to keep the residents of this facility safe and to let go of idolatrizing your scheduled routine.” 
Be attentive today to how God communicates His will to you, through whom and through what circumstances of your life.  We may be clinging to our will and not seeking God’s will.  A clue might be how strongly you react to something or someone. Behind that reaction, if you probe deeply enough, you might find that which you, too, need to let go of in submission to God’s holy will!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Discernment: Is my life conformed to God's will for me?

 Discernment:  One of the most potent sources of knowing whether or not I am living a life that is in sync with God’s will is presented by St. Paul in Colossians 3: 1-11.  St. Paul clearly spells out what it means to live as a Christian, that is, as a person who has died and rose with Christ, as a person living life according to the will of God.  What criteria, so to speak, does Paul give us?  Put in a question form, Paul  is asking whether I am living a morally impeccable life.  Am I living a life of purity, honesty, serenity and peace; or, on the contrary, are my choices impure, immoral, dishonest and driven by feelings of annoyance, frustration, anger, or outrageous fury?  Am I building others up or tearing them down? Am I lying to myself and thus to others? Does obscene language dominate my thoughts and spill out into my speech?  Honestly answering those questions will give me the answer to the question: Am I in the process of bringing my life into sync with God’s will for me?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Discernment: Four Essential Practices

In his video made for World Youth Day, Fr. James Martin, S.J. breaks down four essential practices to discover your vocation, and I quote:

1.      Don’t wait for a flashing neon sign. While slogging through the daily routine of discovering one’s vocation, there may exist the misconception of waiting for a call. While some of our great saints have received direction in the form of visions and voices, waiting for a supernatural calling is neither the typical nor expected way to discern.

2.     You already have a vocation! We are made to be holy, happy, and to serve God. This may or may not mean a vocation to religious life, but we all have a vocation to become the best, holiest version of ourselves. This means we can banish the fear or trepidation that “I may have a vocation!” and instead realize that only by discovering our vocation will we be at peace.

3.     Don’t be hasty to disregard desire. Often, desire is confused with our selfish and shallow wants, but it’s much more than that – it is the key to who we are and what we are meant to become. In Fr. Martin’s own life, it was attraction towards service and the sacraments, which helped him understand his religious vocation. Through the deep desires of the heart, God calls us to a life which glorifies Him. To follow the desires of our heart, one must first set aside the shallow wants which lay on the surface to distract.

4.     Interpretation is needed — so pray for understanding. The path to Christ’s fulfillment is rarely clear-cut. St. Ignatius of Loyola said, “pray to understand your desires.” God speaks through peace and joy, but it can take time for emotions and distractions to settle, so to speak. Ask yourself what really gives you joy. Do not be discouraged if it takes time to recognize what holy desires God has placed on your heart. Learn from St. Augustine who said, “Our hearts are restless O Lord, until they rest in you.”