"God will be with you each step of the journey to guide, to listen and to offer continual inspiration ..."
Icon of St. Francis of Assisi by Sister Maryam Gossling
Today’s Gospel acclamation, “If today you hear his voice, harden not your heart,” is timely as we celebrate the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi.
If you are familiar with the life of St. Francis of Assisi, you may recall that while he was out one day, roaming the countryside near Assisi, Italy, he stopped at a church to pray. Praying before the San Damiano Cross in a deteriorating church — Portiuncula — Francis heard God say to him “rebuild my church ...”
After hearing these words, Francis had to decide whether or not he was going to listen to the request. It took him a while to figure out what exactly those powerful words meant. He didn’t understand what God was asking of him. Thinking it was a literal task, he gathered stones to rebuild by hand the crumbling chapel. In time, Francis realized the call was much deeper. His search for clarity led to conversations with his family, friends, the bishop, the pope, the local mayor, and many others. Men saw his joy and flocked to join his way of life, a pathway that lead to the establishment of a new religious community with a new rule of life approved by the pope. It all began with a few words he heard in prayer, his inclination to trust God and to begin searching. Francis was by no means perfect: he made mistakes and learned throughout his life journey. Conversion is one of the values of Franciscan tradition!
Like Francis, you may receive inspiration or a call from God in prayer. Moving from the idea of discernment to actually living into it requires motivation to discover its true meaning. For example, feeling called to religious life offers much to explore throughout religious communities: evangelical, apostolic or monastic orders, Franciscan, Dominican, Benedictine spirituality (among others), geographical locations and ministerial opportunities. Simultaneously delving into your own gifts and talents helps to discover where you feel a connection. The opinions of family and friends also provide fodder for reflection. Each new discovery leads to next steps and bigger questions.
No matter where discernment takes you, carry today’s Gospel acclamation, Psalm 95:8, as you journey forth: “If today you hear his voice, harden not your heart.” God will be with you each step of the journey to guide, to listen and to offer continual inspiration, no matter where the exploration leads.
Are you willing to listen and explore?
Are you discerning religious life? Walking with someone who is? We invite you to share this link, www.fspa.org/showmeasign, and join the conversation.