A vocation to life in a religious community is a call from God. It is one of several ways to live out God’s purpose for our lives. One of the benefits of being part of this life involves community living in support of the mission of Jesus and also receiving support for what you end up doing as your ministry every day.
Women’s communities hold a General Chapter every four to six years during which the whole community decides what and who will be their priorities of focus for the next period of time. Every member of the community is consulted about those priorities and most members have to educate themselves afterwards about the issues implied by them. The priorities are meant to stretch the individual members, moving them out of their comfort zones into new growth areas.
Community life brings to each individual opportunities for continuing growth and deepening both our self-understanding and understanding our relationship with God through ministry experiences, prayer and interactions with other people.
If this kind of growth appeals to you, it may indicate an invitation from the Spirit to explore further what may be a call to religious life.
I invite you to watch these sisters as they share their call from God. Notice what they paid attention to as they discerned (click here).
Blessings for you every day,
Dios y Tu
La vocación a la vida en una comunidad religiosa es un llamado de Dios. Es una de varias maneras de vivir el propósito de Dios para nuestras vidas. Uno de los beneficios de ser parte de esta vida es vivir en comunidad en apoyo de la misión de Jesús y también recibir apoyo para lo que termina haciendo como su ministerio todos los días.
Las comunidades de mujeres celebran un Capítulo General cada cuatro o seis años durante el cual la comunidad entera decide cuáles y quienes serán sus prioridades de enfoque para el próximo período de tiempo. Se consulta a cada miembra de la comunidad sobre esas prioridades y despues, la mayoría de las miembras tienen que educarse sobre los problemas que implican. El propósito de las prioridades es para estirar a las miembras individuales, sacándolas de sus zonas de comodidad hacia nuevas áreas de crecimiento.
La vida en comunidad le da a cada una oportunidades para el continuo crecimiento, y la oportunidad de profundizar nuestra autocomprensión y nuestra relación con Dios a través de experiencias de ministerio, oración e interacciones con otras personas.
Si este tipo de crecimiento le atrae, puede indicar una invitación del Espíritu para explorar más a fondo lo que puede ser un llamado a la vida religiosa.
Las invito a ver a estas hermanas mientras comparten su llamado de Dios. Observe a lo que prestaron atención al discernir (haga clic aquí).
Bendiciones para usted todos los días,
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.
Last weekend I attended the local Adrian Symphony for a most enjoyable performance of four extraordinary works of music. As all stellar musical renditions transport us into different realms where our imaginations and memories flow, so did this one. During more than one piece my thoughts went to the orchestra itself. A variety of instrumentalists assembled across the stage, each playing his or her part and contributing to the melodious sound of the whole orchestra.
Our life together here on this Earth is like this. Each one of us has gifts given abundantly by God not only for our own use, but as ways to contribute to one another and to the whole of us.
Discerning how best to use our gifts to make these valuable contributions is worth investing our time in prayer and reflection. Just as there could be many different ways the musicians in the orchestra could use their talents, they chose to play together. And together their music is more powerful than just one single instrument alone.
In a special way in religious life we promise to contribute our gifts and talents to the whole community, making them radically available for service, in all the ways we are invited to use them. The impact of our service is stronger together than any one of us could offer alone. As you reflect this week, consider whether God is calling you to offer your unique gifts in this way of life. A whole community of Sisters is waiting to support you!
For more about life as an Adrian Dominican Sister, click here.
Without a healthy self-love, there can be no love of God and neighbor. According to the Desert Fathers and Mothers of early Christian times, we cannot begin to learn how to love God and others without first learning how to claim for ourselves a self to do that loving. To many contemporary Christians, loving means that as Jesus sacrificed himself for others, so Christians must also in their everyday lives sacrifice their very selves for the sake of others.
While it is true that love requires self-giving and discipline to respond to the needs of family, friends, community and those we serve, it is misguided to think that love is of such a self-sacrificing nature that Christians ought not have a self at all. One sign that we lack a self is the feeling that our worth is determined by others’ approval or liking of us. If we are captive to the need for approval, we may well refuse to make the right decision we know is true to our convictions out of anxiety over what others may think of us. As Christians, we need to realize our intrinsic value as created in the image of God. Our true identity rests in God and our primary relationship is with God.
For this reason, the Desert Fathers and Mothers told their disciples to be like the dead when it comes to other people’s opinion:
A brother came to see Abba Macarius the Egyptian, and said to him, “Abba, give me a word, that I may be saved.” So the old man said, “Go to the cemetery and abuse the dead.” The brother went there, abused them and threw stones at them; then he returned and told the old man about it. The latter said to him, “Didn’t they say anything to you?” He replied, “No.” The old man said, “Go back tomorrow and praise them.” So the brother went away and praised them, calling them, “Apostles, saints, and righteous men.” He returned to the old man and said to him, “I have complimented them.” And the old man said to him, “Did they not answer you?” The brother said no. The old man said to him, “You know how you insulted them and they did not reply, and how you praised them and they did not speak; so you too if you wish to be saved must do the same and become a dead man. Like the dead, take no account of either the scorn of human beings or their praises, and you will be saved.”
The clear message in Macarius’ teaching is that if we are able to understand that our authentic identity is not linked to others’ evaluations of us, we are free to be our true self. Only then will we be able to respond to the call of Christ to love God and neighbor as self.
If four strong people were each holding the corner of a blanket, would you let yourself fall back into it with confidence? Probably. If one person dropped their side, what would happen? You would tumble out on to the floor. Or, if another person decided to suddenly raise their side, what would happen? You would slide right out.
I just saw this demonstrated literally at the Dominican College Preaching Conference. The point was: to live well and discern well, we need to have a balanced life. As Dominicans we talk about the four key pillars that keep our lives in balance: prayer, study, community and preaching (ministry or service). While sometimes we might focus on one area more than another, if we completely drop one or over-stress one, we lose our stability. Being in balance helps us to live well and to choose well.
Is your life in balance?
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Sister Tarianne DeYonker, OP
Sister Mariane Fahlman, OP
Adrian Dominican Sisters
1257 East Siena Heights Drive
Adrian, Michigan 49221-1793
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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 new video series called DISCO (Discernment Conversations): Dancing with the questions of life!