Tuesday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

The evangelist has a very important task, one for which Jesus entrusts them with special charisms. Healing and casting out demons are fairly impressive signs of supernatural power. The temptation for the disciple who has discovered these gifts at work in his or her own life is to begin to trust or rely on them more than on God. There may even be a temptation to enter the ministry for the sake of having power and authority. In the Old Testament reading we can see how God condemns the selection of unworthy ministers through the prophet Hosea. In the New Testament, Jesus reminds his disciples, “Not to rejoice that the evil spirits are subjected to you, but that your names are written in heaven.” He also indicates the necessity of praying for ministers to be called for the harvest. It is hard to see ministry or the priesthood as something more than a good career choice for people with a certain personality, and a bad career choice for people with another kind of personality. We are routinely tempted to judge our leaders, especially our religious leaders, based on their human qualities. Today’s readings remind us that a vocation is more than a disposition or a set of talents. Someone may have all the right qualities, but is not being called by God for the task of ministry. The one who has a vocation to ministry, the priesthood, consecrated life, etc. knows when they stand before God in their conscience and in their heart the mission they have received. A vocational calling is something God utters within an intimately personal bond formed with His creature. Someone who imagines they are called because the circumstances seem to indicate it, but have no clue who they are before God requires more discernment. Someone who imagines they do not have a vocation because the circumstances seem too difficult will have no true clarity until they begin to know who they are before God. Every true vocation is a gift of God in answer to the sincere prayer of the faithful. read more

Friday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

Sketch by Brie Schulze

In the conferences of John Cassian, there is a very important discussion about this virtue called “discretion.”  It has to do with the monk’s ability to make a good discernment about what is the right course to take for someone who lives a radical life of psalmody, prayer, and work.  When should I relax my normal rule of fasting?  Should I follow what I am told to do by visions?  Should I provide hospitality or seek greater solitude?  If we look at the history of the development of Eastern monasticism we see a progression from certain inimitable examples of holiness and miraculous lives to the structures of cenobitism.  Giving in to following austere practices that seemed synonymous with greater holiness was perhaps – at that time – an even greater risk than following a less severe and sometimes mediocre way.  The prudence of a monk must incorporate the need for an austerity which says that I must live today as though it were my last day, and also as though I would have to live the same every day, over and over again, until I am 100.  Between sleeping on the floor and sleeping on a great mattress, there is monastic discretion.  Between eating three meals a day and eating once a week, there is monastic discretion. read more