Showing posts with label discernment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label discernment. Show all posts

8 Dec 2014

Helping Kids Discern a Vocation

(Excerpt is reprinted with permission from All Things Guy: A Guide to Becoming a Man that Matters)

Have you ever been in a religion class or in Church and Father asks you to think about a vocation? Do you get the feeling you want to crawl in a hole and disappear, fearing he will ask you to become a priest?

A vocation is a call from God. It’s not merely a career choice. Everyone, everyone, everyone has a calling from God!

The word vocation refers to three different things:
1.       Vocation comes with baptism. It’s a call to know, love and serve God in your life.
2.     Vocation also means, “state in life,” such as priesthood, religious life, marriage or single life.
3.     Vocation also means a personal relationship you have with Jesus. It’s you, yourself, trying to know, love, and serve God.

22 Jul 2014

Dear Friend, Pregnant and Conflicted

Dear Friend,

You are pregnant. Married just over a year and working steadily at your career, you were hoping to wait a while longer before this day arrived. But here it is.

You wish this pregnancy felt more like a deliberate choice rather than a shock. But let me propose something, something you already know, which is worth considering now in a new way: with this pregnancy, God is visiting you. You might quickly object--and rightly so--that God was already a frequent visitor in your newlywed home; there was no rush for God to send a baby at this particular moment. In truth, God has been your constant companion, accompanying you in your first year of marriage, in your engagement, in your courtship, in your college years, in high school, in your childhood . . . in your own mother's womb.

Read more at Praying with Grace.

24 Feb 2014

Saying No to God

As Catholics, we make a lot of Mary’s fiat. Her “yes” to God.

And rightfully so: we get how that “yes” gave us a chance at salvation.

Unfortunately, in seeking to imitate Mary, we have almost crushed ourselves with consequences of a life filled with our own “yes” responses and have, ultimately, been saying “no” to God without often realizing it.

Somehow we have translated Mary’s “yes” to mean that we ought to say “yes” to everything that comes our way—to every idea that pops into our head and to every opportunity to do something good; we’ve mistakenly believed that our lives are meant to be filled with fiats when, in truth, these fiats have often taken us away from God. They have filled our lives with obligations and busy-ness that may not actually be God’s will for us.

I’m at the age where all my friends and acquaintances are caregivers of one sort or another. They are grandparents doing everything they can to help pick up the slack and they are volunteers at a variety of different, amazing organizations. Some are caring for older parents and working full time while others are blogging and running home businesses and still others are young women who have filled their lives with exciting and rewarding prospects to do great things in the world.

Without exception, each considers her lot in life to be one of “yes.”

And on the surface I agree. We do serve God through others; it is a good thing to model Mary’s fiat.

However, it is important to overlay the entirety of Mary’s life upon our own if we choose to imitate her. It is imperative to see that her “yes” involved the fullness of her time. 
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(The illustration is by Shannon Wirrenga and is from the Elizabeth Ficocelli vocation awareness book Where Do Sisters Come From?)

5 Nov 2013

Being a Fool for Christ

The rich man asked Jesus what was necessary to enjoy eternal life. Apparently the man had been a devout follower of the laws but still questioned what that final“piece” needed to be for his own salvation. I think it is interesting that the guy knew, in his heart, that more was still being asked of him. Unfortunately, the answer saddened the man, for Christ told him that he had to sell all his possessions—and the guy had a lot of stuff!
We don’t know, based upon the reading of the text, if the man did or did not do as Christ instructed. We read that he walked away sad but that doesn’t necessarily translate into disobedience.

I am often sad when I have to “do the right thing” but it doesn’t stop me from doing it.
So let’s give this rich guy the benefit of the doubt and say that he forlornly sold his possessions but then followed Christ. We know, of course, that his sadness would have been fleeting, right? After all, he was now in a position to enjoy eternal rewards with Jesus.

However, in this scenario we are then left with a bigger picture: what did all this rich guy’s friends and family say while he was liquidating?
“Are you crazy? Think how long and hard you worked for all this!”
“Why are you acting so irrational? There must be some other solutions!”
“You are being a fool!”
That, by my estimation, may very well be what Jesus was asking of the rich man—and what He asks of each of us: to be a fool. Which on the face of it sounds ridiculous; but when we contemplate what it means to be a fool for Christ, we can understand the depth of what we have to give up—or how we must be perceived—to be a “fool for Christ.” And then we see that being a fool for Christ takes us to the very heart of humility and selflessness where our ego simply cannot exist. We know in our hearts it is that “something more”—just as the rich man knew that there was something more being asked of him. read more>

30 Jul 2012

Vanity Has Nothing To Do With It

“So basically you are a ‘vanity press,’” was the question posed to me that really sounded more like a statement of fact—and an unattractive one at that.

“Well, we offer a variety of publishing services and some of those services are that authors do, indeed, pay to have their books published with us,” were the words I said that didn’t even begin to cover the true response.

What I’ve come to see over these past six years working with different authors is that there isn’t a vain one among them. In fact, what I’ve come to know and be blessed by are the men and women who have made the conscious choice to answer the call the Holy Spirit has put upon their hearts to bring a work of fiction or non-fiction to fruition. These are men and women who have taken the “new springtime of evangelization” to heart and have responded. They aren’t in positions of power where their names can open doors; rather, they are the simplest and most humble of people who have prayed and discerned to know God’s call upon their lives. Each and every one of them is a truly gifted writer and has brought to me work that I am proud to publish; work that I have enjoyed reading and can recommend to others with full confidence. Without exception each is a work that entertains, edifies and enlightens.

Thinking about the inquirer’s question-framed-as-a-statement, I realized that not once has it ever been the case of someone whose vanity propels them forward, wanting to see their name in print and their words bound together for profit or for gain.

Not once.

It is always about serving God and uplifting brothers and sisters in Christ in compelling prose.

In fact, I have been so blessed to work with these men and women that I know my life is better having known each of them. I marvel at what they’ve brought to the world through their work; sharing their tales—whether fiction or non-fiction—has been a labor of love. Paying to have their work published has been a sacrifice they each have been willing to make because they believe it is what God has asked of them. They rightfully believe that this time in our Church isn’t about just a few being called but about all of us being called to step up and serve with our God-given gifts and talents. It is a time for each of us to open a door for another, through whatever means or situation in which God has put us.

They understand that now is the time to join together—being bound as believers—and serve one another. These men and women are taking very serious their responsibility as part of the body of Christ.

Their rewards?

Since these men and women have not pursued their publications out of vanity, their success, I am sure they will tell you, is measured on a different scale. They humbly ask themselves such things as:

1. Was I obedient?

2. Did I use the gifts God has given me the way He has asked me?

3. Did I willingly sacrifice as I was asked?

4. Has one person been affected by my witness, my work?

I am in awe to know these men and women of all ages and backgrounds and experiences. They are what the new springtime of evangelization is all about: taking leaps of faith as they witness and work to share the Good News through their God-given talents.

I hope these men and women encourage you to wonder and then respond to the question, “What is God asking of me right now in this exciting time in our Church?”

Take Greg Willlits Survey to see how you are part of the new evangelization:

Cheryl Dickow

28 Oct 2011

Trusting your instincts

In ‘A Landscape with dragons’, Michael O’Brien writes about children knowing whether something (or someone) is good or bad. Their little souls are still sensitive, whereas we adults have taught ourselves to disregard that awareness. Perhaps the world or our busyness drowns out the voice of our guardian angel who is prompting us to steer clear of a certain person, to turn off a particular movie, or to not try to drive home in a heavy snow storm.

O`Brien advises parents to not scoff when children talk about monsters under the bed, because doing so teaches them to distrust their own discernment. Good discernment is so important in living a Godly life. Just as our conscience must be formed, our morality developed, our code of ethics established, so our ability to discern needs to grow in strength and maturity.

That discernment is a gift we all have, men and women both. There is a lot of emphasis on `women`s intuition` but men have it, too. The inherent differences between men and women means the gift is expressed in different ways, but the common purpose of instinct is preservation – safety from spiritual and physical harm.

I think women are inclined to trust the promptings of their instinct. For example, a mother is fierce in the protection of her children and ensuring the integrity of the home. What keeps us back from being fierce all the time, is the need to also be nice, to not upset other people, to offer help when we can see it is needed. It is the struggle between being kind and being safe that sometimes leads women into danger. We`ve all heard stories of assaults and abductions and think that could never happen to us, in this country, in our neighbourhood. And yet it does. It happens not because women are smaller, slower, weaker, or dumber, but because we sometimes ignore that little voice that tells us to look after ourselves first. If we are reacting on behalf of our children – or anyone else who is relying on us – we will respond appropriately. But we hesitate when it is comes to ourselves.

I have an illustration. Years ago I shared an apartment. It was in a well-maintained, respectable building so we had no concerns about safety. One afternoon while home alone, I was wakened from a nap by strange sounds coming from the door to out apartment. Then I heard voices, and I realized someone had been fumbling with the lock and was now in our hallway. Totally confused by the situation and having just been in a deep sleep, I stumbled into the living room, unsure of what to do or say to the two men now standing in my home with a case of beer tucked under an arm of each of them. I said something along the lines of, ``Umm... what?” I didn’t want to offend them, but I was also afraid to go near them. Though I knew I had every right to insist they leave, I was almost afraid to offend them - if I were British I might have offered them tea. With as much polite insistence and I could muster, I asked them to leave. Turns out they were visiting a buddy in the building who was getting married the next day, and they simply went to the wrong apartment.

Contrast that with the time I was looking after my five nephews in their home. We were going through their bedtime routine, when I heard a knock at the door. I ignored it as we weren’t expecting anyone, it was late, and I don’t like to answer the door when I’m home alone. The next thing I heard was the door opening and heavy boots stepping into the front hall! A voice called out, “Hello” but I was already half way up the stairs, yelling, “Get out! Get out! Get out!” I charged into the hallway, hands out in front of me, and pushed the man out the door and down the porch steps while shrieking at him to get out of the house. I didn’t give a thought to how he was feeling or what he thought of me. Poor man... he turned out to be the landlord come to repair something. Once I realized who he was I stopped yelling at him, but I took him to task for not phoning ahead, and for just walking into our house. I must have got through to him because he always kept a safe distance from me after that.

Before that incident, and based on what had happened earlier in my apartment, I used to wonder how I would protect the boys if something like that ever happened. Instinct kicked in and I didn’t question it for a second. When it came to protecting myself, though, I hesitated because I wasn’t sure I was justified in reacting the way I wanted to.

It is so important we listen to that voice, whether it is our guardian angel, or our God-given instinct. Scripture tells us to get rid of our eye if it causes us to sin. We must choose our friends wisely, avoid scandalous activities, not partake of blasphemous entertainment etc. How can we do all of that if we no longer trust our own discernment?

Give us a sign