Radio Show

Giving Your Yes to God: A Conversation on Discernment


Father Dave discusses how he ended up running Busted Halo, and reflects on the discernment process and being able to give your “yes” to God.

Father Dave shares how Paulist assignments work. “Every year, the leadership of our community asks every one of us to fill out a ‘how are you doing’ sheet. It addresses three basic areas of the individual: ministry/professional, community life, and personal life.

The reflection exercise serves the bigger purpose of helping determine which ministry opportunities would be the best use of each priest’s unique gifts. “We just don’t believe as a philosophy that to force a guy to do something that he doesn’t want to do or doesn’t think will be a good use of his gifts, to have him go into a situation already not happy about that,” Father Dave says. “It’s not good for him. And it’s certainly not good for the people of God … When I was at the University of Colorado in Boulder and I was an associate, that was my first assignment … I was actually three years ordained when I first got the call for Busted Halo. They said they were thinking of me for this ministry that they started in New York a couple of years before me … So after only being ordained three years and loving being a parish priest and being on a campus with young people, I get this call.”

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Father Dave explains that he wasn’t sure what to do because he loved serving in Colorado and thought his days working in media were over. “My first answer was ‘no way,’ but I did take a vow of obedience … I would have stayed in Boulder and remained a campus minister for the rest of my life. I really honestly thought I would never do media again. So, when they called all of that was washing over me … I went back and forth with a lot of different people in my life. Because you want to crowdsource a big decision like that. I was so divided that I did want to solicit other advice. I talked to my priest mentor, my spiritual director, all these other people and it was kind of like a split decision … One policy we have is ‘don’t just say yes just for the sake of saying yes.’ That means don’t say yes merely out of obedience. Make sure you pray about this … Make sure it’s your yes, because they Paulists would have liked me to say yes, but it doesn’t help if it’s not a genuine yes.” 

“Isn’t it much better when we can give a genuine, unqualified yes, even if there are honest reservations or open questions? Or ways in which we think, boy, that’s not going to be easy. That’s not the same thing as at least being genuine in saying, ‘Okay, this is going to be an unknown, but I’m going to wholeheartedly step into the unknown … The most honest way I can describe this is that in my head and spirit it was a  genuine yes, but there was something like a, ‘Well, how about I give it two years and then reevaluate.’”

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Christina shares her thoughts on discernment. “God kind of connects the dots later on. Giving your genuine yes because you had a year to really discern and pray, but at some point we do have to act even though we don’t have 100% of the answers. Nine times out of 10 we’re not going to know exactly what God wants, but we have to make an act of trust, and you did. I think that God usually reveals his will a lot of the time through our circumstances. You gave your yes and then the circumstances happened to be that he showed you how he was going to use your talents once again for this ministry, so it worked out. Every situation is different, but we have to make the act of trust and that leap of faith and if it didn’t work out, you would know that it wasn’t God’s will. So I think it’s a really good point about discernment. we won’t have all the answers, but you give your genuine yes if you discern that, ‘Okay, I feel like I’m being pulled in this direction a little bit.’ And then you find out once you make that leap of faith.”

Originally published June 2, 2020.