Lent: Discerning God’s Priorities for My Life

Lent is a time for return. The many demands in our lives can pull us off course. Often we waste precious time on things that don’t really matter. Lent offers time and space to listen deeply to God’s invitation to live and to reawaken to the deepest desires that God has planted in me. It is a time to slow down enough to really notice what is deeply life-giving and what isn’t. A time to re-prioritise our lives and decide how best to spend our time and energy.

The Jesuits world-wide spent the last months praying and discerning together what their common priorities should be for the next ten years. They decided on four key areas of focus: “To show the way to God through the Spiritual Exercises and discernment; to walk with the poor, the outcasts of the world, those whose dignity has been violated in a mission of reconciliation and justice; to accompany young people in the creation of a hope-filled future; and to collaborate in the care of our common home.” Each of these are critical when we look at our world today and they draw on the particular gifts and strengths of Jesuits.

Like the Jesuits we too are invited to consider the needs of the world and our particular gifts. And to reflect on where we may be called to respond.

What is the place of pain or need that you see around you that tugs at your heart? For sixteen year-old Greta Thunberg from Sweden, it is the urgent need to address climate change. For survivor of clergy sexual abuse, Marie Collins, it is to challenge the church to much greater accountability and transparency and support for survivors of abuse. For Fr Bryan Massingale (whom you can listen to on our latest podcast) www.jesuitinstitute.org.za, it is the call to work for racial justice from a faith perspective. A young mother I know, who is passionate about education, makes sure young children in her neighbourhood have access to books.

God’s call to us, is not in general, but in particular. He calls each of us with our own personality, family history, interests and gifts in the current situation of living in South Africa as a person of faith in 2019.

When I look at my world – my family, community, the church and the society in which I live, what are the particular challenges I see that tug at my heart? What seems to matter deeply? What do I feel inspired by? What injustice makes me angry? Which of these important invitations is the one God is calling me to respond to right now.

We need to take time to reflect, to pray and to have deep conversations with others. In this way we can discerningly sense where God might be longing to invite me into partnership with God’s self. Lent is the ideal time to do this.

Dr Annemarie Paulin-Campbell
MEd (Wits); MA Christian Spirituality (London); PhD (UKZN)

Dr Annemarie Paulin-Campbell has worked in the area of Ignatian Spirituality for 19 years and heads up the work of the Jesuit Institute School of Spirituality. Her primary focus is the training and supervision of spiritual directors and the giving of retreats. She is also a registered Psychologist and her PhD focused on the interface between Christian Spirituality and Psychology. Annemarie is an editorial advisor to “The Way” journal of Spirituality and has authored a number of articles relating to the training of Spiritual Directors in an African context. She has contributed to several books, most recently co-authoring a book of Lenten Reflections: “Long Journey to the Resurrection”. She has contributed to international conferences and consultations in Spirituality in the United Kingdom; the United States; Rome; Spain, Ethiopia, Kenya and Zimbabwe.

a.paulin-campbell@jesuitinstitute.org.za @annemariepc_c
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