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When we’re discerning a call from God for our lives, we may think it’s all up to us to figure it out. But that’s not the case. The first step is God’s! God calls each person to a life that will develop and fulfill the gifts given to her or him. Just think about this for a moment.
When we’re born, we come with gifts. We are a gift. Our whole lives are meant to exercise the gifts we came with, sharing them with everyone we meet and with everyone to whom we are sent. So, we can relax. God knows we have gifts to share.
In discerning the best way we can share them, we take the time for silent listening to God, for prayer, maybe for journaling. We may at times meet with a mentor or spiritual companion who can help us hear even more keenly what God is asking of us. Our gifts were given for good and for the community.
May we listen well with openness and trust in the Holy Spirit who guides each of us. Count on our prayers of support too.
El Primer Paso
Cuando estamos discerniendo un llamado de Dios para nuestras vidas, podemos pensar que depende de nosotras descifrarlo. Pero ese no es el caso. ¡El primer paso es de Dios! Dios llama a cada persona a una vida para que pueda desarrollar y cumplir con los dones que se le den. Solo piense en esto por un momento.
Cuando nacemos, llegamos con dones. Somos un don. Toda nuestra vida está destinada a ejercer los dones con los que nacemos, compartiéndolos con todas las que conocemos y con todas a quienes somos enviadas. Así que, podemos relajarnos. Dios sabe que tenemos dones para compartir.
Al discernir la mejor manera en que podemos compartirlos, nos tomamos el tiempo para escuchar en silencio a Dios, para orar, tal vez para escribir en un diario. A veces podemos encontrarnos con una mentora o una compañera espiritual que pueda ayudarnos a escuchar aún más profundamente lo que Dios nos pide. Nuestros dones fueron dados para bien y para la comunidad.
Que podamos escuchar abiertamente y con confianza en el Espíritu Santo que nos guía a cada una de nosotras. También cuente con nuestras oraciones de apoyo.
I’m sure when most of us were young we took the risk of getting caught when we sneaked a peek at something our parents warned us against. Usually we did it just to satisfy our curiosity. Human curiosity tends to draw us when there’s a mystery involved.
In discerning God’s call to religious life, the Mystery of God is always involved. For example, you might tell yourself, “I don’t know any sisters or priests and certainly I don’t know any of them well enough to talk with them about this.”
Or this thought won’t leave you alone, “I wonder what it’s like to be a sister. I should look into the life of a religious to see what it’s about before deciding it’s not for me.” Or perhaps you notice at church or at a social justice event the same sisters always seem to be there. Maybe one of them speaks to you and you find yourself thinking about the encounter long after the event is over.
These thoughts and casual meetings can be what the Spirit uses to pique your curiosity and draw you into further exploration and conversations. They are worth your effort to pay attention. Finding out more information on your life choice adds to the truth of your discernment and ultimate decision making. It’s important to follow those small, seemingly insignificant, invitations to take a peek. God is known as the God of Surprises!
You might want to take a peek at the “Come and See” weekend, March 1-3, 2019 with us in Adrian. Click here for more information.
May you be curious enough to peek,
Estoy segura que cuando éramos jóvenes, tomabamos el riesgo de ser atrapados cuando mirabamos algo que nuestros padres nos habían advertido que no vieramos. Por lo regular lo hacíamos para calmar nuestra curiosidad. La curiosidad humana tiende a envolvernos cuando hay un misterio envuelto.
Al discernir el llamado de Dios a la vida religiosa, el Misterio de Dios siempre está involucrado. Por ejémplo, puede decirse a si misma: "No conozco a ninguna hermana o sacerdote y, ciertamente, no conozco a ninguno de ellos lo suficiente como para hablar con ellos sobre esto."
O este pensamiento no la deja en paz, “¿Cómo será vivir como una hermana? Debo enterarme más sobre la vida de una religiosa para ver de qué se trata antes de decidir que no es para mi.” O tal vez se da cuenta que en la iglesia o en un evento de justicia social que las mismas hermanas siempre están presentes. Tal vez una de ellas le habla y se pone a pensar del encuentro mucho más después de que se haya terminado el evento.
Estos pensamientos y encuentros casuales pueden ser lo que el Espíritu usa para despertar su curiosidad y atraerla a nuevas exploraciones y conversaciones. Vale la pena que se esfuerze a ponerles atención. Investigando más información sobre su elección de vida añade a la verdad de su discernimiento y su decisión final. Es importante seguir esas pequeñas invitaciones, que tal vez parezcan insignificantes, para ver para si misma. ¡Dios es conocido como el Dios de las Sorpresas!
Es posible que quiera ver para si misma durante el fin de semana de "Ven y ve", del 1 al 3 de Marzo de 2019 con nosotras en Adrian. Haga clic aquí para obtener más información.
Que sea lo suficientemente curiosa como para mirar,
Unless I make a conscious choice to stop on our back porch on my way in or out of the house, I do not see the tiny yellow blossoms and smaller green tomato orbs on the vine or the young pea pods among the plant’s leaves and tentacles. Even in my widow-box veggie garden, Nature has her way of protecting – even hiding – the fruits of growth until they’re ready to be picked. I’m amazed how long it takes me some days, to even find the pods and tomatoes – once I stop. Remembering my impatience with the plants and their leaves for hiding their fruit from my eyes makes me smile now!
Only gradually and with persistent hunting could I notice the pods and orbs that I’d missed on my previous searches. The harvest time may not be here yet, but I do hope to experience it eventually. Right-timing is everything!
Discernment in our lives shares some of these characteristics. It’s vital to stop and step away from our normal daily routines so we can notice what may be surfacing in our lives. Constant busy-ness leaves little space to take that closer look and notice God’s call in our lives.
Sporadic times of reflection may not be enough to provide the kind of stopping and noticing needed to hear and see God’s hints at our life purpose. Just as the leaves and tendrils of the peas eventually intertwine in a jumbled green ball, our discernment of God’s call mixes with many other possibilities and these take time to sort through. Giving the time for stepping away carries a reward. Trust that the results of looking, noticing and listening will bring us its bounty and insights.
This past Sunday we celebrated the Feast of Christ’s Ascension. I would like to share with you an inspirational reflection on the Ascension written by Springfield Dominican Sister, Rebecca Ann Gemma, OP.
“Why Are You Standing There Looking at the Sky?"
by Rebecca Ann Gemma, OP
When my Sisters sing the song “Land of the Living” by Janét Sullivan-Whitaker, we often emphasize the phrase: “…don’t look to the sky when the reign of our God is here.” Here in this place and in this moment Christ is present. Is this not the same message the angels told the disciples as Jesus was lifted to heaven? Is it not for us today?
I have often heard that where you stand is what you see. So just imagine you’re standing in the middle of a flower-drenched field. What do you see? Color, texture, and swaying objects moving in the wind; beauty surrounds you. As you take it in, you sense being one with this terrain and time stands still. The reign of God is here.
Imagine you’re standing in the middle of a crowded street. What do you see? People running here and there: purposeful, spontaneous, hungry, full, peaceful, anxious, isolated, welcomed. The fullness of humanity gives way to noticing the person closest to you. In the brevity of time, you seek eye contact in which to make connection and converse with the simplicity of “hello.” In that nanosecond, communion becomes reality. The reign of God is here.
Imagine you are standing in the rotunda of your state capitol building. What do you see? Suit-clad lobbyists basking in their privilege, unaware of trickle-down poverty created to protect the 1 percent. Advocates from diverse organizations holding tag-lined signs announcing their needs. Sufferers of injustice waiting to voice their plight and call for change from their elected leaders. You move toward those most vulnerable, most abandoned, most battered and with deep humility seek to harmonize with their cries. The reign of God is here.
Imagine you are sitting in your community room watching the national news. What do you see? Immigrants scaling dividing walls, running from billy clubs of intolerance, and seeking a cactus with which to cower and hide. Graphics of escalating lines revealing opioid addictions as epidemic. Political wrangling confirming that the bar of decency, integrity, and truth is despairingly low. Youth seeking peace and safety in their schools, yet resisted by constitutional purists. The stranger saving a child from flooded streets, only to lose his life from a felled tree. In 25 minutes you see anguish, futility, violence, courage and hope. You now close your eyes and hold it all before our living God. Do not look to the sky. For it is through us, with us and in us that the Spirit will bring about the fullness of God’s reign where all will be whole. We only have here and now. Can you not see it?
On August 8th Dominicans from around the world celebrated the Feast of St. Dominic, the founder of the Order of Preachers. In this week’s blog I would like to share with you the reflection, one of our novices, Sister Katherine Frazier, gave at our morning prayer celebration.
View Sister Katherine's reflection on YouTube.
Change can shake-up our image of self, others and God. While we naturally fear and resist major changes, change can help us to grow and develop in ways that create more trusting and loving relationships. In her book Candlelight: Illuminating the Art of Spiritual Direction, Susan Phillips describes a man she calls John whose experience illustrates how even unwanted changes can yield unexpected benefits (80-85).
John had been a pastor at a conservative evangelical church for many years. At some point, political currents within the faith community changed and he was asked to resign. Unemployed, he turned to gardening and part-time factory work while he looked for another church to serve. His self-image suffered a big hit because he was strongly identified—by himself and others—as pastor. Moreover, it was painful for him to accept that his wife was now the main breadwinner in the family.
At his new factory job, everybody knew he was a pastor and they were not sure they could trust him. Many of these workers thought differently than he did, many had lived rougher lives, some were gay. Gradually, however, they got to know him and began to invite him to go out with them after work. Likewise, he slowly warmed up to them and a sense of acceptance and companionship developed. As trust built, the men began to seek out his counsel. John remarked how strange it was: “I am not a pastor of a church, but I feel more like a pastor than I did at the church.” There is very little God-talk, but “I listen to what’s in people’s hearts.” John explained that as pastor in his church he focused on what was wrong with people, their sinfulness or lack of faith that God’s light exposed. Now in his new role, he focuses on the good in people as God’s beloved children. Seeing them in this way has helped him to see himself in a more positive light as well.
Reflect on the important changes in your life. How have they been opportunities for growth in love and trust in your relationship with yourself, with others and with God?
This week’s blogger is Sister Ellen Burkhardt, OP.
“I don’t believe you brought me this far to leave me.”
These words are from a hymn we sing in my parish in Detroit, one of my favorites. We sang it one week while I was discerning a call to religious life, and honestly, I thought the words were jumping off the page and into my heart with a message specially formulated for me! God seemed to speak directly to me through the words “I haven’t brought you this far just to walk away from you now. Trust me, now and into the future.”
As is often the case for those struggling with a discernment issue, I was filled with questions: How can I know that this is where God is leading me? Why won’t these questions go away? I also had concerns about giving up my home and a career I loved. I worried about entering religious life and then discovering that it doesn’t fit me. What would I do then?
Over time, with the help of prayer and spiritual direction, I came to a deeper trust that the same God who led me this far, will accompany me today and each day that follows.
This week we feature guest blogger, Sister Marilyn Barnett, OP.
Recently I was interviewed by a student attending Siena Heights University about my life as a Dominican Sister. As I responded to his questions, I was struck again by the joy that continues to fill my life for having responded “yes” to God’s call sixty years ago.
Whatever vocation one chooses is never risk free or without challenges.
My life as a woman religious has been grounded in the belief that, with God walking with me on the journey of my life, I would never have to be afraid. That realization has brought a deep peace and joy to me throughout my many years as a religious Sister.
I learned many years ago something that changed my whole understanding about life. It was that life is all about relationships – with God, with those with whom you have committed, and with the wider world – especially with those who have been relegated to the margins of society and church.
In religious life, the tools to develop these kinds of relationships are fundamental, and the ground out of which we commit our lives. The loving support of the community through their warm hospitality, gracious concern and depth of conversations about things that really matter, provided the milieu for me to develop. This, coupled with the many spiritual and educational opportunities that were provided, allowed me to grow in ways I never imagined.
Whenever one enters into a relationship, it requires taking a leap of faith. My entering into religious life was a leap of faith that landed me into the arms of a loving God, and from that place there is really nothing that cannot be done in God’s name.
If I had to do it again I would most certainly take that leap of faith.
It has proved that for me, religious life has been the best life ever.
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
Sister Katherine Frazier, OP
Sister Maribeth Howell, OP
Sister Mary Jones, OP
Adrian Dominican Sisters
1257 East Siena Heights Drive
Adrian, Michigan 49221-1793
View our video series called VOCO (Vocation Conversations) to learn how Sisters heard and responded to God's call.