So, am I for the vertical, or the horizontal?, Part 3

(Finally, 3 months later. If you need to hit the refresh button, revisit related posts here, here and here.)

Around a decade ago, our community conducted a Life in the Spirit Seminar at a retreat house run by the Augustinian Sisters of Our Lady of Consolation. During the Baptism in the Holy Spirit (a communal prayer in which we pray for the gifts of the Holy Spirit–which we received at our Sacramental Baptism–to be stirred up in us in a real and renewing way), the very hospitable sisters obliged when we requested for the Blessed Sacrament to be present for this activity.

Now, if you know what communal prayer means for charismatics, you’ll know that it is anything but silent. There is singing, raising of hands, spontaneous praising, speaking in tongues…people kneeling, standing, prostrate on the floor. Even back then, I understood that not everyone was comfortable with this kind of prayer, and no doubt some would raise eyebrows over the fact that this was how we prayed before the Blessed Sacrament. Not wanting to offend the sisters who were our hosts for the weekend, I asked a fellow servant at that retreat to call the sister to come and bring the Eucharist out of the room at my signal. I wanted to make sure that when she arrived, we would more or less have settled down after the climax of praise.

But for some reason, things didn’t go as planned, and Sister entered the room right in the middle of high praise. There was laughing, crying, praising, singing–everyone was just drunk with the Spirit, with the Eucharist right at the center of it all. As the one leading the worship that time, I couldn’t help but glance sideways at Sister by the door: oh no, oh no, oh no, what could she be thinking? Finally, the praising slowly faded into silence, I led them in prayer, then in song, then we all bowed down before our Lord.

We waited for Sister to make her way to the center of the room, but she remained frozen where she was. I thought, Oh no, was she that bothered, that scandalized by what she witnessed? After a few more minutes (which seemed like eternity), she carefully walked over and reverently retrieved the Blessed Sacrament.

When the retreat ended later that afternoon, I made it a point to go and thank Sister personally for having us, and wanted to explain (although I didn’t know how I was going to do it) what happened during the Baptism. As soon as she saw me approaching her, she gave me the warmest smile and, to my surprise, gave me a big hug. “You pray so well! I didn’t want to leave, I just wanted to stay there and listen to your songs. It was like there were angels singing!”

And I just hugged her right back with all my might.

One of the stumbling blocks to a harmonious Church, at least when it comes to liturgy, is the notion that one has to choose sides–those that champion a more vertical orientation (traditionalists, orthodoxy) and those that fight for a more horizontal one (let’s call them progressives). One reader, after expressing his opinion that widening the horizontal reach should be considered more important, in the same breath admitted that the Church would cease to be relevant if it neglected to point us to a higher standard. After vacillating to and fro, his conclusion was no conclusion–that this tug-of-war will ultimately hit a deadlock every time, and that the only solution was compromise (which he argues, isn’t really a solution as it entails some degree of giving in from one or both sides).

The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected. –G.K. Chesterton

I agree, compromise isn’t the solution. But perhaps another “middle-ground” word better fits the bill: BALANCE. To realize that both orientations are able to teach us something, to have that openness to the possibility that we may not have all the answers. To ensure that in every celebration and in every occasion for worship, careful attention is given to BOTH the vertical and the horizontal. No, not a vertical that alienates nor a horizontal that tolerates, but one that challenges and embraces, respectively.

To be so open to the Holy Spirit that we are able to see and recognize worship that is pleasing to our Lord. Whether it be this–

Or this–

A Church that is both vertical and horizontal, teaching each other, and learning from each other. Giving the Father always what is best, what is true, what is sacred.

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Waking Up Catholic (and Lovin’ it!)

I’m a sucker for Catholic conversion stories.

Maybe it’s a maternal thing–welcome home, welcome to the family! Or perhaps its the outsider perspective they have on doctrines and practices I’ve known all my life, making centuries-old rituals fresh and exciting again.

Reading Chad R. Torgerson’s Waking Up Catholic was no exception to my general love for converts and their stories. Written as a guide for “Converts, Reverts, and Anyone Becoming Catholic” (as it says on the cover), Torgerson presents basic Catholic doctrine in a grounded and concise manner. And just from that sentence alone, I can hear the unseasoned reader saying, “You had me at grounded and concise.”

Having gone through the RCIA process himself, Torgerson systematically answers the questions he asked throughout the process of his own conversion: What is the basis of Sacred Tradition? Why priests, and why call them “Father?” Why pray to Mary? Do we really need the Saints? Why believe in Transubstantiation, and why ever would I want to eat flesh and drink blood? As the author takes us through his own searching for answers, he becomes more like a companion, a guide, rather than a professor lecturing in a classroom.

I found it particularly interesting that the very first chapter talks about Sacred Tradition, stating that this was the main thing that sets Catholicism apart from other Christian churches. Making the case for Tradition (and correspondingly, the continuing revelation of the Holy Spirit) sets the stage for tackling the history of most other tenets of the faith. After convincing the reader of the importance of Sacred Tradition, the need for a governing body to ensure that the Tradition is faithfully passed on from one generation to the next logically becomes the topic of choice for the subsequent chapter. And on and on it goes, each section making way for the next. It takes a lot of talent (not to mention wisdom) to capture such a vast collection of doctrine and to present it in an orderly, step-by-step fashion. In fighting the urge to overwhelm, Torgerson succeeds admirably.

But the best feature of the book, by far, is the inside look into Torgerson’s life story. He shares his past judgements and misconceptions about the Church, and where necessary, subjects his own previous philosophies to scrutiny. This is not a story of naiveté or gullibility, but one of relentless searching (and finding) for Truth.

And in the end, more than a sentimental acceptance, or a renewed appreciation for the beauty of the Church, this is what really captivates me about conversion stories: the hand of God moving, guiding the heart and soul to Himself. No matter where any of us have been, His reach will always be farther and wider.

When you search for Me, you will find me; when you search for me with all your heart. –Jeremiah 29:13

So, am I for the vertical, or the horizontal?, Part 2

(Related posts here and here.)

I am a Catholic Charismatic. I serve in the Praise and Worship Ministry of my community.

This means that I am very much used to leading a congregation in spontaneous prayer, even spontaneous singing (i.e. singing with words and music made up on the spot). The Charismatic Renewal is mainly about being aware (sensitive might be a better word) of the presence of the Holy Spirit in one’s life and in the world, and consequently seeking to be led by the Spirit in one’s daily living. This surrender to the Spirit naturally translates to how a Charismatic prays, which may involve the raising of hands, expressive singing, spoken prayer, as well as praying in tongues. This is why you will rarely see a Charismatic leading prayer by reading from a pre-written speech. We trust that we will be given the words to say as led by the Spirit (see Romans 8:26).

From Catholic Center for Charismatic Renewal, Archdiocese of San Antonio

This description may seem to completely go against the idea of using “formula” prayers such as the Our Father, Hail Mary, and basically the Mass as a whole. But allow me to share with you what the culture of the Charismatic Renewal did for me, and how it changed the way I celebrated Mass.

I think the shortest way to tell this story is to quote the past 3 popes on what they thought of the movement.

The Catholic charismatic movement is one of the many fruits of the Second Vatican Council, which, like a new Pentecost, led to an extraordinary flourishing in the Church’s life of groups and movements particularly sensitive to the action of the Spirit. How can we not give thanks for the precious spirituals fruits that the Renewal has produced in the life of the Church and in the lives of so many people? How many lay faithful—men, women, young people, adults and elderly—have been able to experience in their own lives the amazing power of the Spirit and his gifts! How many people have rediscovered faith, the joy of prayer, the power and beauty of the Word of God, translating all this into generous service in the Church’s mission! How many lives have been profoundly changed! For all this today, together with you, I wish to praise and thank the Holy Spirit. —Blessed Pope John Paul II, to the National Service Committee of the Italian “Renewal in the Spirit,” Rome, Italy, 4 April 1998

The Movements and New Communities are like an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the Church and in contemporary society. We can, therefore, rightly say that one of the positive elements and aspects of the Community of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal is precisely their emphasis on the charisms or gifts of the Holy Spirit and their merit lies in having recalled their topicality in the Church. —Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, at the meeting of the Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities, Rome, Italy, 31 October 2008

I don’t think that the charismatic renewal movement merely prevents people from passing over to Pentecostal denominations…No! It is also a service to the church herself! It renews us.–Pope Francis, en route to Rome from World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, 28 July 2013

(Quotes taken from ICCRS and CNS.)

Hope, Faith, Love.

There are 3 words in “Catholic Charismatic Renewal.” And while some catholics might question the “Catholic” and squirm uncomfortably at the external signs of “Charismatic,” very few can deny that there is a true “Renewal” taking place (go here to read some true-to-life stories of renewal). And that was what the movement did for me: it opened my eyes, ears and heart to the spirit behind the prayers, removing the veil of familiarity and allowing me to discover the movement of the Spirit in the composition of these prayers that I had been hearing (but probably not listening to) since I was a child. Sure, I can pray with my own words “as led by the Spirit,” but I believe it is the same Spirit directing my heart towards Heaven as I fervently recite a centuries-old prayer that was written by someone also led by the Spirit.

The Renewal is not just a way for the Spirit to teach us a new way to pray/worship, it teaches us how we are supposed to pray in the first place–led by the Spirit, and filled with the Spirit.

I firmly believe that any Catholic Charismatic who is called to deeper faith will appreciate and embrace the magnificent beauty of the Liturgy (with all its rules), and of the Church as a whole. And any community that does not lead its members Rome-ward must ask themselves what still makes them Catholic.

Love for the Church and submission to her Magisterium, in the process of maturing in the Church supported by a solid permanent formation are relevant signs of your intention to avoid the risk of favoring, unwittingly, a purely emotional experience of the divine, an excessive pursuit of the “extraordinary” and a private withdrawal that may shrink from apostolic outreach. —Blessed Pope John Paul II, during the National Congress of the Italian “Renewal In the Spirit,” Rimini, Italy, 14 March 2002

Pray, worship–with all the life and zeal and joy of the charismatic renewal. But take on the responsibility of attaining a deeper knowledge and understanding of the Church–Her Creed, Cult (Liturgy) and Code. It is well and good that the heart behind our worship is evident–why not engage the mind as well? It can only lead us closer to worshiping the Lord in Spirit and in Truth (John 4:24).

You must love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. –Mark 12:30

Let those who know, love. And let those who love, know–that they might love even better.

Two sides, with two different temptations. What is the answer, then? Not one, nor the other, but BALANCE. More on this in Part 3!

So, am I for the vertical, or the horizontal?, Part 1

Last week, I wrote a post about the dilemma of Liturgy being either too vertical or too horizontal. I must admit, I was a bit nervous over how some of my readers from the West–mostly Catholic bloggers themselves and mostly (if we’re naming them) veering towards the right side of the liturgical spectrum–would react. I’ve read enough from their blogs to gather that there is much disdain towards radical changes in Liturgy, and though some won’t say it, over a lot of the changes brought about by Vatican II. I deeply respect these readers and writers (and not just because *cough, cough* they follow my blog), which is why what they’ve written had me struggling with my own faith expressed through Liturgy. It was an honest searching I was led to, and am still on. And while I cannot say I already have the complete picture (there should never be an end to learning), I feel the instance I shared immediately prior to this post was a milestone for me, as far as knowing where I stand is concerned.

So with a deep breath (and a Hail Mary), I clicked on the publish button. And waited if anyone would unfollow me.

To my surprise, no one did (as far as I know…do those show up in notifications?). What’s more, I saw a number of those bloggers actually like my post (I don’t get a lot of those). Well, well, pat on the back, well done, Pauline!

Until some FB contacts messaged me to say that they liked it, too. And, since we’ve already named them, suffice to say they most probably belong to the opposite end of the spectrum.

Hmm, a post that managed to please everybody. Can only mean one of either 2 things: that I’m a really, really good writer…or a really, really spineless one.

So, for the record, here is where I stand.

I love Liturgy. I love that what we do every Sunday has ties to rituals that date as far back as the early Christian communities. I love how it is so rich in symbols and poetry, and that it is the beautiful marriage of Scripture and Tradition. I love that, no matter where you are in the world, even if the mass is celebrated in a language you do not speak, a Catholic can still follow what’s going on, know when to kneel, sit or stand, and receive the same extraordinary grace being offered at every mass across all nations. And not to forget, that apart from all these, the mass is the Mass–Christ’s Sacramental giving of Himself to all those who hunger and thirst for something bigger and beyond anything this world can offer. If only for this, I love the Mass.

And because it is Sacrament–a visible sign instituted by Christ to give grace–it is but fitting that we give our utmost in ensuring that the Liturgy we follow is appropriate, is commensurate to the Sacred Mysteries being celebrated. And this is how we must see efforts to elevate the celebration in its vertical orientation: while we can never truly give God the kind of heavenly worship He deserves, it won’t stop us from trying to get as close to that level of worship as possible.

And that is how, even though I was born pre-Vatican II, I feel I can appreciate the beauty of the Latin Mass, and Sacred (Latin) music. It is called sacred for a reason–it is a language, music and way of doing things specifically set apart for this purpose. And when done reverently, deliberately, devotedly? Wow. Chills down my spine.

And this is how I choose to think of these staunch defenders of the “traditional way”–they are pushing us, not letting us give anything less than the best, the highest we can give (thank God for that…and for them).

Now, here’s where the “however” comes in.

We must not forget why we set these rules, these standards in the first place. We do so because we want to leave little room for halfhearted, empty worship. But we must also realize that we do not have the same vantage point as God’s, who “does not see as human beings see…but looks at the heart” (I Samuel 16:7). Who are we to say that this worshiper singing the Our Father with her hands lifted up is not singing from the heart, or that this penitent touching the feet of Christ’s image on the cross is not desperately seeking His pardon and healing? Our eyes can only see what the body does, and our ears can only hear what the mouth speaks. Perhaps for most of the time, this perception is sufficient to spot those who honor God with their lips while their hearts are far away from Him (Isaiah 29:13), but for a certain remainder of worshipers, we cannot see what the Lord sees, and therefore cannot tell them that their worship is not fitting, not pleasing to the King.

Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood there and said this prayer to himself, “I thank you, God, that I am not grasping, unjust, adulterous like everyone else, and particularly that I am not like this tax collector here. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes on all I get.” The tax collector stood some distance away, not daring even to raise his eyes to heaven; but he beat his breast and said, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” This man, I tell you, went home again justified; the other did not. For everyone who raises himself up will be humbled, but anyone who humbles himself will be raised up. –Luke 18:10-14

Don’t. Be. A. Pharisee.

There is a place for rules in Liturgy. But when it comes down to choosing between the rules and the person–the heart that is worshiping–choose the person. Consider the heart.

I really didn’t expect this to be as long as this. But, to reiterate, there really is so much to be said. Hope to see you soon for Part 2. But till then, here’s something you might want to read. I actually found myself echoing the sentiments I’ve already written about here.

The New Evangelization: Getting Down

(This is part of a series on The New Evangelization. Read the 2-part introduction here and here.)

Tell me, have you ever been a Monica to an Augustine?

St. Augustine, as you may know, lived a rather colorful life prior to his conversion–leaving the Church for the philosophy in vogue at the time, and (rather famously) giving in to worldly, carnal, pleasures. This period in his life caused his mother, St. Monica, to suffer greatly, so much that it is said her tears, shed every night, had formed permanent tracks on her face. She never stopped praying for her son to find his way back to the Church, and entreated many priests to pray with her for his intention, including a bishop who assured her, “it is not possible that the son of so many tears should perish.”

Monica believed that her son would return to the faith. And so she never stopped praying until  he did.

Saints Augustine and Monica, by Scheffer

Is there someone–a friend, a relative, perhaps your spouse, or your son/daughter–you’ve been trying to evangelize, but so far has been unreceptive? You’ve repeatedly given the invitation to attend church, you’ve given all the pamphlets, books and novenas, you’ve even resorted to faith sharing disguised as “small talk.” But it’s still like talking to a wall. No matter how many ways you’ve tried to package it, the Good News is not news they want to hear.

You’ve tried everything, but have you prayed like Monica? Unceasingly, faithfully, desperately, as if his life, his soul, depended on it?

Lest we forget it is Jesus who has the power to save our loved one. Not us.

Pray. Just as Abraham pleaded with the Father to spare the city of Sodom for the sake of 50, 45, 40, 30, 20, 10 upright people (Genesis 18:22-32). Just as Daniel never stopped opening his window to face Jerusalem, even when those jealous of him conspired to discredit him before the king, thus sending him into the lion’s den (Daniel 6:2-25). Just as the widow in Jesus’ story wouldn’t take no for an answer, pressuring the judge to ensure that justice was done (Luke 18:1-8). Pray selflessly, constantly, urgently. Because it is a matter of Life or Death.

What does Jesus pray for?

In the Novena to the Divine Mercy*, a prayer which makes Christ’s intentions our own, we find Jesus desiring that we pray both for the faithful as well as those who have gone astray.  Of those who do not believe in God, and those who do not yet know Him, Jesus tells St. Faustina, “I was thinking also of them during My bitter Passion, and their future zeal comforted My Heart.” There is a special prayer as well for those who have separated themselves from His Church, and He says of them: “During my bitter Passion they tore at My Body and Heart, that is, My Church. As they return to unity with the Church, My wounds heal and in this way they alleviate My Passion.” Oh, to soothe the sting of Your wounds even just a little, is this not reason enough to pray fervently for these souls?

But do not think that we only need to pray for those with their backs turned to Jesus and/or His Church. On the last day of the novena, Jesus asks that we pray for the souls who have become lukewarm, and of them He reveals: “These souls wound My Heart most painfully, My soul suffered the most dreadful loathing in the Garden of Olives because of lukewarm souls. They were the reason I cried out: ‘Father, take this cup away from Me, if it be Your will.’” The wound that cuts the deepest is not the heart that has turned away from God, but the heart content with feeling nothing. For anything. “For them, the last hope of salvation is to run to My mercy.”

I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked man, says the Lord, but rather in his conversion, that he may live. –Ezekiel 33:11

Pray because you believe they will, by God’s grace, return to the fold. Pray because you hold on to Christ’s promise that He will grant whatever you ask for in His Name. Pray because you believe God loves them, too, and that a life of faith and love and growth in His Church is what He desires for them as well.

“In all your prayer and entreaty keep praying in the Spirit on every possible occasion. Never get tired of staying awake to pray for all God’s holy people, and pray for me to be given an opportunity to open my mouth and fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel…” –Ephesians 6:18-19

To know what to say, we’ve got to get ready. But for hearts to hear the words, we must get down on our knees and pray for God’s Mercy.

Jesus, King of Mercy, we trust in You.

*Excerpts taken from The Divine Mercy Booklet.

(Read the last installment of this series, The New Evangelization: Getting Dirty).

The New Evangelization: Getting Ready, Part 2

(This is part of a series on The New Evangelization. Read the introduction here.)

You’ve heard about those who do it, or at least those who’ve seen it happen. Perhaps even you have been unexpectedly asked the question once on your way home from work, catching you off guard, rendering you speechless, vulnerable.

“Are you saved?!”

“Ah, er, yeah, sure.”

The zealous, impassioned Born Again Christian then launches on an exegesis of John 3:16, and starts blurting out other Bible verses at lightning speed, as the meek Catholic squirms awkwardly, trying to think of the most feasible escape plan.

Are you?! Am I? Am I!

There is something admirable about the zeal with which some of our Protestant brothers and sisters evangelize. I know of many a parent (or brother/sister) asking for prayers for a family member who has started attending non-Catholic assemblies because of encounters similar to the one described above. And most of the time, the concerned family member can only watch as the son or daughter slips farther away from the Church, perhaps himself once or twice found speechless when challenged, questioned, tested.

What’s the point of going to Mass? Kneeling, standing, receiving a piece of wafer?

Why do you confess to a priest? Go directly to God!

Why do you follow the Pope? You’re supposed to follow Jesus Christ alone!

There’s no getting around it: you cannot share what you do not know. And as much as we’d wish knowledge would magically illumine our minds like a ray of light shining forth from the heavens, we cannot know what we do not take the time to study.

If you want to be a better soldier for Christ and His Church, here are just a few things you can do to get ready:

Know your Catholic Faith. There are a lot of ways to go about doing this, but the important thing is not to get too overwhelmed. Just read what you can, study what you can. But more importantly, don’t study just to know what to say when the time comes, but rather to enrich your faith. Read about what really goes on during confession, and take that with you the next time you go into the box. Especially when it comes to the Church’s stand on certain things, don’t just take other people’s word for it: go read for yourself. Nowadays, you don’t even need to go out and buy your own copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (not that I’m keeping you from doing so), it’s all available online! You don’t even need to dive into an in-depth study of the faith (again, not stopping you). But if at any time a question pops into your head, or a comment someone makes tugs at your heart, be curious enough to want to find out what the Church has to say about it, and be determined enough to act on that curiosity.

What to read? Again, if you were to look online, there are a lot of resources you can find (but please make sure it is a reliable source of Church teaching). There are a lot of Q&A books out there, such as The Catholic Answer Book and Why Do Catholics Do That?, but as I mentioned in previous posts (here and here), there is something to be said about reading the conversion stories of former Protestants, particularly pastors and theologians, who found themselves on the road to Rome. They asked the same questions you’ll probably get asked by a non-Catholic (precisely because they were staunch Catholic persecutors once themselves!), and found Truth in the answer. Refer back to this previous post for some highly recommended reading.

All scripture is inspired by God and useful for refuting error, for guiding people’s lives and teaching them to be upright. This is how someone who is dedicated to God becomes fully equipped and ready for any good work. –2 Timothy 3:16-17

Know your Bible. Again, the key is not to get overwhelmed. Appreciate the fact that the written Word of God was and is of the Church, and for the Church–very much a part of our heritage as traditions and doctrines are. More and more Catholics today are picking up their bibles and allowing Scripture to touch them personally and permanently. If you haven’t yet, is not the Year of Faith the perfect time to start?

First step is to make sure the bible you have in your hand is indeed a Catholic one. How can you know? It usually says so somewhere on the cover; you would be a step ahead if you looked for an Imprimatur on the copyright page. What is the difference? Aside from the level of faithfulness to the original text, Catholic bibles contain some books that are not found in Protestant bibles (a shame, really, as some of these books–collectively called the Deuterocanonicals–contain some of my favorite passages and stories).

Second step is to simply start reading–and never stop. Set aside a time for it each day until your day won’t feel complete unless you’ve read a chapter or two. Start with the Gospels, progressively read through the New Testament after that, then it will be much more manageable to go through the Old Testament once you’ve made a habit of reading.

Just as each of us has various parts in one body, and the parts do not all have the same function; in the same way, all of us, though there are so many of us, make up one body in Christ, and as different parts we are all joined to one another. –Romans 12:4-5

Know your Church (and church). Be excited with everyone else as we find out more about Pope Francis. Know your Bishop, your Parish and Parish Priest. Be involved in the liturgy, serve in whatever way you can; offer your time, talent and treasure. Join a prayer community so that you can know more, grow more, serve more. Actively be part of Christ’s Mystical Body.

Amidst all the knowing, do not forsake our being.

Be holy. Not all of us are called to the priestly or religious life, but we are all called to live holy lives. And if we live our life according to what the Gospel teaches, Christ’s light will surely shine in us and through us. More than our what our words can say about our faith and Scripture, let our lives be testament to God’s reign in our lives. Others will see that and, we pray, would want what we have: an unshakeable faith, a living hope, an extravagant love.

(After Getting Ready, then what? Read on about Getting Down, and Getting Dirty).

More on Discerning Vocation

 

The link below offers a very good read on why there has been a decline in religious vocation in years past, the changing cultures as well as our innate desire to give ourselves completely to another typically misconstrued to mean giving oneself to a spouse, and only to a spouse (if that spouse would only show him or herself already!).

I particularly enjoyed reading the paragraph on Marriage Life “vs.” Religious Life, showing how in many ways, these 2 paths are the same in that there is commitment, a sense of sacrifice and giving up of one’s self, bearing fruit, and living love in a community.

As Scott Hahn once said, the love of the mother and father becomes so real, that nine months later they must give it a name. And so too, the love of a religious must become so real, that new souls are born around the world through it. But if the fruit of marital love is children (the physical presence of which–the smiling, giggling, crying–constantly reminds us of our obligations), the fruit of consecrated love is spiritual children (which is more hidden, abstract, and therefore requires a greater act of the will to be able to stir one’s heart to love).

Read this if you feel you need a more rounded perspective in your discernment. Read this if you want to explore a little whisper inside your heart. Read this even if you have already chosen to give yourself in marriage, to remind yourself that this is still vocation, a life our God has called you to. Read this to pray for those who have already chosen this higher calling, that they be strengthened and blessed each day. Read that your eyes may be opened to living life, wherever you are, to the full.

Discerning Religious Vocation