What does the CC teach on this?


#1

I am having a hard time trying to discern.

How do you know if God is really speaking to you or if it’s just your OWN thoughts (from knowledge) and/or desires of your heart?

What does the CC teach on this?

NOTE: If you don’t know exactly what I mean, I’ll try to be more specific.


#2

I wish I personally could answer this for you but the truth is, I have the same feeling. And it is very hard to discern. Maybe someone can answer this for us and anyone else that is curious.

dxu


#3

I’m curious! But I don’t think there is a perfect way to know, except that you just know. Obviously there are boundries. God will not tell you to do something that violates the church or the Bible (i.e. it’s not God who is telling you to murder random people on the sidewalk.) Prayer helps a lot.


#4

I found this from The Stromata, Book VI (St. Clement of Alexandria):

Now, then, many things in life take their rise in some exercise of human reason, having received the kindling spark from God. For instance, health by medicine, and soundness of body through gymnastics, and wealth by trade, have their origin and existence in consequence of Divine Providence indeed, but in consequence, too, of human co-operation. Understanding also is from God.

But God’s will is especially obeyed by the free-will of good men. Since many advantages are common to good and bad men: yet they are nevertheless advantageous only to men of goodness and probity, for whose sake God created them. For it was for the use of good men that the influence which is in God’s gifts was originated. Besides, the thoughts of virtuous men are produced through the inspiration of God; the soul being disposed in the way it is, and the divine will being conveyed to human souls, particular divine ministers contributing to such services.

It seems to me that the soul that has determined to live in the goodness of God will be led according to God’s will. So, as we go about our daily activities, God directs us in our actions as we submit them to his will.

I’ve found that if I just put my necessary decisions before God a way opens for me to do what I need to do. Also, we must be sure we are not fighting God’s will merely because what he asks isn’t pleasant to us personally. The charity of God ought to direct our wills above all other considerations.


#5

If the thoughts lead you closer to God, does their origin still matter? If they lead you away from Him, they cannot be from Him.

Im doubtfull there is a specific teaching since every experience is personal and relative to circumstances.

However, Id say that doing the will of God means that he must be talking in some way, we cannot do it without Him, remember?

Establishing whether or not a thought came from God is a fruitless exercise, if it is not clear cut, then God did not intend it to be so.

Maybe focus on what the thoughts are rather than there origin?

In Christ.

Andre.


#6

[quote=Paris Blues]I am having a hard time trying to discern.

[/quote]

Discernment is always between two good things, e.g. “should I get married, or become a member of a religious community?” Spiritual directors exist to help us discern God’s will.

Do you have a spiritual director?


#7

[quote=Paris Blues]How do you know if God is really speaking to you or if it’s just your OWN thoughts (from knowledge) and/or desires of your heart?

What does the CC teach on this?
[/quote]

St Teresa of Avila gave some good advice about hearing God speak to us. She warned that the devil can sometimes decieve people into believing that it is God speaking to them and offered some guidelines. I don’t recall which book she wrote this in, and I probably missed a few of her points, but this is what stuck with me.

God will not contradict His moral laws. So, for instance, if you think God is telling you to steal money from a bank, that’s not from God.

God prefers obedience to legitimate authority --again, as long as this doesn’t contradict with moral law. So for another ridiculous example, if a Catholic thinks God is telling them to order steak at a restaurant instead of fish on Friday during Lent, it’s not a voice from God because He would prefer obedience to the Church discipline.

As someone mentioned Spiritual Directors, St. Teresa also recommended if a person is hearing supernatural voices that they seek the advice of a good spiritual director. (She had one or two not-so-good directors.)

I don’t know clearly how to distinguish which thoughts are mine verses which thoughts God inspires. I do believe that God in general prefers to work through ordinary means rather than extraordinary means. If you are inclined to do something that neither conflicts with moral law or Church teachings/discipline and it seems like something that would please God, I don’t think you neccesarily need to distinguish where the thought came from. If you are depending on God to help you make personal decisions, pray about that and ask Him to make it clear what you should do.


#8

How do we know if God is the one to speak to us and not self ?

God always speaks to us, this I know :

He speaks of goodness that prevails (His goodness and not ours) in our personal lives.

He speaks of life not death, He speaks of love not hatred, of hope not terminal end.

All good qualities that prevails in our lives : our health, study, clothing, housing speaks of God’s Word of life.

Even as we sin, we say “God is my only hope!!!” This is His Word not ours.

God does not accuse us of failing to go to mass, nor he accuse us of not doing this nor that. He speaks this way " Come to Me as you are", “rest in Me”, “believe…”

Our conscience will accuse us if we sin, but God does not speaks that way. He is our counsel and defender. He will defend our case no matter how bad, so long we believe in His Faithfulness.

Some people might say that God accuses in the Old Testament. I will tell a secret : even the Old Testament is not pure enough to write God’s Word, until Jesus came. And this is His Word : Jesus died on the cross to save us. His promise is here and now to tell us the difference “which one is His Word” and which one is not, so that we might know when He speaks to us.


#9

[quote=Paris Blues]I am having a hard time trying to discern.

How do you know if God is really speaking to you or if it’s just your OWN thoughts (from knowledge) and/or desires of your heart?

What does the CC teach on this?

NOTE: If you don’t know exactly what I mean, I’ll try to be more specific.
[/quote]

Read the bible! You’ll know exactly what He says!


#10

[quote=francisca]How do we know if God is the one to speak to us and not self ?

God always speaks to us, this I know :

He speaks of goodness that prevails (His goodness and not ours) in our personal lives.

He speaks of life not death, He speaks of love not hatred, of hope not terminal end.

All good qualities that prevails in our lives : our health, study, clothing, housing speaks of God’s Word of life.

Even as we sin, we say “God is my only hope!!!” This is His Word not ours.

God does not accuse us of failing to go to mass, nor he accuse us of not doing this nor that. He speaks this way " Come to Me as you are", “rest in Me”, “believe…”

Our conscience will accuse us if we sin, but God does not speaks that way. He is our counsel and defender. He will defend our case no matter how bad, so long we believe in His Faithfulness.

Some people might say that God accuses in the Old Testament. I will tell a secret : even the Old Testament is not pure enough to write God’s Word, until Jesus came. And this is His Word : Jesus died on the cross to save us. His promise is here and now to tell us the difference “which one is His Word” and which one is not, so that we might know when He speaks to us.
[/quote]

nicely put…
:slight_smile:


#11

Peter Kreeft, a philosophy professor, at Boston College wrote a short essay that addresses this very issue. It opened my eyes into what discerning God’s will is and helped take away the worry that I was not doing God’s will.

He is a prolific writer and writes in an easy and conversational style. I hope you enjoy and learn from his essay.

peterkreeft.com/topics/discernment.htm


#12

[quote=Matt16_18]Discernment is always between two good things, e.g. “should I get married, or become a member of a religious community?”

[/quote]

In this, God give us freedom to choose. Whichever we choose, God will bless us.

See, He is like a father, and He has given us free will to choose what we want and we only need to ask Him.

Apostle John in one of his letters says that we have this confidence : He grant us whateve we ask Him.

1John 5:
14 And we have this confidence in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
15 And if we know that he hears us in regard to whatever we ask, we know that what we have asked him for is ours.

Now, knowing that we will have whatever we ask, the question will not be “can I have this? or that?” anymore. Instead we will think very carefully : “what shall I ask for?”

Once we have make up our minds, God will bless us in all things that we have decided.

For example in choosing “I shall marry”, “which study should I take” etc. These are the area where God will bless us in whatever we desire so long we are being honest to “the desire” that He Himself has put in our hearts. In these area each person shall decide on their own account and shall never take any pressure from others in order to be honest to God’s prompting in “what shall I ask for to my Heavenly Father” regarding these things.


#13

You seem to be saying two different things here. First you say that God will bless us in whatever we decide to do, and then you say that God will bless us “so long we are being honest to “the desire” that He Himself has put in our hearts.”

Will a person receive the same blessing from God if they reject the vocation to which God calls them?[Jesus] said to them, "Not all men can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it."
Matt 19:11-12

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Eph. 2:10

"Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done."
Luke 22:42


#14

You seem to be saying two different things here. First you say that God will bless us in whatever we decide to do, and then you say that God will bless us “so long we are being honest to “the desire” that He Himself has put in our hearts.”

Hi Matt16,

God does give us desire to do His will :

Philipians 2:13
13 For God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work.

And the text go on to say that we shall do God’s will “joyfully” :

NAB
Philipians 2
13 For God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work.
14 Do everything without grumbling or questioning,
15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, 13 among whom you shine like lights in the world,
16 as you hold on to the word of life, so that my boast for the day of Christ may be that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
17 But, even if I am poured out as a libation 14 upon the sacrificial service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with all of you.
18 In the same way you also should rejoice and share your joy with me.

Our God is a good God. If we ask for something according to His will, He will not only provide the way but also our desire to do it His way. Thus whatever we ask him is ours (1John 5:15).

Will a person receive the same blessing from God if they reject the vocation to which God calls them?

If the person rejects the call, then he is not called.

God give us free will to choose, and He respects our decisions and always bless us in all things that we have decided.

Of course if we choose to oppose Him in a way such as deliberately commit sin, this means we cut ourselves from His blessings. This is not what I was talking about.

What I mean is : He does not withhold His blessings “until” we find “the most accurate calling” that He has set before us. He does not do this.

What He does is to give us freedom, and out of this freedom we are to learn to decide to hope, to believe and to love. Each person has their unique calling, and whatever they choose, God bless them.

[Jesus] said to them, "Not all men can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it."
Matt 19:11-12
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Eph. 2:10
"Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done."
Luke 22:42

I believe for those who has special calling, they are given a special grace to be able to respond to His calling.

By His grace they will certainly say “yes Lord, here I am”.

For those who can’t say this, surely they are not called.

God knows us all, and He knows our character, our strengths, our weaknesses. If He call somebody, he would have prepared everything for him, so he will surely have His guide to that calling.

NAB
Psalms 139
1 O LORD, you have probed me, you know me:
2 you know when I sit and stand; you understand my thoughts from afar.
3 My travels and my rest you mark; with all my ways you are familiar.
10 Even there your hand will guide me, your right hand hold me fast.
13 You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, so wonderfully you made me; wonderful are your works! My very self you knew;

God bless you.


#15

ncgolf - that Kreeft essay on discerment is a good find. :thumbsup:

Micah 6:8 works for me.
Do what is right
Love goodness
and Walk humbly with your God.

Our world would be a better place if humility were more widely considered to be a virtue.


#16

posted by francisca
If the person rejects the call, then he is not called.

God give us free will to choose, and He respects our decisions and always bless us in all things that we have decided.

Of course if we choose to oppose Him in a way such as deliberately commit sin, this means we cut ourselves from His blessings. This is not what I was talking about.

What I mean is : He does not withhold His blessings “until” we find “the most accurate calling” that He has set before us. He does not do this.

What He does is to give us freedom, and out of this freedom we are to learn to decide to hope, to believe and to love. Each person has their unique calling, and whatever they choose, God bless them.

Jonah was called to go and preach redemption to people he greatly disliked. He choose to reject that and ran away. His life was not blessed until he choose the path God wished.

There are those who are called who reject that call, for example, to the priesthood, . That does not mean that God did not wish them to do it. It does not mean they will not have blessed lives.

Rejecting His call does not mean we never had a calling in the first place.


#17

In the book, Full of Grace, by Johnnette S. Benkovic, she outlines several criteria to test promptings of the Holy Spirit.

  1. Is the prompting fully in line with Sacred Scripture, the Ten Commandments and the Teachings of the Church?
  2. Is the prompting proceeding from virtue or from the flesh (what is my motivation?)
  3. Has this prompting been confirmed in other ways?
  4. Has this prompting withstood the test of time?
  5. Am I going through an emotionally difficult time. or am I suffering from a mental instability?
  6. Have I sought the counsel of others?
  7. Is the prompting in conformity with my state in life?

Obviously, she expounds on all of these criteria more in her book, but I thought it might be helpful.


#18

the best book I know on this question is A Still Small Voice by Fr. Benedict Groeschel. There is also a very good little book on discerning God’s will in your life by Fr. Michael Scanlon, former pres. of Franciscan U at Steubenville, from their college press, which I cannot find, but it is something like What Does God Want Me to Do?


#19

Why do you say that? You admit that Christians are free to commit sin, which is the freedom to be disobedient to the will of God. So why aren’t Christians free to reject the vocation that God has given them?

I believe for those who has special calling, they are given a special grace to be able to respond to His calling.

Of course he does. But that doesn’t mean that Christians aren’t free to reject that grace.

By His grace they will certainly say “yes Lord, here I am”.

Why will they surely say yes? Does this “special grace” destroy their free will?


#20

I made a serious life decision a few years ago based on what I thought was the will of God, but I too was unsure about it (it was something that a part of me very much wanted to do, which is why I was unsure). Well, I just kept telling God I would do this if it were really His will, and never got a sense that it wasn’t, so I (and my family) went ahead. I can tell you that over the years the doors have opened almost like clockwork, and each open door has affirmed that this really is God’s will for us.

What is most amazing to me is that God has chosen us to do something that we love so much. Or is it that He has given us this desire to prepare us for this work? Either way, it is just such a gift!

I don’t know if that helps your question. Just act on your best understanding of His will, and keep examining whether it is not simply your will that you are following. Of course in my case it appears that it was both. :slight_smile:


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