Thursday, March 8, 2018
Sunday, February 25, 2018
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
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. +
Saturday, January 13, 2018
The other night, I awoke in the middle of the night to a terrible temptation against my vocation, the first one I have ever had: all of a sudden, I said to myself, "Am I crazy??? Why would I want to totally disrupt my nice life right now... give up all my freedom, my beautiful house, my sweet cats, my friends and comfortable routines, a place I feel completely at home? Right now, I have it made: I am accountable to no one. I can eat and drink what I want, sleep and rise when I want, go where I want and when I want, buy just about anything I want... Why on earth should I give all up that for the uncertainty and the restrictions that will come if I join the Sisters of St. Joseph? I am deliberately choosing a life which will be so much harder than the life I have now: this is an INSANE idea!!!!"
Doing this now, I would be giving up even more than I did when I went to the convent the first time, plus I am proposing to do it in my 70s, when normal people are completely settled and content. Is this the stupidest move ever, or what?
Of course, I prayed, begging God to relieve me of this horrible doubt... and after a while, He brought back to my mind that time when I first knew that He was calling me, about 35 years ago. It was when I heard the Gospel--probably at Daily Mass--of the Rich Young Man. I remember so vividly how I felt when I heard Jesus say to me: "Sell all you have, give to the poor, and come follow Me." I was filled with an indescribable joy and excitement, and I realized at that moment, "YES! That is exactly what I want to do, what I NEED to do: and I will never be happy in life if I don't do it. It's what I was born to do: I can look back on my entire life, and see now how God was leading me toward that from childhood.
And in addition, how can I possibly overlook the fact that when I begged God, on the night of March 10, 2016--because I was so miserable about not having fulfilled the vocation I know He gave me--to show me how I could still have a consecrated life, two days later, He showed me exactly where to go? If that isn't an indication of His Will for me, I don't know what would be.
FINALLY I have found the "one thing necessary" so I am moving forward and never looking back again.
I have calmed down since this happened, and I can visualize that although there will undoubtedly be a bit of a wrench leaving all this, I can also easily imagine how happy I will be living in Concordia with the Community I have already come to love so much. Yes, I belong there. I know I do. +
Sunday, November 19, 2017
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
This past Spring, I had a fight with Fr. Mario--and although I have begged him to forgive me, he either could not, or would not--and it has been miserable to be there ever since, because he is cold and distant all the time. He warned me that he would be, but I truly believed that because he is a priest, he would eventually forgive me--but he hasn't. I pray for him a lot, because I believe that the kind of pride he has, is deadly to the soul. Perhaps because of his cultural background, he is obsessed with receiving respect, but that is not how Jesus wants His priests to be, not how He wants any of us to be: we must be meek and humble, like Him.
Today, however, I realized that although I have been suffering for months because of this, God actually used my fight with Fr. Mario to get me to leave Our Lady of Perpetual Help! There is so much fervor and devotion in the congregation at St. Theresa's--it's completely different from the congregation at OLPH, which feels very lukewarm in comparison--and I love the diversity at St. Theresa's!
They say the Rosary before Mass. People don't come in and chat in the pews before Mass starts--it's quiet and people are praying! Fr. Joe is such a good preacher: his homily this morning was exactly what I needed to hear.. he talked about how he resisted his vocation, and lately I have been feeling great fear about disrupting my life so much. I have lived in Carrollton for so long, I am very settled here.
In order to become a Sister, I have to leave my beloved friends here. I have to clean out and sell two, maybe three houses--one of which I just bought and really love. I have to find homes for a bunch of cats. I have to arrange for care for my parents. I have to MOVE TO KANSAS!
I have secretly been feeling like maybe it's TOO HARD, and I just can't do it! But after what Father Joe said today, I know I can do it, I know I must do it, and I know that God will help me do it. So, Father Mario really did me a favor by chasing me out of his parish! I now see that being forced to leave OLPH is really God's blessing for me!
Friday, September 8, 2017