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?