Friday, March 18, 2016

Discernment: The Challenge of Dealing with Opposition

Discernment:  When we are seeking to know God’s will for us, in the smallest of decisions to weightier ones, Satan has a way of seeking to derail us, to move us off the path to which God is beckoning us.  In today’s first reading, Jeremiah 20: 10-13, the prophet’s friends were seeking ways to trap him.  They wanted to put him to death, in fact.  There are many ways in which people attack our spirit, ways in which they seek to discourage us, place doubts in our minds.  Jeremiah remained steadfast in doing what God was calling him to do. He states: “…the Lord is with me, like a mighty champion: my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph.”

Where did Jeremiah get this strength in face of rising opposition?  The only way to survive onslaughts  and opposing forces is through a personal relationship with God, a relationship nurtured by daily prayer and meditation upon the Word of God, the Scriptures. Even when we are sure we are on the right path and “a wrench “ is thrown in our way—a “window” or “a door” is closed--and we need to look for a new direction, it is only God who will sustain us and who,  through the Spirit in humble prayer, redirects us and opens our hearts to consider other possibilities to which God wants us to turn. There is no other way unless, when our will is thwarted, we resort to blaming and complaining and throwing stones at those whom we think have blocked us, not recognizing that God does use human instruments to redirect us to what, in God’s mind, is a better option for us.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Discernment: What Jesus Teaches us

Discernment: What Jesus Teaches us

In today's Gospel, John 8: 51-59, when the people  heard Jesus say “before Abraham came to be, I AM “, they  picked up stones to throw at Him. How can Jesus claim to be I AM, to have existed before Abraham came into being, as He was not even 50 years of age. They were also sure that Jesus was possessed when he said: “[W]hoever keeps my word will never see death.”  How can Jesus say that people who keep His word will never see death, when Abraham is deceased, as were Isaac, Jacob and David and so many other ancestors of their faith? 

The fact that Jesus was misunderstood, that people rallied against Him and wanted His voice silenced did not stop Him from clinging to every word that came from His Father and doing whatever the Father asked of Him.   Many times women in their 40s and 50s say that they first felt called in their teens and, at the time, parents opposed their entering religious life, that their friends didn’t believe that they were called to give up marriage and having children.  For some, grandparents vehemently opposed their entrance.

What is holding you back? Are you hearing a quiet, persistent voice calling you to consider religious life?

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Discernment: Faith, Trust, Humility

In today’s first reading, Daniel 3: 14-20, 91-92, 95, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego stand firm in their faith. They do not succumb to King Nebuchadnezzar, who has threatened them with death if they did not bow down and worship his god.  “There is no need for us to defend ourselves before you in this matter.  If our God, whom we serve, can save us from the white-hot furnace and from your hands, O king, may he save us! But even if he will not, know, O king, that we will not serve your god or worship the golden statue that you set up.”

As we are faced with discerning the will of God, we may want God to act in a miraculous way: just show me God; make your way crystal clear to me so that others and I can be ecstatic about what you are asking of me!  But what if God leaves us in the dark and we have no way to answer those who say to us: That is not a right choice for you? Would we, similar to the humility of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, say to those who taunt us about our vocation or the choice we are about to make:  “If my God, whom I serve, can make it crystal clear to me what His will is and also turn your opposition to acceptance of the choice I am about to make,  may God do so.  But even if he will not, know that I will follow what I believe is God’s will for me and not give in to your doubts and outright statement that what I am choosing is not for me.”  God will give me the strength to remain firm without miracles.

 As we discern God’s will, there will be times when we are not able to defend our position but need to remain silent and wait upon God. God will defend us in God’s time.  We may look stupid or feel humiliated by not getting others to understand our position. However, we are not alone! Jesus did not defend Himself in face of Pilate’s questioning. Nor did He defend Himself upon the cross. It was God’s will that He was carrying out even to His death on the cross. And His Father’s will did not need His defense. Neither does it in your life. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Religious Life: Making the World a Better Place

Many times women who feel called to religious life want to make the world a better place to be!  I would like to share with you how Sister Julie Marie Peters, a Sister of the Sorrowful Mother and a group of her fellow Sisters and lay collaborators (professionals) do just that in the Caribbean.  Sister Julie Marie, a Family and Marriage counselor,  is Director of the Franciscan Institute for Personal and Family Development, Inc.   The Franciscan Institute for Personal and Family Development in collaboration with the Archdiocesan Family Life Com mission (AFLC) offers Common Sense Parenting (CSP) programs.  Common Sense Parenting (CSP) seeks to provide parents with six basic skills: organizing family, safe home rule, effective praise, preventive teaching, corrective teaching and teaching self-control.  CSP is an internationally acclaimed parent education program.

In the Caribbean, the Franciscan Institute has trained 190 parents to teach the course, has reached 18,000 family members, has educated 3,800 parents, has delivered 300 Common Sense Parenting programs, and has involved 100 schools in the training. Sixty (60) churches, mosques, NGOs and other organization have also participating in the educative process.

One of the parents who went through this program stated: "Fifteen years ago I became a mother, but I finally became a parent." She was now talking in such a way that her children were listening and she was no longer shouting and throwing things.

Feel called to make a difference in the world as a woman religious, call Sister Dorothy Ann Dirkx at 920-230-6157 or email her at