Sunday, November 4, 2012

Vocation Discernment & Encouragement

The Cursillo Contingent

     This Saturday morning Kevin and I attended our first deacon ordination Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral.  It was very exciting to see so many people we know well gathered for the Sacrament of Holy Orders and the Eucharist.  A number of the eighteen gentlemen (and their wives) being ordained are part of our Cursillo family.  Quite a few other Cursillistas presence contributed to the love, encouragement, and joy that filled the sanctuary.  De Colores indeed!
     A sea of familiar faces, those of prayer warriors, parishioners, clergy, and dear friends all together to confirm and affirm what God has been doing and will continue to do in these men’s lives, families, churches, and ministries shine with the light of Christ.  We are all uplifted when those around us say yes to God’s call to serve Him.  We glorify the Lord and help bring others closer to Him when we are willing to lay down our lives to submit completely to what God wants for us to be and do to build the Kingdom.    
     Before Mass started, we gave a warm greeting to someone who has been very instrumental in our Cursillo faith journey and in our understanding of what it means to be a FROG (someone Fully Relying On God).  Once in the diaconate formation himself, God has led this man, his wife and family in a different direction, actually many different directions in regards to ministry.  I once told him in all honesty and still believe that God knew that it would be easier for this husband, father, and prayer warrior to continue serving in a variety of ways and minister to several people around our diocese as a layperson who’s very open to the Holy Spirit rather than as an ordained deacon. 

Marriage Vocation Affirmation
     It was a great reminder that God knows what will help make us holy and sanctify us.  He knows what roles, people, situations, vocations, ministries, circumstances, and opportunities will best prepare our hearts for Him.  The best thing we can do at present is to glorify the Lord through the vocations which we’ve already discerned while having an openness to additional ways He may want for us to be Christ to others. 
     A couple who belongs to our parish and who for a number of years led the Office of Marriage Formation in our diocese, was sitting near us.  Seeing them reminds me of the importance of glorifying God through the gift, covenant, and sacrament of our marriage.  It can be so very easy to downplay the importance of that vocation.  Kevin and I will get caught up in the nitty-gritty of daily life, and on some level forget that by living out our covenant and the sacrament of our marriage, we’re growing closer to God and bringing others closer to Him. 
     When I see some of the other and/or additional ways people are called to serve, I can become distracted and forget how sanctifying it can be (for our marriage and for those around us) to submit completely to God and put my spouse second, only to the Lord.  In a sense, this was a reminder that brought me back to the “small things with great love” lesson.                                                          

Fostering Religious Vocations   

     Our beloved brother John received special permission to come to town from St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore for the deacon ordinations to serve at the Mass.  At one point Kevin looked over at John, who was dressed in clerics and wearing a white alb for the occasion, and holding back tears said: “I’m really proud of him.”  Of course, we are very proud of John for growing in God’s love, drawing closer to Christ, and after serious discernment, dedicating himself as a seminarian.
     Our dear friend Michele, who in the not-too-distant future will be entering a cloistered Carmelite community, was sitting to our right.  She’s another person we’ve been close friends with during her discernment process and time leading up to becoming a nun.  It struck her while we were sitting there that she won’t be able to attend John’s ordination since she will have made her initial vows and won’t be able leave. 

“What Do You Want of Me?”

     Michele has been traveling around Richmond, Virginia, and along the East Coast performing her original play Teresita which is based on the early life and vocation discernment of Carmelite nun and Doctor of the Church, St. Teresa of Avila.  She was led to write and perform the play Teresita as a fundraiser to pay off the student debt she incurred from going to seminary to study the Christian faith in greater depth.   A poem called “In the Hands of God” written by St. Teresa of Avila which Michele includes in the program for her performances is quite powerful and has really struck me as Kevin and I continue on the path of life-long discernment of God’s will for us.  You can read entire poem here. 
     The refrain of the piece is “What do You want of me?”  It’s a pertinent question we must keep asking God.  It’s certainly something that the men ordained this morning and their wives have been open to asking throughout this process of formation.  God’s will is what all of us are called to follow.  We need to pray and listen, because God’s plan for our lives is going to be different from everyone else around us.  We have unique gifts, talents, and strengths, connections with certain groups and people, and spiritual charisms that are tailored to grow into abundant fruit that will feed others.  When we take the time to be still and know God, to listen in the silence, then we will be in a better place to receive the specifics of what our ministry is supposed to be.  All of us are chosen to serve.    

“Be Still and Know I Am God”

     One thing that really hit home for me today is that I haven’t been as good about setting time aside for silent prayer.  I’ve been too caught up in the doing that I’ve lost the peace and trust in the Lord that only comes from being still in His Presence.  I’ve needed this reminder as Kevin and I have really felt that we’re in another period of serious discernment of what God wants of us, who He wants us to be and the specifics of how He wants us to live that out. 
     When I think about how I need to spend some time in prayer and listen to God in order to discern what’s best and what’s next, I get this sense that He’s already telling me what He wants me to do: “Trust.”  And what is my initial response?  Basically, the same as Scar’s reply in The Lion King: “NO! No.  Anything but that!”
     Today Kevin and I are going to Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament from 12:30-1:30pm at St. Benedict’s so we can sit in silence before God and just listen.  Thank, You, Lord for drawing us closer to You each time we start thinking we can figure things out on our own.  Amen. 
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