Subj: DISCERNING THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (4 & 5)
This continues teaching on Discerment started on Monday.
DISCERNING THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
by Sr. Nancy Kellar, Sc (as in ICCRS Newsletter (firstname.lastname@example.org)
>>4. BEGIN BY EXPLORING AND EXPERIMENTING
We can begin our discernment by using a tool like the Catholic Spiritual
Gifts Inventory to quickly sift through our life experience and pinpoint
the best places to begin. Then we experiment, that is we prayerfully try a
specific activity and see what God does as a result. There are several
basic signs of a charism that should be consistently present over time.
5. Signs of Charisms Persist over time.
(a)THE FIRST SIGN IS EFFECTIVENESS
What does God do when I engage in a particular activ ity? Through a
charism, the Holy Spirit accomplishes things only God could do. Something
far greater than anything I have to give mysteriously passes through me and
with grateful astonishment, I see its effects in the world around about me.
If I have been given a charism of teaching, those I teach will learn and
find learning deeply compelling and life-giving. If I have a charism of
hospitality the hidden wounds of many will be mysteriously healed through
my seemingly simple act of welcoming and befriending the stranger and the
But what if I do not seem to be effective? In the Called and Gifted
workshop, there is one truth that we stress:
Recognizing where the Holy Spirit has not gifted you is success, because it
frees you from the burden of false expectations and liberates you to
wholeheartedly embrace God's unique call in you life. The process of
recognizing the absence of a charism can be very painful, especially for
those who have been involved in leadership or active ministry for years. We
can be so personally invested in a particular view of ourselves that we can
miss or even wilifully ignore the obvious.
I remember one woman who drove hundreds of miles to furiously insist that
she had no charisms. It turned out that she did have charisms, she just
hadn't received the one that she wanted. She had been dramatically healed
herself and desperately wanted to be used by God in a healing ministry. But
after years of training and participation in a healing ministry, she was
beside herself with frustration because no one was getting well!
The amazing thing was that she did have a well-developed charism of
intercessory prayer. Extraordinary things happened all the time when she
prayed, but she didn't care. Her heart was set on one particular gift and
nothing else would do! Slowly, over the eight weeks of the extended
discernment program, she was able to let go of her long cherished dream and
joyfully accept the very real charism that God had given her. But it wasn't
(b) THE SECOND SIGN IS OUR OWN EXPERIENCE
God does not give us charisms as a form of penance. If you are exercising a
spiritual gift, you will generally feel energized, satisfied, and joyful,
as though this is where you belong. You will not necessarily feel that way
every time you try to use this gift, but that will be the overall
experience. One caution: Some people can have very negative "first time"
experiences. The key is observing your feelings over an extended period of
time - weeks or months, not hours!
(c) THE THIRD SIGN IS THE RESPONSE AND AFFIRMATION OF OTHERS
This can come in direct or indirect forms. It's wonderful when people give
you direct feedback such as "I learned so much from your class" or "I feel
so much better about my situation after talking it over with you". Lots of
specific, positive feedback over time is a real affirmation.
But affirmation can also come indirectly, as we observe what people ask of
us. Do people you don't know well seem to just "open up" to you and share
their intimate feelings and concerns with you? (You might have a charism of
encouragement). Does your home always seem to be full of people who just
"drop in"? (Do you have a gift of hospitality?). The fascinating thing is
that others will often recognize our gifts and ask us for that which God
has given us to give - even if we ourselves don't know what it is!
(c) THE FOURTH SIGN THE ACTIVITY IN QUESTION IS AN INTIMATE EXPRESSION OF
MY RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
I once asked an administratively gifted friend of mine if organizing things
was like prayer for her. -Yes! was her enthusiastic reply. Ml charisms, not
just obviously supernatural ones like prophecy or intercessory prayer, are
intimately connected to our relationship with God. Good discernment
questions to ask ourselves might be: When I am engaged in this activity, is
it like prayer or contemplation? Have I noticed any increase in or
deepening of my fruitfulness in this area as my relationship with God has
grown? When I most desire to live my love of God, does exercising this
particular activity seem one of the most natural and obvious ways to
express my faith?<<
Please discuuss and comment
The conclusion will discuss how the Charisms manifest themselves.
Opinions are those of the author and do not represent CIN.
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