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3 great reads when you're discerning

 2021.47. 3 great reads

Been wondering what to read in a time of discernment - check out these!

Becoming Fire, Fr Ken Barker MGL

One of the keys to good discernment is to be intentionally growing and maturing in the Christian life of prayer, virtue, discipleship and attentiveness to the Holy Spirit.  It might sound obvious, but if you’re discerning a call to religious life, which in any order involves several hours of daily prayer and a discipline of living faithfully as a disciple of Jesus, then it’s a good idea to be intentionally creating a lifestyle of prayer and Christian living into your single life, rather than expecting some miraculous change in you as you enter religious life!

Becoming Fire has been the go-to manual for many young disciples, my 22-year old self included, looking to grow and deepen in the spiritual life, as it explores everything from prayer and sacraments to discernment and community living.  Fr Ken is known for synthesising the wisdom of the great saints into digestible, easily read and applicable theology for modern disciples.  Becoming Fire is one of my favourites as it offers a broad sweep of so much wisdom about the spiritual life in one book.

The Saints (any or all of them!)

Good discernment necessitates a looking to the heights of all that God has created us to be, and reading the lives of the saints can really help us discern and dream about God’s will for our own life.  We can draw from the courage that led them into their vocation and their perseverence in pursuing the will of God, even in the midst of difficulty and adversity. In addition, many of the saints were members of religious orders, and so their pursuit of holiness took place in the midst of a common life of sisterhood or brotherhood.

For me, reading about Mother Teresa’s ardent desire for every human being to be drawn into the love of God and the many hours of prayer and adoration that powered her well-known mission of the streets of Calcutta in her book Come Be My Light tapped into my own yearning to draw many people in the love of God.  Similarly, a short little tome on St Clare of Assisi by Chiara Augusta Lainati that outlined the courage of this great saint in pursuing religious life despite the desires of her family fired me up to pursure the will of God with faithfulness, dedication and enthusiasm.

Radical Way of Love, Fr Ken Barker MGL

A key aspect of discerning religious life is getting to know religious orders and being on the look out for where feels like a good “fit” for you.  One of the best ways to do this is to read the writings of the founder and current members of that order.  For me, a moment I’ll never forget was sitting on the train on the way to work and reading about the MGL life as described by Fr Ken in Radical Way of Love.  As I read about the life of poverty, chastity, obedience and prayer, sisterhood and mission, my heart was on fire and I knew this was the life I wanted to live.  This was then also confirmed by my in-person experiences of the MGLs.

Fr Ken’s books are available for purchase at: https://www.mglpriestsandbrothers.org/shop

Berna Toohey