Grace to you!
How do we know the mind or the counsel of God? This question, adapted from the Book of Wisdom 9:13, seems too complex. A little personalization could help. How do I know the mind of God in my life or in a given circumstance in my life?
God is full of surprises. For the most part, God's ways are not our ways. Many times, God's ways make us wonder, if not ponder. The mystery of God is beyond human imagination. It is, however, the joy of the puzzle and what makes discernment a thrill and a paradox.
In 1521, when the master of discernment, Saint Ignatius, was drawn to God after multiple leg surgeries (no thanks to cannonball injuries at the battlefront), he didn't know God was tapping on his love for reading to draw him to the discovery of what brings true peace.
Ignatius, the strong, ego-driven and perfectionist soldier, had a deep love for reading romantic novels. He read all the available books, until he had nothing else to read. He struggled over his lack of books – and a bleak future as a soldier – until he resigned himself to what was available.
Strangely, the available became the stepping-stone for the needed. Sometimes, God uses what is available to lead us to what is needed. God works in strange ways.
Residing at his father’s castle as he was recovering from surgery, Ignatius’ craving for books led him to ask for any other available books. Whatever genre didn’t matter to him anymore. The only available books were Christian spiritual literatures and the lives of the saints. Prominent among them was De Vita Christi (Life of Christ) by Ludolph Saxony. Little did the young soldier know God was using the books to show him the way to peace.
Saint Ignatius’ writings on discernment grew out of many years of grappling this wonderful spiritual experience of God leading to divine will through unexpected circumstances in his live.
From many of the great spiritual writers I have read or known, there seems to be a correlation between detachment from “clutter” or renunciation of those things that becloud our spirit – anything that makes us think more of ourselves or more of what we possess – and discovering the will of God in our lives.
The Savior Jesus Christ offers detachment and renunciation as a process of discovery – discovery of the mind of God, of true discipleship and freedom. Mother [Saint] Teresa of Calcutta attained the finest of God-discovery and freedom through a process of renunciation. We celebrate her as an incalculable testimony of a woman whose life speaks volumes of discovering peace by finding God in our day-to-day activities, even along the ghetto's paths.
Pope Francis’ mention of Mother Teresa during the homily at the Mass of her canonization (4 September 2016) as a true model is wonderful: “Mother Teresa, in all aspects of her life, was a generous dispenser of divine mercy, making herself available for everyone through her welcome and defense of human life, those unborn and those abandoned and discarded…. I pass on this emblematic figure of womanhood and of consecrated life to the whole world of volunteers: may she be your model of holiness!”
Perhaps, if you haven't found God's will in your life, how about start by renouncing those things – you know them – the ones that clutter your discerning mind? Getting rid of those things that deprive you of peace and spiritual serenity would be a good start.
The light of God’s face shines on us. God speaks, but we have to reduce, if not remove, the noises, and get rid of the clutter to listen.
I pray you find that for which your soul longs. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.