Lent: An Ideal Time for Discernment
"It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you."—Jn 15:16
Lent has always been an exciting time for me in the missions. A few years ago, while serving at one of Glenmary's Arkansas missions, I led the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) program for men and women preparing to enter the Church. For me it was a privilege to walk with so many people as they learned about the Catholic faith and prepared for their baptism, first Communion and confirmation.
Lent became an intense period of preparation, and oftentimes the RCIA class members would have doubts and questions that would surface as we neared Easter. The discussions we shared in RCIA class helped me grow in my faith as well. During Lent, the mission parish would also host various parish retreats and programs in order to remind the Catholics that they were called to grow in their faith and to renew their baptismal commitment.
Lent—through its prayer, fasting and almsgiving—can also be an ideal time to help the individual who is discerning a call to religious life. As Pope Benedict XVI said, "Lent is thus an opportunity to ‘become' Christian ‘anew,' through a constant process of inner change and progress in the knowledge and love of Christ. Conversion is never once and for all but is a process, an interior journey through the whole of life." The man who is discerning can ask himself: How am I to become Christian anew, and what does this conversion mean for me at this time? What am I called to become? Am I being called to become a Glenmary priest or a brother?
Now, as Glenmary's vocation director, I am walking with many young men who are not preparing for baptism but are discerning their call to religious life and to the mission field as Glenmary priests and brothers. And as it is for those preparing for baptism in the missions, it's an intense time of year for Glenmary discerners. It is also a time when many doubts and concerns begin to arise. These doubts are a normal part of the process and offer us something to discuss and pray about during Lent. Through my discussions with men on their journeys, I have learned more about my own call to be a Glenmarian. You can take full advantage of your own Lenten journey by asking God to lead you to where you are called to serve.
It is also an exciting time of year in our department. In the coming months, associate vocation director Pat McEntee and I will be visiting with many men who are discerning their call. Administrative assistant Karen Stemann and I will be sorting through the applications to join Glenmary that have already begun to arrive in our vocation office. And men are beginning to schedule their visits to Glenmary headquarters for interviews. Still others have requested application forms so that they, too, may enter into the process.
At what stage are you in your discernment? If you'd like to discuss your situation, you're welcome to contact our office today at 513-881-7410 so we can walk with you to help you discover where you are called.
"So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come."—2 Cor 5:17