Monday, June 16, 2014

Discerning Our Charisms & How God Wants Us to Share Them

In May our parish gave out a booklet titled Discern Our Charisms as part of the Increased Commitment Campaign for 2014.  I’m glad they’ve provided one of these for each of us to fill out, because I can’t for the life of me locate the charisms survey I took some eight years ago in spiritual direction.  I’m sure it’s here somewhere, but I haven’t found it, yet.  Maybe that’s just as well, because discernment is an ongoing process and our gifts and what we’re called to do with them can certainly, and often do change over time.  I would be very interested to see the particular charisms I identified eight years ago which are still very much a part of who I am now as I know a number of them would overlap with the results I reached through examination and prayer this go-round.
During the month of June, each person is being asked to complete a Ministry Commitment Form for July 2014-June 2015.  All of the current ministry rosters are being considered null and void.  If you want to participate in a ministry that you have done in the past, you have to register to be part of it again.  If you’re ready to take on or at least learn about a new ministry, you’re encouraged to do so.  This is a big leap of faith, in my opinion.  There are so many different ministries to be involved with and through our parish that it takes more than a full page of legal-size paper just to list them all.

That was then, this is now

I realize it says a great deal about my personality and way of looking at things that reviewing the sheet of all the ministries at our church, I feel bad that I’m not involved in more of them rather than simply grateful that we have so many opportunities for outreach.  Processing and praying has helped me move from feeling I’m not doing enough to being grateful for the many gifts we have in our parish that we use to serve others, while being more aware of the specific ministries we’ve been called to focus on at this point in our lives. 
This has been a period of pretty intense discernment for Kevin and me as we have been praying about what ministries to be involved in and what God’s calling us to in terms of our work and careers.  I’m feeling greater peace now that the Lord has shown me the ministries we’re involved in are where He wants us to be devoting our time and energy right now. 
For a while, we’ve been serving as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.  We served regularly at the Sunday 5:30pm Mass and have been filling in as substitutes as needed more recently when our Cursillo commitments have had us at different Masses and sometimes even different parishes from one week to the next.  We do miss taking up most of a row at Mass with the three silly sisters and their parents, but fortunately, we got to be together for Mass and dinner afterward on Father’s Day.

Christ Renews His Parish

Kevin and I have both made a Christ Renews His Parish (CRHP) weekend and served on the teams for the next weekends put on at our parish.  I still gather pretty regularly with my CRHP sisters, both as a group and individually. I first met a friend who introduced me to a couple of other ministries I hadn’t known about before: the Charismatic Prayer Group and Theophostic Prayer Ministry.  This friend has since moved to Chicago to attend pharmacy school, but the connections she created before leaving remain strong.    


Theophostic Prayer Ministry

Through that prayer group and because of that friend, I learned about a very powerful type of healing ministry called Theophostic Prayer Ministry (TPM).  She invited me to attend a session with her in Chesapeake, Virginia, and that’s how I met the people at our parish and at New Creation Renewal Center who would journey with me as I witnessed and experienced the healing that the Holy Spirit does through this ministry. 

When they began a group in Richmond that would study Theophostic Prayer, I eagerly joined.  Over the past few years, I’ve been studying and learning everything I can about Theophostic Prayer Ministry through books, workbooks, DVDs, live demonstrations, and by practicing doing the ministry with people who have been doing this for over ten years now.  Over this next year, I will be completing the live practicum portion of my training as a TPM facilitator with the hope that in the summer of 2015, I’ll be ready to take part in a three-day intensive workshop with Dr. Edward Smith, the pastor and counselor who developed this ministry and has been teaching it around the world.  

Spiritual Direction Institute

Kevin and I have begun a two-year course modeled after Monsignor Chester Michael’s Spiritual Direction Institute (SDI) program.  We had our first class last Saturday.  As part of the program, we commit to spending one hour in prayer in addition to doing one hour of study (faith formation) five days each week for the duration of the program. We have two retreats each year.  We have to read at least one book a month and write a one page book report on it.  Obviously this is a big chunk of time and a major commitment which we took time to discern carefully and prayerfully.
Anyone who knows me knows that I devour books, often ones that are spiritual and/or religious in nature, so reading a book each month and doing a book report isn’t intimidating for me at all.  The possible challenges posed to me through prayer and when it comes to applying to what I’ve learned from the books is likely to be the most difficult aspect of the process for me.  I knew it would be the prompting of the Holy Spirit if Kevin, who doesn’t usually read books and rarely sits down to write much of anything, discerned now is the time for him to go through this program as well.


We learned about the SDI program from active members in another ministry which we have been very involved in over the past eight years: Cursillo.  Kevin and I attended our first Ultreya  at St. Edward’s the spring of 2006.  We walk into the school hall where the Ultreya was being held, and the first two people we meet are Mary, who was pregnant, and Joseph.  I kid you not.  The married couple who greeted us that evening are actually named Mary and the husband goes by Joey for short.  Their son’s name is Isaiah.  They are still a wonderful, joyful part of our Cursillo family.       
We have been members of the Cursillo community since June 2006 when I made my weekend at Mary Mother of the Church Abbey and sat at the table Sea of Conviction, but we renamed ourselves the Spiritual Divas, and that’s how we’re known in the community.  Kevin made his in September 2006.  We’ve each served on team before and were asked to do so again this year.  I served on team for the Women’s Cursillo Weekend that took place April 2014.      
Kevin is currently in team formation for the Men’s Cursillo Weekend being held July 24-27, 2014.  I have been a contributor and the editor of the Cursillo newsletter, The Rooster Review, for the past seven plus years.  I’ve lost track of the number of candidates Kevin and I have sponsored and/or co-sponsored to go on Cursillo weekends, but I’m certain it’s over ten. 
Through our involvement in Cursillo, we have met some of the most faithful, dynamic, and dedicated Christians we know.  Our close friends, many of whom are already strong people of faith, have been reenergized by making a CursilloThe Cursillo Movement is an international, proven method of evangelization designed to bring people closer to Christ in all areas of their lives.  
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