Avocados are great … just something I noticed.
OK, OK, we’re serious. What are we talking about? … shoot…. um (snaps) Got it! Hi, my name is Father Mike Schmitz and this is Ascension Presents. So, um, when it comes to decision making, I think it’s important to realize that as Catholic Christians, we’re not alone. You don’t have to try to figure out how do you make decisions on your own because there have been a lot of really
really wise people who have come before you that have a lot of really great wise
wisdom to help you to make wise decisions. Number one, you can ask the question:
OK, what would the best version of me do, right? What would the most faithful version of me do in this moment? Well, another way to ask it is:
What would the freest version of me do in this moment? You’re faced with a decision, faced with a dilemma. A lot of times, we can say like, “I but I don’t know if I can … ” But if you were free,
what would you choose? Another way to say it is:
If I was Christ living today as I am, in me, as me,
what would I choose? It’s kind of the classic “What would Jesus do?”
but I just used more letters to explain it, because chances are, you are freer than you think. Those are some some hopefully clarifying questions, but if you still don’t know, of course, we continue to ask the Holy Spirit to guide us and help us; but a great process for discernment is this:
First is, we have to gather data, right? A lot of times, people try to make decisions or try to discern stuff with only the limited amount of data and I always have this image of … remember solving for x? I think that was algebra or geometry or something, I guess? One of those math things, where you’re
solving for x… oh, let’s do Sudoku, right? So you have like here’s all these empty squares. You only have some letters, you know, like I can’t go anywhere unless I get more letters, and so sometimes that’s the case, right?
So sometimes, I’m like, I don’t know where to go because with the information I have about this dilemma, about this problem, about this decision, I would just be guessing. So the first thing would be information gathering. So, I’m looking at a religious community. Well, which one is it? Do they have a website?
Can you go visit? I’m trying to figure out if I should quit my job and find another job. OK, well are there any other jobs out there? Like, what’s the chances of someone with your education level and experience background, like, getting another job? It’s basically just gathering data and that data is not the answer. The data might help you get closer to the answer. So, information gathering. It could also mean not just gathering data, but seeking, what they call, “Seeking counsel.” I’m talking to a living, breathing human being who’s had experience and hopefully, has wisdom that can give me some counsel. In my experience, this is what’s happening. You can actually kind of engage with them in
a really good and hopefully helpful way. When someone’s looking for advice, a lot
of times, like, they’re asking me for advice, they’re asking me, “Father Mike, what should I do?” and they’re actually giving me the responsibility for making the decision for them. When someone’s seeking counsel, it’s “Share your wisdom with me so I can make a decision and take personal responsibility for that decision.” But at some point what I need to do, is I need to act.
At some point, I need to move; and this might be you in this case. Now does it mean, “OK, I need to just jump off my old job and start this new job?” Not necessarily.
Does it mean I just need to say, “Forget it, I’m dropping out of school and going to the convent?” Not necessarily, but it does mean making some kind of movement and taking some kind of action. That action doesn’t have to be huge if you still don’t know exactly. It can just be a small action, where you test out the information, you test out the council, and you just say, “OK, would this work?” The image I have, since I live in northern
Minnesota, we have a lot of deer hunters around here and so every year, around this time of year, people are sighting in their rifles. What you do when you sight in a rifle, is before the hunting season starts, you go to a range and you line up the target in the scope, you line it up as perfectly as you can, and you don’t just line it up there and let it go and say, “Well, I think we’re sighted in.” You line it up and then you actually have to pull the trigger. When you pull the trigger, you see how accurate the scope is to the target. Chances are, it’ll need to be adjusted, but that’s OK. Why? Because you’re doing this a couple weeks before the season has started. You don’t sight in your gun when you actually have a deer in the crosshairs, right? That’s the wrong time to do this. That’s making a big, big decision without knowing actually, will it pay off? So, in this case, to be able to say, “OK, I’ve got the information, I’ve sought counsel, I’ve prayed about this, and I have taken action, taken a step and just kind of tested it out.” Because chances are, when you take that step and say, “OK, that’s a good step but I need to adjust it.” Or you could even say, “OK, that was a bad step, that was the wrong thing. I can see now, that’s not really where I want to be, it’s not really where I want to go.
But no problem, because I didn’t I just quit my job and like jump into the dark future. I didn’t just kind of like say, you know, ‘Forget everything,’ and go to the … whatever the next step is. I’m testing it out.”
You know, that is simultaneously wise and courageous. It’s wise and courageous, because it’s wise: “I’ve thought this out, I’m not being reckless;” and it’s courageous because it’s one thing to line up the target and then walk away, another thing to line up the target and pull the trigger. It always takes courage to move. It takes wisdom to move well, but it takes courage to move at all. So if you find yourself facing a decision, facing some kind of dilemma, or in the
middle of some kind of crossroads, OK, gather more information, seek out counsel from people who know. People write to me and ask counsel for like, “Father, where should I invest?” I am not the guy to give you advice on investing. “Father, should I pursue this degree in accounting or this degree in political … poli sci?” Like, well, we can talk about it, but listen I’m not the expert on that kind of thing. Seek out wise counsel, pray about it,
process it, and then take a step, pull the trigger, and move a
little bit. Then evaluate, calibrate, and do it again. From all of us here at Ascension Presents, my name is Father Mike Schmitz. God bless and be wise.