As the day grew hotter and hotter, one of the disciples asked, “Master, have you any idea WHERE you might have lost the key?” The Master replied, “Of course. I lost it in the house.” To which they all exclaimed. “Then why are we looking for it out here?” He said, “Isn’t it obvious? There is more light out here?”
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“Calls are invitations from life to serve, to activate your will toward a cause worthy of you and the human family. They are purposes with a voice, visions turned into inner commands. Calls draw you into the specifics of a purpose and a vision.” (John P. Schuster ~ Answering Our Call)
"In the thousands of moments that string together to make up our lives, there are some where time seems to change its shape and a certain light falls across our ordinary path. We stop searching for purpose, we become it. "(Dawna Markova ~ I will not Die and Unlived Life: Reclaiming Purpose and Passion)
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This week some of you may be glued to the TV, or to your SmartPhone, or computer to catch the results of the Olympic Games. I thought that these Games had a significant correlation to our efforts at discerning one’s purpose and call in life. Much like the Sufi Master in the story above, we sometimes feel more comfortable, safe, and in control when we are “in the light” - searching for that something that will give us a clue or direction as to what we are to be or do with our lives. However, finding the KEY calls for us to step inside ourselves where we may experience darkness, quiet, restlessness, aloneness, feelings, truth, fears, obsolete “life commandments”, images, thoughts, or memories that all are part of God’s invitation to us to find the KEY for our real purpose and call.
According to a YouTube video, to become and Olympic Athlete there are a number of KEY steps to take so as to stay on the path to possibly acquiring the gold, silver, and bronze medals. But how is this related to the spiritual inward journey of finding your purpose and call possibly to live a religious lifestyle? Here are some elements to consider:
1. Talent – you have to have the talent to “give yourself away” so that others may become more or better because of your self-awareness, relationship skills, generosity, knowledge, physical and mental health, and spiritual growth to make the mission of Jesus real and alive in our world.
2. Dedication – this calls for the capacity to commit yourself to the mission of Jesus in a particular organization, with its charism, ministries, spirituality, lifestyle, and values.
3. Training Center: Once you’ve discerned a form of religious life (Apostolic, Monastic, Cloistered, or Contemplative) then you will need to be more specific and choose a “Training Center.” There are many religious communities with charisms unique to its founding, and each with its’ own vocation and formation guidelines. Many of these can be found on sites such as: http://www.vocationnetwork.org/ http://www.religiousministries.com/directory/index.asp
Discernment is crucial here that you have had time to research the choices.
4. Coach: It’s important to have someone who companions you in your spiritual and personal growth journey. Possibly seek out a spiritual director (http://www.sdiworld.org/) a mentor, or friend who will be able to hear what your heart desires.
5. Enter local, regional and national games: This again calls for research as to where your heart feels a fit and “at home” with the community of choice. It may mean you will have to move to a place where their motherhouse is and become familiar with their members in other regions to learn about them and for them to get to know you.
6. Finances: Many communities today require you to be debt free from credit cards, health debts, property debts, etc., but are willing to negotiate entering with education debts. They may have policies or guidelines formulated.
7. Try Outs: Communities have very well developed discernment guidelines before you are able to apply for formal acceptance into the community’s formation program. There are wonderful opportunities to get to know the membership through sharing prayer, meals, meetings, discussions, activities, and on-going personal and spiritual growth planning.
8. Keep your eyes on the prize!: There are no gold, silver, or bronze medals for living a life of service and self gift – It all requires a willingness to carry out the mission of the community, to have the gift of membership “having your back,” and a deep desire to grow in the love of God and to be about the mission of Jesus as his hands and heart.
1. How have you experienced God’s invitation to consider a religious lifestyle?
2. Are there mentors in your life who will be objective listeners and good guides?
3. Do you have a prayer life?
4. Have you ever considered visiting the motherhouses of those in religious life?
5. Consider a weekend retreat, a Come and See experience, or visiting a ministry site of those in religious life.
6. Get in touch with a vocation director who will answer your questions.
7. To find the KEY takes time, prayer, patience, and a good mentor. Sorry, there are no “Drive-thru” approaches to this type of search.
“You must mightily believe that beneath the noise is a call to a deeper life that only you can respond to in the unique ways that your gifts allow and your life path has led you. ((John P. Schuster ~ Answering Our Call)