Sunday, January 29, 2012

Prayer and Discernment

It is the question: How do I know what God wants?

That is always the question. But there needs to be an examination of the "attitude" behind it. What do we assume he is thinking? Is it a guessing game? "He has a will for me, but he's hiding it." Is it punishment-backed? "If I don't get this right, he's going to be mad at me?" What do we feel about the discernment? Anxiety?

So often we forget (in our gut) that the God who has a call is a Father who loves. He wants us to be happy. He has our best interests in mind. Everything in his call is going to be for our eternal joy, his greater glory, and the salvation of multitudes.

So why do we have this fear?

Let us desire the great things, the beautiful things, the true things. Let us give him a heart courageous. And then simply ask: "What is it that you plan for me?" I can bet he will give the answer.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Here I am, send me

The call to a religious vocation can come in any possible way. It seems that the Lord delights in calling those who are really well prepared --- and those who have no clue. He can call through long association or family encouragement --- or through a passing glance at an adverisement in a magazine. He uses every means and any means to reach out, touch us and say, "Who can I send?"

The common thread is the response. In more or less conscious ways, the person is looking for godly things; for goodness, for truth, for beauty, for meaning, for the gift of self-giving service. And in more or less clear ways, the heart responds: "Here I am, send me."

If the touch is on your heart, listen to it. Pray to know what it means, where it calls, what he desires for your life. It is joy and challenge, growth and some tears, but it is life.

Life with him. Life for him. Life for his people.

And it leads to life eternal.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The need, a purpose

There is so much to be done.

The spiritual darkness of the world is imaged clearly in the darkness of this time of year. Overcast, gloomy, late sunrise, early sunset, we live in a world physically dark.

The moral darkness is worse.

I hear much about all that is going on. There is so much violence, anger, discord, sorrow. So many lives messed up by really bad choices - often before the "chooser" is out of the teen years. War, disease, moral corruption, theft, and ignorance.

There is so much to be done.

Every age has its challenges. We belong to a Church that has weathered them all - some better, some worse, but in every generation God has raised up saints to sanctify and to call men and women back to him.

Are you a saint of our generation? You could be. The grace is there if only you ask.

Monday, January 9, 2012

To pray

How do you pray?

The first question, I suppose is: Do you pray?

Do you talk to God? How?

Does he listen? How do you know?

Everyone who begins to live the Christian life has notions about what prayer is and "am I doing it right?" If you are talking to God, you're doing it right.

Now, there are the professionals, the saints who developed systems, the ones who taught. And they have a lot to say about prayer and how to and what is good and what should be avoided. Reading can be helpful, but it's never as good as the real thing.

Talk to God.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Vocation

A call.

How many times have I been asked: How do you know if God is calling you? The question itself is indicative. How many people in the world, in our society, are even interested? God? He doesn't impact their lives. God? Does he even exist? And if so, why should they care.

If the feeling is there that it could be, it very well could be.

God does not hide himself - the search for one's vocation is not a game of hide and seek. He is careful, oh so careful, not to intrude on our freedom. But he still calls, a quiet thing, a gentle thing, a "what do you think" thing.

If you think you might be called, you probably are.

If that scares you, don't worry. Most people are afraid of things they are not familiar with. But God is amazing beauty, awesome charity, stunning goodness. In himself, he is love and he loves you personally. If you are called, you respond to that love by giving him absolutely everything.

Love is like that.

If the question is in your heart, follow it. It's the greatest adventure there can be.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Prayer for Vocations to Women's Religious Communities

Most holy God, almighty Father,
Lord of earth and of heaven,
grant, we pray, the outpouring of your Holy Spirit
upon young women of our time and of our nation.
Draw them powerfully to your heart.
Engrave in the hearts of many
the charisms needed so desperately by your Church.
Send them to congregations
that will bring forth limitless fruit
in the hearts of men and women.
Grant to us, O Lord,
a flood of vocations to religious life,
for the glory of your name
and the salvation of souls.
We ask this through our Lord, Jesus Christ,
Your Son, Our Redeemer.
Amen.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Renew us, O Lord, according to your heart

Every religious congregation in the Church has been granted a particular charism by a God who loves his people, and who calls all to salvation. Most of those congregations who are struggling in these days have a charism that is still valid - it meets a need in the Church.

There are teaching orders...do we not need committed, zealous religious women who are teachers?
There are nursing orders...do we not need fiery, professional vowed women in health care?
There are contemplative orders...does the Church no longer need powerhouses of prayer?
There are orders which care for the poor...are there no more poor people?

No. The needs are more urgent than ever. So then, has God abandoned his people, refusing to give the gift of religious to a time which stands in such great need?

I sincerely doubt it.

All of the great orders in the Church started with one, or two, or a few, who heard the call, were infused with a charism that met a need in the Church and were catapulted by God into the fray. Can he not do it again?

No matter the situation, he can. He can take the little we have and cause us to grow. May he, in his generous, passionate mercy, grant to each congregation in the United States women whose hearts are etched with their charism, then inspire a torrent of vocations.

The harvest is enormous, laborers are no more than a drop. Pray...

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Where are all the women?

The other evening, I attended the annual seminarian dinner for the Diocese. It is a joyous affair: the Bishop celebrates Mass for the seminarians and their families and friends, there is a social and then a formal dinner. At the end of the evening the Bishop stood up and handed those men a challenge that they will spend their lives meeting.

As he spoke, I could visualize the call: men standing tall and firm, full of faith and intelligence, strength and zeal. Standing forth to uphold the people of God, administering the sacraments, calling down the mighty grace of God, teaching the truth fearlessly in a culture that derides it. It was almost a martial scene.

And then I wondered: where are all the women?

I have been wandering the Diocese, meeting with priests, speaking in parishes, striving to make known the call to religious life. And I have seen need. Schools with no Sisters, and pastors and staff begging for them. Parishes struggling. Pastors, who often have two or three parishes, working alone. Yes, they have dedicated lay staff. But again the question comes:

Where are all the women?

Throughout the history of the Church, religious women have been the mothers of souls - teaching, nursing, caring for the poor, praying, praying, praying for the needs of the Church - the real needs. They have been the ones "on the ground" when the priests often have to move from place to place to administer the sacraments that keep the life of God alive in human hearts. The religious women prepared the ground, assisted the priests, and then tended the souls when he went on to his next task.

And now, they are nearly gone.

We must speak frankly to God on this matter. May he flood our nation with grace, with vocations to women's religious life.

The harvest is immense and laborers are all too scarce. Pray...