Tuesday, January 28, 2014

To Know God's Will, Is To Know God.

At the beginning of my Confirmation class, I share the following story with our candidates from the program called Confirming Faith...
"Once, just as a sculptor was beginning to work on a new block of marble, he noticed a young boy standing in the doorway of his shop.  The boy didn't say anything.  He just stood watching the great man chisel away at the block. The boy came often to the sculptor's shop.  He watched the chunks of marble fall away one by one-first large chunks, then finer and finer pieces-until he could see a form emerging from the marble. One day the boy arrived at the shop to find that the block of marble had been transformed into a magnificent lion, poised and powerful and larger than life.  For a long time the boy stood in amazement just looking at the lion.  Finally he turned to the sculptor and said, "Hey, mister, how did you know that there was a lion inside that marble?"
I then proceed to share with the candidates that in a very real sense the boy's perception of what happened was right.  There was a lion inside the marble - a lion that was clearly visible to the eye of the great sculptor.  The artist saw his task as that of bringing to light the true beauty that was hidden in the marble block.  In the case of Confirmation we are calling forth the Gift of Faith already present through the sacrament of Baptism.

Through our Baptism we all share a common vocation: "To Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself" (Luke 10:27).  How our vocation gets lived out takes on a variety of forms.  Some of us are called to religious life as a brother, sister or priest.  Some are called to diocesan priesthood, or the deaconate.  Others are called to marriage, and some are called to life as a single man or woman.  Each are expressions of the common vocation.

Entering into a time of discernment is about bringing to the surface our vocation to love.  A task we are all called to, not just those discerning a vocation to religious life.  It's a time to reflect on our gifts, talents, desires and passions.  It's a time to discover how best to use them to love God, and one another.  Scriptures tells us how to discern our vocation:
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:11-13).
To know God's will is to know God.  You must seek him with all your heart.  You must call upon His name and spend time in prayer.  Deep personal prayer is where discernment begins.  Nothing fancy!  Solitude, Eucharist, Liturgy of the Hours, meditating on Scripture, and retreats are all cherished places of Franciscan discernment.

If you discern with our Vocation Director that you might have a call to religious life.  The Friars will invite you to apply to our Postulancy Program.  Postulancy is our nine month program for formal acceptance into the Order.  It provides an orientation to Franciscan community life, prayer and ministry.  Postulancy is a place to continue your discernment with the Friars about your vocation.

During your time in postulancy the question of "Who Am I?" will be at the fore front of your discernment.  Just as the great sculptor was tasked with bringing to light the true beauty that was hidden in the marble block.  Postulancy is tasked with chiseling away negative attitudes, beliefs, personal issues and answering questions that prevent the image of God from surfacing within you.  What we hope will emerge during postulancy is the charism of a Franciscan Friar.  What is called forth, might actually be different, but equally beautiful.  We might find a husband and father in the waiting or a great Jesuit like Pope Francis.

Whether the image that begins to emerge is that of a Franciscan Friar or another form of life postulancy will have done what it set out to do, to bring to light the image of God found within each one of us.  An investment the Franciscan Friars are willing to make for all of God's children, whether they become Franciscans or not. 

Peace and All Good,
Bro. Scott Slattum, OFM

The Province of Saint Barbara's Postulants and Franciscan Friars gather with Archbishop John Vlazny from the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon to celebrate Mass.  Celebrating Mass, the Liturgy of the Hours, meditating on scripture and faith sharing are central to the life of a Franciscan Friar.
Personal Reflection:

According to the National Religious Vocation Conference new members to religious life are most likely to say they were attracted to religious life by a desire for prayer and spiritual growth.  What forms of prayer help you grow in your relationship with Christ?  Feel free to share your answer in the comment space below.

Contact Information:

Franciscan Friars
Office of Vocations
1500 34th Avenue
Oakland, CA 94601
Phone:  (408) 903-3422
Email:  vocations@sbofm.org
Facebook:  www.facebooks.com/SBFranciscans.Vocations
Website:  www.sbfranciscans.org

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