Brothers and Sisters,
Sometimes it is good to revisit the basics when we have come to a plateau in our lives. When a sports team begins practice in preparation for the upcoming season they start with the basics. Getting really good at the basics is key to performing at peak levels in sports, playing a musical instrument, writing, etc. This is also true in our lives of faith. The season of lent is a good time to get back to the basics. Traditionally these are prayer, fasting and almsgiving. One of the basics that often goes unconsidered is discerning our charisms.
One of the basics of discerning charisms is charism discernment experiments. If you haven’t heard of this before, I suggest referring to a previous post as an introduction to the concept. If it has been a while since you have done an experiment, perhaps in the remainder of Lent praying about which charism to experiment with would prepare you to perform an experiment during the Easter season.
Remember just because you have identified one or two charisms doesn’t mean that you are done. God is very generous and may give you additional charisms to better equip you to accomplish the purposes that He has for you. Charism experiments are not guaranteed to give conclusive answers every time. Sometimes they reinforce our suspicions that we have a particular charism. Sometimes they contradict our suspicions. They can also give us mixed signals or not really tell us much of anything.
We might ask, so why bother? The answer is because knowing what our charisms are, and what they aren’t, can have a tremendous impact on our effectiveness in building the Kingdom of God. This knowledge helps us to answer the question, “What is God calling me to do?” Our charisms show us what ministries that we are best equipped to participate in and where we will be most effective.
It is important not to jump to conclusions too quickly, experimenting is an ongoing activity that is not something that is over and done in a six-week period. We should start with a defined concrete plan, but that is just a start. The prayerful, patient navigation of the plan can be a wonderful part of the process of getting to know the Lord on a more intimate level. There are other influences (the world, the flesh and the devil) that are working against our proper discernment.
If you have gotten bogged down in the process before, I encourage you to keep trying and if you haven’t started, it’s never too late. Learning to be a disciple of Christ is a wonderfully challenging adventure. Taking a step toward God will always benefit us in the long run.
If you are not sure where to start, you might read a book about the Charisms of the Holy Spirit. One example that I found helpful is Fruitful Discipleship: Living the Mission of Jesus in the Church and the World by Sherry A. Weddell. You might also check out a Life in the Spirit seminar or a Called and Gifted workshop at a local parish (after the Coronavirus restrictions are lifted of course). You could also spend some time looking through the blog posts on my site. If you look at the “What are the Charisms?” drop down lists, I have posts on most of the charisms that appear on common lists.
In these uncertain times, many are taking life a little less for granted. With constant reminders of our vulnerability to unseen threats to our health and even our lives, people are perhaps a little more open to consideration of the last things death, judgement, heaven and hell. As Christians, we are called to reach out with the saving message of Jesus, particularly using the gifts and charisms with which we have been equipped by the Holy Spirit.
“8 If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit. 9 So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. 10 So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith.”
Galatians 6:8-10 (NRSVCE)
Peace of Jesus,