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This week's reflection comes to us from Marilin Llanes. Marilin is a Bilingual School Psychologist in Chicago, and is currently a candidate for readmission.
Inspired by Psalm 46, God by my side, I am in awe by the depth and fidelity of God’s presence in my life. All along my diverse and winding path, God has been with me. My journey has been quite an experience of trusting myself enough to be able to trust the divine plan for me. I must admit that my path, at times, has been uncertain as to where I was being led. As I was moving along and letting be what was happening, I felt myself wavering between what seemed impossible and the real. Yet with God at my side, along with human and divine intervention, I realized the new that was coming to be. At this point in my life, the impossible has become a reality!
Today I embrace the now and rejoice in the gift of second chances, such as renewing my covenant with my Adrian Dominican Sisters. I welcome the invitation to new experiences in religious life, in ministry, and with our Global community. Being mindful that no matter what is placed on my path, in you, O Divine One, I find my strength, my hope, and my energy, and most of all I find my true self, Divinity alive in me. The path to joy is now. Amen.
This week's reflection comes to us from guest blogger, Katherine Frazier, Adrian Dominican Sisters Candidate.
When a very pregnant Mary and Joseph set out on a journey to Bethlehem, they did not know what the journey would hold for them. Taking a journey implies transformation. Not only is there the physical change of being in a new place, but there is also the spiritual changes that take place when we meet new people and see new places. Mary and Joseph were transformed by their journey, as they became a family with a newborn son. Taking a journey also means taking a leap of faith, in allowing ourselves to be open to whatever the journey brings us, no matter how surprising. For Mary and Joseph, they had to take a leap of faith that they and their expected child would be cared for once they arrived in Bethlehem.
This story of Mary and Joseph speaks deeply to my own process of discernment. Certainly, my discernment has taken me to new places, where I have been able to meet many new people. However, more importantly, I am finding that this journey is challenging me to think in new ways, whether in learning how to be a better community member or pondering how God is active in my life. And there is a leap of faith to the discernment process once we embrace our decision, even if the consequences are surprising. Finally, I come back to the fact that Mary was pregnant with the Word of God as she traveled with Joseph to Bethlehem. As a woman discerning a vocation with the Order of Preachers, I see in this image an example of my calling to carry the Word of God to the world, and the image gives me hope that my vocation can be carried out in ways that I have not yet imagined.
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?
This week's reflection comes to us from guest blogger, Sister Dusty Farnan, OP.
I’m writing this reflection on the eve of Advent. Advent invites us into two important actions: to be alert and to be awake. What does any of this have to do with me or especially those of you who are pondering what path to take in life. Maybe you are wondering like Elizabeth how is it that the “Lord should come to me?"
I think it has a lot to do with you and me. Luke’s Gospel for the Last Sunday in Advent reminds me of when I felt the call from God to pursue religious life. I believe I felt like Elizabeth when Mary visited her. I had just witnessed the beautiful reception of a classmate of mind from high school who had become a Novice in Adrian Dominican Congregation. I was so moved by the ceremony and the giving of total self that my friend had made that it stuck with me for a long time. It was as if Jesus” leaped inside me” in a way I had never experienced before. I became alert and aware that Jesus was calling me to follow him more closely. And so I wrote to the Prioress of the congregation asking for admission. It’s now fifty years later.
Perhaps this advent you might be awakened to God’s voice calling you to a deeper relationship. May Advent awaken you to the God life already dwelling in you as a result of your Baptism. May you become more alert to the prompting of God’s call to you this Christmas season.
The blog for this week comes from Sara Fairbanks, OP. Originally from Vermont, Sister Sara is a professor of theology at Barry University, an Adrian Dominican Institution in Miami, Florida. Here is her story:
As a college student I had stopped going to church. I did, however, want a relationship with God. I was a history major. In my junior year my advisor wanted me to take a religion course on the Reformation because that particular split in Christendom had powerful political ramifications for all of Europe.
In taking the course, I learned that one of the great themes of the Reformation was the right of every Christian to read the Bible in his/her own language. At the time, the bible was mostly available in Latin, which most people could not read. At the end of the discussion, our professor, who was also a Presbyterian minister, challenged each one of you to pick up the Bible and read one of the gospels all the way through.
I did not even own a Bible! So I borrowed a Bible, and began to read the gospel of Matthew. When 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,” for the first time I sensed 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. I was in tears. This experience was totally unexpected. God’s love was real!
This awakening to God’s unconditional love was the foundation of my religious vocation. With the help of other faithful Christians, I gradually learned how to share my life with God through praying with scripture. In time, I began to see God everywhere in my life and to find God at the core of my very self.
How do over three hundred people make big decisions in one weekend? Over three hundred of us had quite an intense experience this weekend. We attended part 1 of our General Chapter, a large meeting where we vote on recommendations and make decisions about the future .
At times we try and make decisions on our own, or in private prayer, or by talking with a few others. But sometimes decisions require more wisdom. At our table of 5 we discussed our thoughts and some of us changed our opinions as we listened to each other. Then two tables came together to form groups of ten people. To our own amazement, we completely changed out minds sometimes. The wisdom of the group - we learn more by opening ourselves up to the other, hearing different opinions and perspectives, and contemplating all we have received to try and truly hear the will of God. It was a sacred experience.
Are there other voices you need to hear from in your discernment?
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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!