A Glimpse of Discernment

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Have you ever felt called to a task that you really don't feel fit for? Recently, this has happened to me and it has subtly shifted the course of this blog. (Or perhaps not-so-subtly, depending upon how long and careful a reader you have been). Elsewhere in the blogosphere I had an unfortunate interchange with another blogger. This resulted in a flurry of e-mail on my part and eventually an understanding of where each of us stood. But what alarmed me is the casual snarkiness I allow to creep into my writing. I've noticed it on and off over the past few months and haven't really felt compelled to do anything about it until this momentary crisis opened my eyes to how really bad the problem was.

One result was that it seemed best to do something to change the blog. I wasn't actually certain of what course of action to take, but I knew that I could not continue as I was. You may ask why, and the answer is quite simple. "But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment" (Matt 12:26. With this warning it is profitable to reconsider words and what they are doing. Now, by idle words, I don't suppose that Jesus meant that every conversation of every day would be scrutinized, but rather that every communication that had at its heart something damaging to another, either directly or indirectly. Nevertheless, caution is indicated. If there had not been idle words, I was tacking awfully close in some of the things I have written and shared.

The problem, however, was two-fold. This blog is auto-didactic. That is, what is written is written because the author needs to learn and internalize some truth or needs to explore the contours of the truth in some way. Words force the thought out of the head and take its formlessness and give it a form. The second problem is that I am going to write something no matter what I am doing and it may as well be something that can help me or others. I cannot not write--that isn't in the programming. Even a day or two off is painful. So, I was going to continue blogging. The question was how to continue without giving offense (a minimal standard) and with giving glory to God (probably not possible from mere words in ether--but better to have a lofty goal and not make it than to fulfill one that calls for nothing from us.)

As noted, Flos Carmeli is auto-didactic. The author learns as he writes for others. This fact gave me the essential piece of the puzzle--the place and the meaning of Flos Carmeli needed to flow from the heart of my vocation as a Lay Carmelite. Great! Now I was ready to go, except for one minor problem. What is my vocation as a lay Carmelite? I can give all the classic textbook answers, but as with many who hear the call, I haven't spent the time to discern the subtleties of the call and what God wishes to offer to anyone through my gifts and my writing (if anything). So the shift you are seeing here is a sea-change in understanding vocation and in seeking to live it out. I've studied Carmelite writers for many years and still I am not certain I understand the fullness of the teaching.

So, by the grace of God, my dear audience, you become the guinea pigs and the sounding board as I walk my road and try to find out what is expected of me, what I can offer anyone, what I can do for God (by His grace, of course). In short, I feel called way above my ability. It is presumptuous of me to give instruction to anyone about almost anything. Yes, I can share a few facts here and there, but in reality, I am not so far along as I would like to be. And I am certainly not so far along that I can feel comfortable trying to tell others how to get there. But remember, at least part of what I do is talk to myself. So you are the lucky (or unfortunate) auditors of what is partially an internal conversation.

I need what I write and I have not found it elsewhere--that is the sole purpose in writing it. If it existed in a form that would fulfill my need, there would be no cause to commit it once again to a medium. There are times when I return to what has been written in a day and discover things that I didn't know were there on first writing. Most of these things are typos and sentences that make no sense. However, some of these things take me by surprise and I recognize that One far beyond me has hitched a ride for a while and guided my hands and mind. I hope the same experience occurs for some of you from time to time. If so, thanks be to God. If not, I pray at least no damage has been done.

So, please continue to journey with me and please continue to pray for me that I can write something worthwhile and in writing learn and in learning become what God wishes me to be. A lot of this is heart learning (my head is filled to the exploding point), and that is the very hardest kind of learning to take root in me. Please bless me with your prayers and please ask that God may bless you through the words He gives me. And let all work to the betterment of every visitor.

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take the time from Fructus Ventris on November 15, 2005 11:11 PM

and read the last few days posts at Flos Carmeli. Start with November 9 and come up to the present, if, like me, you have been distracted away from serious spiritual reading. Thank you, Steven, for letting the Holy Spirit... Read More



For the past year that I have been following your blog, I have found your writing to be quite insightful. I confess to studying your blog as another method of trying to comprehend the spirit of Carmel.

You can most certainly be sure of my prayers, as meager as they may be.

Yours in Christ,


I feel very honoured to be one of your guinea pigs. :)

Well, Steven, I'll just say I love what you've done with the place.

Steven, I printed this out and just finished reading it. I had noticed the changes recently and have been getting so much out of your learning through writing.

This ties in also with a blogging study I recently read where they said that one thing bloggers tend to do is "think through writing." I would not have understood that before having my own blog but it is very true in my case as well as yours, although I do not dwell on such deep material much of the time.

Oh wow, you've been worrying about getting snarky, and I had been thinking just the other day about how you were one of the bloggers I know who manages to be way less snarky than I am.

Anyway, I do like what you've been doing with your blog lately.

Sorry to be late to the thread, but I was struck by your post on discernment because I found myself thinking along the same lines today. To write like this, in and for the community, is to offer the flower of the seed of an idea which one picked up while wandering hungrily through others' thought-gardens.

"I need what I write and I have not found it elsewhere..." Yes... that's it, isn't it? I think even the most brilliantly snarky bloggers would say the same. (Like you, I tend to avoid writing that way, but it's just because I'm not very good at it, rather than for good reasons like yours!)

Thank you for sharing as you learn.



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on November 9, 2005 1:15 PM.

From Catholic Fire, A Needed Prayer was the previous entry in this blog.

The Way of Gratitude is the next entry in this blog.

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