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!