Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Discerning God’s Ways

"We are in the great Jubilee year 2000, celebrating it and living it out. Many say, this is the beginning of the New Millennium and others contend saying that the new Millennium will dawn on 1-1-2001. Any way we are at the threshold or we are in it. It is our privilege to be in this situation.

       Many things have changed long since. We have the new communication systems like fax, phone, cellular phone, E-mail etc. E-mail has now come in also to accelerate the change. It is far easier to type a quick message on the computer than to write a letter, type the address on the envelop, stick the stamp and take it to the post box. The message is instantly received and can be instantly answered in easy dialogue over oceans and continents. The highly complex world of widespread economic inflation, computer technology, instant worldwide communication, constantly changing job markets, ever more prolonged education for developing skills, and of nuclear energy for building or destroying the world in a matter of seconds has resulted in a lot of confusion in our minds and hearts. When making decisions, we feel weak and lonely in mind and heart before the vast, threatening and fast moving computer and cyber world. But God in His wisdom, reassures the one who prays, that He cares for him and leads him to a definite destiny. As a result the praying person experiences a confident expectancy of God’s assistance in the decision about to be made. 

The compensating factor at this instance is the gift of ‘discernment’ from the Holy Spirit. The Greek word ‘dokimazein’ literally signifies ‘to discern’ ‘to prove’ ‘to test’ ‘to check’. It is a word with multiple meanings. We cannot zero in on one single meaning to the word when it is applied in prayer or spiritual life. Moreover, the English word ‘discernment’ that is very often and frequently used in spiritual life cannot fully explain or translate every element that is contained in the Greek word ‘dokimazein’. Discernment can be a realistic possibility only within the theistic vision of the universe. The word “discern” (dokimazein) has its origin in the marketing system of the Greek culture. Transactions in the market were done through the use of gold, silver and bronze coins. One had to test the authenticity of the metal by biting the coin before it was accepted for transaction. We know that the precious metal is always soft in nature. Certainly, if the coin had been a genuine one it would make a tooth mark on it; if it were false it would not. Hence the word “dokimazein” meant testing through biting. 

The word ‘dokimazein’ used in Holy Scripture generally translated signifies ‘to discern on every occasion what is actually the will of God’. It helps us to see through the storms of scientific and political changes, emotions of rationalization and of self-projections. The gift of discernment does not guarantee that a person will make the perfect decision, one that perfectly satisfies one’s hopes and desires for oneself and others. In this task, prayer complements the process of discernment. It would not be a mistake to term discernment as equivalent to Prayer. However, discernment in prayer is an aptitude acquired through experience of recognizing the movements embracing them, if they come from God and rejecting them, if they are from the counter spirit. 

Through the gift of discernment a prudent person is not scandalized at the mystery of other persons, of situations, and of God. For the Lord has created the universe and people so wonderfully that one can never exhaust comprehending through one’s intelligence their complex beauty. The praying person knows well the designs of God and lives courageously and peacefully. He interprets the signs in favor of God’s plan and lives in communion with His design and will." 

-- Discerning God's ways by Fr Rudolf V D'Souza, ocd

**Fr D'Souza is a carmelite in the province of Karnataka-Goa in India.

1 comment:

aspiring... said...

ocdsister, Will you consider stopping by my place to offer your answer to a question I've raised in my Nov. 10 post?

I see lots of application in your post... "The praying person experiences confident expectancy of God’s assistance in the decision about to be made [...] prayer complements the process of discernment. [...] The praying person knows well the designs of God and lives courageously and peacefully"

But what would you yourself say?

With your permission, I invite your readers to do the same. The more the merrier? Well, the more the better maybe in this case.

Thanks in any event, aspiring...