Thursday, March 16, 2017

Discernment of One's Moral Strength

Discerning one’s moral strength:  In today’s Gospel, Luke 16: 19-31, the evangelist presents the story of Dives and Lazarus. Dives,  a rich man,  ignores the needs of Lazarus, a poor, very ill man who sat outside the gates leading to the rich man’s property.  Dives  is deaf to the cries of the poor and blind to their needs, using all of his wealth for himself alone.  On the subject of morality, he would score an “F” on his report card.  The consequences of his choice to live for himself alone, not sharing his wealth but ignoring the needs of the poor, the oppressed, the marginalized and the vulnerable of his society:  eternal  torment outside of the presence of God for all eternity (See today’s Gospel, Luke 16: 19-31)!

The author of the March 16th reflections on this Scripture passage, as given in the March 1, 2017 issue of WORD AMONG US,  states clearing how we can discern the moral strength of a society or of ourselves as well.  The author states:  “There is no getting around it. God wants us to work together to improve the situation of society’s weakest members.  In the end, the moral strength of any community  will be measured by how we have  treated our most vulnerable citizens, not by how we ourselves have fared.”

In what ways am I, are you, working to improve the situation of the weakest, most vulnerable members of our society, of our families, of our religious communities, of our parishes?  We can discern how moral we are by the way we respond to those in need.

Given our responsibilities to “work together to improve the situation of society’s weakest members”,  I believe, that the government of the U.S.—the President, His Cabinet, and members of Congress--earns an “F” in terms of morality. How much longer, I ask, will I, will you, or will the citizens of the U.S. support the choices of a President, of our Senators and members of the House of Representatives who are  making choices that deny the poor and vulnerable among us what they need to provide their
families with adequate food, shelter, clothing, health care, and an education that prepares them to
provide for their future families?

 How willing am I to take my moral responsibility seriously by standing up for what is right? Am I willing  to challenge  unjust legislation that exploits the poor and ignores the most vulnerable members of our country? For what reason, I ask,  might our elected leaders be doing this? Is it not possible that they truly want to increase the wealth of the richest among us and also line their own pockets, no matter what the cost to the poor and marginalized of our country, thus bringing to reality the  President’s desire to increase billionaires in our country, as he stated during his campaign for presidency?

Final question:  How would you and I score our moral strength? Would we  give ourselves an “A,” a “B,” a “C,” a “D,” or an “F”?

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Discernment: How do you know that you are called to religious life?

Discernment:  How do you know that you are called to religious life?  You might get some answers to that question by asking a couple of other question: How do you know what career to pursue in college? How do you know to date such and such a person or terminate the dating relationship, not pursuing marriage?

The answers are: 1) you sense the direction to take career-wise by listening to an inner voice.  You choose according to your preferences, your likes, your dreams, your talents. You choose according to what energizes you.  2) You hear yourself say “Yes! That’s it!”  3) Then, you take steps to move in that direction.  4) If the choices you make confirm your decision, you continue pursuing your dreams and making them a reality or you change careers.

Religious life: 1) an inner voice directs you to look into religious life as a vocational option, 2) your research confirms your decision, 3) when you find the right community, you and the community says: “Yes, this is it. Let’s proceed with the application process”, 4) through the process, you and the community come to the decision to accept you into the postulancy: the first stage of training to become a member of that religious community ,5) during postulancy, you and the community continue to believe that you are called to religious life within this particular community—or you and the community come to realize that a) you are not called to religious life or b) you are called to religious life but in a different community (for instance, a Dominican community instead of a Franciscan one).