One of the qualities about religious life that often attracts people is the total availability of men and women committed to meeting the needs of people. Other callings in life demand a responsible commitment to a spouse and a family, but this calling from God demands otherwise.
For those of us called to this lifeform, the energy we get from being free to respond and being supported by our communities in that response is life-giving. While the phrase “total availability” could be deceiving, because it doesn’t necessarily mean we keep going night and day, every day. However, it does mean that when we are not taking action to alleviate needs, we pray about those needs and we listen to how God invites us to respond to them.
When you reflect on your life and how your heart is touched by those in need or you wish you could respond more freely, tune in to those feelings. They could be signs that your call is to this life of radical availability. When you are taking action on behalf of those in need, pay attention to how your spirit is lifted up. Your responses matter and can be indicators of your call.
Please talk with a trusted mentor or spiritual director about your experiences. These are ways God calls us. God may be trying to get your attention!
Blessings in your search,
Una de las cualidades de la vida religiosa que muchas veces atrae a las personas es la disponibilidad total de hombres y mujeres comprometidos a satisfacer las necesidades de las personas. Otros llamamientos en la vida exigen un compromiso responsable con el cónyuge y la familia, pero este llamado de Dios exige lo contrario.
Para aquellas de nosotras llamadas a esta forma de vida, la energía que obtenemos en ser libres para responder y ser apoyadas por nuestras comunidades en esa respuesta, es vivificante. Mientras la frase "disponibilidad total" puede ser engañosa, porque no significa necesariamente que continsigamos adelante día y noche, todos los días. Sin embargo, significa que cuando no estamos tomando acción para aliviar las necesidades, oramos por esas necesidades y escuchamos cómo Dios nos invita a responder a ellas.
Cuando reflexione sobre su vida y cómo su corazón es tocado por aquellas que la necesitan o si desea que pueda responder con mayor libertad, sintonícese con esos sentimientos. Podrían ser signos de que su llamado es a esta vida de disponibilidad radical. Cuando tome acciones a favor de las necesitadas, preste atención a cómo se eleva su espíritu. Sus reacciones son importantes y pueden ser indicadores de su llamado.
Por favor hable con una mentora o directora espiritual de confianza sobre sus experiencias. Estas son formas en que Dios nos llama. ¡Dios puede estar tratando de llamar su atención!
Bendiciones en su búsqueda,
During the life of Jesus, notice how he centered everything in relationships; with his Father and the Spirit, but also with his immediate family, his close disciples/friends and those in need of healing and challenging to live in right relationships with truth, love and all creation. When he became human, he did it because of a relationship with the rest of us humans.
Now it’s our turn in our daily lives to carry on the same kinds of relationships, especially ones that take us out of our comfort zone, those that demand that we love everyone, even the unlovable and those who are different from us.
As we discern God’s call for our lives, how can we best be about relationships? What life form – religious life, priesthood, married life or single life – would allow us to be about the priority of creating and sustaining right relationships? What clues do we find in our hearts for this deep call of service? What more information do we need before we take the risk of deciding? What is the right time for a decision because one of the pitfalls of discernment is to keep discerning and not decide. In other words, we can get stuck.
If we can help you with making a decision or to get unstuck, please be in touch. You also may want to view these stories of others who have taken the risk and decided.
May the Spirit guide you to your decision,
Una Vida Centrada en las Relaciones
Durante la vida de Jesús, note cómo centró todo en las relaciones; con su Padre y el Espíritu, pero también con su familia inmediata, sus discípulos / amigos cercanos y aquellos necesitados de la sanidad y enfrentando el desafío de vivir en relaciones saludables con la verdad, el amor y toda la creación. Cuando se volvió humano, lo hizo debido a una relación con los demás de nosotros, los humanos.
Ahora es nuestra oportunidad en nuestras vidas diarias para mantener los mismos tipos de relaciones, especialmente las que nos sacan de nuestra zona de comodidad, las que exigen amar a todos, incluso los que no son amables y los que son diferentes a nosotros.
A medida que discernimos el llamado de Dios para nuestras vidas, ¿cómo podemos ser mejores en las relaciones? ¿Qué forma de vida - vida religiosa, sacerdocio, vida matrimonial o vida soltera - nos permitiría priorizar la creación y sostenimiento de relaciones saludables? ¿Qué indicaciones encontramos en nuestros corazones para este profundo llamado de servicio? ¿Qué más información necesitamos antes de tomar el riesgo de decidir? ¿Cuál es el momento adecuado para tomar una decisión? porque una de las dificultades del discernimiento es seguir discerniendo y no decidir. En otras palabras, podemos atascarnos.
Si podemos ayudarla a tomar una decisión o para despegarse, póngase en contacto con nosotras. También es posible que desee ver estas historias de otras personas que se han arriesgado y decidido.
Que el Espíritu la guíe en su decisión,
Spiritual writers encourage a life organized around being discerning. In other words, pondering next steps in life no matter how small or large our choices seem to be. They advise us to review our day in the evening before sleep and to hold our day in prayer the next morning, asking the Holy Spirit for guidance and wisdom in our choices.
All well and good! However, in our busy day-to-day living we must live awake in order to live discerningly. Taking time for quiet centering during each day helps us be awake to possibilities and awake to what the Spirit is doing in our lives that day. A good practice in the evening is to recall when we were awake to the Spirit’s movement in the day. What did we notice? When did we sense a little nudge in one direction or another?
The Spirit is present with us, working imaginatively and persistently. Like branches are to a tree the Spirit is connecting us with life that gives meaning and nourishment to what we’re doing. As we gain proficiency in noticing how the Spirit is with us at all times, we grow more awake and more discerning about where the Spirit is leading. This discerning ability influences our choices.
I cannot recommend strongly enough that a spiritual director can be invaluable for anyone wishing to be more awake to where the Spirit may be calling.
May we all be blessed and awake,
Una Vida Discernida
Los escritores espirituales animan una vida organizada hacia el discernimiento. En otras palabras, reflexionar sobre los próximos pasos en la vida, sin importer que tan pequeñas o grandes sean nuestras decisiones. Nos aconsejan que revisemos nuestro día en la noche antes de dormir y que pongamos nuestro dia en oración la próximo mañana, pidiéndole al Espíritu Santo por guianza y sabiduría en nuestras decisiones.
Todo parece bien! Sin embargo, en nuestra ajetreada vida cotidiana, debemos vivir despiertas para poder vivir con discernimiento. Tomar tiempo para centrarnos en silencio durante cada día nos ayuda a estar despiertas a las posibilidades y despiertas a lo que el Espíritu está haciendo en nuestras vidas ese día. Una buena práctica en la noche es recordar cuando estábamos despiertas al movimiento del Espíritu en el día. ¿Qué notamos? ¿Cuándo sentimos un pequeño empujón en una dirección u otra?
El Espíritu está presente con nosotros, trabajando con imaginación y persistencia. Como las ramas son para un árbol, el Espíritu nos está conectando con la vida que da sentido y sostenimiento a lo que estamos haciendo. A medida que ganamos la habilidad de notar cómo el Espíritu está con nosotros en todo momento, nos despertamos más y discernimos más hacia a dónde el Espíritu nos está guiando. Esta capacidad de discernimiento influye en nuestras decisiones.
No puedo recomendar lo suficiente que tan valioso es un director espiritual para cualquiera que desee estar más despierta a dónde el Espíritu le pueda estar llamando.
Que todas seamos bendecidas y despiertas.
I made applesauce over the weekend and noticed how many seeds each apple contained. As I sliced about a dozen green Granny Apples, I suddenly realized each one of those seeds represents the possibility of new life, even orchards of apple trees in the future. Of course, that got me thinking about how much the seeds are like the ways we discern our future.
When other people look at our lives, they don’t see any more clearly than we can about ourselves what are possibilities for our life choices: Married? When and to whom and how will I know? Single? Forever? For now? Until I meet someone special with a mutual attraction for me? Religious Life? When? Where? Active or contemplative? Missionary?
So, you see, many “seed-questions” show up once we've opened ourselves to them. Much like the apple seeds, they only become visible once we go deeper into the apple’s core. The challenge is to take the risk of opening ourselves to God’s call to us. Each of us has a calling. Our happiness is linked with our response to that call.
Pray to be ready for the opening. Trust that God is never outdone in abundance! Our part is to slow down, listen and consider the possibility that God is calling you to a life full of meaning.
I pray with you for this grace,
Semillas de Posibilidades
Hice salsa de manzana este fin de semana, y me di cuenta que tantas semillas cada manzana tiene. Mientras partí una dozena de manzanas tipo “Granny”, de repente me di cuenta que cada una de esas semillas representa la posibilidad de nueva vida, aun huertas de manzanas en el futuro. Por su puesto que esto me hizo pensar en cómo las semillas son como nosotras dicernimos el futuro.
Cuando otras personas miran nuestras vidas, ellos no ven algo más claro de lo que vemos de nosotras mismas cuales son las posibilidades para nuestras decisiones de la vida: ¿Casada? ¿Cuándo? y ¿Para quién y ¿Cómo sabré? ¿Soltera? ¿Para siempre? ¿Por ahora? ¿Hasta que conozca alguien especial con una mutua atracción? ¿Vida Religiosa? ¿Cuándo? ¿Dónde? ¿Activa o contemplativa? ¿Misionera?
Como te puedes dar cuenta, hay muchas “preguntas sobre las semillas” que aparecen al momento que nos abrimos a ellas. Como las semillas de las manzanas, solo se hacen visibles al momento que nos profundizamos al corazón de la manzana. El reto es de tomar el riesgo de abrirnos al llamado de Dios. Cada una de nosotras tenemos un llamado. Nuestro gozo está ligado a nuestra respuesta a ese llamado.
Reza para estar lista para la apertura. ¡Confía que la abundancia de Dios no tiene fin! Nuestra responsabilidad es de ir más despacio, escuchar y considerar la posibilidad que Dios te está llamando a una vida llena de significado.
Rezo contigo por esta gracia,
Parents raise their children to be independent and capable. I’m not sure it necessarily follows that we have to do everything on our own just because we’re capable of being that “independent person”.
I once had an experience walking on a leaf-covered pathway through the woods after a downpour of rain. The size and diversity of the many trees with their trunks darkened by splashes of the rain caught my eye. Upon leaving the woods I had an insight: each of those trees not only “got along” with the others, but each was dependent on the others for their survival. Although they obtained their own nourishment through their roots and leaves, somehow they were not standing alone in a big field or meadow. They weren’t having to fend for themselves, but were part of this diverse collection of trees and they all were thriving!
We humans are also part of a diverse collection of creatures, depending on one another for support, caring, listening, playing and working together. At times we need a listening heart or wise advice to get clear about what we think and feel about our lives. It helps to know we matter to others. These others can be parents, good friends, roommates, co-workers, pastors, and spiritual directors we can count on when we’re searching out a life choice.
Check out this upcoming event for a chance to be with others who care that you find the right choice for your life’s purpose.
There is a famous question, “If you were charged with being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” In other words, does the way you live your life really reflect what you claim you believe and value? Most of us fall short, but in general, we can recognize if we are muddling along in the direction toward what we hold sacred and true or away from it.
For Dominicans, we view it in a slightly different way. How does your life preach? How does the way you live proclaim to the world? We are members of the Order of Preachers, after all. Dominican houses were and are called “Houses of the Holy Preaching.” That doesn’t mean we sit around listening to homilies and reflections. It means we strive to recognize that what we do – how we treat each other, how we live together, how we reach out to others – is a way of preaching Christ’s Gospel.
How do I preach with my life? What do I preach with my life? Does my life say what I want it to be saying? Does my life align with God’s desires for me? Asking these questions can help us figure out if we are on the right path and can help us discern the forks in the road.
Ultimately God’s desire for our lives and our deepest desires are united. But it takes a while to understand and accept those deepest desires within us.
Take some time this week to ask God to show you how you already preach with your life and, perhaps, show you new ways you may be called!
That famous question, “Who do you say that I am?” occurs in this Sunday’s Gospel. It can be a very important discernment question because how we answer it affects everything. If you say Jesus was a good man who set a good example, that may be nice, but it doesn’t necessarily call a person to any radical change. If you say Jesus is the one who will judge us in the end, then it might just make you anxious and act out of guilt. If you say Jesus is the creator of the universe manifesting in human form to teach us how to live and love, you might feel more drawn to respond with your life.
At a very personal level, we probably answer this question differently from others, and even for ourselves at different points in our lives. Because Jesus is also a ‘person,’ we are in a relationship, and relationships change over time. Jesus may not change, but our understanding of him and way of relating to him will. Some of the different answers I have had to this question: Jesus you are… my partner… my hope… a caress… a challenger… the one I take time with each night and morning… the core relationship in my life.
Discernment involves other people. But the strongest voice in becoming who I am, and discerning what I am called to do, is the voice of Jesus.
Who do you say Jesus is?
I look upon you with such love. You are so hard on yourself. You feel guilty for all you do not do, and for some of the things you do. I see it. I know you. You can’t hide anything from me and you don’t need to. You are safe with me. I don’t condemn you. I want to cheer you on. I want you to be all that I made you to be. I see the goodness inside you even when you don’t see it yourself. I do call you to be more, but out of love, out of knowing the goodness that is within you.
Sometimes it is hard to look at the pain in yourself, in those around you, in the world. I know. It is overwhelming at times. When I walked the Earth it pained my heart that I could not cure all. It caused me such sadness that my message about God’s reign was twisted and used against me and my followers. It angered me that the poor suffered so much due to the greed of those in power.
It’s not easy being a human being and trying to follow me is it? Sometimes it means you will have to suffer. There are times you will feel like you are being put on a cross.
Maybe you will be judged falsely by those around you.
Maybe a relationship will be ruptured that will not be repaired in this life.
Maybe you have experienced a loss you weren’t sure you could bear.
I know. Look at me up here. I know all your hurt and all your pain and I embrace it. And transform it. An empty tomb is actually a sign of new life.
Pay attention – there is hope in places you might not expect. Look for the signs of new life, within you and around you. I did not stay up on this cross. Yes, it was a shameful, excruciating death. But it passed over. God raised me and God will raise you. Once you accept and know the cross, you do not need to stay there.
Honor what has been, in my witness and in your own life, kiss it, venerate it, bow before it.
And then get ready, because resurrection is on its way!
Composed by Sister Lorraine Réaume, OP
If you are going to make it through the birth canal, baby girl, you need to change your direction. I hate to tell you this, but you are going the wrong way! Your twin sister has already left the womb. She was positioned headfirst and made it out with no problems. Since you are positioned feet first, you have a more complicated assignment. Don’t panic! I made you resilient and adaptable. Help is on the way. A female doctor with small hands is reaching in as we speak. Her gentle touch is encouraging you to make a somersault and head out in the right direction. Ah! There you go! You did it! Welcome to the world!
As you may have guessed, I was a breech birth — born one hour after my twin sister. Back in the 1950s, breech births were a threat to the life of both the baby and the mother. So, first of all, I feel blessed to be alive. The story of my birth, however, speaks an urgent message: new life demands necessary change! Hard fought effort on our part is required. God takes the lead and shows us the way.
Here is where discernment steps in. We need to decide when change is a good thing. Change for change’s sake, chasing every new experience for the excitement and pleasure of novelty, or running away from healthy commitments do not equal healthy, life-giving change in our lives. If God is calling us to make a change for the better, it is usually because we are beginning to experience a failure to thrive in some important area of our lives. Like me in the womb; I had to make a change in order to experience new life.
Are you heeding the call to healthy change in your life? Do you believe you can make the necessary changes with the help of God and others?
Do you have the water? Or the jug? Or are you thirsty? A regular Lenten reading is the Samaritan woman at the well. In a way, the Samaritan woman could be any of us. She is coming to get water, to get what is needed for her and her family to survive, but she is tired of having to come day after day. The thought of receiving water that would quench her thirst forever sounds like a wonderful idea to her!
Our Lenten practices can help us become aware of what we truly need. By giving something up, we can no longer use that food or habit or thought to distract us, and we can encounter our own deep thirst. If we don’t realize we are thirsty, we will fail to drink the water we need. When we become aware of our spiritual and emotional thirsts, we can bring them to God and ask for that life-giving water only God can provide.
The wonderful gift of encountering our own thirst, and allowing God to ease it, enables us to then offer water to others. We know what it is like to thirst. We can share in that struggle with someone. We can help them lower the bucket to their depths in order to receive true water. Where are you this Lent? Are you avoiding your thirst? Are you allowing God to quench it? Are you called to help someone else lower the bucket into the well?
Sister Lorraine Réaume, OP
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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!