Discernment

 

This essay is going to attempt to match explicitly what Ignatius says about discernment, with my own experience.

The Use of Annotations

The annotations are a set of 20 suggestions that aim to serve as an aid to understanding the EXX more fully, and are to serve as a set of guidelines that might help both the Spiritual Director and the Directee attain the most from the EXX, in their holistic application  #1-#20

My Discernment

I began the Spiritual Exercises at a vital time in my life ~ whilst discerning my path forward ~ feeling called in a deeper way, to a deeper more committed vocation than that of the average lay person. ~ A vocation that hasn’t yet seemingly been written for women like me, women who are mothers ~ but who feel called to a formal active/contemplative Ministry beyond that of motherhood. ~ I want to serve God and others in a formal capacity, in a way that is recognised, supported and cherished by the Catholic Church, where formation, and on going mystagogy and pedagogy, are available ~ inspiring young women to be fully informed and have a structured route to follow within the Catholic Parish should they also be called to such a formal vocation. ~ Once upon a time within the Catholic tradition there were Deaconesses as in  Romans 16 “Personal Greetings – I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae”

‘Phoebe was not merely a confessing and active believer, she was also “a ministrant of the Church.” The word for “servant” is diakonos, from which we have “deacon” or “deaconess,” ~ an inter-dependent role.

For some time now I have been trying to discern my way forwards upon my unique spiritual and practical path. ~ This path (because of my complex personal situation) has been unjustly fraught with restrictions, and obstacles bigger than mountains. It has thus been incredibly difficult to manoeuvre ~ and to work out how it is within my vocation that I am to serve God and others as He is calling me.

I cannot live a lie. I cannot gloss things over and pretend that the struggle isn’t very real, and at times has been most excruciatingly painful. I cannot pretend that I am blessed with the support of my parish, or my priests, or my bishop, or the high priests, or my spiritual leaders.

But then neither was Jesus.

In fact I have felt totally cornerstone rejected ~ But I know that one thing is Absolute ….. I Am chosen by God.

I didn’t choose to be me. I didn’t choose my personality, or my character, or my face, or my body, or my soul, or my spirit, or my family, God chose it for me.

It is pure gift,

Or for some maybe burden … depends on your prejudice.

I Am fully aware that if I wasn’t a Catholic woman, and I were still Church of England, that many of the restrictions that are now placed upon me, would no longer apply. However in my deepest being I was awakened and have found something within the Catholic Faith that has met a Truth within myself, far deeper and more innate than that of any other denomination.

Mine is a vocation to which I know entirely that God calls me ~ and that HE CALLS ME by my name ~ Amber Marie. I know this without any doubt because of the signs and wonders that God has shown me along the way. However I have felt in the past that mine is also a vocation that I know not entirely what God calls me to ~ because what I felt sure that He was calling me to (before I fell in love with the Catholic Faith) has been disfigured since I became a Catholic woman. And then consequently what I felt sure He was latterly calling me to (a deaconess’ vocation, as in early Christianity) not only doesn’t appear to exist within today’s Catholic Church ~ but most especially not for somebody who is a re-married mother of 5 children ~ living as brother and sister (under a formal cohabitatio agreement).

Therefore any vocation to which I had previously been ‘called’ (or maybe I wasn’t) as a wife, has such disfiguring restrictions placed upon it, it ceases to render it in fullness the vocation it truly should be, thus putting it under such strain, that the love both natural and nurtured between a husband and wife has been so devastated that it ceases to exist as it should. With this comes an immense amount of pain, suffering, and desolation. This desolation however has brought me closer to God.

How can somebody be called to either vocation, when it all seems so impossible?

One has to thus conclude that our Deepest Vocation is far greater than any role, or any commitment, such as a job, or as a wife, or as a deaconess, or as a Christian, or as a Catholic, or even in our infinite vocations such as that of being a woman, or a mother, or a human being.

OUR VOCATION IS TO LOVE above all GOD IN ALL THINGS.

Along the way I have made some of the most excruciating choices that I have ever had to make in my life. And in some of those choices, I felt there was no choice at all. It was a given from the outset that I had to formally be the same faith as my children, and nurture our One innate inner resource. In this there was no choice. The spiritual umbilical that connects a mother to her child, did mean for me, that I had to become a Catholic alongside my children. It was a given that I could not be spiritually and physically separated from them in religion.

I first went to the Catholic Church so that me & my children could be united in faith ~ I felt most intensely, the acute thinness of veils, whilst in prayer and worship within the Catholic Church, over that of any other place of worship that I had ever before experienced. I fell in love with it, and so Elected for my children and I to become Catholic converts. And so my children were baptised. After their baptisms I was to be received into the Catholic Church too, regardless of the impossible choice that the Catholic Church only then gave me …. that of living as brother & sister within my marriage. There still was no choice. It was absolute as in #175. I chose being united with my children in God, over that of being united with my humanist husband in a wholesome marriage, because the church wouldn’t receive me in otherwise. I was not given this information before my children were baptised. But regardless I couldn’t live with the possibility of dying one day separated in faith from my children.

So you see I was called by God to the Catholic Church ~ but sadly had these impossible restrictions placed upon my marriage. A union (although at times happy) was one that was struggling with the 22-year age gap, and one that I know we both didn’t properly discern.

Because of the explosion of feelings – of falling in love with my faith, and because of my exuberant expression of such intense feelings ~ And because of my acknowledgement of my lack of previous discernment ~ And because of my humanist ‘husbands’ angry response to my newly found passion, and my determination to live as cohabitatio in order to be received into the Church alongside my children, In his anger, he betrayed me. He went round to my parish priest and disclosed private information about my awakening, my passion, my love, and my struggle to order all those intense feelings, as recorded in my private prayer journal, which he had secretly read, and shared without my knowledge.

This information was potentially flammable.

He did this as a way of controlling and manipulating my future, thus creating a potentially scandalous situation. This thwarted any vocational path forward for me within my diocese within the Catholic Church. Since then, any support which may once have been afforded me by the Catholic Church, has sadly been retracted, restricted, hindered, and disfigured further, by the very clerics who should have been supporting me through my now impossible situation. Instead I was publically used as a scapegoat.   And then excluded. Despite my passion for my faith, and the fact that I Am called by God to a vocation as a Catholic woman, I have consequently been excluded from all diocesan events at the Cathedral, and the better end of all the diocesan formation which takes place there is denied me.

Not all good things happen because of good discernment, ~ and not all bad things happen because of poor discernment. But if every choice that we made, were a choice made through deepest prayer and discernment with God ~ for the greater glory of God #23 ~ then we can rest assured that at each stage of our lives, and with every twist and turn, every decision that were made in this way, would have been made with God’s guidance and blessing. ‘For me, for now, for good’. This is even so in the most difficult and sometimes seemingly most impossible of circumstances. God with us. Hence we should be indifferent to any circumstances or attachments or outcomes, knowing that ‘our One desire & choice should be what is more conductive to the end for which we are created’ …. ‘To praise reverence and serve God our Lord’ above all things ~ #23 ~ This is truly living faith.

How can I then continue to live my life for the greater glory of God, in a way that fulfils my deepest desires and calling, without neglecting my vocation as a mother ~ and further still without restricting myself to the vocation of a mother alone, when God calls me to something far bigger. Especially when my invaluable experience as a mother underpins that of what God is continually attracting and calling me to; those Saints and women who are spiritual mothers & shepherdesses ~ for the greater glory of God. #23 ~ In discerning my unique desires and gifts ~ I hope to make an Election towards my calling ~ a vocation that God currently will not allow me to turn away from. And if it is to be that ‘That’ vocation ceases to exist for me within the Catholic Parish, then maybe it is with indifference that I need to discern where best ‘That’ vocation might then exist for me ~ For The Greater Glory of God #23

Indifference & the P & F

The entire sense of the whole of the spiritual exercises is perhaps best summed up, anchored, and underpinned by The First Principle and Foundation #23 ~ which Ignatius specifically places in the introduction of The Spiritual Exercises after the Presupposition #22, directly before and leading into the First Week #24-90. It reinforces the fact that everything comes from and leads to God ~ the Alpha and the Omega ~ the beginning and the end ~ Our Telos ~ and that in all choices large and small we should Love God first and foremost.

We should be indifferent to any circumstances, attachments or outcomes, knowing that ‘our One desire & choice should be what is more conductive to the end for which we are created’ …. ‘To praise reverence and serve God our Lord’ above all things ~ #23.

I think at present I seem to be in a state of being indifferent to all things, as in #23 the P & F. I am however vigilant that this may not be a permanent state and has the potential to change if my attachments once again become disordered. I tentatively grapple with the fact that if any future attachment leads me closer to God ~ then I fail to see how it can be considered disordered, so long as I Love God All the more.

I only think I got to this point of indifference in #23 not by choice, (I was a classic #154 2nd class person) and not by my own merit, neither by grace ~ but by being stripped against my will, of every attachment that was of importance to me;

Friendships I wasn’t allowed to keep ~ My ‘marriage’ becoming non conjugal ~ My children no longer going to Mass ~ Me no longer being a part of my Catholic community ~ Feeling separated from my church family ~ Excluded from Cathedral events and the better end of diocesan formation ~ And loosing my 2 dearest friends prematurely to cancer. All of this has happened within the last few years.   All the things that I had an attachment to, which were once so very important to me, were lost ~ and yet in a lesser way they remain. The grief & surrender of such Mammoth Loss was eventually replaced by a feeling that nothing matters anymore at all. ~ Everything else is arbitrary. Just to keep on being Love (a struggle in itself) ~ and to Love God above and beyond it all, is All I Am. Somehow in this process of poverty I was transfigured from a #154 person to a #155 person in the Three Classes of Men meditation #149-155-164 ~ All For the greater glory of God.

Regarding my Election, in a sense I have described it in the paragraphs above, converting in the first instance to Catholicism, by surrendering to such Mammoth Loss and the subsequent ensuing indifference.   Jesus ‘Elected’ to go to Jerusalem even though he knew what the outcome was likely to be. So, my struggle to find a way to Minister, in spite of all the difficulties, surrender, and loss, has become my Election. That of being true to my calling ….

…… But how did I get there? …. And where am I going from here?

Each day in contemplation of the P & F, I was to read a different short piece of scripture, twice daily praying the noon and evening Examen #43 whilst undertaking the requested tasks and spending quality time reflecting upon the whole experience to ask in prayer for the specific IQV = Grace ~ in this particular EXX the grace is to absolutely know and be immersed in the Love of God.   In Larry Warner’s book The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius his prayer for us during this journey through the P & F is:

‘God help this one to know beyond knowing and understand beyond understanding something of the depths of your riches, the incomprehensibility of your knowledge and wisdom, and the impenetrability of your judgments. In accordance with your grace, help this one to be moved to praise, honour, and service as he or she begins to glimpse your creative power, magnificent splendour and awe-inspiring holiness. (Adapted from Romans 11:33-36).

Having studied and grappled with the Puhl version of the P & F, I took on the invaluable but huge challenge from my Spiritual Director to write my own P & F …. To get it absolutely precise and for me perfect, took far longer and was far harder that expected.

Human Beings are made for God.

We are made for Love.

To wonder, praise, reverence, and serve God, in love & spirit.

We are to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.

And love others as self.

We are to live in Love.

The entire cosmos, everything upon the earth, all other beings, and mankind,

Are created to reflect the Glory of God.

The Glory of Love.

Regardless of any position, condition, or state.

So it is with indifference, that we should live aspiring to this end.

This was a brilliant discernment tool, and one that was considerably harder than imagined, especially for something that reads so succinct and simple, ~ and with hindsight by the time that I should come to the end of this particular discernment journey, it will become my Contemplation to Attain The Love Of God #230 ‘as that love ought manifest itself in deeds’ … …. by my ongoing vocation.

Prayer life. The use of Examen in Discernment … My unique gifts

In order to fulfil the challenge of writing my own P & F, I not only had to search the depths of my own being for the Telos as written in my own unique blueprint & D.N.A. I had to truly establish a new formal prayer routine. This happened by being extra disciplined in praying daily with the Examen. The Particular Examination of Conscience #24-#26 is used to give greater awareness of, and to monitor and temper our repetitive sin; for me, that of expressing a shortness of patience & anger whenever I felt frustrated with my situation, or when someone pressed my wrong buttons.

The General Examination of Conscience #32 – is used to ‘purify the soul’ (and for those of us that go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, to ‘improve our confession’) ~ and for everyone, by clarifying our awareness of our sins by observing the movements within.

Both in Thought #33-#37 (whether they belong to our own free will ~ the ‘good spirit’ ~ or the ‘evil spirit’.)

In Word #38-41 (blasphemy, lying, insult ridicule etc.) &

In Deed#42 (namely the Ten Commandments.)

Between #32-#42 we are given examples of mortal sin (by intention and actuality) and venial sin (less serious, & often by thought.)

I tend to amalgamate the 2 Examen’s together. I always pray in the shower in the morning over anything that is pressing me for the day ahead, or for anything that appears in my mind (a kind of “things” filtering into my consciousness) of the most importance. I then do a noontime Examen in brief ~ observing the day so far (with it glitches & its blessings,) and in bed in the evening a more heartfelt observation of my day. I feel God’s presence with me all day long ~ He is never absent. However when I formally do the Examen We are both Fully Consciously Present!

‘Method of making General Examination of Conscience’ #43. This prayer is to focus our awareness to 5 specific points. I like to imagine it as a 5 pointed star. My acronym I choose to help me to remember is God is Good

1) Gratitude to God (for the day’s blessings.)

2) Grace (to know & rid myself of my sin.)

3) Overview of the day (in Thought, Words, Deeds.)

4) Offer your failings up, for God’s pardon & resolve/

5) Decide to Love better for the day ahead ~ & give thanks again to God.

By living a life of prayer, both in the way of the examen, the meditations, the contemplations, and in colloquy (one to one conversation) we become over-time acutely aware of our desires, weaknesses, strengths, short-fallings, our God given gifts, and our passion; and the areas we want to explore or recoil from surface and unfurl. In this, our prayer affords us the insights to see signs and wonders in other areas of our lives too, beyond prayer; in scripture, in things that others might find mundane, in inspirations, in daily living, in the reflection of us in other people, in deeds, and in wonderings … and in all these Revelations.

For the first 3 years that my children were first received into the Catholic Church and I wasn’t, I was so desperately broken at not receiving the Eucharist along side them, that I had to learn to be in Communion in a whole new way, without nobody ever having taught me how to pray before. It was in my absolute devastation that God so Graced me with Spiritual Communion. There were days when I was so distressed, it was all I could do to stay broken and kneeling in my place, and not even venture up for a blessing. Unexpectedly God came to me in the Holiest of Spiritual Communion; in the form of an all encompassing consoling compassionate Love ~ and He never once left me alone or abandoned.

Because of this absolute very real blessing, which came out of such an authentic, naked, raw, truthful, emotional state, I at times found praying the colloquy’s quite artificial, dry and contrived. Throughout my days and most especially at the end of every single day I do communicate with Jesus in visual prayer via my Face of Jesus – Ariel Agemian Print. Sometimes this is softly spoken, sometimes it is a two-way conversation of thoughts, and sometimes it is prayer like the Braille of the Soul ~ a new language being shared, between One and not two ~ A Communion of the Highest Order. Even when I am away from my Agemian print ~ it is This face of Jesus that my soul sees in prayer ~ & communes with.

By twice-daily doing a noontime and an evening examine of conscience, I have learnt to recognise and pay extra attention to the movements that are stirred within me. In Week 1 (The purgative week) of the EXX #62 the Third Exercise, we are asked to pay extra attention and give extra time to those points in which we have experienced greater desolation or consolation, and greater spiritual appreciation. Applying this to my life beyond the EXX both past and present, by living the daily Examination of Conscience, I can see with great-intimacy, and also with some distance, in clarity, where the greatest of consolations have been, and equally where the greatest of desolations have been.

It appears that when ‘that’ that is external, is in line with ‘that’ that is going on interiorly, then I am filled with the greatest of peace, joy, and consolation. But when ‘that’ that is going on externally is out of sink with ‘that’ that is going on interiorly, then desolation is invoked and my spirit experiences the greatest turbulence. Over these past years of greater discernment I have become much better at being more aware of how I feel about what it is that I am feeling.  And this is most insightful!

To be in harmony or in alignment within/out our deepest self, is to fill us with the peace of indifference with regards to any external factors beyond our control. And this is to live in the greatest Freedom.

By using St Ignatius’ tools for discernment we come to a far greater clarity of where we are at now ~ and of how freely we make any choices ~ that lead us towards our Election. In The Call of the King #91 we have asked for the grace ‘not to be deaf to His call’. + In order to answer the certainty of this call, but with the uncertainty of what that call might be, we are invited to offer up our own level of response, mine (as in the Call of the King) was made when I first elected to become a Catholic, the greatest commitment, despite such loss.   From the commitment to that Call, we are then invited deeper into the discernment process by being open and excited enough to explore Gods dream/desire for us, in revealing our deepest dreams and desires for ourselves (this isn’t always apparent), and the on going prayer ~ the Gospel meditations ~ and the contemplations using our imagination, may help to affirm or even reveal both our known and hidden deepest desires ~ and in response to this, we are brought before election to our Fiat (Mary’s yes) in desire to fulfil Gods desire for us.

All this is attained by following Jesus more intimately in His Mission, throughout the 2nd (illuminative week) in the Gospel Contemplations #101-#134 & the Key Meditations; The Two Standards #136-#148 where we come to a greater awareness of the ‘deceits of the rebel chief’ #139 (and what that might look like for us) examining where our weaknesses are, seeking where we are most vulnerable, and most tempted to go off course, or more likely to turn away from God towards the ‘rebel chief’, but in our humility to choose Christ, by knowing that Jesus loves us and calls us regardless through them, (especially for me in my own journey) to ‘Poverty as opposed to riches ~ insults or contempt as opposed to honour ~ humility as opposed to pride.’ In The Two Standards in paragraph #146 and in The Three Kinds of Humility #166, this quote is repeated ~ and it screams at me! ~ and at times I have SCREAMED back at it in passion, because that is exactly what I have endured!!!

Then comes the 3 Classes of Men meditation, which is our commitment to ridding ourselves of attachments, which I talked about earlier in my prayer section of the essay, which was formalised in the cohabitatio agreement.

Then The Three Kinds of Humility where our ‘desire’ to live by the commandments for the sake of our salvation, also humbles us to a place of recognising whether we are yet indifferent enough to whether we live in poverty/riches ~ honour/dishonour ~ a long life/short life etc. ~ And regardless of whichever state we live ~ to choose to equally live in service to God ~ Exactly as presented us in the P & F #23, and most especially for me in my own P & F. The second week is very repetitive ~ which I have found almost cross-examines our motives, intentions, and commitment before Election, leaving no room for concern of making a wrong choice.

For here ~ for good ~ for now.

3 Choices

This is where my grapple of all grapples is;

#169 A means to the End ~ since truly falling in Love with God, and coming to faith in such a HUGE way, I realise that throughout my life being a ‘heart-person’ my discernments or rather lack of discernment in the past didn’t consider the end for which I was made, ‘For the praise of God our Lord, and for the salvation of my soul’ … but rather lived just day to day in the means. I grapple with this because for me I believe wholeheartedly that God is Love and Spirit ~ therefore if we daily live in love, for love alone, then surely this is living for the Greater Love which is our end, whether we know that end to be God or not?

The problem arises for me when I consider my marriage, which was first consummated in a love that wasn’t the Love that I now recognise God calls us to – in Union with a beloved, ~ where ultimately there should be three of you in the Sacred Union. You + God + your Beloved. I only latterly recognised this, even though I remember us clearly asking the minister if we might still marry in the beautiful old church, despite both of us declaring at that time to not having a faith, or believing (at that point in time) in God, ~ even though I innocently did when I was younger, without it ever being a formal mature or informed faith.

Now recognising this, and having elected to live under a cohabitatio agreement by recognising that the union was not validated in God, I have grappled endlessly with the love that I did feel, and the validation of it ~ in the face of Love where God is truly present ~ and where I now know the Sacredness of such Love where 2 people are truly present in His name, where He is not only made manifest by the Love shared ~ but is most radiantly and most beautifully present. And in any Sacred Union of this kind, we are led to the Holiest Communion of All ~ The end for which we are made, to praise & reverence God, from which every means, we should so be led.

And at this point of revelation ~ all time ~ all at once ~ all sorrow ~ all yearning ~ all longing ~ all the Love of my whole being ~ all desolation and all consolation ~ is charged in Him and Him in me. One just has to Trust that He has my every best intention held in His Providence ~ and that All will be Well. I can not bare the thought of never ever being held close, and never ever being lovingly kissed in a Sacred Union ever again ~ and I struggle and grapple with this-not falling under the heading of indifference, and of course it causes me the greatest of desolation, which often is outshined by the consolation of His holding me closer still in Spirit.

Desolation and Consolation and the 1st + 2nd week rules

During both the 1st week and the 2nd week, we (and our spiritual director) become far more aware of the spiritual movements going on within us, as presented through our disposition. These spiritual movements are what cause us desolation and consolation. Sensible consolation/desolation is directly concerned with our senses and sensibilities being aroused in intensity and passion by external factors and stimulation, which brings us closer to, or further away from God.

St Ignatius says spiritual consolation #316 is any increase in faith, hope, and charity, a moving and turning closer towards God, through either sensible consolation (if it turns us toward God.) or delight in exercising virtue (spiritual consolation). But the greatest of consolations is said to be that of Grace when our intellect, will, and determination are so inflamed with the will to live for God, giving us a deeper tranquility peace and happiness, despite any afflictions.

Spiritual desolation #317 is a decrease in grace, a turning away from God, a loss of felt presence, and even feeling completely abandoned by God. (The Dark night of the Soul.) These movements may be caused by our own disposition, temperament, or external circumstances, or by the evil spirit trying to knock us off course; causing us great confusion. Else the desolation may be caused by God; by the temporary removal of consolations for our own benefit. Desolation may appear as a sense of dryness, weariness, strong disapproval or rebellion, and a revolt in reverence. It may coexist with consolation of a higher order, for e.g. Pain of body/joy of soul~ painful consolation.  It may even cause one to distrust in salvation and become blasphemous of God, faith, and religion.

However spiritual desolation if from God can absolutely aid progress, and can even cause heroic virtue in that we may turn back toward God with even greater prayer and verve ~ and detach ourselves from that of the evil spirits temptation through sensible pleasures, by God stinging our conscience with remorse. This may make us wish for ‘the grief’ that we are experiencing to be diminished, and to pray to God for such a burden to be removed. However if God allows the desolation to continue then we should try and resign ourselves in gratitude and patience to His Will.

The evil spirit may also afflict us with ‘fallacious reasoning’s’ #315 that can deeply disturb and confuse us, and knocks us off course by attacking us at our weakest point. The good spirit however would give us encouragement and praise. Consolations may come in the form of tears or sorrow if it turns us closer to God. We shouldn’t change any decision when we are in desolation, that we were guided to make in consolation, as when we are in consolation the good spirit guides us, and when we are in desolation the bad spirit guides us. We should store up (in humility) consolations, to carry us through times of desolation.

St Ignatius give us 2 sets of Rules for the Discernment of Spirits to help us understand more clearly their movements, and to aid us in admitting those movements of the good spirit, and in rejecting those of the bad spirit. Week 1 Rules #313-#317 ~ and Week 2 Rules #328-#336

Because of the way I have been treated on occasions by the men of the cloth, (men chosen by God) the spiritual desolation I have felt at times has been crushing. For me as a woman with a natural monthly cycle, there are times of the month where those feelings of rejection devastate me at my most fragile point, making me feel like walking away from it all, and turning away and running in the opposite direction as far as I can go, and on occasions collapsing in hopeless despair, causing feelings of great turbulence within my soul. Making me feel for e.g. ‘What’s the point anymore?’ ~ ‘Everything is ruined and disfigured eternally.’ ~ ‘I clearly am not meant to be Catholic.’ ~ ‘There is no salvation within the Catholic Church for me.’ ~ ‘This is impossible’ ~ ‘I can’t do this anymore’ etc.

……. However this voice is the voice of the enemy, wanting me to feel unworthy, to doubt God’s call, and to turn away from Him in my confusion.  I have suffered these mounting feelings, and was encouraged to lose all hope by the enemy. ~ However I Am passionate about my faith ~ and the stronger feeling was that of Loving and Trusting in God emphatically ~ and in my refusal to allow the enemy to undermine God by quietly destructing me in silence, and leading me away from my vocation, which I am convinced God calls me to, ~ whilst trying to remain indifferent to any outcome so long as it were for the greater glory of God ~ I felt compelled to make a second Election.

I wrote, in my Passion, to the Bishop of Brentwood, and then consequently exchanged correspondence with the Chancellor. Stating that ‘The Catholic Church gave me an impossible choice ~ one which I have paid for with my life. I now want to follow my vocation by being a fully included and accepted member of my diocese ~ and if that were not possible within the Catholic Diocese of Brentwood then I believe it is only fair that they should allow me and my children to move closer to God together, beyond the Catholic Church, by revoking our Full Communion with Rome.

I trusted in God emphatically ~ trying in my heart to remain indifferent to any outcome that He may in poverty allow me. Thus at the same time silencing the enemy in his deceits to lead me away from God and my Vocation! So far to date I have not heard anything back ~ neither am I expecting to.   In the wake of the enemy’s deceits being exposed, and in the wake of me exposing my passion for my vocation to serve God, regardless and absolutely indifferent to any outcome; God has now bestowed in breath-taking consolation Massive blessings upon me.

Three ways of making a choice

I Am convinced that in my first Election to become a Catholic, I just knew, absolutely that ‘That’ was what had to be done. It felt spiritually right, beyond anything, without a doubt, called by Jesus … as in #175, as did getting my children baptised.

I Am convinced in my second Election, that ‘That’ of deciding how to move forward after I became a Catholic, kept me (maybe for years) in mode #176 ~ being buffeted by consolations & desolation, sifting through the confusion and insights, and slowly over time with both impatience and patience – and the greatest of support, have come to much understanding and Light, to a place of indifference, where I know that my vocation is to Love and serve God and others in Ministry.

I have finally come to my Election of Ministry in the 3rd mode, that of #177. Where in the greatest of tranquillity, I have chosen a means to an end; ~ ‘That’ of serving God our Lord, and others in Loving Vocation, whilst living an active/contemplative life ~ including that of Spiritual Accompaniment.

So in the past 8 years you can see how the three different modes of Election have all supported, underpinned and helped me in discerning my deepening vocation ~ as a means toward my end, which in hindsight is my beginning.

My P & F

Human Beings are made for God.

We are made for Love.

To wonder, praise, reverence, and serve God, in love & spirit.

We are to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.

And love others as self.

We are to live in Love.

The entire cosmos, everything upon the earth, all other beings, and mankind,

Are created to reflect the Glory of God.

The Glory of Love.

Regardless of any position, condition, or state.

So it is with indifference, that we should live aspiring to this end.

Conclusion

What was once a seemingly impossible situation is now positively an invitation to follow My Vocation.   Every door for so long has been slammed shut. The excruciating discernment over the past 8 years has often been horrendous. It has been a Massive discernment process, and So often ‘through a glass darkly’. And even though it has felt like The Long Dark Night of My Soul, I never once felt an absence of Gods presence or Love, only an absence of man’s.

God has been ever Faithful.

By inspiration, pure gift, and determination, God has now blessed me with my very own Ignatian aged Chapel, a Sanctuary, and a Spiritual Direction Practice built in the eaves of my 550-year-old ancient cottage. The “Way of Love Chapel’ has 2 stained glass windows, and is a place for prayer ministry, quiet days, spiritual accompaniment, and worship. A sacred space where both me, & Ignatianspirit.co.uk can discern it’s way forward ~ whilst still being intimately close to my children.

Further still The Way of Love Charism has now been formally printed, and if it is God’s Will, will go into prisons to accompany prisoners in their faith journey, & if it is not God’s Will, then I will continue to live by it, and to distribute it to whoever should like a copy, including the homeless people that I meet in connection to my #FISH campaign (Friends In Solidarity with the Homeless.)

I now have both my Pastoral Mission Degree, and my Ignatian Spiritual Direction Course under my belt, and I know that wherever my Vocation and Ministry leads me, it has been a vital and integral part of my formation.   And finally through my Spiritual Director I have made new connections with Clare Priory.

Feeling the call to serve God and others in my Christian vocation is stronger than ever today. I continue to discern my way forwards, with the help of my very special Spiritual Director, who is a Catholic Sister, & with the help of St Ignatius’ almost ‘sifting for diamonds’ like discernment process.

16 months ago I tentatively began my journey into the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius. I am taking it very deliberately slowly, as my path forward has required the Greatest of all discernments. In writing this essay I hope to learn that what was once ‘through a glass darkly’; with a little Ignatian discernment and insight, might now and for the future become ‘a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.’ ~ Either way ~ Today I feel Absolutely held and blessed by God.

Disclaimer;

Being a person of Great Faith, I cannot believe that any of what I have lived through to date, was not meant to happen, in order for me to be where I Am “For the greater glory of God.” #23. My faith and my relationship with Jesus/God has grown intimately deeper as a result of my life.   However …. I do believe that some of the choices and decisions that I have made in the past, before I became a practising Catholic, would not have been made today, had I of known of St Ignatius ~ and his tools for discernment.

I will leave you with a piece of my writing from 2012 that I found on the discernment of spirits in my childhood.

Ever since I were a little child I have ‘played a game’ just with myself.  I felt that if I were to choose my way around a post or a tree, or take one path over another, or go one way around the pond as opposed to the other way around, that (although ending up in the same apparent location) I would actually end up in a different place, choosing quite a different mini destination over the destination which the other way around would have led to.  I still do this frequently today, most noticeably whilst out on my 6 mile walk.  You can almost feel yourself subliminally choosing one way over another, and not always necessarily the stronger current.  One way generally feels more peaceful than the other, and yet with the human eye they look identical, all one world.  It’s just a feeling of different paths, subtler than the movement between shadow and light, but very much there.  Some days the choice between the two is so subtle and on other days the distinction is quite strong.  Both ways look the same but are quite different, and the feeling is clear, though no path ever reveals its destination. The choosing is just like feeling our way in prayer.  Lines which thread one way, then gently cross, then maybe all at once change, but forever drawing us in the inspired direction.’

I wonder why it is then, with this naturally innate skill so evident in childhood, that we seemingly go on to live much of our adolescent/adult lives often far less conscious in our spiritual and practical discernments?

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About mags

Beloved apostle of His Soul x
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