[dropcap type=”4″]W[/dropcap]hen I first started out in journalism, I remember driving through a neighborhood and thinking that behind every single door was a story just waiting to be told.
Behind some doors were tragedies; behind others were love stories or even comedies. By far the most compelling aspect was that that each story always centers on a person.
This month, for example, the person behind the door was Diane Scalise, past president of the Christ Child Society. Members of the group devote themselves to stitching hundreds of handmade items such as quilts and sweaters for needy children.
“It’s my passion,” Scalise told me, and it shows. She has a sense of mission, of purpose in her life and she’s living it.
Each of us is called to a particular role in the Kingdom of God and we’re given gifts to accomplish it. Have we discovered our role yet?
Katherine Coolidge of The Catherine of Siena Institute helps people identify the gifts, or charisms, God has given them so they can better understand what it is they are called to do.
“When we use the charism we were given, it’s a way to live out our call to discipleship,” Coolidge said. “Our charisms are those gifts that allow us to be fruitful.”
The institute, which has identified 24 charisms based on Scripture, Church tradition and experience, gives seminars at parishes around the country, helping people discover their role as a disciple of Christ. You can also do an online assessment and then have a personal phone interview to discuss the results. For $35, you’ll learn how it is that God is calling you to serve.
There’s a difference between natural abilities and charisms, Coolidge said. Natural abilities are given to everyone but they can also be misused. Charisms, by contrast, are received at baptism and affirmed at confirmation. Those gifts are meant to be used as a channel of God’s love. Grace builds upon nature, so a person with natural musical abilities may be given the grace to lead others closer to God through music.
The 24 charisms identified by The Catherine of Siena Institute fall into seven categories, one of them being “Creative charisms.” Under that, there’s a line about “conveying truth through words.” That caught my journalist’s eye and I began thinking about James Foley, the photojournalist who famously prayed the rosary on his knuckles while in captivity. Foley captured international headlines when he was beheaded by ISIS last month.
His photos and videos from war-torn Syria offered compelling portraits of the brutality of war and the suffering of the innocent. My guess is that he must have felt a sense of personal mission in risking extreme danger to bring us those stories. Foley’s work, Coolidge said, may have been “a way of God reaching others that it is inspiring us to compassionate action.”
From venturing into the war-torn Middle East to stitching baby clothes, we’re each called to a particular mission, a role in the New Evangelization. You’ll find evidence of Catholics doing this all around you, as well as right here in The Catholic Sun.[quote_box_center]
Have you discovered your mission yet? To find out more, visit siena.org.