Saturday, December 31, 2016

Finding the Right Path in 2017

Discernment:  St. John says to us in 1 John 2: 20-21: …[Y]ou have the anointing that comes from the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. I write to you not because you do not know the truth but because you do, and because every lie is alien to the truth.”

How frequently do we not pretend not to know the truth!  Yet, we do. The truth is hidden within the very core of our beings.  To access it, we need to become very still, as there are layers of voices that tempt to drown out the truth, to block our hearing the truth and our eyes from seeing the truth, as well!  It is so easy to “jump in other people’s boat” and simply go where they are going—no questions asked—or to mouth what they are mouthing without thinking our own thoughts or knowing what our own thoughts are.

To get out of “a boat” that is not ours or to stop mouthing other people’s “truths” and neglecting our own, we need solitude time, alone time, quiet time. We need to come apart with the Lord and ask to be enlightened. We need to ask for God’s wisdom to flood our souls! Without God, we are very likely to be deceived. And Satan, the Father of Lies, is very skilled and very intelligent—after all, he is a fallen angel--at leading us down a path upon which God does not want us to travel, as it will not bring us to the personal truth that will set us free!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Discernment: Learning to Listen to "the Angels" God sends as Guiding Messengers

Discernment:  Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Shortly after Jesus’ birth and after the Magi left to return to their perspective countries, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and warned him to make an immediate departure in the middle of the night for the land of Egypt. Herod would be searching for the child Jesus to kill him.  When in Egypt and those who wanted to kill Him had in fact themselves died, an angel again appeared to Joseph instructing him to return to Nazareth.  A third time, again in a dream, Joseph is counseled by an angel concerning the  place in Judea  to settle that would be best for the Holy Family.

Joseph is alert to heavenly messages. He listens to the good spirits guiding him as foster father of Jesus.  All along, Joseph is fulfilling the prophesies concerning Jesus, God's plan for his life as our Messiah.

As with the Holy Family, God has a plan for your life as well. If you follow the promptings of “the angels,” the messengers of the Lord speaking to you, guiding you to making right choices, you, too, will be growing in the skill of discernment.  As with Joseph, so, too, with you: you are being guided day and night with warnings and instructions. Do you heed God’s guiding  voice? Do you see God’s guiding hand? Do you trust your "dreams”? Joseph did!  You can, too!

May you develop the kind of intimacy with God that Joseph had developed  and that enabled him to hear God's voice, trust God's messengers that He sends to you in your dreams.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Discernment: Knowing You are in Harmony with God's Will

Discernment:  How do you know that you are in sync with God’s will?  You know that you are in harmony with God’s holy will for you  when you are able to “Sing a new song to the Lord,” as we pray in today’s responsorial psalm, Psalm 96.   When you become aware experientially that the Savior has been born in you, that God has taken on flesh and dwells within you, that is, your actions are actions of love and forgiveness, humble acknowledgement of wrongdoing or of sin in any of its forms: greed, selfishness, deceit, hatred, prejudice, envy or the like.  You know that you are in sync with the will of God when light shines in your darkness, that is, you  are enlightened, hope-filled, faith-filled and doing that which is the loving thing to do as guided by the Spirit. Your knowing is an inner knowing, of which you become aware in solitude, in sitting in the Presence of God, basking in the Light Who is Christ the Lord and being rejuvenated by God’s grace that comes to you through the Scriptures, the liturgy, the sacraments, and through acts of humility, repentance and, yes, love and reconciliation with those you are called upon to show love on a daily basis!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Discernment: What we learn from King Herod!

Discernment:  Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Innocents, those little boys two years and younger who Herod slaughtered in hopes of killing Jesus. Herod was a jealous, ambitious man, narcissistically pursuing power and control at other people’s expense.  Deceptively, he asked the Magi, on their return from worshiping the new born King, to let him know where to find him so he, too, could worship him. That was not his intent. He wanted Jesus killed so that his position of power and prestige would not be in jeopardy.  He would do whatever he needed to do to remove the threat!

Herod lacked discernment skills and thus, I believe, was blinded to the evil that had possessed his character.  Without reflecting upon his life, without developing an honest relationship with God, without seeking truth and being truthful, without being upright, Herod is easy prey to Satan’s deceptive ways. Herod would not, without reliance upon God, avoid the  evil into which Satan would lure him. 

To ward off the kind of evil that prompts us to achieve selfish, ambitious ends at any cost, and to ignore God's will,  we need to “grow strong in the Lord, with the strength of His power.  Put on the full armor of God so as to be able to resist the devil’s tactics. For it is not against human enemies that we have to struggle,  but against the principalities and the ruling forces who are masters of the darkness in this world, the spirits of evil in the heavens” (Eph. 6:  10-12).   That is why,” St. Paul tell us, “you must take up all God’s armor, or you will not be able to put up any resistance on the evil day, or stand your ground even though you exert yourselves to the full”  (Eph 6: 13). 

How, you ask?  St. Paul counsels us as follows:“So stand your ground, with truth a belt round your waist, and uprightness a breastplate, wearing for shoes on your feet the eagerness to spread the gospel of peace, and always carrying the shield of faith so that you can use it to quench the burning arrows of the Evil One. And then you must take salvation as your helmet and the sword of the Spirit, that is, the word of God” (Ephesians 6: 10-17).

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Discernment: Recognizing Being A Disciple of Christ

Discernment:  In today’s Gospel, Luke 7: 18b-23, John the Baptist, who is in prison, asks his disciples to go to Jesus and ask whether he truly is “the one who is to come, or should we look for another,”  Jesus’ response is: “Go and tell John what you have seen and hear: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk , lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.  And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.” 

How do I know that I am at one with the will of the Father or whether I am in the presence of a disciple of Christ? I will know that I am in harmony with the will of God or have  encountered a disciple of Christ by the same criteria that John the Baptist realized that Jesus was truly “the one who is go come.” When I am cooperating with grace or when I am in the presence of a disciple of Christ or I myself am acting as one of Jesus’ disciples:

  •           I will hear and see more clearly.
  • ·         There will be  a lightness in my  step (“the lame walk”).
  • ·          I will be one who carries news that strengthens “weak knees.”
  • ·         I will be one who brings hope to persons weighed down by hopelessness
  • ·         My eyes and ears will be opened to God’s Word.
  • ·         People will begin to believe in themselves and be more confident of their abilities. 
  • ·         My own confidence in my abilities will increase.
  • ·         The choices I make will put a spring in my steps and a song on my heart.
  • ·         I will be open to correction.
  • ·         I will rejoice in the good others do.
  • ·         I will be able to affirm others and myself; I will be able to acknowledge the good others and I do, just as Jesus identified the good He was accomplishing!
  • ·         My heart will be purified: I will be less selfish, less fearful, less worried, and so on.

How do you discern your discipleship?

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Discernment: Developing a Discerning Heart

Discernment:  In today’s first reading, Zephaniah 3: 1-2, 9-13, the prophet Zephaniah issues a warning to us, saying: “Woe to the city, rebellious and polluted, to the tyrannical city!  She hears no voice, accepts no correction; in the Lord she has not trusted, to her God she has not drawn near. For then will I change and purify the lips of the peoples, that they all may call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one accord; from beyond the rivers of Ethiopia and as far as the recesses of the North, they shall bring me offerings.”

Zephaniah tells us that on the day “that the Lord will change and purify the lips of the people, that they may call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one accord… [we] need not be ashamed of all  your deeds, your  rebellious actions against me; for then will I remove from your midst the proud braggarts, and you shall no longer exalt yourself on my holy mountain. But I will leave as a remnant in your midst a people humble and lowly, who shall take refuge in the name of the Lord.”

What do we learn about discernment from this passage? We learn to discern whether or not we are drawing closer to the Lord. If we are journeying in the right direction, we are becoming more honest with ourselves and others. We are also more open to correction.  We are taking steps to deepen our intimacy with the Lord: spending time in personal prayer, communing with the Lord honestly, taking our concerns to the Lord, not pretending that we are content, when we are not; not pretending that we are not worried, when we are; not pretending that we do not need any help, when we do and so on!  If we are on the right path, we take time to call upon the Lord in all the circumstances of our lives.  We bring our offerings to the Lord: all that is good within us and all that is not so good; all that is good in the world and all that is not good; all that is good in the lives of our families, our friends, our companions and all that is not so good.

May you grow in this kind of discernment and in ways that deepen your discerning heart and mind and will!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Discernment: Come, Follow Me

In today’s Gospel, Matthew 4: 18-22, we are told the story of Jesus walking along the Sea of Galilee.  He sees two brothers fishing and says to them:  “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men [of people].”  He walks a little further and sees two other brothers and He calls them likewise.  All four men immediately leave their boats, their families and friends and follow Jesus. 

Wow!  How is that for vocation promotion! A simple “Come and follow me,” and immediately Jesus has four men who join Him in His mission to devote all of their life to building up the Kingdom of God, spreading  the good news of our salvation-- the Messiah has come—and growing in intimacy with the Lord, hanging on to His every word. 

Trusting Jesus' invitation, these four men stay with Jesus and learn from Him a new way of living and loving and being: one with the will of the Father, as Jesus was one with His Father’s will, surrendering to the Spirit, who may lead them out into the desert to confront Satan, to the shore of Galilee, or wherever, to share the Good News, or to the cross to die to sin and overcome darkness.  The Spirit is truly their counselor, consoler, and strength builder, as Jesus teaches them by word and example!

It is being one with the will of our God that is the core of any vocation: religious life, marriage, priesthood, the diaconate or the single lifestyle.  To which vocation in life is God calling you? God’s call goes further! To what ministry/job/career is God inviting you to do the good for which you were created and for which God gave you the talent to thrive and do the most good?  To and in what task today does God invite you to be His loving Presence, His compassionate understanding, or His reconciling Voice?

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Discernment of the Truth (Part II)

Discernment: In a previous blog, also posted today, we quoted one of three points that Dr. Cortney  Warren recommends to discern whether or not we are facing the truth. That first point was to pause and observe our emotional reaction to someone or something. The other two suggestions that she makes in her book Lies We Tell Ourselves: The Psychology of Self-Deception is that we also observe our thoughts and our behaviors.  What are we saying to ourselves when we react emotionally to someone or something and do not want to face what is being said or done and how are we behaving?
Our thoughts:  Dr. Warren reminds us that “most of us believe that we are right about everything: we think our thoughts are true. Unfortunately, our thoughts are incredibly inaccurate in characteristics ways.”  When you notice that your thinking borders the extreme or is in fact irrational, it is very important, in the quiet of your room, in prayer, in fact, that you ask yourself:  Is this really true?  Dr. Warren suggests that we ask the questions:  “Am I using my past to justify my current thinking? How are my thoughts biased?”

Finally, check your behavior.  Dr. Warren suggests that “when your behavior isn’t consistent with who you want to be or claim to be, pause. Ask yourself: Why am I acting this way? What is motivating my behavior? What do I not want to admit to myself about my behavior? Why?

For more information on Dr. Cortney S. Warren and her work, visit

Discernment of Truth (Part I)

Discernment:   Every day we face the challenge of discerning what God is calling us to or to what God is alerting us as potential danger to our faith, our trust and our dependence upon Him. The only way that we are going to be up to the task is if we heed St. Paul’s message in today’s first reading.  He says to us: “Put on the armor of God….[S]tand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the Gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all the flaming arrows of the Evil One. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

There is no other way. Satan is the Father of Lies. He lies continually!
Let us, though, look at this also from a psychological point of view.  How do we know that we are actually lying to ourselves, as Satan desires of us? In her book entitled Lies We Tell Ourselves: The Psychology of Self-Deception,  Cortney S. Warren, Ph.D.,  suggests that we start by observing yourself without any judgment. How are you reacting emotionally? We react emotionally to something when it stirs a memory, usually unconscious, that is painful or the memory brings up an unresolved issue. We do not want that memory to surface, so we are likely to not face the truth of what is being said. “Given this reality,” Dr. Warren states, “when you have a strong emotional reaction to something or someone, pause. Ask yourself: What is this emotion? What is my emotion in reaction to? Is my emotion really related to the present situation or is the present situation triggering something in me that is unresolved baggage from my past.”

Spiritually, go the Lord—let us, in the words of St. Paul, “put on the armor of God.”   Then ask God to bring up that unresolved issue! Ask God to help you name it, identify it! What happened then? Talk about that happening with the Lord! Tell Him all about it. Once you bring it out in the open and deal with it, passing it back to your past where it belongs and expressing your feelings to the persons involved in that situation, it will no longer rear its head in the present and block you from being open to what God is saying to you now!

For more information on Dr. Cortney S. Warren and her work, visit

Friday, October 14, 2016

Achieving the Purpose for which God Created Me: Things to Think About

Discernment:  In today’s first reading, Ephesians 1: 11-14, Paul again reminds us that we are God’s possession, “chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the One who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will, so that we might exist for the praise of his glory….[I]n  Christ],…[we] were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,…the first installment of our inheritance toward redemption [and sanctification] as God’s possession.”

How do you and I discern whether or not we are accomplishing this purpose? How do we know whether or not we are, by our thoughts and actions, glorifying God, our Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier?  God, we know, has given us a free will to achieve our destiny. It is not a given in the sense that we are God’s robots. No, freely we choose to act in accord with God’s intentions or we simply walk away and do our own thing, so to speak.  We may choose our own intentions and ignore the promptings of the Spirit, nudging us to do this or that, to not to such and such. It is our choice to realize our destiny of glorifying God, living in peace, in love, in concordance with the will of the Trinity!

If what I choose is what God intends, there  is a sense of harmony within me! Otherwise I feel discord or conflicted. When I surrender to God’s will, that surrender deepens my sense of wholeness, solidifies my faith and trust in the Lord and in myself. 

It is important to take time to look within: only then will you know whether or not you are living according to the will of God. Many people keep themselves extremely busy and do not take time to reflect upon what is going on inside of them. They avoid solitude and numb out in a variety of ways: perpetual busyness, drugs, overeating--whatever numbs their feelings!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Discernment: Are You Living the Purpose for Which God Created You?

In today’s first reading, Ephesians 1: 1-10, St. Paul praises God as follows:  ”Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him.”

To understand the impact of this statement, we might think of something that we have created or purchased to serve us in a particular need.  We possess that purchase or created object. It is to meet our need, to fulfill our purpose. It exists for no other reason. The object is ours, no one else’s possession. God created us for His purpose, not for our own purpose or for the purpose others dream up for us. We are God’s, “blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as [God] chose us in [God], before the foundation of the world to be holy and without blemish before him.”

How do you discern whether you are living according to God’s purposes and not your own or that which someone else dreamed up for you? 

If you are living a life of holiness and striving to accomplish the good for which you were created, you are receiving, in abundance, “the fruit of the Spirit,” which is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, [and] self-control” (See: Galatians 5: 18-25).  However, if you are living according to the flesh, you are then experiencing the following consequences of those choices:  “immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like” (See Galatians 5: 18-25). 

Whose purposes are you fulfilling?

Friday, September 23, 2016

Discernment: What we Learn from Ecclesiastes 3: 1-11

In today’s first reading, Ecclesiastes 3: 1-11, we are reminded that  there “is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every  thing under the heavens”: birth and death, dying and rising, peace and war, tearing down and rising up, building and destroying what was built, planting and reaping what was planted, weeping and laughing, killing and healing, rending and sewing, keeping and throwing away, speaking and being silent, embracing and refraining from embracing, seeking and losing, loving and hating. “Oh, my goodness”, we might exclaim. Or “Give me a break!”

Can you discern what action is appropriate for you at this point of time? Are you to give “birth” to something yet to be born in your life? Are you to rise to a new occasion knocking at your door? Are you to tear something down and rebuild, plant something new or reap what you have already planted? Is it time for you to weep, to grieve a loss, or to rejoice at a gain?  It is time to keep what you have or throw something away so as to move on to something that challenges your growth into the best person you can become?  It is time to embrace what God is asking of you and refrain from embracing what others are expecting of you? Is it a time for you to seek for a partner in life or to explore other vocational choices? Is it a time to seek deeper meaning in your married life, in your religious life, in your single life,  and find ways to make a difference in your current situation?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

"Follow Me," says the Lord

Discerning God’s Call: Today is the feast of St. Matthew, an apostle and an evangelist and also a former tax collector.  Jesus  passes by Matthew’s custom post, notices Matthew and says to him: “Follow me.”  Jesus passes by your “custom post” as well. Notices you and says “Follow Me.”

Why do you think Matthew heard Jesus? Why do you think Matthew left his custom post, stopped collecting taxes—a lucrative business for him—and followed the Lord, who had nowhere to lay His head, who was becoming the disdain of the Pharisees and leaders of the time, whose life would eventually be on the line, so to speak.  Following Jesus was going to lead to Calvary, though that was not as yet revealed by Jesus.  As He drew the twelve apostles—Matthew would become one of those men—closer and closer to Himself, Jesus would reveal this information to them.  What was it about Jesus, then, that attracted Matthew and other disciples?  Why did Matthew, once he met Jesus, never leave Him? Why, even after the crucifixion and death of Jesus, did Matthew stay with the apostles during those dark days before the resurrection of Jesus?

Will you follow Jesus and stay with Him, even n the darkest of hours? Why or why not?  Jesus notices you, as He noticed Matthew at his custom post, and says “Follow Me?” Will you leave that activity which, like collecting taxes and exploiting others, as Matthew was doing prior to his conversion,  is not what Jesus asks of you?  Will you risk following Jesus when the Pharisees of our day taunt you? Will you cling to the Lord, sit at His feet and be taught what it means to build up the Kingdom of God?

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Discernment: Prerequisites reflected in a Stream

Today's first reading, Proverbs 21: 1-6, 10-13 and the Gospel, Luke 8: 19-21, both provide us with insights into being one with the will of the Lord. In Proverbs, one who is in harmony with God's will is "[l]ike a the hand of the Lord; wherever it pleases [God, God] directs it."  Note the characteristics of a stream: it is small, flows from a larger source and into a larger source,  is inconspicuous, does nothing to attract people to itself. It also refreshes, sustains life, delights those who take time to "play" in it or to sit by its shore.  One who is allowing the Lord to direct one's life also is refreshed, delighted, sustained and given the grace to surrender by sitting at the Lord's feet, as one sits by the shore of a stream for refreshment and the renewal of one's spirit.  Allowing the Lord to direct one in whatever way the Lord chooses, a person, like John the Baptist,  is pleased to have Jesus increase  and he/she decrease, serving the needs of others, as a stream serves needs beyond itself. And like Mary, Jesus' Mother, truly is the handmaid of the Lord/the brother of Jesus.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Discernment of One's Will being in Harmony with God' Will

Discernment of God’s Will: In today’s first reading,  Proverbs 3: 27-34, and responsorial psalm,  Psalm 15,  we are given several ways to know whether our wills are in harmony with the will of God.

In today’s first reading, Proverbs 3: 27-34, God says to us:

“Refuse no one the good on which he [or she] has a claim when it is in your power to do it for [that person]. Say not to your neighbor, ‘Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give,’ when you can give at once. When a person accepts this instruction, he or she is at peace. That peace signals harmony with the will of God. Likewise when you “plot no evil against your neighbor, against one who lives at peace with you”; when you “[q]uarrel not with [a person] without cause, with one who has done you no harm….”  your will, again, is in harmony with the will of God.

In the responsorial psalm, the Lord continues to instruct us according to His holy will: “…walk blamelessly and do justice; …think the truth…slander not. …[H]arm not…[your]  neighbor …[H]onor those who fear the Lord.  …[L]end not [your] money in usury [at exorbitant interest rates] and accept no bribe against the innocent.  …[D]o these things [and you] shall never be disturbed.”

What do you and I need to do to bring our wills into harmony with the will of God, to live in harmony with others and with ourselves? In what ways are we helping others in need? In what ways are we honoring those who reverence the Lord?

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Discernment: What we learn from Luke 5: 1-11

Discernment:  Note what we learn about discernment from today’s Gospel, Luke 5: 1-11, Jesus is teaching a crowd of people. The crowd is pressing upon him, listening, Luke tells us, “to the word of God”—truly to the Word of God made flesh.  Jesus, feeling about to be crushed, spots Simon’s fishing boat a ways off shore—the fishermen were washing their nets.  So Jesus walks out to the boat, gets into it and pushes out a bit further to secure some space for Himself.  When he finishes teaching, he says to Simon: “Put out into the deep water and pay out your nets for a catch.”  Simon does so, even though he and his companions have been fishing all night, are worn out, so to speak, know that there are no fish in the area yet does what Jesus asks of them: Pays out into the deep and, to their amazement, have an overwhelming catch. “Who is this man,” Peter and his partners must have wondered.   I can imagine Peter saying to himself: “We’ve fished all night and caught nothing. He says: ‘Go out into the deep and you will find fish.”  Peter may have said to himself initially:  “What? He’s not a professional fisherman! I am.”  Then says: “Okay, Lord, We will go out into the deep, as you have asked of us.”

Following this large catch of fish, Peter falls on his knees and says to Jesus: “Leave me, Lord; I am a sinful man.” That does not faze Jesus. He says to Simon and his partners, James and John: “’Do not be afraid; from now on it is people you will be catching.’  Then, bringing their boats back to land, they left everything and followed him.”

There are several lessons in this reading concerning the art of discernment:

  • The importance of creating space for ourselves, as Jesus did, if we are to discern what God is asking of us. Do you recognize when other people’s will for us, their expectations, are crowding out our ability to hear the Word of God speaking to our hearts?
  • That Jesus is our Master, knowing what is right for us in regard to our vocation in life or other serious choices we face? Do we listen to His instructions as Simon did, even when they make no sense to us?
  • Being honest with Jesus, naming our failures, identifying out frustrations and sharing those with the Lord, as Simon had done when he told Jesus that they “have worked hard all night long and caught nothing.”  When you are struggling with your call in life or with a particular decision, do you go to the Lord
  • The importance of falling on your knees before Jesus and recognizing your sinfulness, that is, your ability to walk away from what God is asking of you?
  •  Hearing Jesus say to you: ‘Be not afraid’
  • Leaving everything that would block you from knowing Jesus and doing the will of your God through Christ Jesus. What might you need to leave behind if you are going to embrace the vocation to which God is calling you or to follow His instructions? 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Discerning God at Work within our Lives

Today’s discernment is based on Hosea: 2: 21-22, where Yahweh says to us through the prophet Hosea:  “ I shall betroth you to myself for ever, I shall betroth you in uprightness and justice, and faithful love and tenderness.  Yes, I shall betroth you to myself in loyalty and in the knowledge of Yahweh.”

In a commentary on this verse, the author tells us that the word “betroth” is used in the Bible “only in reference to ‘a young  virgin.’  Thus God abolishes Israel’s adulterous past. His new marriage is, as it were, with a new creature whose dispositions are as constant as his own…” (Footnote “t” of Hosea 2: 21) in the Jerusalem Bible).

God is at work in us and will continue that work until our “dispositions are as constant as his own.” And he accomplishes this work “in uprightness and justice, and faithful love and tenderness.” Yes, Yahweh betroths us to Himself “in loyalty and in knowledge” of Himself.”

Part of discernment is to recognize God at work within us, moving us toward the constancy that God models for us.  Discern the tenderness of God, God’s justice and uprightness at work in us each day.  Note that God is loyal. God will never abandon us.  Our past is no more, in God’s eyes. He says to us,  in Isaiah 43: 19, “See I am making something new.”

Friday, August 19, 2016

Discernment: Pay Attention, Listen, and Come to the Lord

Discernment: God says to us in Isaiah 55: 3-5:  “Pay attention, come to me; listen, and you will live. I shall make an everlasting covenant with you in fulfillment of favors promised to David.  Look I have made him a witness to peoples, a leader and lawgiver to peoples. Look, you will summon a nation unknown to you, a nation unknown to you will hurry to you for the sake of Yahweh your God, because the Holy One of Israel has glorified you.”

Obviously, three essential principles of discernment are: 1) Paying attention,  2) Coming to the Lord and 3) Listening!  If you are going to pay attention to the Lord in terms of which vocation God is calling you to embrace or which decision to make concerning how to thrive in your vocation be that single, married, religious life or the priesthood, you need to set technology aside for part of each day and pay attention to the quiet voice of God speaking in the core of your being and in the depths of others,  as well!   In the stillness, what are you hearing?
In order to listen, one needs to come to stillness, quiet one’s emotions and one’s thoughts to hear God’s whispers or to hear concerns/truths spoken by others.  How do you quiet strong emotions? Find alone time, for one.  Second,   journal: “I am feeling……………………………………because/when   ………….What I need is……………………………..   If I you are dealing with an unresolved problem, ask yourself how you have contributed to that problem and what you need to do to arrive at a solution (not what does the other person need to do).  Record your answers in writing!  Then choose a time to apply the solution that will bring peace to you and others.

When you assume responsibility for a problem, when you take leadership in resolving a problem, when you listen, when you pay attention and come to the Lord, seeking His help and applying that help, “the Holy One of Israel has glorified you.”

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Discernment based on Isaiah 45: 4

The prophet Isaiah says to us in chapter 45:4: It is for the sake of my servant Jacob and of Israel my chosen one, that I have called you by your name, have given you a title though you do not know me.

You are called, not for your own sake, but for the sake of God's servants, patriarchal leaders--in this day and age we would include matriarchal leaders, as well--persons very precious and loyal to the Lord their God.  Who, in your past, are models of faithfulness to the Lord God and for whose sake you, too, aim to be true to what God is asking of you?

Isaiah says to you that God has called you by name. Think of a time, when among many others, the teacher or your parents or your employer called you by name to be the one to accomplish an important task.  The mission was given to you, not to a brother or sister, not to another student or another employer. The "title" was yours, so to speak. This is God doing the choosing, not a parent, not a teacher, not an employer.

Isaiah says that God is the one choosing you, calling you by name, bestowing a title upon you "though you do not [even] know" God.  Is that title "Christian," "Sister," "Brother," "Father," "Mother," "Aunt," "Uncle," "Grandmother," "Grandfather"?

I invite you to ponder these thoughts. Take time to reflect upon Isaiah 45:4!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Discernment: Call, Vocation, Response

Today, let us reflect upon Isaiah 42: 6, in which God says to us:  "I, Yahweh, have called you in saving justice, I have grasped you by the hand and shaped you; I have made you a covenant of the people and light to the nations..."

God is the Caller, the one who calls us "in saving justice."  We are called in righteousness!  This is not our own doing. It is God's action, God's doing.   God does not call us and then walk away. No! He "grasps us by the hand," like parents take the hand of a little child and walk with that child to the task they want him/her to do, or like a husband/wife who take each other;s hand in love.
The Caller also "shape[s] us. We are the clay in the Potter's hand, being shaped to hold that which needs to be held, to take on the shape needed to carry out the purpose for which the Potter created it!

An agreement, a covenant is created by YAHWEH--God agrees to be our God, our Redeemer, our Sanctifier, our Strength so that we carry out God's purposes for which we have been sent, namely, to be YAHWEH'S light in the darkness of the world! We are also called to remain true to God's way of relating to humankind: in love, in mercy, in compassion, in forgiveness!

This vocation is for all of us--no exceptions to this call to be a light in a world of darkness, to carry out God's covenant to create a just world, a world in which God's love, mercy, compassion and forgiveness become a reality for all of God's children.

How will you respond?

Friday, August 12, 2016

The Call, the Vocation and the Response

Discernment: Call, Vocation, Response

We will devote several blogs to what we learn from Old and New Testament passages.

 Let us begin with Baruch: 5: 2-4.  “Wrapped in the cloak of justice from God, bear on your head the mitre that displays the glory of the eternal name. For God will show all the earth your splendor: you will be named by God forever the peace of justice, the glory of God’s worship. Up Jerusalem! Stand upon the heights; look to the east and see your children gathered from the east and the west at the word of the Holy One, rejoicing that they are remembered by God.”

The Call, Vocation and Response:

·         To reflect the glory of God’s name
·         To show all the earth your splendor
·         To stand up on the heights (you are “wrapped in the cloak of justice from God”;  “you will be named by God forever the peace of justice, the glory of God’s worship”)
·         To look to the east and see your children gathered from the east and the west at the word of the Holy One, rejoicing that they are remembered by God”

This is everyone’s call—those who are married, those who are in religious life (men or women’s community), those who are single or those who are priests and deacons.

In what ways are you reflecting the glory of God's name? In what ways, by your life, do you show the world God's splendor? Do you stand tall, knowing that you are "wrapped in the cloak of justice from God" and that you will be "named by God forever the peace of justice, the glory of God's worship" for all eternity?  Do you believe and trust that God is gathering all of His children (and yours) from east and west? Are you rejoicing that God remembers all His children (and yours)?

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Discernment: Starting Points

Discernment:  The past few blogs have focused on where to start in the discerning of your vocation in life, especially the vocation to priesthood or religious life. We have looked at the importance of self-knowledge and seeking feedback from family, friends, and colleagues who respect God call to religious life and to the priesthood.  We also recently looked at the important of honest self-appraisal and keeping a journal, recording your thoughts on a particular subject. Writing about your personal accomplishments and the current events in your life can also help you discern your vocation.

Other important  starting points or aspects of discernment of a vocation include praying regularly, being involved in your local parish ministries and talking with a spiritual companion who is trained to listen objectively and thus help you clarify your life in relationship to God.  Take the time, also, to visit different religious communities in your area, that is, in particular,  to visit a Vocation Director of various religious communities and, if considering the priesthood, look up the Diocesan  Vocation Director and arrange a visit!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Discernment of Your Vocation in Life

 Discernment of your vocation in life: In today’s reflection, we will look at two aspects of discernment that are important: 1) honesty with self, that is doing an honest self appraisal; 2) keeping a journal on a regular basis.  Why? Because journaling helps us grow in honesty with ourselves.  Writing also opens up the unconscious. Things we buried about ourselves eventually surface in the writing.  What is buried within is put out on paper.  There it is in plain sight! 

What to write: put down what you are thinking on a particular subject.  In this case, write down what you are thinking about each vocation in life, especially religious life and/or priesthood.  Look at your lifestyle preferences!  Doing this will clarify your perceptions.  Question yourself!  Are your thoughts true about that lifestyle? Are the exaggerate? Are they idealistic or realistic? Are they downright lies?  Do you need to do some rethinking about that particular lifestyle?

Take time to go back and reread entries.  What patterns are emerging?

Take all of this to prayer and share your thoughts—your journal entries—with the Lord! Also share with someone who will be supportive of what God may be asking of you.  That person might be a friend, a spiritual advisor, a teacher, a counselor, a parent, a grandparent.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Discernment: Questions to ask family, friends, or college professors

Discernment:  In the last blog, we looked at the importance of growing in self-knowledge as part of the discernment process.   We talked about knowing your personality. Are you a cheerful person, a person with whom it is easy to get along, someone who lights up the room when you enter, who makes things happen that promotes growth in yourself and others. Are you a self-started, an achiever, someone who is willing to do whatever it takes to transform a situation from hopelessness to hopefulness, from a darkness into a brightness. Are you a melancholic person, someone with whom it is difficult to work or live, who holds back and resistant to challenging work and to making necessary changes within oneself to make the world a better place.  And even if you describe yourself as the latter, are you willing to make changes in the way your relate to others or engage in ministry, in making a difference in the world around you?

Another part of discernment of your vocation in life, and especially if you feel called to religious life or priesthood, includes asking your family, friends, colleges what your talents and strengths are.  Other people may recognize your good qualities before you do.  They may see greater possibilities for your life than you do. Ask them! Ask more than one person, as someone you ask may be bent in only one direction for you and exclude others because, for instance, of unperceived prejudices toward religious life or priesthood.  

Friday, August 5, 2016

Discernment and Personality

Discerning a Vocation to religious life, priesthood, marriage or the single life?  Begin this discernment process with growing in self-knowledge. Take time to get to know yourself:  how would you describe your personality, that is, your character, your disposition, your temperament?  Would you or would other people, for instance, say that you have a cheerful personality? That you are easy to get along with, that you are a go-getter, self-starter, achiever, willing to do whatever it takes to make life enjoyable, livable, pleasant, growth-promoting? Or would you or others say  that you are someone who is difficult to live with because of a melancholic nature, a moody disposition, someone who is hesitant to contribute to the common good, who holds  back, is resistant to challenging work, who withholds love and conciliatory attitudes?  Would you or others describe you as optimistic or pessimistic, a positive or a negative person?

Given your personality, which vocation would be best for you and others who share that vocation with you: marriage, religious life, priesthood, the single life?    Are others saying: “You would be a good member of a religious community (women/men) because…..” You would make a good wife/mother, a good husband/father  because…..”  “ You would make a good priest because….”  “You would do best as a single person because….”

Think about it. Pray about it. Talk to others about it!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Discernment: A third sign of one's Vocation in Life

Rev. Martin Pable, OFM Cap, proposes three signs of a vocation:  a desire for the life, the right motivation for that life and fitness for the life.  In two previous blogs, we reflected upon the first two signs. In this blog, let us look at the third sign of a vocation; fitness for the life of becoming a woman/man religious or becoming a priest. Priesthood and religious life requires that a person is mentally, physically and emotionally healthy.  That means that one is able to live the priestly life or the life of a woman/man religious in a way that  builds community, not tears it down.  One needs to be comfortable, cheerful, and generous in the giving of oneself, in compromising solutions to problems and generating strong hope and a deep faith. One must have the strength, mentally and physically, to deal with the challenges and difficulties of life in ways that lead to new life. 

"The life itself," Rev. Pable states, "must suit you and you must suit the life and you aren't paying a horribly high price just to stay in. Somehow there must be a meshing of your interest and ability and competency with those of the religious life. Both must mesh."  Not everyone is cut out for religious life or the priesthood. That does not mean that they failed, are inadequate or are bad individuals anymore than a person who insists on being a musician without musical talent is a failure or a bad individual.  

What is good for you is the question you need to ask. In what do you thrive? Would it be religious life, priesthood, marriage or the single life?  Remember that God does not do violence to an individual, demanding that which is against that person's abilities, capabilities and inmost desires, Father Pable emphasizes.  If a vocation does not "fit" and you are in no way attracted to it, do not desire it, are not rightly motivated for it, nor "fit" for it, don't put it on and pretend it does!  Find the vocation that is right for you: you desire it, have the right motivations for it, and it "fits"--you are happy, comfortable and generous in the giving of yourself to meet its challenges and in dealing with the difficulties of life that are part of all vocations.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Discernment of a Call to Marriage

In the previous blog, we reflected on the second of three signs of a vocation to religious life or to the priesthood—wanting the life for the right reasons. The first sign is having a desire for the life. Let reflect now reflect on adequate and inadequate reasons for  choosing marriage.  In other words,if you are thinking of marriage, it is important to be asking yourself: What is motivating me to want to marry this man/woman or to want marriage in the first place at this point of time in my life?

Adequate reasons:

  •         I truly love this man/woman and I want to commit my life to him/her.
  •     I want to support this man/woman  for the rest of my life.
  •     In prayer, my desire to marry this person is confirmed. 
  •     I feel a deep love for this person and, in turn, I feel this person’s deep love for me. 
  •     We both desire to give our all to each other, in sickness and in health, in good times and difficult times. 
  •     Together we want to grow in love and respect of each other.
  •     We want to support each other in growing in our faith, in becoming our best selves, in raising children in the faith, and in developing our careers, our talents, our gifts for the good of each other and our children.  
  •     We want to help each other fulfill his/her dreams and meet his/her needs. 
  •     We want to be there emotionally for each other no matter what.
  •     Together we want to become the best man, the  best woman we are capable of achieving. 
  •     We want to be companions/partners for the rest of our lives.

Inadequate reasons:
  •      I can’t make it on my own.
  •          I’m lonely.
  •       I’m pregnant.
  •          I have to prove to others that I am an adult.
  •          I got to get away from an oppressive situation at home.
  •          I cannot live without a man/a woman, any man/any woman by my side.
  •          I’m a nobody without being married.
  •          This person needs me. I can save him/her. This person cannot make it without me.
  •          All my friends are getting married. My siblings are married. I have gotta be married, too.
  •          I’m a failure without marriage.
  •          My parents/my siblings/my friends want me to marry this person; but I don’t want think this is the right person for me. But I got to go ahead with it. My parents/siblings/friends insist on it.
  •          I don’t really love this person but he/she’s rich, beautiful physically. Others would die to marry into a wealthy family or to marry someone this beautiful physically/this handsome.  I’ve gotta go through with it even though it does not feel right for me.
  •          If I stay single, others will think I am a failure.
  •          I need someone to take care of me!
  •          He/she will make me happy!  I will feel complete with this person.
  •          This person has got money!
  •          I’m growing older.  It’s time to get married before it is too late.

Discernment: Signs of the Vocation to Which You Are Called

Discernment:   Let’s continue to reflect on three basic signs of a vocation, as presented in an article by Rev. Martin Pable, OFM Cap. The first of those three signs is  that you have a desire for the life you are considering. The second sign is that you want the life for the right reasons.  In other words, what is motivating you to want to marry this man/this woman, to want to be a priest or to enter a religious community of women/men, or choose the single lifestyle?    A Vocation Director will be searching for the motivation behind your desire to enter religious life or to become a priest.  Someone preparing you for marriage or counseling you about remaining single will also be concerned about your motivation. 

Adequate reasons would be wanting to enter religious life or become a priest would be wanting to serve the Lord above all else, wanting to participate solely in furthering the mission of the Church, to live the Gospel in a radical way, to grow in intimacy with the Lord by a life of prayer and service, and the sacrifices of  being a priest or living in a community of women/men religious, not having a husband/wife to love exclusively and raising a family together in faith. Wanting to live with others who share a common mission and desire to grow in faith and love by furthering the designs of God as revealed through communal discernment of God’s will is also the kind of motivation that indicates the possibility of being called to religious life and or to priesthood.

Inadequate reasons  for wanting to enter religious life or become priest would be looking for the security which members of a religious community enjoy or that a priest seems to enjoy: a roof over one’s  head, three meals a day, a bed to sleep in each night, the social life of  retirement with fellow religious/priests in one’s advanced age,  life insurance, so to speak, and lots of things for which  other people in the world scrounge.  Other inadequate motivations  would  be wanting to escape loneliness or a failed relationship, or thinking that being a religious or becoming a priest gives you status and instant recognition or that it is a glamorous life. A young man who was applying to enter a seminary  said to me : “I need to be honest. I’m attracted to the pomp and circumstances of being a priest.” If that is one's only motivation for entering a seminary or a religious congregation, then the call to priesthood or religious life needs to be questioned.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Discernment and Turbulent Waters

Discernment and Turbulent Waters:   In today’s Gospel, Matthew 14: 22-36, the disciples are out on the sea, buffeted by strong winds.  Jesus had stayed ashore to dismiss the crowd of about 5000 men plus all of the women and children that they had just fed.   “During the fourth watch of the night  [around 3:00 in the morning][Jesus] came toward them, walking on the sea.”  The disciples are terrified, thinking that they are seeing a ghost walking toward the boat.  Jesus, aware of their fright, says to them: “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”  Peter says to Him: “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” Jesus says: “Come.”  So Peter begins to walk on the turbulent water toward Jesus and as the winds whip around him, he becomes frightened, takes his eyes off Jesus and begins to sink.  “’Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him,” saying “O, you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

“If it is you, command me to come to you,”  Peter says to the Lord.  Peter gets out of the boat and begins to walk on the water. “Is he crazy,” we may ask!  “What’s he thinking? He is not capable of walking on water,”   we proclaim.  When you and I are contemplating something which we believe God is asking of us, like Peter, we may courageously step out into the turbulent waters because we believe that the Lord has called us, as He did Peter: “Come”  Jesus says to Peter when Peter says to Him: “If it is you, Lord, command me to come to you on the water.”  It’s like saying: “If it is you, Lord, calling me to remain single, to enter religious life, to study for the priesthood, to marry this woman/this man, bit me do so.”  “If it is you asking me to do such and such, bit me, Lord, to do it with courage and with faith.” Then the waves of criticism rise and we may get scared, begin to sink in our resolve. “Save me, Lord.” And immediately, Jesus reaches out His hand and walks with us to accomplish that of which, on our own, we are not capable!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Discernment of Being Called to a Particular Vocation in Life

DISCERNMENT: There are four basic vocations in life: marriage, religious life (men or women), single life style and priesthood (diocesan).  According to  Rev. Martin Pable, OFM Cap., there are three basic signs of a vocation. Let us look at what he considers the first sign and that is “Do you have a desire for the life”.   Do you feel inclined to become a married woman/man, to become a priest, to remain single, to enter religious life? If the answer is “no” to one of those, then you know that is not the vocation to follow in life. Look at the other three.  Father Martin also asks: “Does it give you a certain amount of satisfaction to think about it,…a certain amount of enthusiasm or joy or some kind of positive feeling?”  It is important to realize that God does not force a certain vocation upon anyone! God desires a cheerful giver, not someone who feels coerced into giving of oneself in a particular vocation .  God respect each person’s will, each person’s desires.  God wants your peace, your happiness, your joy. If a particular vocation goes against you inclinations, your desires and does not speak of joy, does not give you a sense of satisfaction, do not go there!

Being inclined toward marriage, religious life, priesthood, or the single lifestyle is important! If you are saying “I think God wants me to be a priest, a sister, a married woman/man, a single person but I don’t feel inclined toward that vocation, then that is not what God wants of you! Or if you are saying: I think God will punish me if I do not enter religious life, become a priest, get married and have children or remain single, then, too, you are not called to that particular vocation. God is not a punishing God. God does not coerce a vocation upon you!  He respects that to which you are inclined, that which  brings you satisfaction, peace, joy, excitement, enthusiasm!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Discernment: Scripture Examples of Following the Will of God


Discernment of God’s will is modeled for us by Jesus, Mary, Joseph and others in the Scriptures.  We learn God’s ways in the Bible and in life itself!
I n Luke 1: 38, Mary says to the angel Gabriel: “You see before you the Lord’s servant, let it happen to me as you have said.” Do you consider yourself “the Lord’s servant”?
Suddenly, St. Matthew tells us, “the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get us, take the child and his mother with you, and escape into Egypt”   (Mt. 2: 13).  Are you ready to relocate, if God asks you to do so?
Carefully watching over the Holy Family in Egypt, an angel appears to them after Herod’s death and says to Joseph: “Get up, take the child and his mother with you and go back to the land of Israel,…” (Mt. 2: 19).  Are you ready to change course, if the Lord asks you to make changes in your life?
Ever wonder whether God is asking you, as He did John the Baptist, to be a “voice of one that cries in the desert,”—no one else seems to hear you. It’s like being in a desert with no nourishment to carry out what you believe God is asking of you.  And the walk through “the desert” can be threatening, uninviting, scary. Yet, John the Baptist follows God’s plan. What about you?
Render to God the things that are Gods and to Caesar the things that belong to Caesar: answering God’s call is rendering “to God the things that are God’s”  (Mark 12: 17).
Now “Jesus appeared: he came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John.” John objects and Jesus says to him: “Leave it like this…;it is fitting that we should, in this way [John baptizing the Incarnate Word], do all that uprightness demands” (Mt. 3: 15).  Are you willing, in your choice of vocation, willing to all that uprightness [honesty] demands of you, even though others do not understand?
Moved  or led by the Spirit, Jesus went out “into the desert to be put to the test by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights.” Whatever looks like desert to you, if it is God’s will that you go there, do you realize that it is the Spirit that will lead you, be there with you and that angels will minister to you? (See Mt. 4:1, 11)
Eye has not seen and ear has not heard  what God has prepared for us, I would say, when we are in sync with God’s will for us (cf.1 Cor 2:9). Mary was so strengthen in her resolve  and filled with joy and peace that she sang Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55).  Is your soul at peace? Is your soul filled with joy at the choices you are making?
Now “the hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified. In all truth I tell you, unless a wheat grain falls into the earth and dies, it remains a single grain; but if it dies it yields a rich harvest” (John 12: 23). To what is God asking you to die in order to experience a rich harvest?

Then, overcome with sorrow to the point of death, Jesus says to His Father: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me. Nevertheless, let your will be done, not mine.”  Are you willing to say to God what Jesus said?

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Discernment: In my heart of hearts what do I desire?

Discernment:  As you ponder and wonder  which vocation is right for you, I encourage you to ask yourself: In my heart of hearts, what do I desire, not what does mom or dad or grandma/pa want of me,  not what do my friends want of me or my teachers or school counselor but what do I desire in my heart of hearts! And what will it take for me to realize my heart’s desire?  What’s getting in my way? What am I telling myself about what I desire in my heart of hearts, in the very core of my being?  Courageously, answer those question in the quiet of your room or in a space where you know you will not be disturbed or interrupted or pressured to think the way mom and dad think, the way grandma and grandpa think, the way your friends think or anyone else.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Discernment: To What Spirituality/Mission Am I Attracted?

Discernment:  As you discern your vocation, believing that God might be calling you to religious life or to priesthood, I encourage you to asked yourself: What part of the spirituality and/or mission of the priesthood/religious life attracts me?  Obviously, to know that, you need to research articles or websites of religious communities and of the priesthood (be that the diocesan or a religious order priest) to learn about the spirituality of the Order in which  you are interested. If you are looking at women religious communities, you can access those by typing in “Women Religious Communities” in the Internet search box. A Directory will surface. If you click on the name of a religious congregation, their website opens.  I also encourage you to visit religious communities in person in your area or outside of your State. Talk to Sisters/Priests of that religious community to learn about their spirituality/mission.  For men, type in “Men’s Religious Communities” and several options will surface.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Discernment: How to Overcome Fears and/or Obstacles

Discernment:  In the July 22 blog, I invited you to look at your fears about marriage, religious life, priesthood or the single lifestyle. I asked that you identify your fears, ask how realistic each is, whether or not they are, in fact, true, and, finally, reflect on what you  learned by answering those questions.

In this reflection, I ask you whether you can overcome the obstacles or fears  that surface when you seriously consider  entering religious life or the seminary, or when you consider marriage or the single lifestyle.  If your answer is “yes,” then how will you overcome that obstacle?  Write out your responses and then share them with Jesus.  Ask Jesus for feedback.  

Friday, July 22, 2016

Discernment: Looking at What One Fears about any Vocation in Life

Discernment:  Part of discernment of a vocation to religious life and/or priesthood, but could also apply to marriage and/or the single life,  includes looking at the greatest obstacle you sense prevents you from pursuing that vocation. In other words of what are you most afraid when you think about entering a seminary, a religious community of men or women. What frightens you about seeking a husband and getting married? And finally, if you feel called to remain single, what frightens you about that vocation in life.  List all of your fears of any one of the vocations in life.  Then surrender them to the Lord. Also ask the Lord to give you feedback about those fears.

Also, how realistic are those fears? Talk to someone in each of those vocations about your fears. What feedback to they give you?  Do your fears hold substance? Are they even true about that vocation in life?  What do you learn by looking at your fears of any of the vocations?

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Discernment: What Your Personal Gifts Might Reveal

Discernment:  As you ponder to which vocation God is calling you, I invite you to respond to the question “What gifts would you bring to priesthood, religious life, marriage or the world as a single person committed to your career choice.

After listing your gifts--as many as come to your mind—then ask yourself: In which vocation am I likely to develop those gifts?  Which vocation, do you think, will bring the best out of you and why? Where and with whom are you mostly likely to give of your very best and why?  What do you need to grow and does the particular vocation that you are considering offer you the right environment?  If you do not know, then talk to someone in a given vocation whom you admire, and ask the questions that come to your mind that need to be answer for you to make a choice that is right for you.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Discernment and Surrender

Discernment and Surrendering to the Will of God:  God wills our peace and our salvation. God wills that we become the person God designed us to become.  God did not send us to this earth to be what another person wants us to be but to become our own person who carries out the purpose for which God created us.  No one else in the world has or will be given the mission that God entrusts to us. We need to discern what that mission is and become the person we are in God’s sight.  No one else is given the mission God has given to us and no one else in the world is who we are: each one of us is unique. The image of God by which we are made is not the same as anyone else’s.  I f we do not reflect the image and likeness of God given to us in God’s creation of us, that image and likeness of God is denied the world around us.

So, who are you in God’s sight? What image and likeness of God are you to be reflecting in the world where God placed you? What mission has God given you? And in what vocation are you to reflect God’s image and likeness and in what vocation are you to carry out the mission God gave to you and to no one else?

To discern this, we need to surrender our will to God’s will as Jesus surrendered to the will of His Father.  On our own, we are not capable of surrendering our free will. We need the grace of God to do this.  That is why it is paramount that we prostrate ourselves on our knees and ask God to assist us, to empower us to follow Jesus’ example of surrendering to God as our Father and Creator, our Sanctifier and Savior!  We need God’s grace to enable us to know and trust and love God our Father and Creator, our Sanctifier and Savior. Only then will we surrender our wills to this Higher and trustworthy Will.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Discernment: Role of God Talk and God Knowledge

Discernment:  As you ponder the vocation to which you feel called—religious life, priesthood, the single lifestyle or marriage—I encourage you to look at what you can do to open up the lines of communication between God and yourself. Also ask: How can I come to a greater knowledge of God and myself in order to understand what my vocation might be. Those two questions are very important.

Why open up the lines of communication between God and yourself? Every vocation is a call and behind every call is a caller. It is important to increase your communication with the Caller and to deepen your knowledge of the One who calls. In terms of religious life or priesthood, growing in your knowledge of God and further opening up the lines of communication with the Caller is as important as doing so with one’s future husband/wife. You would never consider marriage a particular person without increasingly opening lines of communication with that person and taking steps to grow in knowledge of that person. So, too, with the One who calls a person to religious life or priesthood.

So, how to you do that?  What are you already doing in communicating with God? What are you already doing that is helping you grow in your knowledge of God? Continue doing that but increase your efforts. If you are not already doing this, set aside private time with the Lord each day.   Find a space of solitude and talk to God about yourself and your day as you would with a best friend.  God wants to listen to you, delights in you, as a best friend cherishes speaking and listening to you. Tell God everything about your day, your feelings (fears,s hurts, angers, sadness, joy, happiness, excitement, etc.) your thoughts, your hopes, dreams of  each day.  Then sit in quiet, listening to God at work in the solitude. When you mind strays, return to listening, using a prayer word such as “Jesus,” “God,” “Peace,” as you continue being still in God’s presence.

To grow in knowledge of God, read the Scriptures of the day each day (your parish bulletin usually lists those), or go to the Gospels and read about Jesus on a daily basis.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Discernment: What Vocation is Right for Me?

In discerning which vocation you believe is right for you, I recommend that you look at how God has been present in the major events of your life thus far.  Those places and events in which you found God are clues to God’s call.  God is always present. God is always searching for you. God is always ready to respond to your desires for peace and love and fulfillment. God wants you to blossom into the person God created you to be.

 Where have you felt most like yourself? Where have you experienced a deep sense of meaning and purpose. Where and when and with whom have you said to yourself: “This is it.” “This makes sense to me.” “ I feel one with my Creator God.” “I feel a sense of goodness welling up in me.” “This is for me!”   “I can grow in this way of life!”  “Yes, I believe that I can become my best self as a single person committed to this particular profession.” “When I think of becoming a woman/man religious within this particular community devoted to the mission God entrusted to them, I feel a deep sense of peace. I find God here!”  Or maybe you are saying to yourself: “I can see  this woman/man as my spouse. I feel a wholeness when I am with this person. I feel hope-filled with him/her. Together, I believe that we can build a life of faith, grow in love and support one another in our professions. “This feels right for me!”

When you hear such messages, are you not hearing God, sensing God, knowing that God is calling you to seriously consider that call?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Discerning a Lifestyle Right for Me

Discernment:  Are you wondering  which vocation in life is right for you? Are you  considering religious life or priesthood, marriage or the single lifestyle?

You might begin by asking yourself: why do I want to become a Sister? A priest?  A married man/woman? Why do I want to remain single.  List all the reasons that come to your mind!  Which are rational? Which make sense?  Do any of the reasons that surface indicate inappropriate rationale or motivations that need to be questioned?

Secondly, I suggest that you look at activities that bring you life, joy, excitement, passion, holiness (wholeness of mind, body and spirit)—list all of those activities.  Then ask yourself:   In which way of life—religious life, priesthood, marriage or the single lifestyle—would I most likely be able to give expression to that about which I am passionate, that which brings me deep joy?  Why do you think one way of life over another would be better for you to bring to live your passion—list the reasons. Then examine yourself:   Do you hear yourself saying: “Yes, that is right for me.” “Yes, I think I  will be able to realize my greatness (in God’s sight) in that way of life.”  “By becoming (a priest, a Sister, a married person) or by remaining single, I believe that I will become my  best self.”

Thirdly,  go into prayer, into a place of solitude,  and  share all of the above with God.  Then, stop and listen! What do you hear God saying to you in the depth of your being?   Is God agreeing with you? Or does God seem to have plans different from your own?  Write down what you hear God saying to you about what you shared with God!