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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.
“For I know well the plans I have in mind for you ... plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
When discerning what God’s call is for our lives, it’s reassuring to remember these words from Jeremiah. He was a prophet called by God to do what he (Jeremiah) thought impossible for him to do. In addition to his own self-doubt, Jeremiah also met stiff opposition from the people around him to the message God wanted him to deliver to the people. From Jeremiah’s doubt, he learned to trust that God can be counted on to follow through on the promises made to the Chosen People.
As discerners, we need to exercise the same trust in God! Our loving God has called us from our birth to live in alignment with the vision of love for all creation. The question is how best to do that!
In the book of Jeremiah, it seems he heard God speaking to him with a clear message for others (even though it scared him to think he was supposed to be God’s spokesman). If we allow ourselves the silence to listen for God’s voice, we too can hear God’s message for us. Spiritual directors and mentors sometimes hear what we can’t and see what we miss seeing. You have a choice today to seek out someone like this who can support your search. Why not take that step today?
Blessings as you search with one another in God’s love,
No Siempre Lo Que Esperamos
“Porque conozco bien los planes que tengo en mente para ti ... planes para tu bienestar y no para desgracia, para darte un futuro de esperanza."(Jeremías 29:11)
Mientras discernimos lo que el llamado de Dios es para nuestras vidas, sentimos aliento al recordar estas palabras de Jeremías. Fué un profeta llamado por Dios para hacer lo que él (Jeremías) pensó que era imposible hacer. Además de su duda propia, Jeremías también se encontró con una fuerte oposición al mensaje que Dios quería que transmitiera a la gente por las personas que lo rodeaban. Como resultado de su duda propia, Jeremías aprendió a confiar en que se puede contar con Dios para cumplir sus promesas hechas al Pueblo Escogido.
Como discernidoras, ¡debemos ejercer la misma confianza en Dios! Nuestro amoroso Dios nos ha llamado desde nuestro nacimiento a vivir alineadas con la visión del amor para toda la creación. ¡La pregunta es cómo hacer eso mejor!
En el libro de Jeremías, parece que escuchó a Dios hablarle con un mensaje claro para los demás (aunque le asustó pensar que se suponía que él era el portavoz de Dios). Si nos permitimos el silencio para escuchar la voz de Dios, nosotras también podremos escuchar el mensaje de Dios para nosotras. Las directores y mentores Espirituales a veces escuchan lo que no podemos y ven lo que se nos escapa. Hoy tiene la opción de buscar a alguien como estas que pueda apoyar su búsqueda. ¿Por qué no dar ese paso hoy?
Bendiciones mientras buscan los unos con los otros en el amor de Dios,
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.
By Sister Carleen Maly, OP
As we reflect on God’s call in our lives, there seem to be some common characteristics:
I like to call these the “had it not been for…” moments. These people or events can be the instruments of God’s invitation, messengers, if you will, who are filled with God’s presence and understand what it means to be used as disciples.
As followers of Jesus we have all had our “had it not been for…” moments when we have heard God’s call. These are stories of trust in our ever-faithful God who continues to call us. What are some of your “had it not been for…” stories? What is happening in your life right now that seems to have God written all over it? May you listen and be attentive to the promptings of your hearts.
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?
This week's blogger is Sister Barbara Kelley, OP.
In a recent blog, Sister Lorraine Réaume, OP, our Formation Director, wrote about the dual dangers of overthinking in discernment – and of plunging into a decision without enough thought. I believe my own vocation story is a good example of overthinking – but with a happy ending!
My dad was a Jesuit, who left the Society of Jesus before making final vows because he realized that this was not his call – and returned to his home town to marry my mom. They had four children, raised us as faithful Catholics and I believe all of us are contributing well to society and are certainly a source of joy to those around them.
I was drawn to religious life, but was also always aware that, if my dad had gone on to be an ordained and perpetually professed Jesuit, I wouldn’t be who I am today. In my young years, as I constantly wavered on the fence between marriage and religious life – both good, both very holy callings – I thought often of my dad’s situation. What if I entered religious life and thus deprived the world of people who should have been born?
It was a powerful presentation on the life of St. Catherine of Siena that finally pulled me out of this “fence-sitting” posture and drew me, finally, to the Adrian Dominican Sisters. But I learned a powerful lesson: you can over-study the possible ramifications of everything you do to the point of paralysis, but that causes neither peace of mind nor a well-discerned decision. In the end, it’s a good idea to give these monumental “what if” questions to God, in trust that God will lead us to the right decision.
What serious questions in discernment do you need to leave trustfully in the hands of God?
Do you have the patience to wait until the mud settles and the right answer arises by itself? This line is based on the writings of ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu. Ironically this line from a pre-Christianity philosopher helped me in my Christian vocation. Many years ago, when I was still in temporary profession, I was going though a difficult time and the path was not clear for me. When we are uncomfortable, sometimes we can make poor decisions to get rid of the discomfort, or just to have a sense of doing something. Waiting is tough. But I printed out that line and posted it on the edge of my computer screen, and waited. I knew I was in muddy water and I needed to wait until the right path was clear.
It took a long time but that line reminded me that God’s call was to stay faithful to the path I had begun. Over time the mud settled and the path became very clear. I was able to walk forward to my final vows right out of the mud. We don’t always get clarity at the moment we would like. Sometimes it takes quite a while for us to discern clearly God’s call for our lives. Waiting with feet in the mud can also be an act of faith and trust in God.
May you enjoy the feel of the mud on your toes this summer day.
This week we feature guest blogger, Sister Ann Romayne Fallon, OP, Holy Rosary Chapter Assistant.
It will soon be 70 years since I said “Yes” to God and responded to his call to life as an Adrian Dominican Sister. Actually, I was blessed with an early awareness of where this journey might take me and why I gave it much consideration, especially during my secondary school years. Looking back, I know this call was initiated by these remarkable women who nurtured my desire to learn and an even greater desire to become a teacher. My love for school was strong and kept the dream alive.
Ultimately, it was the wonderful spirit of these sisters that opened the door for me and encouraged the process of discernment toward this exciting and life-changing possibility. I found myself mentally exploring what it would be like to be sent to unknown places whenever and wherever needed and, of course, not fully realizing the great challenges that would be required in order to serve God’s people in the footsteps of Dominic. But nothing daunts those who are ready to take on the world!
With the support of faith-filled parents who swallowed their fears and allowed their oldest/recent high school graduate the freedom to follow her heart. As a result I have made a commitment to this incredible mystery that calls the heart to discipleship and the discovery of the difference between the “wisdom of the world” and the “wisdom of God.” And I have never looked back!
Religious life has granted me countless blessings and provided many opportunities to deepen my spiritual life, to live and enjoy the gift of community, and to be granted ministerial assignments that touched the lives of thousands of young people and helped them to recognize their mission to make our world a better place for others. A challenge that continues to be mine as well.
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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
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!