To be a catechist is to have a vocation – a call from God. This means that if you are contemplating becoming a catechist, you need to involved God in the decision-making. We call this discernment. Here are a few tips I’ve written on the practice of discernment:
Many choices we face in life are very complex. How do we know what God wants us to do? What is God’s will for us? This is where discernment comes into play. Discernment refers to the process of aligning ourselves with God’s will in order to learn what God is calling us to. Discernment is needed in, not only immediate decisions (do I say something to my best friend about his drinking?), but also in decisions about the overall direction of our lives (do I want to accept this promotion even though it means relocating?). In both cases, the decisions we make have everything to do with God and the kind of person God is calling us to be. Every choice we make, no matter how small, is an opportunity to align ourselves with God’s will. Here are some tried-and-true pointers that can help you discern God’s will.
Take some alone time with God.
Take some to recognize God’s presence—sit with Scripture or a sacred image; spend some time getting in touch with nature; find a quiet spot, such as a chapel, that can help you recognize God’s loving presence in your life.
Search your feelings.
Ask yourself two important questions: When do I feel as though I’m drawing closer to God or walking with God? When do I feel like I am moving away from God? Your responses can help you figure out where you stand with God and help you make good decisions about the direction you are going.
Beware of temptation.
Knowing your temptations helps you be more careful so you don’t get caught off guard. Sometimes it is helpful to talk to someone you trust and ask for help in facing temptations.
Be conscious of your conscience.
Your conscience is that inner compass that helps you to judge the morality of your actions. It guides you to follow God’s law by doing good and avoiding evil.
Get help from the “network.”
You’re not alone. In addition to the grace of God, we have the Bible, the Church, and the Communion of Saints to help us. We can read stories about the ways that Jesus and the saints made decisions for God and how they dealt with temptations.
Check out the fruits.
Discernment is ongoing. After you make a decision, prayerfully evaluate it. If the fruits (outcomes) of your decision—your words, actions, and behaviors—are good, then it is a good indication that the decision you made is good. If the fruits are “rotten,” then that is a good indication that you may need to alter your course. True discernment results in good fruit (even if it’s something we wouldn’t normally pick out for ourselves).
Discernment can help you when you face decisions. Even though making good decisions can be difficult at times, trust that the Holy Spirit is with you to guide you and help you choose what is good and true.
This is helpful, Joe. As someone trying out the Web’s social networks, I especially appreciated the point about getting help from the “network.” I like the idea of thinking of the Communion of Saints as part of the Catholic social network. I feel like there’s an idea for All Saints Day here…need more thinking on that.
Denise, I can’t help but think of the Verizon commercials with the “network” workers following around the customer!
Joe, you are an inspiration! I’ve been following your blog for a couple of weeks and just haven’t had the time to post comments. It seems like you’re reading my mind as I’m trying to finalize my catechists for next year. Last weekend I trying to write a letter (actually an email) to send to those who are sitting on the fence and not quite ready to commit to being a catechist (they all want to be aides). I just happened to pop on here to see if you had posted anything new and there it was, for my opening I quoted your first paragraph. I then went on to share my struggles in trying to decide to become a catechists (17 years ago). I concluded with asking them to actually take some time to discern this calling. I’ve had some positive replies! Thanks again!
Margie, thanks for getting in touch. I’m so happy that you are getting positive replies. The Spirit is flowin’!