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Discerning Your Ministry

Here are some helpful hints about knowing if God is calling you to a certain ministry in the Church or not. These steps could also apply to any decision in life, but let’s limit ourselves to liturgical and non-liturgical ministries within our own parish.

At the outset, let us take comfort in the fact that we are never alone in having to figure out God’s will in our lives. This assurance comes to us in the last words of Matthew’s gospel: “I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.” Notwithstanding this assurance, I am still tempted to ask for a sight that might go something like this: “God, it’s me, Phil. No one is around so just flick the lights and I’ll know take that as proof that you are endorsing my plan I told you about at breakfast.” None of us can be 100% sure that we are actually responding to God’s will; that’s why we need faith. The decision-making process I’m referring to is called “discernment.”

When discerning, consider these steps:

1) Clearly state what you’re trying to discern.  For example: “I’m discerning whether or not I feel called to be a lector at Mass.

2) Gather the data, the pros and cons. Do not eliminate any possibilities initially.  However, consider each possibility in light of how this decision would affect your relationship with God, self, others.

3) Pray over the options. It may not be an either/or scenario; it may not simply be a question of being a lector or not being a lector. Pray open-ended allowing God to lead you to consider options you may never have considered before. You prayer should end with the words of Jesus himself, “Thy will be done.”

4) Make a decision. Actually, if you have discerned well up to this point, you really do not make a choice—it chooses you! As Jesus says in today’s gospel reading, “You did not choose me but I chose you.” Feeling chosen does not mean your new-found ministry will not by times feel like a yoke or a burden. Remember Jesus’ words, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

5) Be at peace with the decision. Ask the Spirit for courage and acceptance in following your path of discernment.

6) Act on the decision.

7) Make a concrete step in the direction of the choice.

8) Indirectly, and never directly, seek confirmation of your decision. You don’t have to constantly ask others, “Do you think I’m a good lector?” If you are a good lector, confirmation will come not only from others but also from a sense of inner peace.

Fr. Phil

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