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Instead of asking directly what to do in life, an additional way to discover what God may be calling us to in our lives is to ask ourselves the question, “What if I don’t do this or that?” The discernment process can be compared to an expert jeweler examining a fine diamond. The jeweler turns the diamond one way and then another to catch the light in order to see the many facets of this exquisite jewel. The cut of the jewel determines the number of facets there will be to examine.
It’s the same when we are looking at our future and asking, “Where does God want me to invest my life and my gifts?” It’s vital to turn our lives this way and that to consider the “what-ifs”. Surprises show up and we begin to see something new – a new facet of life on which to base our choice. With a little bit of courage, we ask the question above – what if I don’t do it?
Regret that we never tried living out a choice can be much harder to live with than risking a mistake. Mary, the mother of Jesus, took a risk when the angel Gabriel announced she would be the mother of God’s Son and she responded with her “Yes.” Like the rest of us, she had no way of knowing how the rest of her life would play out or what joys and sufferings would be part of it. She just gave her “yes” and then stayed open to how God would lead her through the next step and the ones after that.
How about for you? What if you don’t follow what’s nudging you from the depths of your heart?
Mirando Desde Un Lado Opuesto
En lugar de preguntar directamente qué hacer en la vida, una forma adicional de descubrir a lo que Dios puede estar llamándonos en nuestras vidas es hacernos la pregunta: "¿Qué pasará si no hago esto o aquello?" El proceso de discernimiento puede ser comparado con un joyero experto que examina un diamante fino. El joyero mueve el diamante de un lado para otro para captar la luz y ver las múltiples facetas de esta exquisita joya. El corte de la joya determina el número de facetas que habrá que examinar.
Es lo mismo cuando miramos nuestro futuro y preguntamos: "¿Dónde quiere Dios que invierta mi vida y mis dones?" Es vital mover nuestras vidas de un lado para otro para considerar el "qué pasaría si." Aparecen sorpresas y comenzamos a ver algo nuevo – una nueva faceta de la vida en la que basar nuestra decisión. Con un poco de valor, hacemos la pregunta anterior: ¿Qué pasará si no lo hago?
Lamentar que nunca hayamos intentado vivir nuestra decision, puede ser mucho más difícil que arriesgar cometer un error. María, la madre de Jesús, se arriesgó cuando el ángel Gabriel anunció que sería la madre del Hijo de Dios y ella respondió con su "Sí." Como el resto de nosotras, no tenía forma de saber cómo saldría el resto de su vida o qué alegrías y sufrimientos serían parte de ella. Ella simplemente dió su "Sí" y luego se mantuvo abierta a cómo Dios la guiaría a través del siguiente paso y sus futuros pasos.
¿Qué tal para usted? ¿Qué pasará si no sigue lo que la empuja desde lo más profundo de su corazón?
It’s not hard for me to imagine the scene when the Gospel on the Feast of the Annunciation is read on March 25th. Out of the several exchanges the young Mary has with the visiting angel Gabriel, it ends with Mary saying, “Yes, I see it all now: I'm ... ready to serve. Let it be with me just as you say.” Or today we might translate it, “Yes, ok. I’ll do it.”
And with her “yes” Mary of Nazareth’s life was forever changed. From that time forward she dependably repeated her “yes” to other more ordinary events happened in her life.
In each of our lives, we are only asked for the next “yes.” To a variety of experiences and opportunities in our lives we agree to enter into them – or not. The choice is ours.
In discerning God’s call for our lives, as with Mary’s invitation to be the mother of Jesus, we only need to attend to our response for the “yes” in the moment. All the future “yes-es” we’ll be asked to give will come one at a time. Each time we may be asked to give a little more and stretch a little farther in our life journey. But also when we are asked anew, we have more information about our choices, more insight and, hopefully, more willingness to say ”Yes.”
Stay calm. Stay centered. As Jesus recommends, “remain” in his love. When asked, there’s no need to jump too far into the future and fuel our anxiety. Focus on the choice before you. Will you say “yes” this time?
May our God of abundance be with you,
Ella dijo, “Sí"
No me es dificil imaginar la escena cuando se lea el Evangelio en el dia de la Fiesta de la Anunciación el 25 de Marzo. Despues de los varios intercambios que la joven María tiene con el ángel visitante Gabriel, termina con María diciendo: "Sí, ahora lo veo todo: yo estoy ... lista para servir. Deja que esté conmigo como dices.” U hoy podemos traducirlo, “Sí, está bien. Lo hare."
Y con su "sí", la vida de María de Nazaret cambió para siempre. Desde ese momento en adelante, ella repitió de manera confiable su "sí" a otros eventos más comunes que sucedieron en su vida.
En cada una de nuestras vidas, solo se nos pide el siguiente "sí." A una variedad de experiencias y oportunidades en nuestras vidas, accedemos a participar en ellas - o no. La decisión es nuestra.
Al discernir el llamado de Dios para nuestras vidas, como con la invitación de María a ser la madre de Jesús, solo tenemos que atender a nuestra respuesta para el "sí" en el momento. Todos los futuros "sí-s" que se nos pedirá daremos uno por uno. Cada vez se nos puede pedir que demos un poco más y que nos estiremos un poco más en la jornada de nuestra vida. Pero también cuando se nos pregunta de nuevo, tenemos más información sobre nuestras decisiones, más información y, más visión y, con suerte, más disposición para decir "Sí."
Mantén la calma. Mantente centrada. Como Jesús recomienda, “permanece” en su amor. Cuando se le pregunte, no es necesario saltar demasiado hacia el futuro y alimentar nuestra ansiedad. Concéntrate en la decisión que tienes ante ti. ¿Dirás “sí” esta vez?
Que nuestro Dios de abundancia esté contigo.
Mary’s “yes” to the angel when told she was favored and chosen to bear the Son of God, inspires us by its simple consent and its leap of faith into an uncertain future. She knew she couldn’t fully know or understand what she was getting herself into. But Mary placed her trust in God.
None of us when discerning our future path knows for sure that this or that is the right choice for us because there is no way to know the unknown. It really is all about our willingness to trust that God loves us. In our love and trust, when we have done our best to listen to what the Holy Spirit has in mind for our lives, we step onto the path, continuing to trust in God’s love.
In these days of Advent waiting we can allow ourselves a little extra time to be still, to welcome silence into our lives. Silence is God’s best way to communicate. Our listening and really hearing is best done in silence too.
May you be still enough to hear the still, small whispers of God,
To jump start your listening: http://www.adriandominicans.org/BecomeaSister/EnteringtheLife.aspx
Waiting is so hard. We want to get things done, to check them off our list, to be sure about the next step. There is a quote I like, “Do you have the patience to wait until the mud settles, until the right answer arises by itself.” We do all our pondering and thinking, discussing and pro and con lists – and that is all good and necessary. But at some point discernment also involves waiting. We take a step and we wait as we live into a new reality.
Think of Mary. She took a huge step in saying, “May it be done to me according to your word.” And then she waited. Like any mother, she had to wait nine months to see her newborn, to learn how to be a mother, to learn how to love her particular child, and, finally, to let go as that child followed his mission in the world.
We say a ‘yes,’ big or little, and then we go forward step by step, learning what that yes really means as we go. What yes have you said to God that is still being formed in you?
I said “yes” – Dije “si” – that is what Sister Xiomara put on her Facebook post after her final profession, and say “yes” she did! She was filled with joy and reverence and grace as she gave her whole life to God through the Adrian Dominican Congregation.
We live in a culture that discourages long commitments. We get the message that commitments take away our freedom, but the opposite is really true. In fully committing to something we are able to give our whole selves and be who God calls us to be.
“I want to keep all my options open,” some say. But for how long? While it’s true that we do not want to rush into poor decisions and make drastic life choices at a young age, we can sometimes wait so long that we lose the chance to do that which would give us life. For someone called to marriage, it would be a shame to turn eighty and still be waiting for someone better to come along!
At this time of year, we celebrate Mary’s “yes” that brought forth Jesus – God among us. Imagine if Mary had said to Gabriel, “Well, I don’t know. This isn’t the best time and I’d like some alone time with Joseph before we start on a family. Can you come back in a few years?”
Sometimes we take that leap and say “yes” even when everything is not sure – because it never is. We cannot know the future, but we can be sure that Emmanuel – God with us – is always there on this journey of life.
Christmas blessings to all!
The unexpected voice of Advent has the power to set people on a wondrous path of new life. Advent tells the story of Elizabeth and Zechariah, who are childless in their old age but give birth to a son, John, because God fulfills impossible dreams. Mary hears the angel’s voice, “Do not be afraid, O highly favored daughter, you will give birth to the Savior.” She responds wholeheartedly, “Be it done unto me according to your word.” And in a dream the unexpected voice of an angel consoles the brokenhearted Joseph, encouraging him to change his plans and take Mary as his wife. They give birth to a son and they name him “Emmanuel,” meaning God is with us. All of these Advent figures listened and trusted the unexpected voice of God. As a result, their lives, and ours, have been transformed in miraculous ways.
This unexpected voice of God still speaks today in the story of Ted Shawn, a young divinity student who was suddenly stricken with polio. From somewhere deep within him came a most unlikely voice calling him to, of all things, dance. So, with great difficulty, he quit divinity school and began to dance, and slowly and miraculously, he not only regained the use of his legs, but went on to become one of the fathers of modern dance.
This Advent recall a time in your own life when the unexpected voice of God came to you, perhaps in a time of great vulnerability, and showed you the way to new life and happiness. Give thanks to God and ask yourself: Am I still listening?
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Sister Tarianne DeYonker, OP
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Adrian Dominican Sisters
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Get out your bell-bottoms and platform shoes, because DISCO is here!
Okay, so it's a little less dancing, a little more talking... Sisters Lorraine Réaume, OP, and Sara Fairbanks, OP, have a video series called DISCO (Discernment Conversations): Dancing with the questions of life!