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Discernment Series Part 1 - A Journey of the Heart

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Dear Friends,

Making the commitment to spend time in discernment is not an easy one for busy teachers. You are tired. You need to grade papers. There is always more planning to do. Who knows when the last time you cleaned your car was? Where can we even start when thinking about such big questions?

Discernment is difficult because it asks us to stop and listen. It asks us to step back and look at our daily activities as a whole. In thinking about the decisions we will make this year about our steps after ACE, there is an immediate desire for a final answer, a decision, a conclusion.

In the midst of anxiety, discernment calls for courage. How can I begin to find peace among the perhaps several opportunities toward which I feel called? Or, to use a Scriptural image, how can I again walk out onto the water while the storm continues?

In this Discernment Series, we invite you to spend 15 minutes with the following five segments to reflect and pray over these questions. It is our hope that, by reflecting upon the videos and prayers, you will be able to begin to build a well-constructed foundation for thinking about your options for the future.

As a jumping off point, we will read a short excerpt from The Reasons of the Heart by Fr. John Dunne CSC (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame University Press: 1989). 

Blessings,

The ACE Advocates Discernment Team

Fr. Lou DelFra, CSC
Garrett Mandeville
Emily Lazor
Will Newkirk
Pat Graff


LandscapeThere is a dilemma that arises whenever one chooses a road in life.  It is that of “the road not taken.” If I give my life to something, then I have not given it to something else; if I share my life with someone, then I have not shared it with someone else.  No matter what road I take, there will be a loss: there will be a road—in fact, many roads—I have not taken.

Is there a road in life I can follow with all my heart?  Is there a path of heart’s desire?  If there is always a loss, always a road not taken, it may seem the human heart will always be divided.  I will always be divided between something and something else, between someone and someone else.  If there is a heart’s desire, on the other hand, there may be a road leading to its fulfillment.  I may be able to give my life to something, to share my life with someone.  What is the heart’s desire?  If I let myself feel the loss of the road not taken, if I let myself feel the loneliness of the road I have taken, I am led on a journey into my heart, I come to know my heart’s desire, and not only my own but that of others as well; I am led on a journey into the human heart.

Let us be guided by Christianity on our journey into the human heart, hoping to discover the path of heart’s desire, hoping to emerge from the story of self.

What are the reasons of the heart at work in Christian believing?  Although “reason does not know” them, they can become known to the mind.  It is when the reasons of the heart become known to the mind, I believe, that insight occurs. There is method in this, a method that can serve on our journey.  At every turning point in our journey, we can hope, reasons of the heart will come to light.  It is true, we will be coming upon an unfulfilled heart’s desire everywhere we turn.  Still, the way we are following, into solitude and back again into the human circle, may itself be the path leading to fulfillment.  We may be entering already upon the path of heart’s desire, taking our first steps on it, when we enter upon our journey into the heart.

Fr. John S. Dunne, CSC

Reflection: In this passage, Fr. Dunne speaks of "hoping to discover the path of heart’s desire". As I begin to reflect on God's presence in my 'story of self', what are my hopes and anxieties for the discernment process? Trusting that God has played a part in every step of me being where I am today, how can I once again open myself up to God’s call?

Fr. Dunne asks, "Is there a road in life I can follow with all my heart?" Have my experiences during my time in ACE hinted at such a road for me, at least for now? As concretely as is possible at the moment, what is this road? When I think about the road I might take next year, are there regrets about any roads not taken? Which ones?

“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all [that you need] will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)

 Like this? Check out Part Two - What Brings You Joy?