This past weekend I went on a silent discernment retreat at Saint Francis de Sales Seminary. It had been quite a while since I had been on one. The retreat was called Duc In Altum, which literally means, to "put out into the deep" and although I didn't realize that it was a silent retreat when I signed up to go, it was exactly what I needed at this moment in my life. The weekend was led by Bishop Donald Hying, a great man whom I also consider a wonderful friend and spiritual guide and is soon to be the next bishop of the Diocese of Gary, Indiana.
For myself personally, I have had a difficult time discerning what the next steps are that God is calling me to take regarding re-entering seminary. This retreat was extremely fruitful in a sense that it reminded me that I am not alone in my discernment, and reaffirmed my trust in God, that He would never leave my side, even when the life decisions that I make are not always comfortable or easy.
Each day of the retreat featured the Liturgy of Hours, Mass celebrated by Bishop Hying, and the rector of the seminary, Fr. John Hemsing, listening to a series of conferences by the Bishop and participating in a beautiful Eucharistic all night vigil.
In one of his talks Bishop Hying spoke about a common conversation that he has with young people.
Often he will ask a man or woman what they want to do with their life and being put on the spot, they are unable to think of their greatest dreams and desires. The common response that follows is that they want to go to a good school. When the Bishop asks them why this is important to them, they answer, "In order to get a good job so as to have a comfortable life." Finally the Bishop concludes the questioning, " Then what do you hope to do after that?" Usually there is hardly or no response at all.
As a young man discerning what I should do with my life, there are so many options that it can be very overwhelming. Often times I feel lost or confused about what I should do especially while living in a world that constantly encourages moving upwards in life, making a lot of money, gaining popularity, success, prestige and human admiration, while adding as much material possessions as I can to my life.
Christ on the other hand calls us to move downwards, to give all our money away, to die to self in order to put others first, to subtract the comfort from our lives so He can fill us with all that we truly need to grow in faith and love.
This retreat was such a beautiful reminder of the need to make myself open and available to the will of God whatever it is that I am being called to do. Going on this retreat also reminded me of what great friends and support that I have from the community of people I have come to know. I really recommend making a retreat at least once in your life. Not only is it a great way to grow in community with others who share your desire to do God's will, but in the world of great distractions and upward vision, it's a perfect opportunity to enter into silence and allow God to speak to your heart.