Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Allow Yourself To Be Inflamed With God's Love


"Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love" (John 15:19) 

There is a powerful but invisible energy imparted to the world when hearts adore God... during every second we spend in adoration, in worship--opening ourselves to Him and letting our love flow to Him--His love is flowing back to us and into the world.

In the Divine Mercy picture, painted from Saint Faustina's description of her vision of Christ, that is what the beams coming from Jesus' Sacred Heart are: they represent the love flowing out of His heart to us.

Spend every bit of time you can, loving Him and letting Him love you! You need His love, and by loving Him, you are also allowing that energy of love to enter you and our universe, making the world whole and holy. All the evil in the world can be burned up in the fire of God's love, if enough of us spend time just loving Him.

Love Him, love Him, love Him! Together with God, you can change the world.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

My Acceptance Ceremony for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia


Today is the day of the ceremony in my parish for my official acceptance into candidacy for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, Kansas.  For months, I have been thinking about and longing for this day to come.  I wanted--and expected--it to be a day of calm, joy, and prayer, but it has turned out to be anything but, due to an unexpected requirement that I have a reception for the parish after the ceremony. There is no one to make that happen except me, so it has meant rushing around, buying things, lugging them into the church, and endless fretting about what to get, how much to get, and how to find the time and energy to get it all done on time.

Anyone who knows me well realizes how much I hate being responsible for "events." That was part of my job for the last 30 years or so, and I never got used to it:  it stresses me out terribly, and fills me with dread.  So, instead of my special day being wonderful, as I hoped it would be, I am tense, tired and wishing it were over already.

I have been feeling very resentful and angry for days, that I was forced into doing this--and I have hated feeling that way, not able to accept that my beautiful day has been ruined.  What I forgot to do, though, was to turn to God for help!

Finally, I remembered to do that--and just now, as I was praying, He made me understand that He is giving me a day of suffering today--instead of the joy I expected--in order to remind me that I am choosing a life of sacrifice today, not glory. And suddenly, everything makes sense.

Dear Jesus, my Love, my Lord!  I adore You, and I want to give You everything!  I willingly give You whatever I have--pitiful offering though it is--because I love You above all things, and all I want is to serve You for the rest of my life.  Thank You for giving me the incredible gift of a vocation to consecrated life, and giving me a second chance to fulfill it, after I failed to do it the first time: You are my Love and my joy--You are everything to me. I belong to You totally, and want nothing else, nothing less, than You! Have mercy on me, Lord, and help me to live my new life faithfully. +

Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Day of Incredible Grace: September 11, 1981


I regret that the most important day in my life happens to coincide with the anniversary of what is probably the most horrific day in United States History:  9/11.  Perhaps there is some reason for that, but if there is, I do not know it now.

Nevertheless, September 11, 1981 was the never-to-be-forgotten day when God, in His mercy, came to me, suffused me with His Presence, and instantly changed me from an atheist into a believer. The details of what happened are in my conversion story, if you care to read it: 

 Today, I am just reflecting, rejoicing and thanking God for His unbelievable kindness to me, a person who absolutely did not deserve any of it.  Even today's readings at Mass were, I know, His words directed to me:  "I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and arrogant, but I have been mercifully treated because I acted out of ignorance in my unbelief." and "...there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance."

I constantly wonder what it is that He wants from me--I want to repay Him in some way, but I can't:  there is absolutely nothing I could give Him that would equal in the smallest way the gifts He has given me.  I want to--and plan to--give Him my life as a vowed religious if He allows it to me, but what a flawed life it is, what a poor offering!  All I know is that whatever He wants of me, I will give it, because my love for Him overwhelms me, and I could not possibly say "no." 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Mystery of the Crucifix


I spend a lot of time looking at Crucifixes, sometimes just because it helps me to focus when I begin to pray, but also because--for quite a while--I have had this sense that there is a secret hidden there, something in addition to the obvious fact that we already know: Jesus died on the Cross to save us from our sins. I have dimly felt that there was something else just beyond my awareness, something I couldn't quite grasp, that I very much wanted to see and understand.

Last night, while praying during Adoration, I think I finally got it.  It's something deceptively simple, but really important.

If we truly want to follow Jesus perfectly, we must constantly participate in His death on the Cross through countless little acts every day, done whenever we choose to do what the other person (our neighbor) needs, instead of what we want. 

So, for example, when someone is sad or upset and in need of comfort--but we don't feel that great either--we choose to ignore our own bad mood and attend to theirs.  When someone needs food, but we only have enough for ourselves, we give our food to them anyway.  When we are irritated with someone because they insist on doing something their way--but it's different from our way, and we think we know how to do it better--we just smile and let go of our pride in our own "superiority," and we allow them do as they please without criticism. And if it comes to this, if we have to physically give up our own life in order to save someone else's, we do it, as radical as that sounds. Jesus did it first.

I am not an intellectual person, so hearing or reading a theological truth doesn't help me to apply it in my own life at all:  I have to understand it in my heart, or nothing changes. Now I think I really do understand, and I know what to do in order to please the Person I adore, the Person to whom I have consecrated my life--the One I love so much, that for Him, no sacrifice seems too great.  

The usual term for this in spirituality is "dying to self," but somehow, until now, I just never quite got it.  Now I do.  So, instead of thinking of a life of self-denial and complete generosity as a huge project that you cannot possibly achieve, just look at the Crucifix and remember this: you only have to take one small step right now, just make that one choice.  Just do this thing that's offered to you in this present moment--for Jesus, because you love Him--and then, if you can, the next one and the one after that.  We are all sinners and so we won't be able to make the selfless choice every time, but at least to me, it seems so much more doable when you look at it this way. +

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

My Personal Statement for the Acceptance Ceremony on September 17, 2016

On the night of September 17th, I will formally be received as a Candidate for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, Kansas at the end of Mass in my parish, Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Part of the ceremony will include my personal statement about why I feel called to join them.  Although all of this has already been written about in my previous blog posts, I decided to post the text of what I plan to say that night.  I am overwhelmed with gratitude for what God has done for me, and I can never thank Him enough for His goodness, mercy and kindness!



I left the Dominican Sisters of Nashville in 1990--just before Final Vows--when I finally accepted that it was not the place God wanted me to be.  However, I was 43 years old, and I believed that I was too old to be admitted to another community. 

I came home very distraught, because I interpreted what had happened as God rejecting me—which I now recognize, of course, is completely crazy, because God never rejects anyone who loves Him!  But, except for the fact that the charism of the Dominican Sisters was wrong for me, I was very happy living in the convent, and although I tried, I could not adjust to being in the world again. I never found a parish where I felt at home, including this one, and gradually, over a period of several years, I drifted away from the Church completely. 

When I came back last November, as I was making my very long Confession to Father Rafael, explaining where I had been for the last 20 years--he commented that despite my age when I left the Dominicans, he thought I was wrong to believe I could not have entered another religious community.  

Although I did not pay attention to his remark at the time, over the next few months, I could not forget it.  Suppose I had been wrong?  And if that was true, then I’d made the worst mistake of my life—all the professional success I had had as a librarian suddenly meant absolutely nothing to me--and even worse than that: it was too late to fix it.

For a while, I tried to force myself to accept this as my Cross, but I simply could not. I began to suffer terribly as I recognized that I had totally screwed up my life by not following the vocation I had been given, and there was nothing I could do about it. 

On the night of March 10th I was feeling extremely depressed, and in complete despair, I said to God:  “Lord, I am going to ask You for something impossible.  IMPOSSIBLE!  I KNOW!  But I am in so much pain:  if there is any way I could still have a consecrated life—even now—show me, and I will do whatever You want.”  

Don’t ever tell God that something is impossible.

Two nights later—Saturday--I went to Mass as usual.  I sat in about the same place where I always did—but that night, for some unknown reason, about 5 minutes before Mass started, I decided to move up a few rows.  During Mass, when I knelt for the Consecration, I looked down, and on the seat of the pew directly in front of me was a piece of paper:  at the top it said SISTERS OF ST. JOSEPH OF CONCORDIA KANSAS.

*Although I didn’t know this at the time, we have a member of the Community here in our parish--Sr. Crystal Payment—and the paper I saw that night was her script for a speech she was supposed to give at the end of Mass, in honor of National Catholic Sisters Week. Father Rafa forgot to call her up to give it--but that didn’t matter, because God arranged for me to be in exactly the right place to see it. 

So, I looked them up on the internet when I got home, and discovered that one of their Vocation Coordinators lives in Cartersville, and I emailed her.  She emailed me back that same night, inviting me to meet her a few days later.  Amazingly, despite my age, she was very encouraging, and suggested that I come to Kansas to visit the Community in June, during their Annual Assembly.

I went, and was welcomed with open arms.  They are remarkably transparent, and I was allowed to attend most of the Community meetings while I was there—so I had the chance to hear the Sisters talk about their own apostolates, and the work of other Sisters in the Community.  I also learned some of their background while I was there:  

The Order was founded in 17th Century France, and, consistent with their history, they do not wear a habit. While most women religious of that time were confined to convents and monasteries, these Sisters lived and worked among the people they served: the sick and homeless poor, prostitutes who wished to learn a trade, the insane and the orphaned. Their ordinary dress in those early times was the same as local widows, signaling their desire to be in union with those whom they met, without any kind of exclusion.  

From the very beginning, inspired by Jesus’ invitation, their charism has never changed: to love God and to love their neighbor—which is exactly what I am already trying to do…. But I believe that I could be a better follower of Jesus by being united with these good women who are obviously so totally dedicated to Him, and--inspired by their example--to strive for perfection in charity.

So, here I am, Lord!  As I promised on that night in March: if You would grant my impossible request, I said I would do whatever You want, and I truly believe this is it.  And I want it, too:  If they will have me, I want to join the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia Kansas.

I would be very remiss if I failed to thank my many dear friends in this parish who encouraged me and prayed for me--and special gratitude goes to Joyce Barrett, Maureen Peal and Father Rafa who wrote letters of support. 

Now, I ask you all to pray with me for God’s help...

Lord, my God and my loving Father,
You have made me to know You,
to love you, to serve You, and thereby to find and to fulfill my deepest longings.

I know that You are in all things,
and that every path can lead me to You. 

But of them all, there is one especially by which You want me to come to you.
Since I will do what You want of me,
I pray You, send your Holy Spirit to me:
into my mind, to show me what You want of me; into my heart, to give me the determination to do it, and to do it with all my love, with all my mind, and with all of my strength, right to the end.

Jesus, I trust in you.