See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Practical spiritual advice regarding 'discernment'.


De-mystified.
.
From A Minor Friar:
.
Sometimes the concepts of 'discernment' and 'processing' can be a smokescreen or a mystification of what's really going on within us. It's a spiritual pitfall I've noticed in myself and others over the years. It can very tempting to engage in an apparently diligent discernment in such a way as to "discern" red herrings, all the while living in denial about what our hearts and our prayer are really telling us.

.
I once lived with a funny friar who gave this response to anyone who asked him for help in making a decision:

.
"Brother, do what you want. You know why? Because you will anyway."
.
It sounds cynical, but my confrere didn't mean it that way. He was only trying to help us cut through a lot of spiritualizing and take an honest look at what our hearts where trying to say. When we use spiritual language to remain in denial, we risk making decisions that are not discerned at all.

.
The other day I heard a funny and pertinent example of just this sort of thing. A young priest was having a vocation crisis. He had met a woman. They had formed a friendship and he was tempted to run away with her. He asked a brother priest for help with his "discernment," explaining that he was going to take some retreat time during the summer to pray over the situation.

.
"Where are you going for retreat?" asked the friend.
.
"I'm going to her farm; I promised to paint the barn," responded our hapless discerner.
.
"Brother, once you agree to paint the barn, the discernment is over."  - Painting the Barn, Br. Charles

.
Photo:  Capuchin crypt.
.
That's all folks!

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for the encouragement...and for the detail from our lovely crypt. Anyone who ever visits that Church, don't let the bones make you miss some other spots: the relics of Justin Martyr and Felix of Cantalice, and the image of Our Lady standing on the crescent moon, with the moon oriented the other way than it usually is.

    ReplyDelete
  2. eh hemmm..."The elephant in the room" comes to mind here...my dr. recently advised me "look at what is in front of you and do something about it" (!)...good advice...
    Yeah, if Father does go to paint the barn, he's in trouble.
    God speaks in "a still, small voice"...but I think we know, all to well, and if we don't listen, it is to our own peril.

    ReplyDelete
  3. HHmm..interesting..I tend to run into the OPPOSITE problem....where I can't see the forest for the trees...so what works for me is to really change the tasking...focusing on something else for awhile helps my brain to reset and I can return to the problem at hand....I do alot of problem solvingan dtroubleshooting in my sleep whenmy mind is not preoccupied..painting the barn would work very well for me..although in the dear Father's case it might be better for him to go paint the barn of one of his elderly parishoners..although if it was a really GOOD farm he'd be so exhausted by the end of the daily work he wouldn't be able to think of keeping company with the young lady...I spent two summers working on a dairy farm and I had barely time to think about myself much less boys...

    Sara

    ReplyDelete
  4. +JMJ+

    "Do what you want . . . because you will anyway."

    It's brilliant for exactly the reasons mentioned!

    ReplyDelete


Please comment with charity and avoid ad hominem attacks. I exercise the right to delete comments I find inappropriate. If you use your real name there is a better chance your comment will stay put.