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One of the ways to help in discernment is to be specific about the choices that are yours by using your imagination. This means literally to picture yourself in the role for which you may be discerning. This is especially helpful once you’ve done research on possible religious communities to which you feel called.
It’s simple: picture yourself living that life, living daily in community with others in a house or convent, working alongside them in a certain ministry, imagining yourself in a group praying with community members at Mass or during morning and evening prayer or picturing yourself taking classes or doing the required study for a class in your field.
As you see yourself in those situations, pay attention to how you feel doing the activities in which that particular community engages. If you experience a sense of inner peacefulness and calm or even excitement, that’s information you can use in the discernment process as one indicator that this may be your call from God.
It’s a way the Spirit uses our imaginations and invites us closer. As you discern, you remain in our prayer.
Una de las formas de ayudar en el discernimiento es ser específica acerca de sus opciones utilizando su imaginación. Esto significa literalmente representarse a sí misma en el papel para el que está discerniendo. Esto es especialmente útil una vez que haya realizado una investigación sobre posibles comunidades religiosas a las que se siente ser llamada.
Es sencillo: imagínese viviendo esa vida, viviendo diariamente en comunidad con otras en una casa o convento, trabajando juntamente con ellas en cierto ministerio, imaginándose en un grupo orando con miembras de la comunidad en la misa o durante la oración de la mañana y de la tarde o imaginándose tomando clases o haciendo el estudio requerido para una clase en su area de estudio.
Mientras se vea en esas situaciones, presta atención a cómo se siente haciendo las actividades en las que participa esa comunidad en particular. Si experimenta una sensación de paz interior y calma o incluso emoción, esa es la información que puede usar en el proceso de discernimiento como una indicación de que este puede ser su llamado de Dios.
Es una forma en que el Espíritu usa nuestra imaginación y nos invita a estar más cerca. Al discernir, permanece en nuestras oraciónes.
Driving from Michigan to central Ohio this week I passed acres of farmland. What I noticed were the colors of the fields: deep golden fields of wheat ready for harvest, brilliant green fields of corn and fields of rich black soil awaiting seeds to be sown in them. Each was stunningly attractive.
These sparked my thought about discernment. What makes it so tough at times is the richness of choices we have. At the end of the discernment process we know when we decide to follow one way of life we will have to let go of the others! Don’t we tend to want it all?
A wise presenter once commented that everyone is called – starting at birth – to the single life. As we grow in wisdom, age, and grace, God calls some to stay in the single life or return to it after following a call to married life. Others in the Catholic tradition are called to religious life as a sister, brother, or priest.
Like the colorful fields of farmland, each life, each call from God, is rich and rewarding for us and vibrant in allowing us to make a difference as we walk our life with God.
I invite you to see how Dominicans live out their call (click here).
Blessings as you appreciate the richness of God’s call,
Manejando desde Michigan al centro de Ohio esta semana pasé acres de tierras agrícolas. Lo que noté fueron los colores de los campos: campos de trigo dorados y listos para la cosecha, campos de maiz de un color verde y brillante y campos de tierra de un rico color negro esperando semillas para sembrar en ellos. Cada uno era increíblemente atractivo.
Esto encendió mi pensamiento sobre el discernimiento. Lo que lo hace tan difícil a veces son las ricas opciones que tenemos. Al final del proceso de discernimiento, sabemos que cuando decidamos seguir una forma de vida, ¡tendremos que soltar las otras! ¿No tendemos a quererlo todo?
Un presentador sabio comentó una vez que todos somos llamados – comenzando desde el nacimiento – a la vida soltera. A medida que crecemos en sabiduría, edad, y gracia, Dios llama a algunas a permanecer en la vida soltera o regresar a ella después de seguir un llamado a la vida matrimonial. Otros en la tradición Católica son llamados a la vida religiosa como una hermana, hermano o sacerdote.
Al igual que los coloridos campos de las tierras agrícolas, cada vida, cada llamado de Dios, es rico y gratificante para nosotras y vibrante al permitirnos hacer una diferencia mientras encaminamos nuestra vida con Dios.
Las invito a ver cómo las Domínicas viven su llamado (haga clic aquí).
Bendiciones mientras aprecia la riqueza del llamado de Dios,
The season of autumn in the north is traditionally a time marked by letting go. Leaves fall off trees, warmer temperatures depart in favor of cooler ones, and light diminishes as we move steadily toward December’s shortest day of the year. Change affects our human lives as well.
Some people get into the mood of clearing out cluttered closets, drawers, and storage areas at home. Wardrobes change from lighter clothing to warm sweaters, jackets, and long sleeves. In addition to these outward signs of change, there are internal signs of letting go too.
Discerning well is like the season of autumn because it involves letting go and leaving behind some choices. If you’ve made a list of life options available to you, you’ll find yourself crossing some of them off your list. If you’ve taken your top three choices where you feel called in your life and listed pros and cons for each of them, it may be easy to see which one(s) need to be let go next. This, of course, takes time. Then, there’s one more thing.
Unlike the season of autumn when trees let go of their leaves to make room for the new growth, it’s hard to imagine the trees feeling sad about their losses. For us humans, sometimes letting go of what we had thought we might be called to do and taking up another choice, risky or not, may leave us feeling sad. Like the tiny new buds that appear on trees even before the leaves fall, it helps to feel assured that we have discerned well. Now it’s time to try on our choice.
May you live in such confidence and trust,
A line from Scripture jumped out at me today: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” Once in a while, people come to explore a vocation with an unhealthy spirit of sacrifice. They may think, “I’ve sinned so much; I have to make it up by giving my life to God” or “I made a promise to God that if he got me out of a situation I would become a nun.” The thing is, there is no joy or freedom in this approach. God always invites, and does not demand. Of course any life commitment involves sacrifice, but it’s not supposed to be a resentful, begrudging sacrifice. It’s a willing sacrifice that is also graced by mercy, by compassion, and by love.
That’s an important piece for discernment. Are you free? Could the decision go either way and you could still trust that God is walking with you and guiding your life? If you say, “I just have to be accepted by this congregation” or “I’ll just die if he doesn’t marry me” you aren’t free. God wants our love, not our sense of obligation. In whatever you are discerning in your life, where do you find yourself most drawn to make a healthy sacrifice in a spirit of love?
If you are exploring religious life, you have probably come across the term discernment. Discernment is really deciding between two or more goods. If you are making a choice between one thing that is clearly good and one thing that is clearly wrong, choose the good. No discernment required.
But life often presents us with many options that are good. There are the big life decisions: Do I choose marriage, religious life, or a committed single life? There are the ministry discernments – what job should I do that best uses the talents God gave me and best serves the world?
But even when we have these aspects of our life figured out, discernment comes up daily. Of the many things I have to do, which is a priority? Should I bring up a difficult issue with someone or let it go? Should I get out of bed and exercise or sleep thirty more minutes? Of course, the more serious and major the discernment the more time we put into it. But becoming a discerning person will help you every day of your life. You will learn to assess with God what is the most life-giving path for you, in the big and small pieces of your life.
If you are making a big decision, a great book is The Way of Discernment by Elizabeth Liebert. It gives you a whole variety of prayer exercises to use to help you come to clarity.
Remember God promise to Jeremiah is God’s promise to you: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”
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Sister Katherine Frazier, OP
Adrian Dominican Sisters
1257 East Siena Heights Drive
Adrian, Michigan 49221-1793
Get out your bell-bottoms and platform shoes, because DISCO is here!
Okay, so it's a little less dancing, a little more talking... Sisters Lorraine Réaume, OP, and Sara Fairbanks, OP, have a video series called DISCO (Discernment Conversations): Dancing with the questions of life!