By Michael Cipriano
Why do I sometimes feel energized even though I am doing something that is physically, mentally and/or emotionally demanding? And why do I sometimes feel deflated when I am doing something that seems incredibly easy for others to do?
These things, like most metaphysical phenomena, were complete mysteries to me prior to Called & Gifted. While Called & Gifted unfortunately didn’t make me smarter, it certainly did make me a lot more aware of why I have felt both empowered and drained at different times throughout my life. More importantly, my participation in the program has allowed me to now allocate my time, energy and spirit to others in a way that channels the Holy Spirit.
I have been blessed to be a part of many outstanding Scripture-based programs, but I have to say that Called & Gifted (C&G) has been much more life altering than any others I have experienced. Through the 10 nightly sessions over a three-month period, the completion of a Spiritual Gifts (Charism) Inventory, the interview with a trained counselor and countless interactions with fellow C&G participants, I have begun to build a life plan that channels the power of the Holy Spirit in ways I never knew possible.
I am a teacher by trade and I always considered teaching to be somewhat of a calling. Through my initial discernment period in the earliest sessions last fall, however, I learned that teaching is not a primary charism of mine. It is merely a conduit to the one-on-one interactions in which I thrive. While I am still a bit uncomfortable saying this out loud, I have been discerning the wisdom charism since my interview in October. The wisdom charism empowers the holder to help individuals solve their specific problems in a manner that results in God-glorifying, positive decisions. As I reflected on my life, I realized that I have been much more accomplished in my one-on-one advisement of students than I have as a classroom performer. I just never understood why! Now, I spend most of my time finding ways to create one-on-one opportunities through my work and my activities in the community. This includes my involvement in the C&G program as I will be trained this fall to be a certified one-on-one interviewer!
Thanks to C&G, I am able to allocate my time to efforts in which I know the Holy Spirit will shine through my actions on behalf of others. When I am engaged in these activities, I find that I have tireless energy. The program taught us that feeling energized during seemingly arduous tasks for others comes with living one’s charism. Conversely, I am able to have peace when opting out of activities that are draining, specifically because they require charisms that I just do not have. For instance, I enjoy hosting small groups of friends at my home but worrying about all of the preparations for larger, more formal group functions can feel overwhelming and even paralyzing at times. I learned those feelings are likely because I do not have as much of the hospitality charism as many of my friends do.
I am blessed to have a career that gives me so many opportunities to exercise my charism. The three most important things I learned in Called & Gifted are that 1) our charisms are gifts we have been given to assist others rather than ourselves, 2) we all have multiple charisms, meaning that each of us is somewhat of a charism mosaic and 3) C&G is not something that ends after three months; it is a lifelong journey. I will be continuing that journey this fall, beginning Sept. 10 at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Bettendorf from 6:30-9 p.m. on 10 Monday evenings through Dec. 10. If you are interested in learning more, please reach out to Maureen Conrad at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Michael Cipriano has been teaching accounting at St. Ambrose University for a year and regularly attends Mass at Holy Family Catholic Church in Davenport.)
Classes begin in September
Called & Gifted sessions will take place at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Bettendorf on Monday nights from 6:30-9 p.m. Sept. 10 through Oct. 8; Oct. 22 and 29; Nov. 12 and 26; and Dec. 10. The program costs $35 and is open to all in the diocese. Contact Maureen Conrad at email@example.com or call (563) 940-5921.