It’s true that the Lord works in mysterious ways, but other ways aren’t quite so mysterious -- although they may require a bit of detective work.
Take the charism for example. “Charisms” are spiritual gifts given you by the Holy Spirit. On Oct. 5, 84 people gathered at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe for “Called and Gifted”, a day-long program presented by the Catherine of Siena Institute of Colorado Springs designed to offer participants a little help in determining just what are their charisms.
“The charism of faith,” Deacon Mark Cesnik explained, “is not the virtue of faith that we all hope to practice. It’s a gift of extraordinary faith, the unusual trust in the love, power and provision of God, and a remarkable freedom to act on this trust.” Deacon Cesnik is from Corpus Christi Parish in Tucson. Juan Macias of Los Angeles presented the program in another room at the cathedral to a Spanish-speaking audience.
A charism is not to be confused with a talent or skill. Charisms may include “giving” – people who find great joy in sharing their time or treasure. There is the charism of hospitality – those who derive pleasure in providing a welcoming atmosphere for others. Some rare few have the charism of healing.
Maggie Doyne was just a teenager when she decided to visit India. “She noticed that many children were pouring into a part of India from Nepal,” Cesnik said.
This is where the charism of faith comes in.
“At only 18, she travelled to Nepal to see why so many children were impoverished.”
As a result of a long civil war, some one million children had been abandoned on the streets. One day she met a girl who was supporting her family by breaking rocks in a river and selling bags for a dollar.
“Maggie realized it would cost less than $7 to send her to school.”
One child became five, then seven and more. Before long, Maggie wrote home for her baby-sitting money -- $5,000 that she used to buy a plot of land. She came home are raised $20,000 and built a home in which she and a couple house 40 children. The community joined her to build a school, and a high school is now in the works. All of this amid the terrible violence of an ongoing civil war.
“Now that’s extraordinary faith.”
While most participants of the program won’t be going off to Nepal to serve the poor, by closely examining their lives, they were either given a good idea of what they’re charism(s) might be, or the tools to do so in the days and weeks to come. It was a mystery that these participants found well worth searching for a solution.
At 19, Alison Helfrich is considering a future in a medical field. So, it wasn’t a huge surprise to her when she learned that two of her charisms are service and mercy.
“It was encouraging,” she said. Although Helfrich already had an inkling as to what her charisms might be, she said she found it reassuring that her charisms combined so well with her hopes for her future. She is currently a sophomore studying biology at Washburn University in Topeka.
Terry Deokaran, pastoral minister at Sharon, Medicine Lodge, and Kiowa, struggled to find the words to express what she found was an experience that helped her to be a better instrument of divine love.
“I found this to be very affirming for my personal journey -- but something bigger,” she said. “It’s about really understanding in our hearts that we are loved, called and gifted by God. Discovering my own charisms put me in a better place to see charisms in others and to be able to empower them to serve ministries in their parishes.”
After hearing her description, it wasn’t much of a surprise to learn that one of her charisms was that of “encouragement.”
“I want people to know how powerful this can be. I want them to see a heart connection. There needs to be an awareness of who we are and of who God’s calling us to be.”
By DAVID MYERS
Southwest Kansas Register