You Are Called: Week 2

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Watch Bishop Michael Smith's Video Here.

Sunday 16 June 2019


Most powerful Holy Spirit, come down upon us and subdue us. From heaven, where the ordinary is made glorious, and glory seems but ordinary, bathe us with the brilliance of your light like dew. Amen


Exodus 3:1-15, 4:10-17

Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. Then Moses said, ‘I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.’ When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ Then he said, ‘Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.’ He said further, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

Then the Lord said, ‘I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.’ But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?’ He said, ‘I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.’

But Moses said to God, ‘If I come to the Israelites and say to them, “The God of your ancestors has sent me to you”, and they ask me, “What is his name?” what shall I say to them?’ God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am.’* He said further, ‘Thus you shall say to the Israelites, “I am has sent me to you.” ’ God also said to Moses, ‘Thus you shall say to the Israelites, “The Lord,* the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you”:
This is my name for ever, and this my title for all generations. 

But Moses said to the Lord, ‘O my Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor even now that you have spoken to your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.’ Then the Lord said to him, ‘Who gives speech to mortals? Who makes them mute or deaf, seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you are to speak.’ But he said, ‘O my Lord, please send someone else.’ Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses and he said, ‘What of your brother Aaron the Levite? I know that he can speak fluently; even now he is coming out to meet you, and when he sees you his heart will be glad. You shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth; and I will be with your mouth and with his mouth, and will teach you what you shall do. He indeed shall speak for you to the people; he shall serve as a mouth for you, and you shall serve as God for him. Take in your hand this staff, with which you shall perform the signs.’

Daily journaling

Facing your fears 

Monday 17 June 2019


Most powerful Holy Spirit, come down upon us and subdue us. From heaven, where the ordinary is made glorious, and glory seems but ordinary, bathe us with the brilliance of your light like dew. Amen


Thomas Keating, Open Mind Open Heart

Contemplative prayer is the world in which God can do anything.  To move into that realm is the greatest adventure.  It is to be open to the Infinite and hence to infinite possibilities. Our private, self-made worlds come to an end; a new world appears within and around us and the impossible becomes an everyday experience.  Yet the world that prayer reveals is barely noticeable in the ordinary course of events.

Christian life and growth are founded on faith in our own basic goodness, in the being that God has given us with its transcendent potential.  This gift of being is our true Self.  Through our consent by faith, Christ is born in us and He and our true Self become one. Our awakening to the presence and action of the Spirit is the unfolding of Christ’s resurrection in us.

All true prayer is based on the conviction of the presence of the Spirit in us and of His unfailing and continual inspiration Every prayer in this sense is prayer in the Spirit.  Still, it seems more accurate to reserve the term prayer in the Spirit,for that prayer in which the inspiration of the Spirit is given directly to our spirit without the intermediary of our own reflections or acts of the will.  In other words, the Spirit prays in us and we consent.  The traditional term for this kind of prayer is contemplation.

Contemplative prayeris a process within contemplative life.  The former is an experience or series of experiences leading to the abiding state of union with God.  The term contemplative life is the abiding state of divine union itself, in which one is habitually and continuously moved both in prayer and action by the Spirit.  Centering prayer is an entrance into the process that leads to divine union.

The root of prayer is interior silence.  We may think of prayer as thoughts of feelings expressed in words, but this is only one of its form.  “Prayer,” according to Evagrius, “is the laying aside of thoughts.”  This definition presupposes that there are thoughts.  Centering prayer is not so much the absence of thoughts as detachment from them.  It is the opening of mind and heart, body and emotions—our whole being—to God, the Ultimate Mystery, beyond words, thoughts, and emotions—beyond, in other words, the psychological content of the present moment.  In centering prayer we do not deny or repress what is in our consciousness.  We simply accept the fact of whatever is there and go beyond it, not by effort, but by letting go of whatever is there….

In using this ancient formula it is important to keep in mind that it is not we who do the lifting.  In every kind of prayer the raising of the mind and heart to God can only be the work of the Spirit.  In prayer inspired by the Spirit we let ourselves flow with the lifting movement and drop all reflection.  Reflection is an important preliminary to prayer, but it is not prayer.  Prayer is not only the offering of interior acts to God: it is the offering of ourselves, of who we are just as we are.[1] 

Daily journaling

Offer yourself to God

Tuesday 18 June 2019


Most powerful Holy Spirit, come down upon us and subdue us. From heaven, where the ordinary is made glorious, and glory seems but ordinary, bathe us with the brilliance of your light like dew. Amen


Simone Weil, “Reflections on the Right Use of School Studies with a View to the Love of God”

Simone Weil (1909-1943), precociously brilliant, studied and taught philosophy, and then involved in movements for workers’ rights, worked in an auto factory and did farm labor.  When the Germans occupied France, she joined the Resistance and later fled to England.  As a gesture of solidarity with those still in France, she refused to eat more than the minimum ration allowed to them.  She wrote this essay in 1942 for a group of Catholic school children.[2]

The key to a Christian conception of studies is the realization that prayer consists of attention.  It is the orientation of all the attention of which the soul is capable towards God.  The quality of the attention counts for much in the quality of the prayer.  Warmth of heart cannot make up for it. 

Of school exercises only develop a lower kind of attention.  Nevertheless they are extremely effective in increasing the power of attention which will be available at the time of prayer, on condition that they are carried out with a view to this purpose and this purpose alone…

If we concentrate our attention on trying to solve a problem of geometry, and if at the end of an hour we are no nearer to doing so than at the beginning, we have nevertheless been making progress each minute of that hour in another more mysterious dimension.  Without our knowing or feeling it, this apparently barren effort has brought more light into the soul.  The result will one day be discovered in prayer.  Moreover, it may very likely be felt besides in some department of the intelligence in no way connected with mathematics.  Perhaps he who made the unsuccessful effort will one day be able to grasp the beauty of a line of Racine more vividly on account of it. But it is certain that this effort will bear its fruit in prayer.

Students must therefore work without any wish to gain good marks, to pass examinations, to win school successes; without any reference to their natural abilities and tastes; applying themselves equally to all their tasks, with the idea that each one will help to form in them the habit of that attention which is the substance of prayer. 

The second condition is to take great pains to examine squarely and contemplate attentively and slowly each school task in which we have failed seeing how unpleasing and second-rate it is, without seeking any excuse of overlooking any mistake or any of our tutor’s corrections, trying to get down to the origin of each fault.  There is a great temptation to do the opposite, to give a sideways glance at the corrected exercise if it is bad, and to hide it forthwith.   Most of us do this nearly always. 

If these two conditions are perfectly carried out, there is no doubt that school studies are quite as good a road to sanctity as any other.  …It is the part played by joy in our studies that makes of them a preparation for spiritual life, for desire directed towards God is the only power capable of raising the soul.  Or rather, it is God alone who comes down and possesses the soul, but desire along draws God down.  He only comes to those who ask him to come; and he cannot refuse to come to those who implore him long, often and ardently…..Twenty minutes of concentrated, untired attention is infinitely better than three hours of the kind of frowning application which leads us to say with a sense of duty done:  “I have worked well!”

Attention consists of suspending our thought, leaving it detached, empty and ready to be penetrated by the object, it means holding in our minds, within reach of this thought, but on a lower level and not in contact with it, the diverse knowledge we have acquired which we are forced to make use of.  Our thought should be in relation to all particular and already formulated thoughts, as a man on a mountain who, as he looks forward, sees also below him, without actually looking at them, a great many forests and plains.  Above all our thought should be empty, waiting, not seeking anything, but ready to receive in its naked truth the object which is to penetrate it.

We do not obtain the most precious gifts by going in search of them but by waiting for them.  Man cannot discover them by his own powers, and if he sets out to seek for them he will find in their place counterfeits of which he will be unable to discern the falsity.

Our first duty towards school-children and students is to make known this method to them, not only in a general way but in the particular form which bears on each exercise.  It is not only the duty of those who teach them, but also of their spiritual guides.  Moreover, the latter should bring out in a brilliantly clear light the correspondence between the attitude of the intelligence in each one of these exercises and the position of the soul, which, with its lamp well filled with oil, awaits the Bridegroom’s coming with confidence and desire.  May each loving adolescent, as he works at his Latin prose, hope through this prose to come a little nearer to the instant when he will really be the slave—faithfully waiting while the master is absent, watching and listening—ready to open the door to him as soon as he knocks.  The master will then make his slave sit down and himself serve him with meat.[3]

Daily journaling

Joy in studying

Wednesday 19 June 2019


Most powerful Holy Spirit, come down upon us and subdue us. From heaven, where the ordinary is made glorious, and glory seems but ordinary, bathe us with the brilliance of your light like dew. Amen


Ignatius Loyola (1491 or 1495-1556), son of a Spanish noble family, pursued the life of a soldier until he was seriously wounded in battle. Forced to reflection during a long convalescence, he turn to a life of severe asceticism and then set about getting an education.  Some fellow students attracted by his passion and insight began the Society of Jesus, or Jesuits.  Parts of Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises have no more literary elegance than a cookbook, but, particularly when used by a spiritual director to guide a month-long retreat, the Exerciseshave been profoundly influential in shaping many lives.[4]

Ignatius Loyola, The Spiritual Exercises

Introduction to Making a Choice of a Way of Life

In every good choice, in so far as it depends upon us, the direction of our intention should be simple.  I must look only to the end for which I am created, that is, for the praise of God our Lord and for the salvation of my soul. Therefore, whatever I choose must have as its purpose to help me to this end.  I must not shape or draw the end to the means, but the means to the end. Many, for example, first choose marriage, which is a means, and secondarily to serve God our Lord in the married state, which service of God is the end.  Likewise there are others who first desire to have benefices (church offices with a guaranteed income), and afterward to serve God in them.  These individuals do not go straight to God, but want God to come straight to their inordinate attachments.  Acting thus, they make a means of the end, and an end of the means, so that what they ought to seek first, they seek last.  My first aim, then, should be my desire to serve God, which is the end, and after this, to seek a benefice or to marry, if it is more fitting for me, for these things are but means to the end.  Thus, nothing should move me to use such means or to deprive myself of them except it be only the service and praise of God our Lord and the eternal salvation of my soul….. 

Making a wise and good choice contain six points:

The first point:  To place before my mind’s eye the thing on which I wish to make a choice.

The second point:  I must have as my aim the end for which I am created, which is the praise of God our Lord and the salvation of my soul.

The third point:  I must ask God our Lord to deign to move my will and to reveal to my spirit what I should do to best promote His praise and glory in the matter of choice. 

The fourth point:  I will use my reason to weigh the many advantages and benefits that would accrue to me.

The fifth point:  After having thus weighed the matter and carefully examined it from every side I will consider which alternative appears more reasonable.

The sixth point:  After such a choice or decision has been reached I should turn with great diligence to prayer in the presence of God our Lord and offer Him this choice that His Divine Majesty may deign to accept and confirm it if it be to His greater service and praise.[5] 

Daily journaling

For what am I created

Thursday 20 June 2019 


Most powerful Holy Spirit, come down upon us and subdue us. From heaven, where the ordinary is made glorious, and glory seems but ordinary, bathe us with the brilliance of your light like dew. Amen. 


John Wesley, “Sermon 51:  The Good Steward”

“Give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward.” (Luke 16:2)

The relation which man bears to God, the creature to his Creator, is exhibited to us in the oracles of God under various representations.  Considered as a sinner, a fallen creature, he is there represented as a debtor to his Creator.  He is also frequently represented as a servant, which indeed is essential to him as a creature; insomuch that this appellation is given to the Son of God when in his state of humiliation:  He “took upon him the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:7). 

But no character more exactly agrees with the present state of man than that of a steward.  Our blessed Lord frequently represents him as such; and there is a peculiar propriety in the representation.  It is only in one particular respect, namely, as he is a sinner, that he is styled a debtor and when he is styled a servant, the appellation is general and indeterminate.  But a steward is a servant of a particular kind; such a one as man is in all respects. This appellation is exactly expressive of his situation in the present world; specifying what kind of servant he is to God, and what kind of service his Divine Master expects from him. 

In so many respects are the children of men stewards of the Lord, the Possessor of heaven and earth:  So large a portion of his goods, of various kinds, hath he committed to their charge.  But it is not for ever, no indeed for any considerable time:  We have this trust reposed in us only during the short, uncertain space that we sojourn here below, only so long as we remain on earth, as this fleeting breath is in our nostrils.  The hour is swiftly approaching; it is just at hand, when we “can be no longer stewards” (Luke 16:2)!  The moment the body “returns to the dust as it was, and the spirit to God that gave it” (Eccl. 12:7), we bear that character no more; the time of our stewardship is at an end.  Part of those goods wherewith we were before entrusted are now come to an end; at least, they are so with regard to us; nor are we longer entrusted with them:  And that part which remains can no longer be employed or improved as it was before….

Didst thou employ thy health and strength, not in folly or sin, not in the pleasures which perished in the using, ‘not in making provision for the flesh, to fulfill the desires thereof’ (Rom. 13:14); but in a vigorous pursuit of that better part which none could take away from thee? Didst thou employ whatever was pleasing in thy person or address, whatever advantages thou had by education, whatever share of learning, whatever knowledge of things or men, was committed to thee, for the promoting of virtue in the world, for the enlargement of my kingdom?  Did thou employ whatever share of power thou had, whatever influence over others, by the love or esteem of thee which they had conceived, for the increase of their wisdom and holiness?  Didst thou employ that inestimable talent of time, with wariness and circumspection, as duly weighing the value of every moment, and knowing that all were numbered in eternity?  Above all, wast thou a good steward of my grace, preventing, accompanying, and following thee?  Did thou duly observe and carefully improve all the influences of my Spirit? every good desire? every measure of light? All his sharp or gentle reproofs?  How didst thou profit by ‘the Spirit of bondage and fear,’ which was previous to ‘the Spirit of adoption’ (Rom. 8:15)”  And when thou were made a partaker of this Spirit, crying in thy hear, ‘Abba, Father’ (Rom. 8:15), didst thou stand fast in the glorious liberty wherewith I made thee free?  Did thou from thenceforth present thy soul and body, all thy thoughts, thy words, and actions, in one flame of love, as a holy sacrifice, glorify me with thy body and thy spirit?  Then ‘well done, good and faithful servant!  Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord’ (Matt. 25:21)!”[6] 

Daily journaling

A good steward

Friday 21 June 2019


Most powerful Holy Spirit, come down upon us and subdue us. From heaven, where the ordinary is made glorious, and glory seems but ordinary, bathe us with the brilliance of your light like dew. Amen


Gordon T. Smith; The Voice of Jesus, Discernment, Prayer and the Witness of the Spirit

Taking responsibility for our choices and decisions is a part of becoming an adult and maturing in our faith.  As noted, we are not alone, so when in our choosing we seek to be attentive to the Spirit, we are not escaping from the world or evading the act of choosing.  Rather, recognizing our capacity to choose poorly, and longing to choose not only the good but the best, we approach our decision making with a posture of discernment. We seek to make our choices in a way that is informed by our personal encounter with Christ and the inner witness of the Spirit to our hearts.  And what we find is that where the Spirit is, there is freedom, and thus choices and decisions lie before us not as burdens but as challenges and opportunities to grow in faith, hope and love.  We can act with courage, grace and generosity. 

The grace we seek is to discern and embrace the life to which we are called by God, to act with integrity, to see and appreciate how God is active in our world.  Moreover, what we seek is not just awareness of the general way in which God is at work in the world but the specific way in which God is calling us to act. God’s call on our lives is specific and unique.  There is no set formula for our lives.  Rather, as women and men in Christian community who live in active engagement with the Scriptures, we seek the best for our lives, particularly in the choices we make. 

God is fully present to us in our times of decision, but we will learn to appropriate this reality and respond to the inner witness in times of choice only if we learn, in turn, to be present to God. And this requires that we be intentional, not impulsive.  We can learn not to trust the moment or what feels good or right but rather approach our decisions with thoughtfulness.  Good decision making is the fruit of a choice that is well considered.

Wise Christians are not impressed by the common notion that spontaneity is more life giving, more fun or a great reflection of the presence of the Spirit in our lives.  To the contrary, they recognize that the Spirit is very much present to us, but that we cannot trust the impulses of our hearts.  We cannot trust spontaneity but must be discerning.[7] 

Daily journaling

Choosing well 

Saturday 22 June 2019


Most powerful Holy Spirit, come down upon us and subdue us. From heaven, where the ordinary is made glorious, and glory seems but ordinary, bathe us with the brilliance of your light like dew. Amen

  1. I. Packer, “Finding God’s Will”

Even with right ideas about guidance in general, however, it is still easy to go wrong, particularly in vocational choices. No area of life bears clearer witness to the frailty of human nature, even regenerate human nature.  The work of God in these cases is to incline first our judgment and then our whole being to the course that, of all the competing alternatives, he has marked out as best suited for us, for his glory and for the good of others through us.  But the Spirit can be quenched, and we can all too easily behave in a way that prevents this guidance from getting through.  It is worth listing some of the main pitfalls.

First, unwillingness to think.  It is false piety, supernaturalism of an unhealthy and pernicious sort, that demands inward impressions that have no rational base and declines to heed the constant biblical summons to consider. God made us thinking beings, and he guides our minds so that in his presence we think things out—no guidance otherwise!  “O that they were wise…that they would consider“(Deut 32:29KJV).

Second, unwillingness to think aheadand weigh the long-term consequences of alternative courses of action.  “Think ahead” is part of the divine rule of life no less than of the human rule of the road.  Often we can only see what is wise and right (and what is foolish and wrong) as we dwell on long-term consequences.  “O that they were wise ..that they would consider their latter end.”

Third, unwillingness to take advice.  Scripture is emphatic on the need for this.  “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice” (Prov 12:15).  It is a sign of conceit and immaturity to ignore advice in major decisions.  There are always people who know the Bible, human nature, and our own gift and limitations better than we do.  Even if we cannot finally accept their advice, only good will come to us from carefully weighing what they say.

Fourth, unwillingness to suspect oneself.  We dislike being realistic with ourselves, and we do not know ourselves at all well; we can recognize rationalizations in others and quite overlook them in ourselves. States of feeling that have an ego-boosting, escapist, self-indulging or self-aggrandizing base must be detected and discredited, not mistaken for guidance…..

Fifth, unwillingness to discount personal magnetism.   Those who have not been made deeply aware of pride and self-deception in themselves cannot always detect these things in others.  This has from time to time made it possible for well-meaning but deluded people with a flair for self-dramatization to gain an alarming domination over the minds and consciences of others…They and their views must be respected but may not be idolized.  “But test everything; hold fast what is good” (1 Thess 5:21).

Sixth, unwillingness to wait.  “Wait on the Lord” is a constant refrain in the Psalms.  It is a necessary word, for God often keeps us waiting.  He is not in such a hurry as we are, and it is not his way to give more light on the future than we need for action in the present or to guide us more than one step at a time.  When in doubt, do nothing, but continue to wait on God.  When action is needed, light will come.[8]

Daily journaling

Sound judgment

[1]Thomas Keating, Open Mind, Open Heart (New York: Continuum International Publishing Group, 1986), pp. 11-12.

[2]William C. Placher, Callings, Twenty Centuries of Christian Wisdom on Vocation (Grand Rapids, Michigan:  Wm. B. Erdmans Publishing Co., 2005), p. 400.

[3]Simone Weil, Waiting on God, trans. Emma Gruafurd (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1951), 51-57.

[4]William C. Placher, Callings, Twenty Centuries of Christian Wisdom on Vocation (Grand Rapids, Michigan:  Wm. B. Erdmans Publishing Co., 2005), p. 239.

[5]The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, trans. Anthony Mottola (Garden City, N.Y.: Image Books, 1964), 82-87.

[6]John Wesley, “Sermon 51,” in The Works of John Wesley(Grand Rapids:  Baker, 2002), 4:136-37, 139-140,147.

[7]Gordon T. Smith, The Voice of Jesus; Discernment, Prayer and the Witness of the Spirit (Downers Grove, IL:  Intervarsity Press, 2003), pp. 132-134.

[8]J. I. Packer, “Finding God’s Will” (Downers Grove, IL:  InterVarsity Press, 1985), p. 17-22.

The Rev. Dr. James Detrich: Reflections on Spiritual Autobiography

During my discernment for the priesthood, I met with my Parish Committee on Vocations.  In my experience, the folks at my parish came prepared and they asked me good questions.  They included my wife in one of those meetings, which I believe is essential.  They asked me to write a biography of who I was as a person—and that began a very vital part of the process for me.  That part is simple:  who are you? What I’ve seen in ministry is that if you don’t know who you are—how God has formed and shaped you—what strengths and weaknesses you have—I don’t think you can be terribly effective as a leader. Knowing often provides confidence. And it can help you shape the decisions you make (i.e., hiring staff/recruiting volunteers who provide strengths that you simple cannot).  My only suggestion would be that perhaps more of that could be part of the process. How can parishes more effectively emphasize the importance of knowing yourself and what kind of exercises can an aspirant do to maybe help with that process?  Knowing yourself and discerning a call, it seems to me, come together as they feed off one another. 

The Commission on Ministry offers this six-week program to help participants discern their call to serve God's Kingdom. Each week includes a theme, and each day offers a prayer, reflection, and journal entry assignment to aid vocation discernment for laity. The program's principal book is Gordon Smith's, "Consider Your Calling, Six Questions for Discerning Your Vocation."