Discernment: Remember Who You Are

Paul Keggington

May 26, 2011

Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Marie Kolbe Zamora continues a conversation on the meaning of discernment. If you haven’t read ‘Vocation: A Loving Voice of God’, the first in a series of posts, click here.


I used to work with a woman by the name of Edna, a devout Texas German Lutheran who, on Friday evenings as we parted for the weekend, would often say to “Remember who you are!” It was her playful way to encourage virtuous conduct in my socializing on the weekend. These words have become a part of the fabric of my person; for, if it is true that each person is their vocation by virtue of having been “spoken” into life, then the process of discernment is not primarily a process of figuring out one’s future, but of “remembering who we are”.

Each one of us began life as an “infant” word of love from God the Father to our parents…and hopefully also a word of love of our parents. As we grow into childhood, we grow continually as “sonly” or “daughterly” words of love to our parents, and hopefully we have the opportunity to become a “brotherly” or “sisterly” word of love within our family. As we grow beyond our families, we become “friendly” words of love to our neighbors and classmates, discovering the joy of generous and loyal companions. As we get old enough to begin wondering about our future, and as we grow in our appreciation of our baptism, we look around to discern what kind of loving word to the Church and the world God the Father intended us to be.

  • Did our heavenly Father “speak’ us to be a spousal word of love to a future husband or wife for the building up of the Kingdom by becoming “motherly” and “fatherly” words of love to children?
  • Did he “speak” us to be “priestly” or “deaconly” word of love within the Church, preaching the Gospel, speaking words of Eucharistic consecration and sacramental forgiveness of sins?
  • Did he “speak” us to be a “consecrated” word of love in the Church and in the world, becoming a visible icon of what it means to live one’s baptism?

These weighty questions, which introduce us to the process of discernment, can be intimidating. Some individuals treat life as though it were a multiple choice exam of only one question with the possibility of failing looming overheard. This approach to one’s life vocation, full of nervous tension and anxiety, does not ring true to the way Jesus taught us to speak to God when he taught his disciples to pray “Our Father…”; it does not ring true to Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit to be with us always.

To be continued…watch for further postings on the meaning of discernment.

What resonates with you?

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