How do we become silent and discern in a noisy world? Matthew Kelly addressed this question to a packed church at St Patrick’s, over 1100 tickets were sold for the Saturday lecture. My friend Brad, who is discerning religious life, and I enjoyed this enthralling lecture that had us engaged with Eliot Morris music and the Auzzie accent of speaker Matthew Kelly. Doing discernment means we go through a process to come to a great decision. When we look at the deepest desires of our heart, we must seriously enter discernment to redirect all our efforts toward that life decision. A vocation could be a mother, a father, a single person, a teacher, a priest, a religious brother, a religious sister, an ordained deacon, a fireman or a police man just to name a few. It is not easy in a world that is filled with so much noise and distractions. We have alerts that beep and poke and nudge us constantly through musical tones, and advertisers now track our every movement like hunters in deer season. C.S. Lewis in his novel Screwtape Letters suggests the master plot of the devil is to create so much noise in the world that people cannot hear the voice of God. How often do we slow down and ask the bigger question, “What would God have me be doing, right now, in this moment?” Matthew Kelly encourages us to be the best version of ourselves, and one way to do this is to ask 4 big questions:
1. Who am I?
2. What is my purpose?
3. Who does it best?
4. Who does it worst?
I know that I am a child of God, no more and no less. Easy right! Of course that means everyone else is a child of God and my spiritual attitude toward others, or the way I treat other drivers on the road of life, must reflect this simple answer.
My purpose is to live out my passion, my vocation, the area where the deepest desires of my heart meets the place where others will benefit most. I could lead a wonderfully whimsical and hedonistic life, but others will not benefit at all by my own selfish pursuits. My passion is the joy of Gospel living, and to chase after those who live the teachings of Jesus Christ best.
I have found that St. Francis of Assisi has done it the best, that is lived the good life well. His life was filled with so much joy and love for others that people around him knew he had something special. People and even animals and birds were attracted to Francis. His love of Gospel living, authentically bringing to life the teaching of Jesus Christ, transformed others around him. 800 years after this beggar traveled Italian roads I can call St. Francis my hero and he inspires my efforts to follow after Jesus with everything I’ve got.
Celebrities who reach the pinnacle of their career and then self destruct can be the worst examples of holy living. If holiness is defined as living the best version of yourselves, then these famous people leave much to be desired. How many singers, song writers, actors, athletes and cultural icons have we seen destroyed by all the empty promises of money, power, fame, and pleasure? Too many I say. These bad examples leave us an epithet written across their lives that something better has to be out there to fulfill the human person, and that something is a relationship with Jesus.
So if the busy highways of life are bothering you with all their noise. I”m here to remind you to pull over at an oasis and take a one minute “time out.” Ask the bigger questions like, in this one moment God, what can I do for you that you are calling me to do? Safe travels spiritual driver!