Thursday, October 30, 2014

Consider Your Gifts

If every vocation is a call to service, we should consider our gifts and experiences and try to judge how they best match up with the needs of the world and how they align with our desires.  In doing this it quickly becomes clear that many options may match our desires, but not our gifts.  For example, I might have a desire to be a professional basketball player and therefore come to the conclusion God is calling me, but if I lack the talent and skills even though I have the desire it become clear I'm not called to this profession.  The opposite can happen too.  I might have the skills and talent to be a great chef, but if I lack the desire, it becomes clear that I am not called to this profession.  The same holds true for religious life.  You need both desire and the ability to minister and live as a Franciscan friar of the Province of Saint Barbara.

To begin the discernment process you'll need to reflect upon your abilities, talents, and experiences.  Then you'll ask, "Can these gifts be used in the mission of the Franciscan friars of the Province of Saint Barbara?"  Compare your gifts to our Mission Statement:
The Franciscan Friars of the Province of Saint Barbara are members of a Roman Catholic religious order, from a diversity of backgrounds and cultures, dedicated to serving the poor and promoting justice, peace, care of creation, and reconciliation in the joyful and prophetic spirit of St. Francis of Assisi.
The next step is to test the use of your gifts against our mission of serving the poor, promoting justice & peace, caring for creation, and bringing about reconciliation.  I recommend starting with direct service to the poor or marginalized.  As you volunteer or work among the marginalized become aware of the movements of consolation and desolation before, during and after engaging in each experience.  As you reflect on your experience ask:  Did I experience desolation?  Did I feel weary, dry and dissatisfied?  Did I feel consolation?  Did I feel cheerful and satisfied?  Was I able to engage in these activities with a joyful and generous heart? 

These two movements well help reveal the movement of the Holy Spirit in your discernment process.  Read the blog post "Consolation and Desolation" for more information on using this discernment tool.

Next, take your experience and engage in theological reflection.  Theological reflection is an essential ingredient in the process of spiritual discernment.  It holds the possibility of discerning God's presence and/or direction.  It's the process of standing before your experience 'open' to what may or may not be revealed through the lens of faith.  Read the blog post "Theological Reflection" for more information on using this discernment tool.

Next, share you experience with your spiritual director and/or vocation director.  This person will listen to your story with an ear for the movement of the Holy, of the Divine.  They will also help you discern between your voice, the world (family, culture, and society) and God's voice within your experience and theological reflection.  Read the blog post "Spiritual Direction" for more information on using this discernment tool.

Lastly, remember to be nourished by the Word and the Eucharist at Mass in order to be sent forth in mission to serve the poor and marginalized.  Read the blog post "Freely You Have Received, Freely Give" for more information on why Mass is important for discernment.

Finally, at this stage in the journey you are trying to put on the "habit" of serving the poor and marginalized.  You're trying to see if you have the abilities and the desire to work with the poor and marginalized as a possible religious brother or priest.  Through this process you ultimately ask, "Am I called to love and be loved by the poor and marginalized as a religious brother or priest?" and "Am I called to love and be loved by God as a religious brother or priest?"  Your experiences and relationships with the poor and marginalized will help reveal your calling on how to love God and neighbor.

Peace and all good,
Bro. Scott Slattum, OFM

The Gubbio Project was founded by Louis Vitale, OFM a Franciscan friar
of the Province of Saint Barbara.  This ministry is one example of our outreach
to the poor.  How can you be present to the poor and marginalized in your area?

Personal Reflection:

To begin the discernment process you'll need to reflect upon your abilities, talents, and experiences.  Then you'll ask, "Can these gifts be used in the mission of the Franciscan friars of the Province of Saint Barbara?"  What gifts, talents, skills and experiences would you bring to religious life?

Contact Information:

Franciscan Friars
Office of Vocations
2201 Laguna Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93105
Phone:  (408) 903-3422
Email: 
vocations@sbofm.org
Facebook:  www.facebooks.com/SBFranciscans.Vocations
Website:  www.sbfranciscans.org

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