As we continue our discernment journey, striving for the freedom to see, understand, and live God’s Story for us, we find both helps and obstacles along the way. Many of the helps which can guide us we have already looked at: praying—especially with the Word of God, self-knowledge, the examen, our friends, a spiritual director, other mentors, the community, the Church, the circumstances of our daily life. The obstacles may be unexpected, especially because if we seek God’s will, God should clear the path for us, right? Unfortunately, doing God’s will has nothing to do with how easy or hard something is, nor how many obstacles we face.
Because of original sin, our own tendency towards sin, and our personal history of sin, none of us live the full potential of God’s Story for us. Original sin has “messed up” not just us individually but God’s creation. Yet, original sin has not changed God’s desires or ultimate plan for us, not has it taken away our freedom.
The consequences of sin in our lives make it harder for us not only to see God’s viewpoint, but also to live our stories in all their fullness and beauty. But they don’t change our call, nor our potential. Getting to know the obstacles in our discernment—obstacles to listening, to freedom, to responding generously to God’s call—is helpful for facing them, especially when they are unexpected.
One guide to freedom is Mary, the Mother of Jesus. The saints remind us frequently that devotion to Mary is the surest and quickest way to grow in our following of Christ, in seeking and doing God’s will. Perhaps this is because Mary, whom we as Catholics believe was preserved free from all sin, is the freest human being who ever lived! She was free enough to receive the angel Gabriel’s impossible announcement and then to give an impossible yes—a yes which she must have known would lead her not just to tremendous joy, but also to great suffering as the Mother of the Suffering Servant.
Mary was not stifled by selfishness, pride, or any other of sin’s enslavements. She who listened to and lived the Word of God most freely and attentively in her life is eager to help us to draw closer in freedom to her Son.
To Pray With
Pray a decade of the Rosary, asking Mary for the grace to be free enough to listen to and respond to Jesus’ invitations in all the events of your daily life. (If you aren’t familiar with praying the Rosary, you can find an easy “how to” here: http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/prayers-and-devotions/rosaries/how-to-pray-the-rosary.cfm) I highly encourage you to consider praying the Rosary—which is a wonderful way of praying with Scripture and the mysteries of the lives of Jesus and Mary— and making it a frequent part of your prayer routine.