What Does It Mean for me to be a Catholic in the World Today, from the perspective of discernment and good decision making? And how can we account for the many tensions in catholicism, many of which often seem at odds with each other?

Gathering just a week after the death of our Holy Father Pope John Paul II, this session began with a reflection about how, over the entire week of powerful events surrounding the Holy Father, all were being invited to ponder the question, "What does it mean for me to be a Catholic in the world today?" in very significant ways. Fr. Raymond Lafontaine, vocational specialist and director of pastoral formation at the Grand Seminaire in Montreal, teamed up with Ms Catherine Cherry, educator, spiritual director and therapist, to present a challenging and enriching session on good decision-making and vocational discernment.

Fr. Raymond & CatherineMs Catherine Cherry and Rev. Raymond Lafontaine team up to present on good discernment and decision-making

After taking time to listen to the hopes and expectations of participants for the session, they began by offering an insight of renowned theologian, Bernard Lonergan, to help address tensions in the church: "There is bound to be formed a solid right that is determined to live in a world that no longer exists. There is bound to be formed a scattered left, captivated by now this, now that new development, exploring now this and now that new possibility. But what will count is a perhaps not numerous centre, big enough to be at home in both the old and the new, painstaking enough to work out one by one the transitions to be made, strong enough to refuse half measures and insist on complete solutions even though it has to wait"(Bernard Lonergan, S.J, .Dimensions of Meaning). The presenters challenged that the church is filled with people of great diversity, and to be true to our nature as universal, there is a need to hold many positions in tension. Quoting James Joyce's favourite saying that the best description for the church is, "Here comes everybody" they referred to this as fundamental to understanding Catholicism as universal.

Raymond and Catherine offered some vital insights into good discernment and decision-making emphasizing how knowing oneself and being open to hearing God's voice in the people and events surrounding oneself is essential. They stressed the need for strong personal relationships, indicating how God as trinity indicates that God's own self is fundamentally relational. The presenters stressed that whin the importance of choosing a state in life as married or single, religious or priest, is a need to create a vocations culture that honours all of these decisions as vocational ones and advocates that every person should be about discovering more deeply who it is that God has created them to be and living out of that giftedness.

Using the Ignatian tools for spiritual discernment, Raymond and Catherine made some suggestions for good discernment process. They stressed that even going through a simple process each day of reviewing the day, naming the things that went well and giving thanks, and acknowledging the things that didn't go well and asking for enlightenment, is an essential source of spiritual growth. They reminded participants that Ignatius Loyola developed his spiritual exercises before he entered religious life, so they were initially designed for lay persons.

Sonya and Emmanuel Martel joined the gathering for a panel presentation on a discernment program they offer at St. Maurice Parish in Ottawa. Their method is also rooted in Ignatian Spirituality and involves a process by which to help people more deeply discover God's will.

The session finished with some insightful discussion of participants with the presenters and panellists and a wonderful song "I am Called on a Mission" as an affirmation of our call to discipleship: the vocation of all the baptised.

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