PHILIPPINES - The Vocations Ministry Office of the De La Salle Brothers of the Philippines held the second Discernment Retreat on February 24-26, 2023, at La Salle University, Ozamiz City. The retreat was held for our Aspirants who are discerning the next formation phase in the Brothers’ life - Enzo Ferraris from Bacolod City, Neil Suarez, and Jeff Tabita from Iligan City. The program was spearheaded by Br. Weegee Enriquez FSC, along with the main facilitator Br. Irwin Climaco FSC.
The discernment program accompanies young men eligible to enter the Postulancy in their journey of deeper reflection and discernment toward God’s calling. It is the time to allow oneself to be open to God’s will, and an opportunity to allow one’s heart to guide the mind into the path you want to take. As the Discerners dive deeper into reflection and silence, the second discernment retreat is grounded with the theme of “Let me Hear your Voice.” The program has a series of sessions that will open their heart and ears to hearing their call.
Session 1- “Becoming Aware.” Do you ever find yourself in a situation where you're unsure about something, but your gut tells you the right choice? That's your discernment speaking to you, and it's a powerful tool that can guide you through life's toughest decisions. But the main question remains, how do you become aware of it? Accompanied by prayer and contemplation, the Discerners were asked to recall their experiences of Faith, Service, and Communion from their past and look deeper into those significant encounters. It invites us to be aware of God, ourselves, and our surroundings and hear His calling beneath the noise. One quote during the session that says “Without the voices of others, I know I would not be where I am today in my spiritual process" made an impact during the session wherein it directed the hearts of the Discerners always to have the eyes to see and the ears to hear. Sometimes the answers come quickly, and other times you need to give it some thought. But no matter what, trust that your discernment will reveal itself in due time.
Session 2 - “Gathering Information.” God has made several paths for us to walk, doors to open, and opportunities to take, but as we grow, we slowly have a clearer vision of what we truly want. To truly understand what you need to know in relation to discernment, it's important to take the time to reflect on your values, beliefs, and goals. What are the things that matter most to you? What kind of life do you want to lead? What are your strengths and weaknesses? In discovering one’s true vocation, we undergo several trials and errors. Along with that, we meet people who will teach us lessons that we may bear throughout our journey. As the Discerners take a step in unfolding their vocation, significant people such as their Brother mentors will accompany them in sorting, sifting, and discovering where God may be leading them. Being in dialogue and staying with the Community will likewise give them a glimpse of the reality of the life of the Brothers. It gradually prepares the Discerners for what is truly ahead of them.
Session 3 - “Choosing God’s Will.” The 3rd session mainly revolves around the question, “Where is God leading you?”. As human beings, we all have a deep desire for purpose and meaning in our lives. For those of us who believe in a higher power, this desire can be amplified as we seek to understand God's plan for us. But how do we discern where God is leading us? We want to know how and where to start, the conclusion of each attempt, and every step in between. Discernment calls for patience on all our parts, as it is a lifelong process. While the Discerners try to progress in this path, it takes time to make decisions. But discernment is more than just a one-time decision. It's an ongoing process of seeking God's will and staying open to His direction. This requires a willingness to let go of our desires and trust in God's plan for us, even if it doesn't align with our expectations. Trust that He has a plan for you, and that discernment is the key to understanding it. And always remember that discernment is not just about making the right decision – it's about growing closer to God and becoming the person He created you to be.
Session 4 - During the second day of the Discernment Retreat, we are invited to be in deep silence as we seek to hear God’s voice. The 4th session took place in La Ferme De La Salle, which resides in Barangay Gala of Misamis Occidental. It is a farm place up in the mountains and away from the noise of the city where the Discerners will be able to discern seriously, be in silence as they openly pray, and be in dialogue with God and nature as they look into their hearts to see what they truly desire.
In a world filled with endless choices and distractions, discernment has become crucial for navigating life's complexities. But discernment is more than just a mental exercise; it is a holistic approach to decisionmaking that considers our mind, body, and spirit. As the Discerners learned through their journey, discernment requires a commitment to self-awareness, introspection, and trust in intuition. It involves tuning out the noise of the world around us and listening to the still, small voice within us that speaks the truth. At its core, discernment is about aligning our choices with our deepest values and desires. It's about trusting ourselves to make choices in our best interest, even when the path forward needs to be clear. So, remember that discernment is your guide, whether you are facing a difficult decision, navigating a challenging season of life, or simply seeking to grow and transform. Trust in your intuition, cultivate self- awareness, and stay open to the signs and messages that come your way. With discernment as your compass, you'll be able to navigate life's twists and turns with greater clarity and purpose. Your calling may vary from each other, but you are called to one purpose, which is to love. (Text: Neil Michael Suarez - Aspirant; Photos: Br. Weegee Enriquez FSC)