FOLLOWING YOUR INNER CALL A Decision-making Process Workbook By Quentin Hakenewerth, SM

Copyright 1981 Originally Printed and distributed by National Catholic Vocation Council, 1307 S. Wabash Ave., Ste. 350, Chicago, IL 60605 (312) 663-5453

INTRODUCTION Everyone has a purpose in life. God made you part of something bigger than yourself. That purpose is straining for fulfillment inside of you right now! Your inner call summons you to your purpose. Two things make up that inner call: the very life that moves you from within, and the action of God at the core of your being. If you pay attention to your inner call, your life will be filled with meaning and purpose. If you ignore the call, your life will easily become marked with frustration and boredom. The following exercises are based on the belief that your inner call resonates within you in such a way that you can be conscious of it. This booklet is meant to help you become aware of your call by recognizing the movements inside of you. The exercises presented here are most effective when you follow these guidelines: 1. Take your time. Give yourself a chance to enjoy and profit from each step before going on to the next one. 2. Share what you have written with a counselor or guide (i.e. you spiritual director). 3. In a retreat setting, you will need a concentrated effort to complete the entire process in a weekend. In your daily life setting, do the exercises in smaller blocks of time, extending over sever weeks or even months. 4. These exercises are most profitable when you have some specific option of life in mind (change of jobs, change of location, state of life, relationships etc.) However, this is not absolutely necessary, since the process can also be helpful in discovering some general direction in your life.

Your inner call is a source of energy for your life. Unlock it! “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, And then you will be my witnesses…to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

I. LIFE Anything alive moves itself. Life is energy and power from within. If you are alive, you have many inner movements toward joy, growth, and creativity. The more you are alive, the more energy you have from your inner self. When you are fully alive, you move yourself a great deal – you are highly “motivated.” When others think of you as “full of life,” they describe you with words like: interesting, fun, energetic, full of ideas, creative. These words all express movement from within. When you are bored or uninterested, there isn’t much moving you inside. Apathy and inertia are stages of dying. The more you have to be moved from the outside, the closer you are to death. On your final trip to the cemetery, you will be moved entirely by others.

Your inner call is always a summons to be fully alive, actualized by free choice. “I set before you life or death…choose life.” (Deut. 30:19) “I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full.” (Jn. 10:10)

Now get in touch with your inner self by these exercises: • Describe some way in which you feel very much alive (enthusiastic, excited, eager):

Describe some ways in which you feel somewhat dead (unable to move, bored, depressed):

II. FOUR BASIC IMPULSES OF LIFE Life manifests itself in four basic impulses inside of you. The more you experience these impulses, the more you are alive. The degree to which these impulses are lacking, to that degree you are sick or dying. 1. The first impulse of life is to ENJOY being who you are. If you like being who you are, you will have much energy to live your life. If you enjoy your job, you will have lots of energy (from within) for doing it. On the other hand, if you do not enjoy being who you are, you will not be motivated to live to the full. If you do not like your job, you will tire easily and become lethargic. It will be difficult to get yourself moving. When you enjoy being who you are, you are moved to care for yourself. When you hate being who you are, you will have tendencies to harm or even destroy yourself. Happy people do not have tendencies to suicide. You have an innate tendency to enjoy being who you are and doing what you do. If your vocation brings you sadness or depression, it is a false vocation. That is not to say that your inner all is always to something easy or pleasant. It may be costly, but it will be worthwhile. God frequently asks difficult things, but God never calls you to be discouraged or depressed. Do you like being who you are? That is your first measure of how alive you are.

Your inner call will stir up joy in your heart. “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” (Jon. 15:11) •

Name some things you life about yourself (which energize you):

Name some things you do not like about yourself (which discourage or depress you):

State some option (choice or decision) facing you in life: (It might be a choice you have already made but want to check how alive you are in it.)

What feelings or inner movements come up inside of you when you think of following that option?

2. The second impulse of life is to GROW into a fuller person. Anything alive has an inner urge to grow. If an apple seed is alive, it will grow given favorable conditions. If it has no inner tendency to sprout, it is dead. If your mind is alive, you will want to know more. If your heart is alive, you will want to love more. If your will is alive, you will want to commit yourself to something bigger than yourself. When you stop learning, your mind begins to die. When you stop growing in love, your heart begins to shrivel. When you stop making commitments and being faithful, your will weakens and withers. As soon as you stop changing, you start dying.

Your inner call will summon you to grow. “Not that I have become perfect yet, …I am still…trying to capture the prize for which Christ captured me…. I forget the past and I strain ahead for what is still to come.” (Phil. 3:12-13)

In what ways does the option you are considering make you want to grow (change)?

In what ways do you feel resistance to the change called for in the option you are considering?

3. The third impulse of life is to GIVE, to be creative and productive for others. An apple tree tends to produce apples for others – by the bushels. Bees tend to make honey far beyond their own needs. Every person alive has inner impulses to do things for others. Selfishness is a denial of these impulses and a movement toward sterility and death. When you are most alive you will feel the urge to be most generous, to do magnanimous things. Jesus was fully alive – with eternal life – and he said that he “came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mt. 20:28). As paradoxical as it might seem, giving away is a sign of life and keeping is a touch of death.

Your inner call will demand much giving, but that giving will bring you life. “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross every day and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake will save it.” (Lk. 9:23) •

In what ways does the option you are considering make you want to give or be productive?

Name some ways in which you feel a tendency to be selfish:

4. The fourth impulse of life is to RECEIVE or to undergo for the sake of another. Whatever is alive has a tendency not only to give but also to receive, to take in what is offered to it by others. A live acorn will take in nourishment from the soil and air and sun. If it has no urge to receive what is offered, it is dead. By receiving from others, it undergoes change…toward fuller life. A teacher who is influenced by the students becomes a better teacher. Parents who are willing to be changed by their children stay alive as parents. Husband and wife not only have the urge to give love to the other; to be alive they must also receive what the other offers. A dead body is no longer influenced by the people around it. It receives nothing from them, undergoes nothing because of them. Life would make that body open to receive from others.

Your inner call will require you to undergo much and accept much in dealing with others. “’Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?’ They replied, ‘We can.’ ‘Very well,’ he said, ‘you shall drink my cup….’” (Mt. 20:22-23) “You are the men who have stood by me faithfully in my trials; and now I confer a kingdom on you….” (Lk. 22:28) •

What things are you open to receive or undergo in the option before you?

What things are you not willing to undergo in the option before you?

III. Levels of Life Your life is a unity, but you live it on several levels. There are three important levels of life which we can distinguish, and it is good to be aware of them all. 1. Hold your breath for thirty seconds . . . . What tendency did you experience as you held your breath? The urge to take a breath is an impulse of life on the level of the BODY. There are many impulses which you feel on the level of the body. For example, hunger is an urge to eat. Thirst is an urge to drink. Sex is an urge to unite. Life on the level of the body expresses itself in such tendencies, and you can sense them within you. • Name other tendencies on the level of the body which you have experienced:

2. Now let’s move to another level of life. For one minute, imagine vividly some event in which you were successful or honored. . . . • Describe the feelings or tendencies you experienced as you imagined that scene:

Again for one minute, imagine vividly some event in which you were a failure or were shamed. . . . Describe your feelings and tendencies as you recall that event:

The impulses and tendencies you have just described express life on the level of the PSYCHE. When you are moved by an idea, an image, a memory, a feeling or a choice, you are living on the level of the psyche. Your psyche consists of such powers as your mind, imagination, memory, emotions and will.

Of course you cannot live on one level without other levels. But your life energy tends to flow toward the point of your focus. If your focus is on the level of the psyche, the life energy of your body will support it. Life on one level, lends energy to another level depending on your focus. If your focus is on body-building, you will tend to use your mind, your imagination and will to build your body. On the other hand, if your focus is on learning to be a doctor, you will tend to use your body in ways which favor study and skills in the medical field. Your focus directs the life energy within you.

Your inner call solicits your full attention. “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Mt. 6:21)

3. Let’s go to yet another level of life within you…. Leave outside of your focus the tendencies on the body level. Just accept them as being there, but give them no response. Turn your attention also away from the impulses on the psyche level – the tendency to think about your work, recall a good time, solve a problem, or plan some event. Now turn your attention inward until you are alone in the presence of God. Just rest there, fully alert, for a few minutes…. • Describe the inner movements or impulses you experienced:

You have just touched life on the level of the SPIRIT. The spirit is the innermost part of your self, the most intense point of life within you. It is not easy to reach, because the impulses of life on the body and psyche levels clamor for attention. But you can reach the level of your spirit, and there you will find the place of encounter with your best self. Your spirit is also the level of most pure encounter with God and with other persons.

Your inner call is to life centered in your spirit. “The unspiritual are interested only in what is unspiritual, but the spiritual are interested in spiritual things. It is death to limit oneself to what is unspiritual; life and peace can only come with concern for the spiritual.” (Rm. 8:5)

You are meant to live all three levels of life in a harmonious unity. The spirit gives lightness to the body, and the body lends cohesion to the spirit. But the movement toward life – abundant and eternal – is centered in the spirit. The body tends toward enjoying the life you have; the spirit tends toward more and fuller life. When the body serves the spirit, the body is drawn into fuller life with the qualities of the spirit. However, if the spirit is subject to the body, the spirit is limited to the impulses of the body. For the spirit, such limitation eventually spells death. But you are called to be fully alive…forever. • What is your strongest desire (goal) at this time in your life?

How does that goal or desire engage the various levels of your life? Where is the main focus?

IV. DIRECTION OF LIFE IMPULSES The life impulses to enjoy, to grow, to give and to receive are not chaotic. They do not grow in any direction whatsoever, but they are guided by patterns within nature itself. Every living thing will have inner tendencies “in the likeness” of the one who made it. • • • An acorn will grow into an oak tree, because it is made in the likeness of an oak. The image of an oak tree is implanted in the living acorn. A human cell is determined from its beginning to develop blue eyes or black hair or long legs, according to the likeness of the ancestors who made it. It grows in their image. And you, a human person: In whose likeness are you made? “God said, ‘Let us make man in our own image, in the likeness of ourselves.’” (Gen. 1:24) There is a tendency in your inner self to become like God: to give, to receive, and to enjoy like God does. You can ignore or distort that impulse, but it is there. If the mind of God is for truth, your mind in its best tendency will desire truth. If God is just, your best self wants to be just. If God is merciful, you have an inner impulse toward mercy. You are made in God’s image, and that image is alive and active in you. It tends toward becoming and behaving like God. The more you follow the impulses of the image in which you were made, the more you become like God. The impulses of God’s image resonate on all levels of your life, but you will discover them most during times of quiet prayer, when you are present to God in your spirit. • Be alone with God in your spirit and remain there quietly for a while, offering to follow His will….What movements did you experience within you during that time?

V. IMPULSES OF GRACE The image of God in you is an inner pattern of your life impulses. If you follow those impulses carefully, you become like God in many ways. But there is more. Besides the impulses of the image of God in your nature, God often gifts you with attractions, tendencies and powers to help your life impulses toward fulfillment. These special helps are called GRACE. Think for a moment of the presence of the Holy Spirit in your spirit. That very presence brings to your spirit the inner tendencies of Jesus. In a sense, that is a call to you to follow the inclinations of Jesus in your life. If you respond by following those impulses of grace, you will become more and more like Christ – in what you enjoy, how you grow, the way you serve, and how you are influenced by others.

Your inner call implies special graces for you. “Indeed, from his fullness we have, all of us, received – yes, grace in return for grace….” (Jn. 1:16) •

What tendencies in you seem to be a call to become like Jesus?

VI. FALSE DIRECTIONS God’s image and grace direct you toward good things. But there are some false directions at work in you also, and they can lead you away from your best self into sin. The image of God is implanted in you, but you create another image which draws you in its own directions. The image which your ego creates, in response to a deceitful world, has its own impulses to enjoy, to grow, to five and to receive – all for its own purposes. Although the impulses of your egoimage are false and eventually lead to death, they are nevertheless attractive and strong. It is easy to buy into the urges of your own image and to give your energies over to satisfying its need. The ego builds its own image mostly on the three things coming from what St. John calls the “world”: satisfying the sensual body, desiring to possess, and pride in honor and recognition (I. Jn. 2:15) Perhaps a diagram will help to illustrate the true and false directions in your life: “The World” (I Jn. 2:15) pleasure possessions Status, power “LIFE” in abundance (Jn. 10:10) Dispositions of Jesus (virtues) Gifts, fruits of the Holy Spirit Kingdom of God

“in my own ego image”


“in the image of God”

You are drawn by two different images, one of God and one of your own making. God’s image is helped by grace; your ego-image is bolstered by the “world.” God’s image leads to fullness of life; your ego-image leads to destruction of life. Therefore, it is important to distinguish between the urgings of your own image and the impulses of God’s image in you. In the following pages, we will develop a method of discerning one from the other. But already now it would be good to do the two exercises given here. • Name some tendencies in you which you believe come from the impulse of God’s image:

Name some tendencies which you believe come from the urging of your ego-made image:

Your true inner call leads you toward your real self. “In God alone is there rest for my soul.” (Ps. 62:1) “There is no weakening on our part, and instead, though this outer man of ours may be falling into decay, the inner man is renewed each day.” (II Cor. 4:16)

VII. LISTENING TO THE CALL OF GOD’S IMAGE The most fundamental tendency of your being in the likeness of God is to become fully a person. God is a person, and you are made in his likeness. The impulses of your best self will call you to develop three basic qualities that characterize a person: awareness, presence and choice. If you get in touch with these tendencies, you will be hearing the inner call of God’s image. 1. AWARENESS: The more you are aware of reality, the more you are alive as a person. When you limit your knowledge of truth or lessen your awareness of reality, you diminish your life as a person. There are many reasons why you might limit your awareness – reality is too painful, too burdensome, too frightening, too demanding. But these reasons do not come from your best, true self in God’s image; they come from your false ego-image. Jesus wanted his disciples to be aware, wide awake. He told them everything he knew, and he said the Holy Spirit would make them aware of all they needed to know. Jesus also pointed out the great evil that would be done by those who were not aware. (Jn. 15:21 and 16:3) God’s image draws you to know the truth, to realize what’s going on, to be cunning as serpents and simple as doves. • What practices in your life increase your awareness of reality (of yourself, of others, of God)?

What practices diminish your awareness of reality (or distort it)?

2. PRESENCE: Presence means being with another in a way that makes a difference. Life is given, increased and enjoyed through presence. You can be present on the various levels of life, but once again, the most significant call is to be present on the level of the spirit. If you are in the same room with another person but are unmoved by that fact, you are present on some level of the body only. On the other hand, if the thought of someone affects you deeply, even when the person is not bodily present, that person is present to you on the psyche level. Presence to each other in the spirit is the oneness Christ prayed for: “Father, may they be one in us, as you are in me and I am in you…. I have given them the glory you gave to me, that they may be one as we are one. With me in them and you in me, may they be so completely one that the world will realize that…. I have loved them as much as you loved me.” (Jn. 17:21-23) Presence is a great power of the person. Often it takes strength to be present, because life is being given or sustained. The apostles were present bodily to Jesus in his agony, but they were weak in spirit and bailed out in sleep. But Jesus’ Mother was present – body, psyche, and spirit – for “near the cross of Jesus stood his mother.” (Jn. 19:25). She made a difference. Sometimes presence is the only thing we have to offer. Often it is all that is needed. God’s image calls you to be present to others, especially on the more interior levels of your life. Presence measures how alive you are as a person, just as it measures much of your influences. • Name a person (or group) to whom you like to be present: • What effects does s/he (they) have, i.e. what impulses do you experience in the presence of this person(s).

Name a person (or group) to whom you resist being present: •

What effects does s/he (they) have, i.e. what impulses do you experience in the presence of this person(s).

3. CHOICE: Every time you freely choose anything or anyone, you grow in stature as a person. Choice implies commitment, and that is why fidelity is usually the mark of fullness of life. To choose freely means you continue to say “yes” even though you could do otherwise. Every time you say “I can’t help it” or “I can’t decide,” you declare your lack of inner freedom and put a limit on your maturity as a person. Everyone has limits, and your freedom must operate within them. But those limits are usually much broader than you ever reach. You are called by God’s image to be utterly free and to choose freely every commitment you make. Freedom means you feel no coercion to make a given choice. Even though it might be costly, you would not choose differently. Jesus made a choice that cost his life, but he wouldn’t change it. “No one takes my life from me; I lay it down of my own free will.” (Jn. 10:18) God chooses freely to do everything he does. Scripture reminds you that “you …were called to be free.” (Gal. 5:13) After all, you are made in God’s image! Remember that we are speaking of inner freedom. You are not free to determine the weather; that’s outside of you. But you are free to complain about it, accept it, or enjoy it. You are not free to prevent all tragedy, but you can choose how you will deal with it. You are not free to cause every good fortune, but you are free to choose how you will live the good fortune that comes your way. • State a commitment (however small) which you have freely chosen:

Describe some way that you feel unable to choose freely:

Describe some way you feel called to make a commitment:

VIII. REQUIREMENTS FOR HEARING THE INNER CALL OF GRACE You are called to become like God, not only through the image in which you are made, but also by the grace of God’s presence in your spirit. God is constantly attracting you and guiding you through inner impulses of his grace. You can experience these movements of grace when you get beyond the clamor of your body urges and the busy projects of your psyche. If you choose to be present to God in the awareness of your spirit, you will sense movements of God’s grace. This is the art of listening to God in prayer, and it puts you in touch with a divine wisdom to guide your life to utter fullness. It is principally in this manner that God calls you to a special way of life or to some particular ministry. Three things are necessary for you to perceive the inner call of God: inner quiet, inner freedom and inner strength. 1. Inner Quiet: The movements of god are gentle, often subtle, in your spirit. If the urges of life on the body level capture your attention, you will not notice the inner call of God. If busy projects on the psyche level – however important they may be – take all your attention and energy, you cannot hear the inner call in your spirit. You must get past the clamor of the body, the busyness of the psyche, the demands of your ego-image, and choose to be quiet in your spirit. “God speaks to those who are silent in order to hear him.” • Name some things you must leave aside in order to have inner quiet:

2. Inner Freedom: To hear your inner call accurately, you must be without prejudice to what the call might be. Anxiety about what your vocation could be, fear about what it might not be, a hidden desire for what you want it to be – all these things distort what you hear. Such concerns do not leave your spirit free. Inner freedom means openness to the call regardless of what it is, acceptance of whatever you might hear. Perfect inner freedom means that you choose to follow God’s call even before you know what it is. Such a free disposition helps you to hear keenly. • Name some conditions or limitations you find yourself setting on following a call:

3. Inner Strength: Some things are not easy to hear, even when they are important to you. In order to hear well your inner call, you must have the stamina to remain present to your inner self regardless of what you hear. You build up strength by letting your fears come up and by facing them squarely. Meanwhile, put your trust in God and his gifts to you. • What do you fear most concerning your inner call?

(Stay with that fear in God’s presence until it begins to lose its strength.)

IX. DISCERNING GOOD AND EVIL IN THE INNER CALL God’s image in you draws you to become like God. Your ego-image pulls you to become like your ego. God’s grace attracts you toward your true self; evil spirits influence you do build up your false self. It is very important, then to distinguish the impulses of God’s image and grace from the impulses of your ego-image and evil spirits. Below you will find a list of characteristics for distinguishing the source of the impulses that you experience: Image of God/Holy Spirit Trust in providence Joy in being ordinary Openness to way of others/God Joy in the last place Liberality in giving Servant role Cooperation, mutual help Self-discipline Love Forgiveness Fidelity Light (insight) Joy Peace, calm Kindness, meekness Freedom Patience Gentleness • Ego-image/Evil Spirits Security, stockpiling Desire for honor, recognition Control in my way Desire for importance, success Possessions beyond need Power role Competition Indulgence of senses Vengeance Quarrels, wrangling, grudges Deceit Darkness (confusion) Sadness, moodiness Anxiety, disturbance Spirit of opposition Compulsion Precipitation, impetuosity Violence, recklessness

State some option you are considering. (It would be good to use the same option you used on pg. 4-6). What movements come up inside you as you think about it?

Where do these movements or feelings fit into the above list of characteristics?

Note: In discerning the source of your inner call, it is important to describe first the inner movements and then to check the characteristics. The movements that you describe may not all fit into the list given above. In that case, place them with the characteristics that are similar. The results will be the same.

X. CONFIRMING SIGNS In considering some option and discerning the source, you are already formulating a choice. However, do not finalize the choice before God gives you some confirming signs. God always gives confirmation so that you do not deceive yourself. You can look for confirmation from at least three sources: the opinion of your counselor, the approval of authority, and providential circumstances. 1. God will confirm your choice through the opinion of a prudent and knowledgeable counselor. You must take precautions to choose a counselor or spiritual director who is fit to judge well. If you withhold nothing from such a guide, his or her positive opinion will be a confirming sign for your decision. • State the opinion of your counselor or spiritual director:

2. Personal decisions or choices are usually subject to some established authority. Even though authority may seem to you to be mistaken, it is not God’s will that you should oppose legitimate authority in regard to personal choices. Such choices are not matters of justice or morality, but of personal decisions about the direction of your life. Approval by a legitimate authority (like the Novice Directress or Superior of a religious community) is a necessary confirming sign of your inner call. • State the response of authority:

3. Finally, god often confirms a personal choice by providential circumstances. Availability of a position, unexpected resources, unsolicited offerings, encouragement from unusual sources, a word of Scripture – all such things can be confirming signs of God’s inner call. • State any providential signs you are aware of in relation to your inner call:

XI. RESPONSE TO CALL: A CHOICE Your response to your inner call will always require a choice. God made you free. Both his image and his grace call you to act in freedom. That is why the inner call is never so imperative that you do not have to make a personal choice. There are interior movements and external signs, but even perfect clarity would not remove your freedom of choice. Besides, there is usually enough room for doubt to make your decision a personal gift of trust on your part. People sometimes search for God’s will as though it were a decision already made for them by God. Such is not the case. Vocation is rather an attraction by God, which one must move oneself to follow by a deliberate choice. A free and deliberate commitment is the only worthy response to the inner call of God’s image and grace. • State your free decision:

XII. LEAN FORWARD GENTLY Once you have made a choice, proceed in peace and confidence to take the first step in carrying out your decision. Each step is like going through some door in life. Lean against each door gently, in the spirit of your inner call. If in spite of all your care, you have not discerned well the will of God, God can still guide you elsewhere by not letting the door open. Don’t kick it down to enter, but let God open to your gentle push. If the door does not open, that direction is not your authentic call. If the door does open, go through with your decision in great peace, confident that you are following your inner call in God’s image.

“I chose you, and I commissioned you to go out and bear fruit, fruit that will last.” (Jn. 15:16)

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