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discernment

Doing God’s Will Doesn’t Have To Feel Good!


 

Catholic speaker Gary Zimak discusses the fact that it doesn't always feel good to do God's will

“Father, if you are willing, remove this chalice from me; nevertheless not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42)

In the course of my travels, I have met many people who genuinely desire to follow God’s will. Many of those same individuals, however, are concerned that they aren’t doing a good job with the task. Do you know why they are concerned? It’s primarily because they don’t “feel” like doing what God wants. Let’s be honest, my friends…enduring suffering, reaching out to those in need, stepping out of our comfort zone and forgiving people who have hurt is generally doesn’t “feel” good. What we need to remember, however, is that a desire to do God’s will has nothing to do with feelings. Rather, it is a conscious decision.

When Jesus asked His Father to let the suffering pass Him by, He was expressing natural human feelings. The Lord could have suppressed these feelings, but He chose not to. By doing so, He reminds us that it’s perfectly acceptable to dislike suffering and to ask God to remove it from our lives. In spite of that aversion to suffering, however, Jesus chose to consciously submit to His Father’s will. Instantly, a feeling of fear was transformed into an act of obedience and love.

Back in the days when our twins were babies, my wife and I didn’t exactly plead with one another for the chance to feed them when they woke up in the night. Even though we loved Mary and Elizabeth, neither one of us “felt” like waking up to comfort them. While it didn’t “feel” good, we did it because we loved them and it was God’s will that we tend to the needs of our children. Despite what we may hear or believe, love isn’t necessarily a feeling. While there are often emotional feelings associated with love, it is primarily a decision. We can choose to love someone, even if we don’t “feel” like it. Submitting to God’s will when we don’t “feel” like it is a great way of expressing our love for Him.

Don’t be too hard on yourself when you don’t always enjoy doing God’s will. Sometimes it’s not fun for me either and it certainly wasn’t always fun for Jesus. Doing God’s will isn’t about feelings…

It’s about LOVE!

How Can I Know God’s Will?

 

The new book from Catholic author and speaker Gary Zimak offers advice for learning God's will

What does God want me to do TODAY?

What does God want me to do TOMORROW?

What does God want me to do FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE?

Faith, Hope and Clarity: How To Know God’s Will

by

Gary Zimak

(Foreword by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle)

“In Gary Zimak’s fine book, we have a clear and trustworthy road map for discerning the simple and difficult steps of hearing God’s will for our lives.”

Marcus Grodi, President/Founder of The Coming Home Network International

Order Now!

God Has Something That He Wants You To Do…


 

Catholic Speaker and Author Gary Zimak with a reminder that God has a plan for you

“There is some task which, if you do not do it in life, will never be done without you.” (Fr. James Keller, founder of The Christophers)

Today would be a good day to ask the Lord for guidance. As Jesus reminds us, we know “neither the day nor the hour” (Matthew 25:13).

Don’t let your task go undone!

Thy Will Be Done – The ULTIMATE New Year’s Resolution!


 

“The perfect prayer is not one in which we tell God what we wish from Him, but rather one in which we ask God what He wishes from us.” (Archbishop Fulton Sheen)

It’s that time of the year again. Time to think about making some positive changes in our life. When it comes to making New Year’s resolutions, however, we usually tend to overlook spiritual changes. Sure, it’s a great idea to give up smoking or to go on a diet, but is it THE most important thing we can do? I don’t think so. In my opinion, the ultimate New Year’s resolution is to put into practice one of the key petitions of the Lord’s prayer:

Thy Will Be Done!

While it sounds simple in theory, it’s very difficult to put into practice. Why? Mainly because it’s not easy to look past our own desires and offer ourselves completely to the Lord. If we can manage to make this resolution, however, it’s the greatest act of love that we can possibly offer. Joseph did it, Mary did it. Even Jesus did it when (on the night before His death) He prayed:

“My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39)

Think about it. Instead of always asking for what you want, try asking the Lord what you can do for Him in the upcoming year. Can you imagine what He could do in your life if you made this a priority in 2014?

Win A FREE Copy Of God’s Bucket List By Teresa Tomeo!


 

“God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another” (Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman)

What does God want me to do with my life? All too often this question gets ignored and we simply do what WE want to do. While sometimes our will is united with God’s will, there are occasions when this is not the case. As Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman reminds us above, God has a unique plan for each of our lives. How much effort have we put into discovering that plan?

Based on her own experience, Teresa Tomeo will guide you through the process of discerning God’s will for your life. In a very open and revealing manner, she’ll explain why true peace can only be found by following God’s will in your life. Best of all, Teresa backs up her assertions with Bible verses and citations from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Furthermore, I am honored that Teresa includes my own personal discernment story in her book! If you truly care about discovering God’s will for your life, I HIGHLY recommend that you read this book.

Would you like to win a copy of God’s Bucket List? Simply comment on this blog post and you’ll be entered in a drawing. Five winners will be chosen at random to receive a free copy of Teresa’s book. The contest closes at 12 midnight Eastern on November 30, 2013. Don’t miss out on the chance to discern God’s bucket list for YOUR life!

Listen to Gary and Teresa discuss God’s Bucket List on Following The Truth on BlogTalkRadio. To listen live at 8 PM Eastern on Nov 26, 2013 or to download the podcast, click HERE.

Discerning God’s Will In 3 Steps!


 

What does God want me to do?

This is a question that many of us wrestle with frequently. When I was trying to discern whether to go full time as a Catholic Evangelist, I was very happy to discover that St. Ignatius of Loyola had devised a set of guidelines for making decisions. Unfortunately, I found his recommendations to be a bit complicated. With some careful reading and the help of some other books, however, I was able to come up with a simplified version of St. Ignatius’ 3 Modes of Discernment. If you’re trying to make a decision and you truly want to do God’s Will, try these 3 steps in order. If the first one works for you, there’s no need to move on to the second. If the second one works, there’s no need to go on to the third. If you get to the third mode, keep trying…it WILL work!

Before beginning, you have to commit to three things:

1. You must be willing to choose the option that God wants, even if it’s not what you want.

2. You must desire above all to please God and your choice should reflect that desire.

3. You must immediately rule out any options which are immoral (go against Church teachings).

Now let’s look at the 3 Modes of Discernment as developed by Saint Ignatius of Loyola:

1. No Doubt – You positively know that one of the options is God’s Will and that you have no doubts at all. This one is hard to explain, but you understand it when it happens. It occurs when you feel completely drawn to an option and you KNOW that it’s God’s Will.

2. Heart’s Desire – Slightly more complex, this mode of discernment involves consolations (spiritual joy, love, hope in things of above) and desolations (sadness, lack of love, spiritual dryness). St Ignatius recommends that if we don’t receive clarity in the first mode (clarity beyond doubting), that we dwell on the second mode. According to St. Ignatius, the person should attentively observe “when he finds himself in consolation, to which part (which option in the choice) God moves him, and likewise when he finds himself in desolation.”

For example, if you are trying to decide between keeping your current job or accepting a new job offer, determine which job attracts you during periods of consolation. If you repeatedly feel called to keep your current job during periods of consolation, there’s a good chance that this is what God wants you to do. Additionally, during periods of desolation, you should expect to feel a call to accept the new job offer (the opposite choice). The key is to be patient (this mode of discernment could take months or even years) and look for a reoccurring pattern. Consolations and desolations are a normal part of the spiritual life and can be very useful in discerning God’s Will.

3. Pros and Cons – If the first two methods don’t reveal God’s Will, it’s time to move on to the 3rd Mode of Discernment. It’s recommended by St. Ignatius that this mode be used during periods of tranquility (when the soul is at peace and free from passions which may influence your decision).

This method involves making a list of the pros and cons of each option. These pros and cons should be spiritually based and not be based on personal preferences such as financial considerations or level of comfort. Once you create this list, the following two ways can be used to arrive at a decision:

First Way
1. Place before myself the options.
2. Without any attachments, say “whatever you want, Lord”.
3. Ask the Lord to move you toward the option that will bring Him greater glory.
4. Consider the spiritual pros and cons of each choice.
5. Make your choice.
6. Turn to the Lord and place your choice before Him, asking Him to confirm it by granting you peace.

Second Way (to be used if the first way doesn’t provide clarity)
1. Do I seek to choose solely out of love for God?
2. How would I advise a person I’ve never met before if they were faced with the same choice?
3. Which option would I choose at the moment of my death?
4. On the day of my judgment, which option do I wish I had chosen?
5. Make your choice.
6. Ask the Lord to confirm your choice.

Please remember that discernment can be a complicated process and can take a long time to unfold. Be patient and make it a point to frequently meditate on the Gospels. In addition, a spiritual director or a trusted friend can be very valuable in the discernment process.

I have tried to simplify the principles of Saint Ignatius so that they can be a little less intimidating. For more information, I suggest reading the following books:

Discerning the Will of God by Fr. Timothy Gallagher

How to Listen When God Is Speaking by Fr. Mitch Pacwa

What Is God Calling YOU To Do?


 

“I am created to do something or to be something for which no one else is created; I have a place in God’s counsels, in God’s world, which no one else has…God knows me and calls me by name.” (Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman)

Do you believe this? You should, because it’s true. Each one of us has been given unique gifts and called by the Lord to play a specific role in the world. What does God want YOU to accomplish? What are YOUR gifts?

Tonight at 8 PM Eastern on Following The Truth on BlogTalkRadio, I’ll continue my discussion on this important topic. I hope you can tune in. If you neglect to discern your special mission, the world will be missing something!

The One Lesson We Should All Learn From Saint Ignatius Of Loyola

 

Earlier this year, I used my nightly radio show to lead a retreat based upon the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. Although it was hard work it produced great benefits in many of our spiritual lives. Even though I’d heard of St. Ignatius and his Spiritual Exercises for many years, I knew very little about him or his teaching. Looking back on the experience, there was one lesson I learned that changed my life forever. It’s a simple concept and it can change your life too. It involves St. Ignatius’ motto:

“Ad majorem dei Gloriam”

Latin for “for the greater glory of God”, this expression is much more than a “cutesy” catch phase. When put into practice, it will not only ensure that you’re giving God your best effort, but it will put you on the fast track to Heaven! What it means is simply this – everything that you do should be done for the greater glory of God. Yeah, so…don’t we all do this? Not really. When we have to make a choice between two options, we often go with the choice that “feels good” or is less unpleasant. Unfortunately, that’s not always the choice that gives God the greater glory. He sometimes wants us to do something that we’d rather avoid. You know, like talking to that annoying person after Mass or turning off the TV and saying some prayers instead. Think about the many choices you make each day and then think about why you make them. How often do we take the easy way out instead of doing the right thing? While judging our personal motives can sometimes be tricky (because we fool ourselves), frequent prayer can open our eyes and help us to look at things objectively.

If there’s one thing that we should learn from the teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola, it’s that every decision, every action, every word we speak should be done for the greater glory of God. When faced with a decision, asking the question, “what would God want me to do?” puts St. Ignatius’ important teaching into practice. By doing that, we can honestly say that we’re loving God with all of our heart, soul and might (Deuteronomy 6:4)!

St. Ignatius of Loyola, pray for us!

One Way To Be Sure You’re Following God’s Will…

 

“Do you really believe God loves you? If you do, you know that everything that happens in your life is for your good. And it isn’t always a peaceful experience.” (Mother Angelica)

How do I know what God wants me to do with my life? How can I be sure that I’m following His will?

While this is a concern for anyone who is sincerely trying to follow the Lord, the answer is simpler than you realize. Although there are decisions that must be made in the course of our lives, there is one sure way to be certain that we’re following the will of God. It is to simply accept everything that happens in your life as being God’s will.

That’s it? You bet! This method of discernment is so simple that it often gets overlooked. In addition, it’s one of the most difficult things that we can ever do. Why? Because it involves our accepting illness, poverty, sorrow, loneliness, humiliation and uncertainty as being part of God’s will… and that isn’t easy!

The Bible tells us that “all things work for good for those who love God” (Romans 8:28), but that is often forgotten when we are faced with unexpected challenges. Just for a minute, imagine how peaceful you’d be if you TRULY believed that everything that God permits to happen in your life is in your best interest. In reality, that’s exactly what the Church teaches. It is God’s will that we all end up in Heaven (1 Thes 4:3) and He sometimes allows “bad” things to happen in order to help us arrive at our eternal destination.

In his book, Uniformity With God’s Will, Saint Alphonsus Liguori advises, “Whenever anything disagreeable happens, remember it comes from God and say at once, ‘This comes from God’ and be at peace.” While this advice seems simple, just think of how many times we violate it each day! How often do we complain about flat tires, financial problems, poor health, heavy workloads, tiredness and so many other issues?

Today, why not try to follow God’s will by NOT complaining when unpleasant things happen? Instead, make it a point to thank the Lord for making His will known!

“Whatever good or evil befalls you, be confident that God will convert it all to your good.” (Saint Jane Frances de Chantal)

Listening To Mary’s Voice: Confusion

 

We have been blessed with several Church-approved apparitions of the Blessed Mother throughout the years.  In each of these appearances, Mary has urged repentance and the importance of following Christ’s commands.  As we struggle to lead holy lives, wouldn’t it be nice if Mary could speak to us and give us the necessary encouragement to keep on the right path?  Fortunately, that is entirely possible and it can happen TODAY!  By opening up our Bibles, we can hear the Blessed Mother speak directly to us and help us to grow closer to her Son, Jesus.  Although Mary only spoke on four occasions in Sacred Scripture, each of her statements provides a wealth of information.  By meditating on her words TO EACH OF US, we can become more like her and grow closer to the Lord.  In this, the first of a seven-part series, we’ll be looking at her first recorded words in Scripture…

“How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” (Luke 1:34)

After being told by the angel Gabriel that she has been chosen to be the Mother of the Savior, Mary is confused and asks a simple question.  Given the fact that she (like us) is not divine, there are times when she had questions about God’s will.  Even though she was sinless, Mary didn’t have all of the answers.  We see evidence of this a few verses earlier when (upon Gabriel’s arrival) she “pondered what sort of greeting this might be” (Lk 1:29).  The common belief of theologians throughout the years is that Mary was confused because she had consecrated her virginity to the Lord.  Although not the norm for married people, this practice was not unheard of in Mary’s time.  Always desiring to do what’s right, the sinless virgin proceeded on the course she thought was best…and then the angel appeared with some new information.

How many times are we confused about what God wants us to do?  We struggle to discern His will for our lives and we have questions.  We may feel the urge to take a more fulfilling job, but don’t know how we’ll survive on less pay.  We may feel the call to the priesthood or religious life, but are fearful of giving up the possibility of marriage and children.  We get the idea that maybe we should volunteer and help people, but we don’t know how.  As my own life illustrates, when the Lord calls us to do something, He doesn’t provide all of the details up front.

In addition to those instances requiring us to make a decision, sometimes we aren’t given a choice.  Rather, we are faced with an unexpected illness, devastating personal problems or financial difficulties.  Although these situations occur without our consent, we still may question why they are happening.  How will I survive?  What will I do?  Why is God letting this happen?

Mary’s words to the angel remind us that it’s OK to ask questions.  If you feel that God is asking you to do something, but you’re not sure how it’s possible, go ahead and ask Him for details.  Mary did.  If you’re carrying a heavy cross and can’t understand why, ask the Lord to enlighten you.  Unfortunately, I can’t promise that you’ll get the answer you want.  Instead, the Lord’s answer may be, “trust me”.  If that’s the case, you may be asked (like Mary) to go along with His plan without knowing all of the fine details.  If you have a difficult time doing that…join the club!  However, don’t ever forget that Mary can help you tremendously.  As someone who’s “been there, done that”, she knows exactly what you’re going through.  Turn to her and ask her to share some of her faith with you.  I can guarantee you that, as stated in the Memorare, “never was it known that anyone who fled to her protection, implored her help, or sought her intercession was left unaided.”

Next Time: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.” (Luke 1:38)