Discernment: Remember Who You Are

by Sister Marie Kolbe on May 26, 2011

Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Marie Kolbe Zamora continues a conversation on the meaning of discernment. If you haven’t read ‘Vocation: A Loving Voice of God’, the first in a series of posts, click here.

Discernment

I used to work with a woman by the name of Edna, a devout Texas German Lutheran who, on Friday evenings as we parted for the weekend, would often say to “Remember who you are!” It was her playful way to encourage virtuous conduct in my socializing on the weekend. These words have become a part of the fabric of my person; for, if it is true that each person is their vocation by virtue of having been “spoken” into life, then the process of discernment is not primarily a process of figuring out one’s future, but of “remembering who we are”.

Each one of us began life as an “infant” word of love from God the Father to our parents…and hopefully also a word of love of our parents. As we grow into childhood, we grow continually as “sonly” or “daughterly” words of love to our parents, and hopefully we have the opportunity to become a “brotherly” or “sisterly” word of love within our family. As we grow beyond our families, we become “friendly” words of love to our neighbors and classmates, discovering the joy of generous and loyal companions. As we get old enough to begin wondering about our future, and as we grow in our appreciation of our baptism, we look around to discern what kind of loving word to the Church and the world God the Father intended us to be.

  • Did our heavenly Father “speak’ us to be a spousal word of love to a future husband or wife for the building up of the Kingdom by becoming “motherly” and “fatherly” words of love to children?
  • Did he “speak” us to be “priestly” or “deaconly” word of love within the Church, preaching the Gospel, speaking words of Eucharistic consecration and sacramental forgiveness of sins?
  • Did he “speak” us to be a “consecrated” word of love in the Church and in the world, becoming a visible icon of what it means to live one’s baptism?

These weighty questions, which introduce us to the process of discernment, can be intimidating. Some individuals treat life as though it were a multiple choice exam of only one question with the possibility of failing looming overheard. This approach to one’s life vocation, full of nervous tension and anxiety, does not ring true to the way Jesus taught us to speak to God when he taught his disciples to pray “Our Father…”; it does not ring true to Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit to be with us always.

To be continued…watch for further postings on the meaning of discernment.

What resonates with you?

11 thoughts on “Discernment: Remember Who You Are”

  1. If you need discernment help right NOW and can't wait for the second part of this series, begin reading this Peter Kreeft post. http://www.peterkreeft.com/top

  2. The focus of vocation discernment works when we keep our eyes on Jesus! To look at what we think we are sacrificing, or what we will miss, or what others may or may not think about a decision, is to take one's focus away from our “center” where Jesus speaks to our hearts.

  3. The focus of vocation discernment works when we keep our eyes on Jesus! To look at what we think we are sacrificing, or what we will miss, or what others may or may not think about a decision, is to take one's focus away from our “center” where Jesus speaks to our hearts.

  4. Leslie (Postulant) says:

    Thanks for writting this. Remebering that the Holy Spirit is always with us does put into question any anxiety we might have.

  5. Smkolbe says:

    This post was a lovely and timely surprise, even for myself! Each day is full of opportunities for discernment . . . words to say . . . gestures to offer . . . words to write . . . silence to keep . . . The gift of living each day with one ear tuned to the world and the other tuned to the Holy Spirit is an adventure, a joyful adventure, for which I thank the Lord.

  6. Smkolbe says:

    I just recognized the Yuma girls in the photo!!!  Wonderful! Will be great to teach again!

  7. Abormes says:

    “…as though it were a multiple choice exam of only one question with the possibility of failing looming overheard.”  –Yes – this is it, as a society, we have become more certain of failure, which keeps us from doing anything.  God will provide in your given vocation – and, of course, there will be failings, but you will be able to get up after the individual failings.  The individual failings do not make the whole vocation a failure.  Overcoming the individual failings makes the given vocation all the more glorious.
    — Also, can't wait to see what is to come – especially as it pertains to the Our Father.

  8. Fr Joel says:

    As a young person discerning, these words would have seemed vague to me. But now as a priest I understand. I always thought that discernment was the process of me “becoming” a priest. But I remember in the days after ordination reflecting how priesthood didn't seem strange or new at all. It was like picking up a brand new shoe at the shoe store and discovering that it fit perfectly, like it was made for me. I was made to be a priest from the very beginning. Discernment meant discovering the priest God had made me to be and gradually living that identity, and letting every other identity give way to the true me. For me, priesthood is not a job or a role or a lifestyle or even a calling — priest is who I am.

  9. LJK says:

    Maybe I'm caught in the multiple choice conundrum, but your three vocation examples leave me feeling left out.  I am not married, I will not be a priest or deacon, and I don't feel called to consecrated life.

  10. franciscansisters says:

    Thanks for your comment. A conversation about discernment includes you and your feelings. Your comment helps someone else.

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