One of the keys to support ourselves during times of discernment is through prayer. That ability to be silent before God as a listener is as vital as picturing ourselves in the presence of a wise person. Ask a simple question at the start of prayer, “Loving One, what do you want me to do with my life?” Then, wait in silence to hear the response.
Asking a question similar to this one probably won’t be a one-time experience of asking and then hearing the response, because this (and others like it) is a profound question! It may take many times for us to hear, really tune in to how the response comes. In prayer and quiet time, we are preparing to receive something precious from the One who loves us.
Receptivity and openness, not attachment to a specific outcome, allows us to hear well. We may be surprised by how our response comes. It could be through an insight received during prayer, a seemingly accidental conversation with another person, going for a walk, fixing a meal, doing dishes, or taking a shower. The response may just show up and our heart will know “this is it.” If we don’t know the full answer to our question, we will know the next step to take.
Discerning is a journey, a pilgrimage, during which we discover clues along the paths we walk. We can feel joy and be assured that all the paths lead to the same end, connection with our God.
May you have patience and persistence walking this path,
Why is personal prayer so important? Watch this video.
El Camino de Escuchar
Una de las claves para sostenernos durante los tiempos de discernimiento es a través de la oración. Esa capacidad de guardar silencio ante Dios como oyente es tan vital como imaginarnos en presencia de una persona sabia. Haga una pregunta sencilla al comienzo de la oración: “Amado, ¿qué quieres que haga con mi vida?” Luego, espera en silencio para escuchar la respuesta.
Hacer esta pregunta probablemente no será una experiencia única de preguntar y luego escuchar la respuesta, ¡porque esta es una pregunta profunda! Puede que nos cueste muchas veces escuchar, realmente sintonizarnos en como llega la respuesta. En oración y en silencio, nos estamos preparando para recibir algo precioso de Aquel que nos ama. La receptividad y la sensibilidad, no el apego a un resultado específico, nos permite escuchar bien.
Nos puede sorprender cómo llega nuestra respuesta. Puede ser a través de una percepción recibida durante la oración, una conversación aparentemente accidental con otra persona, salir a caminar, preparar una comida, lavar los platos o tomar una ducha. La respuesta puede aparecer repentinamente y nuestro corazón sabrá que "esta es." Si no sabemos la respuesta completa a nuestra pregunta, sabremos el próximo paso a seguir.
Discernir es un viaje, un peregrinaje, durante el cual descubrimos señales a lo largo de los senderos que caminamos. Podemos sentir alegría y tener la seguridad de que nuestros caminos nos llevan al mismo fin, la conexión con nuestro Dios.
Que tengas paciencia y persistencia recorriendo el camino de escuchar,
¿Por qué es tan importante la oración personal? Vea.
Most of us probably wouldn’t think about embarking on something important without any planning and, perhaps, talking with another person who had already done what we’re going to do.
If we needed to learn a complex computer program for a job and everything depended on us having details correct, we’d seek advice from others who know the program or from a supervisor or IT person.
The same is true when we’re embarking on a spiritual journey. If we seriously want to commit ourselves to learning how to listen to God, how to pray or how to understand Scripture better, we can seek out others who have gone on this journey before us.
The person could be a friend or might be a “spiritual director” or “spiritual companion.” These titles cover a select set of men and women who have studied how the spiritual life develops. They are aware of the stages of spiritual growth that can be expected and what it takes to commit oneself to this kind of an inner journey.
Their well-honed skills in listening can help us develop our own abilities to listen, while helping us grow in our relationship with God. When sensing a desire to deepen our spiritual life, finding a spiritual director can be invaluable. Most retreat centers have people who specialize in this service. Some parishes have them as well. It can be a key decision we make to nurture our spiritual growth.
Blessings on the journey,
Based on a reflection by Sister Romona Nowak, OP
Our journey of life can at times take us to a place of unbearable suffering where we would rather not go. As Jesus gently warns Peter, there will come a time when “you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will put a rope around you and take you where you would rather not go” (Jn 21:18). Our Sister Romona shares with us her own reflection on suffering as she struggles with terminal cancer. She leans on Christ who is with her on this road. She writes:
I have been in the garden of Gethsemane where Jesus asked his Father for exactly what he felt and truly what he wanted, “Don’t let me suffer anymore.” Finally, he was able to say, “Not my will but your will be done.” Like Jesus, my tears have flowed. They express my fears, hurts, and longings. I learned that my suffering and my cross is my cancer, and the journey is my way of the cross. When the pain is so deep that I cannot even pray, I hold my rosary cross and in holding it I remember that Jesus is holding me. This is a blessed assurance of what is most important—remaining one with my God.
My struggles have been many: acceptance of my journey, review of my life with its sinfulness, grief in letting go of what I know, etc. Cancer, and especially metastatic cancer, has left me feeling out of control of my life; a basic human need. I am incredibly vulnerable, dependent, and so often confused. I sought another medical opinion just to verify my untreatable condition. A sobering thought to hear, “no treatment will change the course of the cancer.”
I needed friends that would help me think through my thoughts and get the feelings out. I believe it must be nearly impossible to go through cancer alone… I am blessed by many wonderful friends. You have affirmed me when I have been so hard on myself. You have been an incredible blessing that has not only helped me accept, but also stop the temptation for withdrawal that accompanies fear and anxiety. God’s action is amazing through you.
Just like most of humanity we strive for perfection. My failings, faults, and mistakes in mind and action (i.e., being overly critical, judging others, pride, etc.) make me aware of the constant need for forgiveness... Discouragement comes. Faith helps me find peace. When I turn my weakness and my whole life to God, sometimes in a mantra of just the name of “Jesus”, or scripture, or a short “Have mercy on me” I experience a calming. Other times the fear of death overwhelms me. I’m too sinful to be welcomed by God. Then someone reminds me that God didn’t ask us to be perfect, just to trust in him. “Jesus, I trust in you.” Please hold me in your prayer, because the battle with these temptations, especially self-forgiveness will continue because of my humanness.
I am still alive. This length of days is for God’s mission. Although I will not be physically cured, hopefully, this journey will enable spiritual healing. The cross doesn’t get lighter nor the suffering easier, but I can embrace the journey with your companionship in presence and prayer until I am one with my Beloved—in the great surrender.
What has been your experience of religious faith in hard times?
Sister Romona’s reflection was informed by Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, The Gift of Peace, Michael Paul Gallagher, Into Extra Time and Jim Willig, Lessons from the School of Suffering.
This week's reflection comes to us from guest blogger, Katherine Frazier, Adrian Dominican Sisters Candidate.
When a very pregnant Mary and Joseph set out on a journey to Bethlehem, they did not know what the journey would hold for them. Taking a journey implies transformation. Not only is there the physical change of being in a new place, but there is also the spiritual changes that take place when we meet new people and see new places. Mary and Joseph were transformed by their journey, as they became a family with a newborn son. Taking a journey also means taking a leap of faith, in allowing ourselves to be open to whatever the journey brings us, no matter how surprising. For Mary and Joseph, they had to take a leap of faith that they and their expected child would be cared for once they arrived in Bethlehem.
This story of Mary and Joseph speaks deeply to my own process of discernment. Certainly, my discernment has taken me to new places, where I have been able to meet many new people. However, more importantly, I am finding that this journey is challenging me to think in new ways, whether in learning how to be a better community member or pondering how God is active in my life. And there is a leap of faith to the discernment process once we embrace our decision, even if the consequences are surprising. Finally, I come back to the fact that Mary was pregnant with the Word of God as she traveled with Joseph to Bethlehem. As a woman discerning a vocation with the Order of Preachers, I see in this image an example of my calling to carry the Word of God to the world, and the image gives me hope that my vocation can be carried out in ways that I have not yet imagined.
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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!