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Monthly Archives: May 2010

Article on Discernment

As I was reading a blog post from a blog that I am following an article really caught my interest.  It was written by a vowed religious sister from the order of the woman who keeps the blog.  I found it to be very interesting.  Below I have copied the article  Yes it is quoted word for word.  All of the section in italics is straight from the article and I take no credit for it.  For those who want to see the original article, you can find it here.  If you use bits and pieces of this for your own, please cite the website this article is posted on.

Discernment includes God in your decisions

Life can interrupt destroy a carefully crafted career path

PAT DESNOYERS, FCJ
SPECIAL TO THE WCR

Many decisions we make in our lives are made quickly. They may be highly influenced by others, based upon circumstances around us, or made without a lot of reflection. We can often let life happen.

When it comes to making important decisions in our lives, “letting life happen” can mean that the decisions may not come out of our deeper beliefs and desires.

I have often met people who say, “Did you become a sister because you couldn’t find a man?” or to a young woman who was questioning religious life, but then met a man and got married; “Looks like he came along just in time!”

These comments seem to come from the idea that circumstances caused these major decisions rather than the decisions coming from a secure place within us.

We need to look at all aspects of our life, including our relationship with God, when making important decisions. When we include God in our decision-making process, we discern.

To discern is to consider all the factors both within us and beyond us and hear what God is saying in and through them. Prayer is an important part of this process. What is God saying to us in the depths of our being? What is God revealing to us through the power of prayer?

God also speaks in our day-to-day life, through the events of our lives, our talents, inclinations and desires. Discernment includes keeping in mind the people, circumstances and environment that are part of our life. What is God saying in and through them?

Some people can experience a call, a deep conviction beyond their own desires that seems to be leading them in a particular direction. This can be a strong movement of the Spirit, as if God is knocking on our door and we need to answer.

For others, a choice may not be as clear or evident and discernment can help clarify where God may be leading us.

Discerning life decisions takes time. It often helps to share our discernment process with someone, preferably someone objective that cares but does not necessarily have something to win or lose in the process.

A spiritual director is someone who can often be that objective sounding board. Speaking our story out loud and having someone, like a spiritual director, truly listen in truth and prayer can help us hear even more deeply what God may be saying.

Many people I have met often think that discerning God’s will is discovering a will that is outside of us. God’s will is actually planted deep within us and is not in opposition to our deepest desires. We can often cover up these desires with superficial wants or satisfactions or with whatever may mask our true selves. When we discern, we are invited to take off the masks and stand honestly in front of a God that loves us infinitely.

When we have completed our discernment process, the confirmation of this decision comes with a sense of deep peace. Peace is a sign that our decision is in keeping with who we are. It is not a momentary approval of a decision but leaves us with a lasting sense of at oneness with the decision.

THEN LIFE HAPPENS

Life evolves and is not static. Therefore, not all that we discern may come to be. Some things can happen that are out of our control. What we have discerned may not be possible with the people in our lives or the structures or circumstances that surround us.

The person that we believe we are to marry may never come into our lives. We may be diagnosed with a terminal illness and never be able complete the law degree that we believed would enable us to help the poor and disadvantaged. The religious order we wish to join may not say yes.

Life does happen. But as God worked through us in the discernment process, God does not abandon us at this point. Rather we are invited into a deeper trust where we need to once again listen deeply to what God may be asking of us now and respond with the same integrity that led us to this place.

(Sr. Pat Desnoyers, a sister with the Faithful Companions of Jesus, is co-chair of the Edmonton Archdiocese Vocation Committee.)

This article completely struck me and I am brought to look at discernment a little differently.  The things talked about I have all heard before but having it laid out in an easy to read format is great.  As I continue to discern, as we all will our entire lives, I find that life can really take you in many different directions.  I need to figure out what God has planned for me and where I am lead to go.  Like Sr. Pat says, some things that happen are out of our control.  We can not plan everything out, even the things we feel called by the Spirit to do in Jesus’ name.  Things happen and we must take them as they are.  Discernment is an ongoing process.  I recommend you read and re-read this article.  There are many good things said in there.

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2010 in Inner Reflection

 

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Satan Dulls Our Hearts

“By the anxieties and worries of this life Satan tries to dull man’s heart and make a dwelling for himself there.” – St. Francis of Assisi

This quote goes right back to two posts ago when I talked about how Satan and God are fighting in the battlefield of our hearts.  Here we see the plan Satan has in the fight for our hearts.  He tries to weasel his way in by amplifying all of our anxieties, worries, frustrations, and anything else of the sort.  Think about it.  What is it that we hear about most often on the news?  The bad things.  What do we always think about when people ask how we are?  The bad things.  We so often lose track of what is good in our lives and the amazing things God has planned for us.

In my life I have found that Satan’s plan for the battle have succeeded more times that I wish it would have.  For those who follow, this is repetitive a bit but maybe approached in a different way.  My senior in college was perhaps the hardest year of my life.  Classes were becoming more intense.  Schoolwork more difficult and time-consuming.  Keeping involved with all the campus ministry activities harder to keep up with.  Time with friends just not happening as it was.

All this and more were weighing down on me.  The worries and frustrations that I had just took up my whole life.  With all that, my health was all over the place.  Professors wanted me to be a student first but without taking care of myself, how could I do that?  I went to one of the school counselors to see what they could tell me.  I had friends helping me through my classes.  I spent countless times crying out the frustrations on the shoulders of friends.  My heart was dulling and I was becoming very discouraged.  I could not see it during those moments, but now looking back I can see that something not good was settling into my heart.  Things just became a chore and I could tell I was losing heart.  Talk about driving oneself crazy, I was skimping by on being able to graduate.  The anxieties set in like crazy as I fought to bring my grades back up.  In the end of it I was able to bring things together enough to graduate!

Throughout all that there were bits of light from my friends and my faith, even when I seemed distant from my friends and my faith was wavering.  Some may not see it this way but I see it as this is part of what was going on.  Satan took a hold of me in those dark difficult times.  My heart dulled and things seemed everything having to do with hopeless.  It is amazing how all the different things in life bog us down.  Now I see what was going on in me a bit better and can more fully understand what to do when all the pressures push down.  I don’t have the added stress of school but instead a job to worry about.  I am not involved in extra clubs and things (boring…yes).  My friends are hundreds of miles away from me.  No matter where I will be in life, there are going to be anxieties, worries and such things that Satan could feed on to settle in my heart.  I can not allow that to consume me and bring me to places I have been.  When my heart is dulling I must remember to turn to God and those I trust in order to renew myself again.

Satan is everywhere in the world but God is as well.  Don’t be overcome with everything in life.  Sure, all those things that will trouble you and drive you crazy will be there but it is how you handle it that makes the hugest difference in life.  I let it all get a hold of me instead of giving it back to God and turning to my friends at first sign of losing sight of the good.  Hold onto God and keep Him the only one that is dwelling in your heart.  It will be hard, but it can be done.  Currently, as I await to know what I could be doing next in life, I keep praying that God stays in my heart and I hear is call each and every day.  Will you keep God in your heart and not be overcome with Satan?

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2010 in Inner Reflection

 

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You Saved Me

This was the song that was used for RB TEC 224.  It really strikes me in listening how God is there to save us everyday if we just let Him do so.

To everyone out there who has made a difference in my life whether you realize it or not, thank you so very much.  It is amazing the simple things that are done to change a person’s life or save them, in whatever form.

As I go through life I hold onto those moments when people have saved me and helped me through all the moments in my life.  Also in life I try to be very aware of what I am doing because you never know when something you do or say will mean the entire world to someone else.  Isn’t it beautiful!?

My discernment has been all over the place since I have turned in the application for formation to God-willing be a Salesian Sister somewhere down the line.  The fire and energy that I had when I first visited is still in me but in a different respect.  I was reminded today while at a meeting of the smiling that I show whenever I mention wanting to enter formation.  While I am not high-strung non-stop talking about my visit like I was that first night back from visiting the sisters, I smile whenever I think about what this future could be for me.  The moments I doubt are the moments I let the past overtake me.  The simple sounding solution is looking toward the future because God has amazing things for me to do out there in the world; I have great places to be and to go in life!

So everyday will you let someone save you and save those around you?  Let God into your heart and you will be guided in all you do.

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2010 in Inner Reflection, Inspirational Music

 

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God and the Devil are Fighting

God and the devil are fighting… and the battlefield is the heart of man.

– Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Wow, is this ever a true statement for me.  Inside of me there does feel like there is a constant battle going on.  It is amazing all the things that can go on inside of us!  God wants us and he has a place by His side for us doing wonderfully marvelous stuff.  On the flip side, the Devil has taken his stabs at our hearts hoping to take control.  For me this is a huge issue that I am battling.

This weekend at the Women’s retreat, that I was able to participate in, I let myself break down Saturday night with all the worry and stress that I have been feeling lately.  It was such a blessing to have some amazing people on the retreat that stood/sat by my side and let me feel what I needed to feel.  While my closest friends are the most amazing things to me, these friends that I have found are great to me. 

Our theme was surrounded around finding our light amidst the darkness as well as recognizing the darkness as a holy darkness.  Throughout the whole weekend I had the quote I presented to you in my head.  Darkness tend to be associated most with the devil and times of difficulty.  Light tends to be associated most with God and the good things that Jesus has made possible for us to achieve. 

The thing is, when that darkness comes we need to lift it up to God and reach for his light.  So many people, me definitely included, get so caught up in the dark and do not see beyond it to the light that is left on for us from God.  That light can come straight from the big man Himself, friends, family, your surroundings, the great outdoors and many different things.  Holding onto that and giving everything to the light, to God, will make the darkness holy. 

How can darkness be Holy one may ask?  Well, when you give that pain and suffering to God you are shoving all the efforts of the devil back in his face.  The devil wants so much to take you over and win you soul for himself.  God wants equally the same and will wait there with the light on for you to come.  Giving your dark to God to be made into light turns the darkness into holy darkness.  We can learn from our dark moments; the lessons perhaps are the most meaningful to many people who suffer deep dark moments.  Sure, there are things we wish never were or we wish that we had never done, but there are some lessons to be had.  All this as long as we turn around and give our darkness to God to be turned to light. 

Of course I am telling all of you this and not relating at all, so how in the world could I know anything on this topic?  In my life, as has been mentioned before, I have hit some low points that I am not proud of.  I have thought about things one should never think about in their lives.  I have cried so many tears you would think I should be a shriveled up wrinkled ball of mess (yes it is okay to laugh, it is a funny image).  All in the same, I have had many lights in my life that have shown me out of the dark moments in time.  My friends are perhaps my greatest blessing in this world.  God truly shines through them.  They have pulled me through many things and given me back the light of God.  Holy Darkness.  Lessons were surely had and taken deep into my heart. 

So when the battlefield is in your heart with a fight between God and the Devil, remember to take the darkness you maybe feeling no matter how dark and give it all to God.  That way, he will turn it to lessons and light, winning the battle for your heart.  It is hard, I am not going to say otherwise, but it is so worth it when you make it through and there is true joy in your heart.  The true joy of finding God and being where He wants you to be.  Will your heart be the broken battlefield won by the Devil or will God reign with His light in your entire being?  Be the light of the world to each other and darkness will be Holy and we will live in joy! 

“You are the light of the world” Matthew 5:14

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2010 in Inner Reflection, Retreat Experience

 

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Peter’s Way of the Cross

This past weekend was the Spring Teen Retreat.  The theme was “Unlikely Heroes.”  For the forgiveness/reconciliation service we did a stations of the cross from Peter’s point of view.  Since I put most of it together, I thought I would share with you all the document.

Peter’s Way of the Cross

I hope that maybe you will enjoy reading it and possibly using it to reflect on by yourself or with a group.  Putting it together was a slight challenge, but it was worth it in the end.

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2010 in Creative Corner, Retreat Experience

 

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Let Go

The following song is called “Let Go” and it is by Barlow Girl.  We used this song during the teen retreat this past weekend and it came to my mind today with all that I have been dealing with and figuring out.

Yeah I trust in You
I remember times You led me
This time it’s bigger now
And I’m afraid You’ll let me down

But how can I be certain?
Will You prove Yourself again?

[Chorus:]
‘Cause I’m about to let go
And live what I believe
I can’t do a thing now
But trust that You’ll catch me
When I let go
When I let go

What is this doubt in me
Convincing me to fear the unknown
When all along You’ve shown
Your plans are better than my own

And I know I won’t make it
If I do this all alone

Letting go, how fitting to me.  I am guessing that most of my friends are still shouting at me to let go of certain things in my life and I will, as soon as they are solved.  Even more than that I need to let go, we all need to let go.  We should do what we need to do  so that when God steps in, everything is in its place.

Everything is bigger now in my life.  The hard moments show what a bigger deal they are.  The great things God has planned for me are a big deal; I am no longer just a student making my way through school.  I used great courage to land myself all the way out in the point of New Jersey from my Midwest life in Minnesota.  It was all for the good to do the work I love to do.  Worth it?  Oh yes it has been.  Then I find myself having turned in an application to enter with the Salesian Sisters of Saint John Bosco, formally known as the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians.  Crazy!  My energy in the beginning of this part of the journey was astoundingly high.  Now, I find myself at a different level.

I still feel called to formation with the Salesians; I still know that if this is not where I end up, God must have a plan or I screwed up the plan.  There is yet a phone call to tell me what the outcome of my application is nor an e-mail in reply to what I told Sister Phyllis about my current status in life.  It makes me real nervous to not hear anything back.  Granted, this new info could change things a little, I must let go and let God take care of it.

It is hard.  What is “it?”  It is being really far away from friends, dealing with what is inside of me, balancing my work, taking care of myself, waiting for a response to my application, doing things I am not sure of, making a positive difference in people’s life (proper lack of comma use…Jessica) and so much more.  It is going to be hard, who said it would be easy?

We have got to let go and trust God will catch us.  No it will not just happen.  If it rains on the fields and we have not prepared them, nothing will happen.  We need to prepare ourselves for God and we do that by taking the right steps that allow Him to show himself to us.  Whether that is through taking the right path to solving problems or opening the doors to what may lay ahead, we need to do it.  For me, it is both finding the path to healing and keeping open the doors of possibility, all without getting discouraged.  Hard, yes.  Possible, yes.

Let go, God will help you if you just let go of the control.

 
 

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Celebrating the Ascension

In conversation this past Monday with some of the staff at the retreat center, I learned that not everyone celebrates the Ascension on the same day.  I have grown up celebrating the Holy Dayof Obligation on Sunday.  Here, they were talking about how it is celebrated on Thursday.  This intrigued me and I sent a message to my dad to see what he knew about it.  In an e-mail reply, this is the information he found on it.

The Feast of the Ascension remains a Holy Day of Obligation throughout the United States. The day on which it is celebrated, however, varies. The 40th day after Easter Sunday is always a Thursday, and the feast has traditionally been celebrated on that Thursday. However, because attendance at Ascension Thursday Masses had been falling for years, the bishops of the United States, in accordance with canon law, petitioned the Vatican to allow the celebration to be transferred to the following Sunday.

The Vatican agreed. Today, only the ecclesiastical provinces of Boston, Hartford, New York, Newark, Philadelphia, and Omaha (the state of Nebraska) continue to celebrate the Ascension of Our Lord on Thursday. The faithful in those provinces (an ecclesiastical province is basically one large archdiocese and the dioceses that are historically associated with it) are required, under the Precepts of the Church, to attend Mass on Ascension Thursday.

In the rest of the dioceses of the United States, the celebration of the Ascension has been transferred to the following Sunday (the 43rd day after Easter). That does not mean, however, that the Ascension is no longer a Holy Day of Obligation in those dioceses. Under the Precepts of the Church, every Sunday is a Holy Day of Obligation.

My next step was to figure out what ecclesiastical province that I am currently in.  As it may be, I am in the ecclesiastical province of Newark, which covers the Diocese of Camden that the retreat center is in.  So now with this information, I must remember to get up early to go to mass with the brothers in our small chapel at the center!  I hope this information is insightful and interesting to you!

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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