She didn’t have any broken legs or arms, no visible cuts or bruises, but she was clearly in pain. For this young woman it was emotional pain. To anyone who responded to her, this twenty-something young adult poured out her heart and her life story. What she had come to realize was that she longed to belong somewhere and yet could not find out what that place was, her place in the world and her life’s purpose.
Sometimes that deep longing within our hearts does cause us suffering. God’s call to each of us – and we each do have a personal call from God for our lives – can be disturbing until we meet the call with a response that quells the pain of not knowing. The generosity of heart embedded in each of us from birth and strengthened in Baptism longs for a call that matches the abundance of our gifts.
Discernment time allows us to take stock of our personal gifts that the Spirit always gives for use in the community in which we share life. I’ve mentioned before the value of talking with a wise mentor or spiritual director who, in listening to us, can hear what we may not be saying in words but are conveying with the intensity of our feelings. You think you don’t have access to any wise person? You can always ask someone else who they talk to when they need wise advice.
To paraphrase the wise spiritual writer Frederick Buechner who wrote: when our longing meets the deep needs of our world we have gladly found our calling. May you be blessed in the search for your place.
El Dolor de Buscar
No tenía piernas ni brazos rotos, ni cortes ni contusiones visibles, pero estaba claramente en dolor. Para esta joven era dolor emocional. Para cualquiera que le respondiera, esta joven adulta de veintitantos derramó su corazón y la historia de su vida. Lo que se dió cuenta era de que deseaba pertenecer a algún lugar y, sin embargo, no podía descubrir cuál era ese lugar, su lugar en el mundo y el propósito de su vida.
Algunas veces ese profundo anhelo dentro de nuestros corazones nos causa sufrimiento. El llamado de Dios a cada una de nosotras - y cada una de nosotras tenemos un llamado personal de Dios para nuestras vidas - puede ser inquietante hasta que recibamos el llamado con una respuesta que alivie el dolor de no saber. La generosidad del corazón encajado en cada una de nosotras desde el nacimiento y fortalecida en el bautismo anhela un llamado que iguale con la abundancia de nuestros dones.
El tiempo de discernimiento nos permite analizr nuestros dones personales que el Espíritu siempre nos da para usar en la comunidad en la que compartimos la vida. En el pasado he mencionado el valor de hablar con una mentora sabia o una directora espiritual que, al escucharnos, puede oir lo que no estamos diciendo en palabras, pero transmitimos con la intensidad de nuestros sentimientos. ¿Cree que no tiene acceso a alguna persona sabia? Siempre puede preguntarle a otra persona con quién ellos hablan cuando necesitan consejos sabios.
Parafraseando al sabio escritor espiritual Frederick Buechner que escribió: cuando nuestro anhelo satisface las profundas necesidades de nuestro mundo, con gusto hemos encontrado nuestro llamado. Que sea bendecida en la búsqueda de su lugar.
One of the ways to help in discernment is to be specific about the choices that are yours by using your imagination. This means literally to picture yourself in the role for which you may be discerning. This is especially helpful once you’ve done research on possible religious communities to which you feel called.
It’s simple: picture yourself living that life, living daily in community with others in a house or convent, working alongside them in a certain ministry, imagining yourself in a group praying with community members at Mass or during morning and evening prayer or picturing yourself taking classes or doing the required study for a class in your field.
As you see yourself in those situations, pay attention to how you feel doing the activities in which that particular community engages. If you experience a sense of inner peacefulness and calm or even excitement, that’s information you can use in the discernment process as one indicator that this may be your call from God.
It’s a way the Spirit uses our imaginations and invites us closer. As you discern, you remain in our prayer.
Una de las formas de ayudar en el discernimiento es ser específica acerca de sus opciones utilizando su imaginación. Esto significa literalmente representarse a sí misma en el papel para el que está discerniendo. Esto es especialmente útil una vez que haya realizado una investigación sobre posibles comunidades religiosas a las que se siente ser llamada.
Es sencillo: imagínese viviendo esa vida, viviendo diariamente en comunidad con otras en una casa o convento, trabajando juntamente con ellas en cierto ministerio, imaginándose en un grupo orando con miembras de la comunidad en la misa o durante la oración de la mañana y de la tarde o imaginándose tomando clases o haciendo el estudio requerido para una clase en su area de estudio.
Mientras se vea en esas situaciones, presta atención a cómo se siente haciendo las actividades en las que participa esa comunidad en particular. Si experimenta una sensación de paz interior y calma o incluso emoción, esa es la información que puede usar en el proceso de discernimiento como una indicación de que este puede ser su llamado de Dios.
Es una forma en que el Espíritu usa nuestra imaginación y nos invita a estar más cerca. Al discernir, permanece en nuestras oraciónes.
Reading the stories in the New Testament about what happened to individual people when they met Jesus, we glimpse the powerful impact of those encounters.
From the lowly shepherds and wise magi visiting Jesus at his birth to his meeting with Mary Magdalene in the garden after his resurrection, we realize each person was deeply affected by being in his presence. Scripture recounts the many times Jesus healed people physically. He also raised sons, daughters, and friends back to life. As we slow down and think more deeply, we conclude not only their lives were transformed but the lives of those around them were most likely totally changed as a result of encountering Jesus.
Vocations, or calls from God to respond to our life’s purpose, are grounded in encounters with Jesus. These encounters include those we meet with great awareness and encounters with him we only later discover were hidden in the shadow of a deeper conversation we had with a friend, a parent, a co-worker, our boss, or a spiritual director. We can experience the encounter as an ordinary happening or something that profoundly touched our hearts when we read it in an online blog or saw the powerful witness of someone giving her or his life for others.
The Spirit of Jesus can work anywhere, anytime, and through anyone or any circumstance in our lives. As those who were lame, blind, or in need of instruction clamored to be in the presence of Jesus once they heard about what he did, we also have opportunities of encounter. May we ready our hearts to pay attention to them. They may look differently than they did in Jesus’ time, but the encounters with him are no less real.
As the Psalmist said, “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts,”
El Encuentro que nos Transforma
Al leer las historias en el Nuevo Testamento sobre los acontecimientos a las personas cuando conocieron a Jesús, divisamos el impacto poderoso de esos encuentros.
Desde los humildes pastores y los magos sabios visitando a Jesús en su nacimiento hasta su encuentro con María Magdalena en el jardín después de su resurrección, nos damos cuenta de que cada persona estaba profundamente afectada por estar en su presencia. Las escrituras relatan las muchas veces que Jesús sanó físicamente a las personas. También resucitó a vida a hijos, hijas, y amigos. Mientras reducimos nuestros pasos, y pensamos más profundamente, llegamos a la conclusión de que no solo sus vidas fueron transformadas, sino que las vidas de quienes los rodeaban probablemente fueron totalmente cambiadas como resultado de encontrarse con Jesús.
Las vocaciones, o los llamados de Dios para responder al propósito de nuestra vida, están asimentadas en encuentros con Jesús. Estos encuentros incluyen aquellos con los que nos encontramos con gran conocimiento y los encuentros con él solo descubrimos más tarde se ocultaron en la sombra de una conversación más profunda que tuvimos con un amigo, un padre, un compañero de trabajo, nuestro jefe, o un director espiritual. Podemos experimentar el encuentro como un acontecimiento ordinario o algo que conmovió profundamente nuestros corazones cuando lo leemos en un blog en línea o vimos el poderoso testimonio de alguien que da su vida por los demás.
El Espíritu de Jesús puede trabajar en cualquier lugar, en cualquier momento, y a través de cualquier persona o cualquier circunstancia en nuestras vidas. Como aquellos que eran cojos, ciegos, o que necesitaban instrucción clamaban estar en la presencia de Jesús una vez que escucharon sobre lo que él hizo, también tenemos oportunidades de encuentro. Que preparemos nuestros corazones para ponerles atención. Es posible que tengan una apariencia diferente a las del tiempo de Jesús, pero los encuentros con él no son menos reales.
Como dijo el Salmista: "Si hoy oyes su voz, no endurezcas tu corazón,"
Beginning this week there are two Co-Directors of Vocations for the Congregation: Sisters Tarianne DeYonker, OP, and Mariane Fahlman, OP.
Sister Mariane is currently a Professor of Kinesiology, Health and Sports Studies at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan where her teaching and research focus on disease prevention through healthy living. She will be reaching out in the metro Detroit area as well as responding to requests from those who are seeking more information on religious life, specifically with the Adrian Dominican Sisters.
Sister Tarianne lives and ministers in Adrian, Michigan and is a social worker with a marriage and family therapy background. She has served in numerous leadership roles not only in the Congregation, but also at Dominican High School and Academy in Detroit, a sponsored ministry of the Congregation, in Beginning Experience International, a grief resolution ministry for separated, divorced and widowed men and women and their children and as a team trainer for Returning to Spirit, a program to bring about reconciliation between the church and those who attended Residential Schools in Canada. During the past year, she has been conducting creative writing workshops in Adrian as well as doing writing of her own. She brings to this new role a listening ear, curiosity about what God is doing in our lives and willingness to try new approaches in response to needs.
We are very grateful to Sisters Sara and Lorraine for all the contributions they have made to Vocation ministry and for how diligently they worked to make these past few months a smooth transition for us. We are comforted in knowing they are only a phone call or email away for help when we need it! We wish them well!
Sisters Tarianne and Mariane
Young adults who are discerning their vocation from God often ask me, “How do I hear God’s voice in my life?” Sometimes we think that God’s will for us comes from beyond us, outside our world, like the Ten Commandments delivered to Moses on stone tablets. Yet, a closer look reveals that God is present and active within us and among us through the ordinary circumstances of life and through all the decisions we make that shape our lives.
In reflecting on my own life, I realize how my vocation to be a Dominican Sister was realized through many years of paying attention to how God was meeting me in my life and how my response to God’s presence brought me a deep sense of joy and fulfillment that only God can give.
Here is just a glimpse at one meeting with God which happened my junior year in college. I was a history major. My academic advisor told me that I needed to take a course on the Protestant Reformation because that particular split in Christendom had powerful political ramifications for all of Europe. So, quite unexpectedly, I ended up taking my first college religion class. This situation has God written all over it!
During one class, our professor explained to us that one of the great themes of the Protestant Reform was the right of every Christian to read the Bible in his/her own language. At the end of the discussion, our professor said, “I challenge each one of you to pick up the Bible and read one of the Gospels all the way through.” Can you hear God’s voice echoing in this challenge?
Since I didn’t even own a Bible, I borrowed a Bible from a Protestant friend. One night I decided to take up the challenge. I opened to the Gospel of Matthew and started to read it. At one point, I got to the passage in the Sermon on the Mount: “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you.” I sensed, for the first time, the presence of God with me, speaking these words directly to my heart, awakening me to a divine love that I had never known before, a love unsurpassed. “Ask and you shall receive!” What open-handed, unconditional love! It wasn’t “Get good grades, and I will love you!” or “Do what I say, and I will love you.” Rather, I experienced God’s presence as a lavish, unconditional love. I was in tears. This experience was totally unexpected. God’s love was real!
This meeting with God, which happened through very ordinary circumstances, became a beginning step on the way toward fulfilling my religious vocation. Through the help of many other faithful Christians, I gradually learned how to develop my relationship with God through prayer, community, and service to the poor and those in need.
How do you sense God is working in your life? What is your response?
“Work, then, my daughter in the field you see God calling you to work in, and don’t trouble or weary your spirit over what is said to you but carry on courageously. Fear and serve God selflessly, and then don’t be bothered by what people say except to have compassion for them.”
These are the words of St. Catherine of Siena to a young woman who was struggling with discerning her call. Tomorrow is Catherine’s Feast Day. She was born in the tumultuous time of 1347 when the plague was raging through Europe. She cared for the sick, poor, and prisoners. She became a well known preacher and reconciler whom many followed. She even advised Popes. She responded to her times.
Mary Catherine Hilkert, OP, in her book, Speaking with Authority: Catherine of Siena and the Voices of Women Today, explains how much Catherine has to say to those in discernment:
“…as Catherine’s letters to others make clear, our unique gifts, circumstances, and relationships, as well as the specific needs of others and the concrete situations in which we find ourselves, disclose more specifically the unique vocation to which each of us is called. Further, the dimensions of one’s vocation unfold and shift during the course of a lifetime….The plague victims, the poor of the city of Siena, and political prisoners [Catherine] came to know made a claim on her and helped shape her concrete response to the gospel.” (Pg. 28-29)
How do the elements of your life disclose your unique vocation?
Pope Francis spoke movingly at the closing Mass of the Year of consecrated life on February 2:
“Consecrated men and women are called first and foremost to be men and women of encounter. Vocation, in fact, is not motivated by a project that has been planned ‘at the drawing table’, but by the grace of the Lord who comes to us through a life-changing encounter. Those who really meet Jesus cannot stay the same as before. He is the novelty that makes all things new.”
Have you encountered Christ? How has that encounter called you? Changed you? It’s not a one time event. As people of faith, we keep encountering Christ and, as with any intimate relationship, it grows deeper and matures over time.
Sometimes this relationship asks a lot of us, but we can respond out of the strength our encounters have given us. Pope Francis speaks of those who have faced these challenges: “They did not stop before the obstacles and misunderstandings of others, because they kept the wonder of their encounter with Christ in their hearts.”
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Sister Tarianne DeYonker, OP
Sister Mariane Fahlman, OP
Adrian Dominican Sisters
1257 East Siena Heights Drive
Adrian, Michigan 49221-1793
Visit the Adrian Vocations Team on Twitter @ASisterReflects
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!