Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Discernment and Self-concept


Discernment and Self-concept:  How I perceive myself has a great effect on the possibility I see in self-fulfillment according to God’s plan for me. I am a person capable to loving and being loved and making choices that enhance my self-esteem and choosing a vocation in life where I am most likely to make strides in growing in love of God, of self, and of others. (Note: I cannot love others or God is I hate or disdain myself. And if I hate myself, look down upon myself, then I will not be able to bring my will into God’s will).
Reflect on the following and ascertain how positive or negative is your perception of yourself.  Share both your positive and negative self-images with Jesus (in writing).  Then let Jesus, in writing, respond to you (don’t think strenuously; just start writing and see how Jesus comes through your thoughts).

Signs of a positive self-image

·         I feel good about myself

·         I share who I am with others

·         I take responsibility for my behaviors and the problems I encounter

·         I stay involved in life, looking for solutions to my problems, setting realistic, attainable personal goals

·         I am aware of my limitations and weaknesses and recognize my need for help from others

to make necessary changes in my way of thinking and behaving so as to regain a positive sense of self

·         I have a strong sense of identity and am myself.  I think for myself. I take time to reflect upon my beliefs and values and act on them.

·         I accept who I am and all of the dimensions of my life: my family background, my social realities, my talents and giftedness, my skills levels, my faith formation, my physical appearance.

Signs of a negative self-image

·         I am embarrassed about myself

·         I avoid letting others know who I am\

·         I make excuses for my behaviors/attitudes that lead to problems in relationships and in accomplishing my goals

·         I withdraw from life, turning in on myself, cease setting attainable, realistic personal goals

·         I feel threatened by persons whose way of thinking and acting are different from mine

·         I feel an enormous gap between who I would like to be and who I am, between what I would like to do and what I do. I take on other people’s way of thinking, their values (even when I disagree with them). I avoid thinking for myself.

·         There are aspects of myself that I do not accept: my family background, my social reality, my talents, my intelligence, my faith, my physical appearance.

Source: Pathways: A Vocation Discernment Program, Sisters of the Company of Mary, Our Lady, United States Province, 1989

Monday, June 23, 2014

Discernment: Attitudes towards Yourself

In order to discern God’s will, it is important to know yourself. I suggest that you begin by looking at your attitudes towards yourself. Do you think well of yourself?  Identify those attitudes that deplete you of energy, that is, attitudes by which you might be degrading yourself.   Those attitudes are an insult to God, who created you in His image.  You are God’s work of art.  You are made in God’s image and there is nothing ugly in God.  It is also important to identify those attitudes that energize you, that reflect God's goodness, God's beauty, the “glow” within you that reflects the glory of God at the core of your being.
I suggest that you take a few minutes to examine how  you look upon yourself and give those parts that need to be touched up by the hand of the Divine Artist to His Design for wholeness. For those parts of you which radiate the image of God  that you  truly are,  give thanks to the Lord.
The following questions might help you:

1.       What image do you have of yourself, that is, how do you see yourself? What are your  
        qualities, your limitations, your possibilities, your personal characteristics?
2.     How do you feel regarding your possibilities and limitations?

3.     Ask God how He/She images you.   What qualities does God see in you?  How would God characterize you? What  possibilities does God see in you? Start writing with your non-dominant hand. Do not think.  Just write!  See what God says to you!

 Adapted from Pathways: A Vocation Discernment Program, Sisters of the Company of Mary, Our Lady, 1990.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Attitudes: What role they play in discernment


Our ability to discern God’s calling—even God’s call in our daily existence to follow His will, the Spirit’s lead—will depend on our attitude toward life.  Take a few moments to respond to the following questions in writing:
What do you believe is the purpose of your existence?  In other words, why do you think you are here today, in this family, in this place, in this parish, in this school, in this employment?

What are you feelings about being alive today?

How do you see your life today? Insights emerging? Ambiguities of which you are aware?

In what do you invest your energy?

What seems lacking in your life?

What seems over-abundant?

In what ways can you take charge of your life or assume responsibility for how things are in your life today, making things better, decreasing the negative aspects of your life today or increasing the good in your life today?

In what ways are you living unaware of what is happening and why it is happening and ways you can change what is going on, if you are miserable, unhappy, empty?

Source:  Adapted from Pathways: A Vocation Discernment Program, Sisters of the Company of Mary, Our Lady, 1990.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Discerning God's Presence in One's Life

Discerning God’s Presence in your life—God is present in each event of our lives with a message of His love, His mercy, His faithfulness, His compassion, His understanding and an invitation to believe in yourself, trust yourself, and find out who you truly are or who you are capable of being and becoming. Given that fact, I invite you to the following exercise:

 1.       List the key events of your life: those that are joyful and those that are painful, those that are pleasant or unpleasant to recall, those that were easy and those that were difficult.
2.       For which of these experiences are most grateful and why?
3.       Which of these events left you with lessons about yourself that you do not want to forget: about your strengths, your weaknesses, your capabilities, your potential. What did you learn about yourself?
4.       Which of those life experiences contributed most to your growth in becoming the best version of yourself?
5.       Given these events, to what is God calling you now in order to build on the past as well as learn from the past and anchor your future in faith in God?

Source:  Adapted from Pathways: A Vocation discernment Program, Sisters of the Company of Mary, Our Lady, 1990.


Vita Consecrata

In Vita Consecrata, a document of the Church that acknowledges the gift that religious life is to the Church, states that men and women, from the very first centuries of the Church, felt called to imitate Christ, who became a servant for our sakes. Jesus left heaven to become one of us and to experience what it means to be human, to experience the challenges of a fallen human nature except for sin. Like us, he experienced rejection, persecution, ridicule, sorrow, deprivation, poverty and, yes, the wrath of the rulers of his day, a wrath so deep that he was executed, crucified, murdered—a fate occurring against innocent people to this very day.
Men and women religious have left all to follow Jesus, to become servants of all, to live a radical lifestyle that, in some cases has also led to  ridicule, persecution, deprivation, poverty and, yes, even  death as in the case of Sisters Maura Clarke, Ita Ford, and Dorothy Kazel on the night of Dec. 2, 1980 in El Salvador and  six Jesuits (Father Ignacio Ellacuria, Father Segundo Montes, Father Ignaxio Martin-Baro, Father Juan Ramon Morena, Father Armando Lopez and Father Joaquin Lopez y Lopez) killed in El Salvador in 1989.

All men and women religious, Vita Consecrata states, by living the paschal mystery of Jesus’ death and resurrection, become “bearers of the cross”  as well as “bearers of the Spirit”.  Truly women and men religious by living authentic spiritual lives endow “history with [a] hidden fruitfulness by unceasing praise and intercession, by spiritual counsels and works of charity” (Source:  #6 of Vita Consecrata).  How true of the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother (SSMs), and all religious!  In the midst of much opposition, at times, hospitals, schools, social service agencies, charitable institutions, and, much more recently, agencies against human trafficking, have been initiated and sustained through difficult times because of the authenticity and radical commitment of their lives to Christ Jesus.