Sunday, February 26, 2017

Discerning God's Call: Part 6

After hearing God's call during my silent retreat, it was a growing love for sitting in silence with God that led me to consider primarily contemplative communities. At the time, I didn't know about many religious communities so I started surfing the internet. I must have read about hundreds of communities from cloistered contemplatives to active communities. I needed to narrow down the options somehow, so I just picked the communities that seemed the most attractive to me and trusted the Holy Spirit to guide. With every community I contacted the Lord blessed me tremendously! One of the great gifts of this process is that once you've contacted a community they will start praying for you.

Both in the time leading up to and the month following my first come-and-see retreat (with the Sisters of Life), I received dramatic inner healing and spiritual growth. God also used the Sisters to bring about my total consecration to Jesus through Mary, something the Lord had recently begun asking me to do. I even saw growth in my family relations, resulting in deeper spiritual conversations following my time with the second community (Children of Mary). On my third trip (to the Daughters of Mary of Nazareth), I felt even more convicted of God's call after talking with a Sister who left a career in aerospace engineering to pursue her vocation. However, when it comes to entering a particular community, Blessed Mother Teresa of Kolkata said: "We must love all religious orders but we must fall in love with our own." After meeting with these communities I felt as though I loved them all, but had no greater attraction to one than another.

I knew from the discernment experience of a friend that I would have to rely more on the guidance of the Holy Spirit than on my own reason. This friend had been certain that she was called to the Missionaries of Charity. After getting as far as submitting an application and beginning her preparation for entrance into their community, her application was declined due to concerns about her condition of prosopagnosia (face blindness) which was seen as an obstacle to the MC ministries. But several months later she announced that she had been accepted into a fully cloistered Benedictine convent and, although she had been excited about an MC vocation, she was now beaming with supernatural joy. She thought she was called to the MCs, but God knew her better. ("For the Lord sees not as man sees [,,,] but the Lord looks on the heart." 1 Sam 16:7)

I would say that my discernment has looked less like a process of human reasoning than a step forward in the dark followed by a pause to consider whether I should take another tentative step in the same direction or return and start along a new trajectory (perhaps later to change my mind and return to the initial trajectory!). Sometimes the Holy Spirit gives no additional information and leaves me to my own devices. I then make a decision based on what is hopefully spiritual intuition, and maybe a little bit of human reason. Other times the Holy Spirit reveals things about me and the discernment process that make the path a little bit clearer. Of course, the Holy Spirit also leads through external circumstances by closing some doors and opening others. Ultimately this has been a process of getting to know myself better and growing in discernment of spirits.

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