Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Acatamiento: The Experience of the Transcendent God

+JMJ+



In his Spiritual Diary, St. Ignatius of Loyola used the word "acatamiento," which is virtually untranslatable to English, to express his "...heightened awareness of the transcendental personal presence of God. It is a felt mood of mind and heart...."*

Reflecting on the times in my own life when I have been aware of God's Presence to me, I realize how easy it is to forget such experiences as they recede into personal history. They are important, moments to be savored and treasured, and I don't want to forget them! To that end, I decided I would try, when I have time and am in the mood, to write about some of them. Therefore, this blog entry will periodically be revised as I add additional memories to it. Probably no one will ever read it but me, but that's OK!
 
1. September 11, 1981: God comes to me on the bus! When I first moved to Georgia in 1980, I came with a friend/roommate, who, in addition to being an alcoholic, was a very troubled person in general.  I was pretty troubled myself at that time: I had gotten divorced in November 1977 after a very short and unhappy marriage, and following my bitter experience with marriage, I had arbitrarily decided to try out being a lesbian, since I felt like I didn't want to be around men again, ever!  Amazing as this sounds, at that time I honestly believed that you could actually choose your sexuality, and I decided I would be gay! So, after I got divorced, Marie (she is dead now, so I will call her by her real name) had become my lesbian lover, and my "project," as I determined that I would try to fix her life and turn her into a happier, more confident and functional person. 

I now see how controlling and manipulative this was, but whenever Marie wanted to do anything that seemed to me to be a positive move, I encouraged her in it.  For example, she expressed interest in getting a Master's degree, but believed that she was not smart enough to do it. I, however, knew that anyone with normal intelligence and determination could get a Master's degree, and in order to make this happen for her, I signed up to take the first course in her program too, in order to ease her into it by going with her and doing the same work. When she announced that she wanted to stop smoking, I agreed to stop smoking too, because I knew that she would never be able to do it if she had to live with a smoker.  Then, when she said she wanted to move to Georgia (where my parents had recently relocated), I agreed to that too--my secret motive being getting her away from her heavy-drinking friends and the gay bar scene in St. Louis. 

Once we moved, she immediately got a teaching job, but in a fundamentalist Christian school.  During the first or second week she was there, one of her students very aggressively recruited her to come to church with her. She was quite incensed, and told the student that she was Catholic.  She really wasn't; although she had been raised Catholic, she had not actually practiced her Faith for many years.  But when she came home that night and told me about this, to my great surprise, she said she wanted to go back to the Catholic Church. 

As usual, I immediately agreed to accompany her, because--despite being an atheist myself--I had the culturally conditioned assumption that going to church was "a good thing," the sort of activity that normal adults participated in.  It was only later that night, that I suddenly realized that this was something I just didn't think I could stomach.  Being a non-believer, the thought of having to attend church and pretend to a belief I did not have, seemed intolerable to me.  I did not know what to do, and I definitely did not want to disappoint her by telling her that I just couldn't do this... but I had one idea.  That night, and the following night, right before going to sleep, I said, "God, if You are really there, make me believe in You, because I don't." That was the extent of my effort: two snarky attempts, and I stopped.

A couple days after this, my boss sent me to the Georgia State University Bookstore to meet with one of their Book Buyers, who had promised to donate some books to the library where I was then working.  I arrived early, and while waiting for the Buyer to appear, I wandered around the store, enjoying the experience of being in a college bookstore again after so many years.  I found myself near the Religion Section, and as I looked over the titles, I laughed to see all the miscellaneous stuff that such bookstores typically classify as "Religion."  I noticed one book by an author I recognized, Thomas Merton. I had read his autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain, when I was in high school, and had liked it.  Impulsively, I bought the book, The Ascent to Truth, which is about St. John of the Cross.

I put the book in my purse and forgot about it until I was on the bus riding home from work that night.  Bored, I took it out and started reading it.  Although I still have this book, I have never been able to identify the sentence I read--but I read something, and all of a sudden, there was this amazing sensation of warmth that came over me, starting at my head and flowing down to my toes.  I can't explain it, but I realized I was in the presence of God, and in one second, I changed from a non-believer into a believer.

Fortunately, I was near my stop, because I was about to fall apart... I stumbled off the bus to my car, threw myself into the driver's seat, and began to sob uncontrollably with pure JOY;  I knew that I had finally found what I had been seeking, without knowing it--all at once, everything in my life seemed to make sense, and I was aware of being completely happy for the first time ever.  When I finally composed myself, I started the car and went home.  The experience was too profound to share with anyone, but I told Marie that I would call the local Catholic Church and request to begin instructions to enter the Church, which I did the next day.

I met with Fr. Frederick Flaherty, M.S., the pastor, the following week. RCIA barely existed back then, and this was a small parish, so he taught me one-on-one.  I soaked up everything I learned like a greedy sponge:  I loved EVERYTHING about the Catholic Faith, and I begged him to move up my First Communion and Confirmation, because I wanted to receive the Eucharist desperately.  He did escalate it slightly, and I was received into the Church on December 5, 1981.

I will reserve for the next story, another miracle God gave me in answer to prayer, which released me from my immoral relationship, which, of course, I had to leave behind when I accepted the truths of Catholicism. It's so amazing, though, to contemplate the fact that He was able to use an objectively sinful relationship to bring me to Him!  It is so absolutely true that He can use anything at all for the good of those who love Him.

2.  January 1982: God sends me a priest

Marie and I started attending Mass weekly once I began instructions.  We also found a group for gay Catholics called Dignity, which met in Atlanta, and we frequently attended their meetings. The priest who was leading that group, Fr. Henry Gracz, told me that it was OK to be actively gay and Catholic, and since I was quite naive at that time, I believed him--a priest would never tell you anything that wasn't true, right?

Thus, when it was time to make my General Confession prior to being received as a Catholic, I did not include any mention of my relationship to Fr. Flaherty.  However, once I actually became a Catholic, I started to question the validity of what Fr. Gracz had told me.  I had just finished a pretty comprehensive course on Church teachings, and I knew what was taught about sexual expression outside of marriage.  As time went on, I began to feel more and more uncomfortable, and began to avoid sex with Marie, although--since it was actually pretty rare--she didn't seem to notice.  However, I could not bear to admit to Fr. Flaherty that I had not been totally honest with him, because we had started to become close friends and I valued the relationship I had with him very much.

The same week I was received into the Church, I had begun attending Daily Mass at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Atlanta, which was right down the street from where I worked.  I also became very devoted to prayer, and since I was able to find an isolated place to go in my workplace, I quickly got into the habit of using most of my lunch hour for spiritual reading and prayer.  Anyway, about a month after I had become Catholic, early in January 1982, I began praying that God would send me a priest I did not know, so I could confess my sin, be absolved, and end the physical part of my relationship with Marie.  By that time, I had begun to accept the fact that I was not gay anyway, and although I felt I really did love her, I was strongly driven to conform completely to Church teaching.

After about a week of making this special request to God, Atlanta was hit with an historic blizzard on January 12, 1982. Although our office closed early that day, it was not early enough, and I stood at my usual bus stop for about two hours before the MARTA buses finally stopped running altogether.  My car was parked far away in College Park, and I had no way to get home.  Fortunately, anticipating the predicted weather, I had dressed very warmly--however, I had no idea what to do. I wandered around the streets of downtown Atlanta with a lot of other bewildered people for hours, each of us asking others what to do, but no one had any answers.  I remember going to an ATM and getting some cash out, thinking that I might end up in a hotel, although I knew I couldn't afford it.  There was a Kroger store downtown at that time, and I bought a loaf of bread and some bologna!

Finally, I remembered the Central Presbyterian Night Shelter for the homeless, which was only a few blocks from where I worked.  I had been planning to volunteer there, but had not yet gotten around to it.  I arrived just in time to be ushered in, along with a big line of homeless men waiting to spend the night there.  As soon as I got inside, the handful of volunteers who'd made it that night recognized that I, wearing my London Fog raincoat, was not a homeless person!  Since most of the scheduled staff had not been able to get there because of the weather, they asked me to help make sandwiches and get the men settled for the night. I gave them my bread and bologna, and got started. The person in charge introduced himself as Father North--and I realized immediately that here was the priest I had asked God to send me!  When I got a chance, I quietly told him that I was a Catholic, and would he mind hearing my Confession later that night, when things quieted down. About 2:00am, he invited me to sit with him, I confessed and he absolved me--although he also said that it wasn't a huge sin to be gay and Catholic!

I was absolutely in a state of profound joy--euphoria, really--having this heavy burden on my conscience lifted, and I spent the rest of the night talking to the men who couldn't sleep. All of us had to clear out at dawn, and I will never forget how I felt coming out into the bright sunlight on all that ice and snow, feeling as though I was deeply changed, and that life would never be the same again.

The buses had started running again, and I quickly got on one. It was amazing to see thousands of cars abandoned all along the interstate from the night before.  Although my car was covered when I got to the Park 'n Ride, I was able to clear it off and get it started, and I made it home very slowly, without incident.  I was floating on a cloud, but of course I could not tell Marie what had just happened to me.  It was not very long after that, perhaps a month or so, when I began to have the first thoughts that perhaps--unbelievable as it seemed--I might possibly have a vocation to religious life.




*Acatamiento, Ignatian reverence in history and contemporary cultureby O'Neill, Charles Edwards.  https://archive.org/details/acatamientoignat81onei


Thursday, April 5, 2018

My Letter Requesting Permission to Become a Novice


+JMJ+


Well, the "moment of truth" is getting closer... I was told that I should submit a letter sometime in April to ask to be admitted to the Novitiate. Here is the letter I have drafted, but I have asked a few people I trust to read it to make suggestions for improvement. If you have any, I'd love to hear them!

----------------------------------------------
I am writing to ask permission to enter the Novitiate of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia KS.


In the course of the studies in which I have participated during the past year and a half, I have learned that--without knowing it--I truly believe I already possess the charism of the Sisters of St. Joseph, in that my entire professional life was imbued with the Ignatian ministry of presence. This observation came as quite a surprise to me, as I reviewed my life and noticed how important it was for me--in every encounter with my staff and especially the students with whom I worked--to embody love for them: I was actually consciously aware of my desire to do this every time I stepped out of my office. There was a specific incident I could describe for you, if you ever want to hear it--which occurred during my first week in Library School--that sparked this deep commitment, but I now believe also that this was God’s grace, His gift to me, to have such a strong desire to be the incarnation of love for those I served. Nothing was more important to me, and it was what I stressed continually to my staff: “Yes, I want you to be competent and efficient--but more than anything, love them, each and every person who comes into the Library to seek your assistance.” I think they probably got tired of hearing it, because I talked about it incessantly!

As you know, I was formerly a Dominican Sister with the St. Cecilia Congregation in Nashville TN: I made my First Profession of Vows in August 1987. I had no problems living religious life--in fact, I loved it--however, over the course of the years leading up to Final Vows, I gradually became aware of the fact that I was not able to be fully who I am as a member of that Community. As I had become more spiritually and emotionally mature, I sensed that I was playing a role as I tried to fit into their ethos. I very reluctantly and painfully reached the conclusion that I would not be acting with integrity if I remained among them: my interpretation of this, after much prayer, was that although I was convinced that it was God’s Will for me to be a Sister, it was not His Will for me to be a Nashville Dominican. Therefore, I asked to be released from my Temporary Vows and left of my own free choice in the Spring of 1990.


I was in a state of shock and bewilderment when I got home--and I had no plan for how to continue my life. In retrospect, I realize that I should have sought the counsel of my beloved friend, Fr. Frederick Flaherty, M.S., who had received me into the Church in 1981 and become my trusted spiritual mentor. However, by this time he had been transferred by his Order to a parish in North Carolina, and I was, to be quite honest, ashamed to face him, to disappoint him, after what I viewed as a great failure. I was 43 years old, and convinced that there was no chance any other Community would accept me at that advanced age, and so I decided there was nothing else I could do but resume my previous career as a professional librarian.


The next 25 years were horrible, as I struggled with deep depression. On the surface, I appeared to be fine, and no one except my doctors--who tried every possible medication to mitigate my condition--knew what was really going on with me. I felt terribly hurt, and blamed God for not protecting me from making such a mistake; I felt as though He had rejected me and refused my offer to give my life to Him. I was very bitter, and although I never intended to do so, I gradually drifted away from the practice of my Faith; I was too embarrassed to return to my old parish, and could not find another where I felt at home. I was used to the quiet and austerity of convent life, and I just couldn’t seem to adjust.


Deep down, though, I always knew that I would return to the Church someday, and “someday” arrived after I retired in September 2015, and at last was released from the stress of the heavy responsibilities of my job--and had the time and interior space to reflect on what had happened to me. Very timidly, I tried to pray again, and once I did, God revealed to me very quickly that what I had blamed Him for--the failure of my vocation--was actually my fault, not His. In my passionate desire to give my life to Him, I had never taken time to discern where I really belonged, in fact--once I thought about it--I realized that I had never even asked Him where I should go--I just went! He had not rejected me at all! Once I knew that, I couldn’t wait to come back, and I did so on November 18, 2015.


During my lengthy Confession that night, as I was explaining to Fr. Rafael Carballo where I had been for the last 25 years, he made the offhand remark that he believed I had made a mistake in not trying again to re-enter religious life after I left the Dominicans. I remember telling him that he was wrong, that he did not realize how rigid women’s Orders are, that they don’t want anyone over 35, and I was sure I was correct about that. But his comment stayed in my mind, and over the next few months, as I thought about it, I wondered if he could possibly be right: was it true that I had made a terrible mistake, and that I should have found another Community and fulfilled the vocation Fr. Flaherty and I knew I had?


Increasingly, I began to believe that Fr. Rafael was right, and once I recognized that, I began to suffer terribly. For quite awhile, I tried to convince myself that this was just the Cross I had to bear, and that--after all--I wouldn’t live that much longer anyway. I struggled to accept and endure it, but the pain kept getting worse and worse. Finally, on the night of March 10, 2016, I was alone in my room, and I said to God--practically screamed at Him, actually--”Lord! You know how miserable I am! I am going to ask You for something impossible! IMPOSSIBLE, I know!!!! But if there is any way I could still have a consecrated life--even now--show me, and I will do whatever You want.”


Two nights later, March 12, 2016, I went to the Vigil Mass on Saturday night as I was in the habit of doing. At that time, I always preferred to sit near the back, but on that night, after I had been seated in my usual spot, praying and waiting for Mass to start, I had the sudden impulse, about 5 minutes before Mass, to get up and move up about 5 or 6 rows. I have no idea why I did that, nor had I ever done anything like that before. But during the Consecration, as I was kneeling, I looked down, and on the seat of the pew directly in front of me was a white piece of paper, with the words SISTERS OF ST. JOSEPH OF CONCORDIA, KS at the top of the page. It was turned directly toward me: not upside down, not sideways--right in front of me--and although I realized I should not be doing this during the Consecration, I read what was written on the page, which appeared to be a speech about the Congregation. I was stunned, and I thought, “can it be? Is it possible that this is God’s answer to my prayer?”


I made a point of memorizing the name of the Order, and as soon as I got home, I looked it up on the Internet and found your website. As I explored it, I saw the description of the agrégée membership, and I remember thinking, “Wow, I could actually do that!” --because at the time, I believed I could not leave my parents. I also discovered that one of your Vocation Directors was in Georgia--Sr. Dian, of course. I emailed her at once, and I decided to include a link to a blog I have been writing for several years, My Catholic Journey. I wanted her to know my “story,” because I am definitely a reformed sinner, and I thought, “They will have to know this sooner or later, so I might as well be upfront about it right now.”


To my amazement, she emailed me back about an hour later, and asked if I could come to Cartersville the following Wednesday to meet her for lunch, which I did. The minute I met her, I felt an instant rapport. We had a wonderful lunch, and remarkably (to me), despite my age, she was very encouraging, and asked if I could come to visit in June, during the Annual Assembly. At first I said “no,” because I didn’t believe I could leave my parents alone that long, and it had been a long time since I had travelled anywhere. She persisted, however, and I said I would try--and indeed, I did come.


I was smitten by the Sisters, it was love at first sight. What convinced me that this was where I belong, was an event I was allowed to attend, during which the outgoing members of the Leadership Team were being honored. Many Sisters went up to speak in glowing terms about the work of the LT members, and it was obvious to me that they are women deeply devoted to Christ. All I could think--and all I still think--is that “I want to be with people like this! I could become a better follower of Jesus myself, by living with these people.” I have visited several times since, and my subsequent visits only made me more certain.


In addition, I should say this: although my parents are advanced in years, they are in good health and are financially secure. I would prefer that they move into assisted living, but it is their choice to remain in their home with their numerous cats. My brother, who lives in Atlanta, is very well-off, and I am sure that he will see to their future needs, and that they will want for nothing, so I am comfortable leaving them on their own.


Finally: I am convinced that God has given me a second chance to do what I was meant to do, and that He led me directly to you. Therefore I am asking that I be permitted to prepare to become a canonically vowed member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia.



Sunday, April 1, 2018

Particularity and Election


+JMJ+


I listened to a podcast recently which I found out about quite accidentally, because someone posted a link to it on Facebook:

https://catholicstuffpodcast.com/podcast/2010/11/23/election-vocation-and-mission.html

... and although I didn't especially care for the tone of these guys (seminarians who sound like frat boys), it was so helpful to me.

I have had this years-long guilt complex about the fact that God seems to have singled me out for special blessings... when I review my life, it appears to me as though He relentlessly pursued me since childhood--while I resisted and ignored Him for years--and that miraculously, He gave me this amazing gift of loving Him passionately--an overwhelming, irresistible desire to give my life totally to Him .... ALL THAT, in spite of the fact that I am so COMPLETELY UNDESERVING of it, completely unworthy of being loved so much!

This podcast really answered that for me, because they explained the idea of particularity and election--that God loves each person in a special way, and gives different graces to different people: He love us as individuals, not just one big group--just as we humans love some people differently than we do others.  It made so much sense, and finally put to rest my perpetual uneasiness about the apparent unfairness of Him choosing ME to receive such incredible gifts... and moreover, that I really AM lovable, in my own unique, quirky, messed up, sinful way!

So: it's OK for me to enjoy His gift, revel in it, reciprocate it... because it's a complete gift He decided--for some unfathomable reason--to give to ME. I know I am not explaining this very well... I hope it makes some sense.

Needless to say, afterwards I spent a glorious--albeit sleepless--night, in joyful communion with Him. I can just love Jesus now, with all that incredible passion that's in my heart, and with no guilt about how wonderfully glorious it is to be loved so much back!

.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Peace of Heart



I have been reading this wonderful little book by Fr. Jacques Philippe this week. One of his main points is that true interior peace can only be obtained through complete abandonment to God's Will, by offering Jesus your total trust:

"In order that abandonment might be authentic and engender peace, it must be total. We must put everything, without exception, into the hands of God, not seeking any longer to manage or "to save" ourselves by our own means: not in the material domain, nor the emotional, nor the spiritual. ... all reality that we have not surrendered to God ... will  continue to make us more or less uneasy."

Ever since I found God, I have been filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude, and a desire to give Him something--some kind of gift--in return for what He has given me--which is, basically, life... a life grounded on faith which feels meaningful, not aimless... a life which rests on a deep joy that nothing can take away from me.

Before I became a believer, I was searching continually, and I was well aware of that--looking for something, anything, in which I could lose myself, which would carry me away, which would obsess me... essentially, for something which would distract me from the emptiness I felt, the vague sense of panic that I would never find anything that would fully engage me and make me feel as though life was worth living.  Every year, practically, it was something else that I hoped would do the trick, but nothing ever did... until Him. 

Last night, while praying after reading more of this book, I suddenly realized what gift He wants from me: it is the gift of my complete trust, throwing myself across the abyss into His arms, not looking down... and I have to admit I am scared to death of doing it--and I told Him so!  I am afraid, because up until now, I realize that I have only paid lip service to obedience to God's Will: instead, I have spent my entire time on earth never trusting anyone, and, in my perfectionistic way, always manipulating and managing everything possible in order to ensure a good outcome for me, trying to protect myself from disappointment, suffering, any kind of pain. 

However, I believe that God will not deny us the graces we need, if we ask for them in persevering prayer, and thus I am now asking for this: the grace to have the courage to trust Him totally.  Just knowing--finally--that this is the "missing piece" in my spiritual life has made me feel so much better, and more focused on pleasing Him... and less on pleasing myself!



Thursday, March 8, 2018

God's Providence


+ JMJ +


I am marveling tonight at the intricacy of God's plans, and how long they can take to come to fruition... yet, they inevitably do.

This afternoon, my father and I visited a nearby assisted living facility, because I think (and he agrees) that it's time for him and my mother to move to such a place because of the care they now need.

While our host at the center was chatting with us, learning more about my father, his life, his situation, she asked him how he happened to move to Carrollton.

Although they never knew this, their move to Carrollton has for years been a sore subject for me, because they moved here without consulting me, effectively trapping me in a job which I did not intend to keep for more than about 5 years.  I was then in the midst of a conflict with my supervisor (who was eventually fired), and I was planning to move on as soon as I found another suitable position.  Not only that, but I have never liked the culture of the South, and really wanted to return to the North or Midwest.

After they relocated here, it took me years and years to work through my resentment and frustration with being stuck here--and I suppose, to a degree, I never really got over being annoyed that I felt forced to stay, since they moved to this town in order to be closer to me. 

Today's meeting at the assisted living facility brought all those angry feelings back, but as I was musing on this tonight, it suddenly occurred to me that had I not stayed here, the wonderful thing that has happened to me--God's great gift to me, His miracle: another chance to have a consecrated life--would not have happened!

I am on the verge (I think so!) of being able to realize my desire to become a Sister again as a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia Kansas.  But, the proximate cause of this incredible development, was Fr. Rafael's "chance" remark in the Confessional 2 1/2 years ago, that he believed I had made a mistake in not trying to re-enter religious life after I left the Dominican Order in 1990.  And, again, if I had not been right here--in Carrollton, Georgia--I would not have seen, on that amazing night of March 12, 2016, the text of Sr. Crystal's speech about the Community which she planned to give for National Sisters' Week at the end of Mass that evening, and had left on the pew where she was seated in front of me.  At that time, I did not know her and had never even heard of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia Kansas! 

Honestly, I am in a state of shock right now, thinking about the fact that if I had gotten my way, and been able to move, none of what is happening now would have happened!  God planned this for me... He planned it for me--and what I perceived at that time, some 25 years ago, to be an annoying event which kept me from doing what I wanted to do, actually has turned out to be the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me.  God willing, I will enter the Novitiate of the Sisters of St. Joseph this coming Fall.  Wow. 




Sunday, February 25, 2018

State of the Heart


+JMJ+


One of the things I have learned since I began my relationship with the Sisters of St. Joseph, is that I lack awareness/memory of what God is doing in my life.   I remember the big things, the events that seem like miracles--but I have always wandered through life focused on trivial details, and seldom noticing the subtle things that God does, times He is present and active within and around me.


A unique prayer in which all Sisters of St. Joseph participate, initiated by our Founder, Fr. Jean Pierre Médaille, S.J., is called State of the Heart.  This activity is commonly done almost any time the Sisters gather as a group, and the purpose of it is to share among themselves... or dare I say, "ourselves," the movements of God which we have recently observed as we live out our ministries or other daily pursuits.  The format of State of the Heart is this: 

  • First, we are invited to remember the works of zeal in which we have been engaged recently. Works of zeal are any encounter or experience or event of our lives in relation to any creature or to ourselves. Quite simply, we ask: What are all of the things, big and little, that have occurred in my life since last I sat down to remember? Choose one or several incidents and reconstruct them according to time, place, persons, my actions, outcomes and how I felt at the time. 


  • Second, we consider what we have remembered and ask ourselves questions similar to the following: How does this experience remind me of other events in my life? How does it mirror a scripture or a maxim? Is there a pattern or a theme in my life that this event relates to? How am I feeling as I remember it? 


  • Last of all, we listen for movements within: What is moving in me now? Am I being drawn to something deeper? To gratitude? To action? What inclinations or desires do I sense within? What is happening within me? In this way, I feel and interpret what I have contemplated.


  • I now tell my story of the works of zeal and share my reflection with the gathered community. Each person’s sharing is received reverently, without critique, judgment, or comment. 

In order to do this prayer, it is crucial to be able to recall those times when God was acting and you knew it--and my problem is that I usually can't remember.  I read this recently in a book on prayer: 


Awareness is the beginning, middle and end of every stream of spirituality: listen, wake up, pay attention. 


...and that is precisely what I don't do, but want to learn how to do.  My hope is that one of the things I will gain from living with the Sisters is the habit of being alert and conscious of God acting in my life.  I realized recently that the main thing I want in life now, the only thing I really want, is to get closer to God, to know Him better--and I think that by joining the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, I will do that. 


Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Getting Beyond the Fear and the Doubt


+JMJ+


Despite hours and hours of reflection and prayer, I am still very torn emotionally about the decision that is before me... tortured, actually... but just now, I asked God--not to give me a sign--but to give me some clarity, to help me see this from another perspective, to get beyond the pain of giving up so much, and the fear that I am hurting others unnecessarily or too much... and He just did...

I have to be somewhere where I can make a difference... and I am not in such a place now.  That has been a lifelong obsession with me: it was the reason I left the University of Buffalo at the beginning of my career and went to work in a public library... I NEED to be where what I do matters, changes people's lives... and I am not there now.  Since I retired, I am living a mediocre life that is very comfortable, period.

There are other people who can provide my parents with the kind of care they need, it doesn't require ME--it doesn't require my talents, and what I have in my heart and soul, the gifts that God gave me... there are other people who can love my cats--better than I do, actually--I don't give them the amount of attention they want, because my mind is usually elsewhere.  As a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, I would be in a position to do work that is important in the world, work that furthers God's Plan for this world, and doing that is at the core of my identity as a Christian in the world.  I truly believe that.  And I need that.  I hope this means that I am finally past the conflict and the doubt.  +