This week, we celebrated the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In the Gospel, we heard, “Mary set out and traveled . . . to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.” (Luke 1:39) Mary, as the first disciple of Jesus, is showing us how we are called to share the Good News of God’s presence and action in our lives.
Many pilgrims are returning from World Youth Day 2023 in Lisbon, Portugal with their hearts burning with the love of God, body tired from the travel and the activities, and yet are searching for the answer to “now what?” What am I to do now as I return home from this life-changing experience of being with 1.5 billion other young people on fire with the love of God? Others may have the same question, “now what?” as they return from a mission trip, or a summer retreat, or another experience of God’s presence and action in their lives. Perhaps Mary and Moses before her can give us an answer to this question.
Moses came down from the mountain with the Ten Commandments he received from God and shared these commandments with the people waiting for him to return. Engraved on stone tablets, these commandments, offered our ancestors then and us now signposts for living our lives and for being a person of faith. Moses did not simply take and put these tablets on a shelf with his other possessions. He knew what to do next with the commandments God gave him–to proclaim and to live out these commandments. Mary, likewise, having received the call to become the mother of Jesus, responded by sharing her joy with Elizabeth, and in embracing this next step in her life, her joy resounded in the heart of Elizabeth and caused John to leap in Elizabeth’s womb. Nothing was ever the same again for Moses and Mary after they accepted how they were being called to live a life of faith and trust in God.
We, too, are invited to take our experiences and allow God to transform our hearts and spirit so that God can direct our next steps. Here are a few practical things you can do as you seek to answer the question, “Now what?”
- Set aside some time to reflect on your experience, whether a pilgrimage, a retreat, a mission trip, or a prayer experience. Recall the details, the high points, the low points, who you were with, and any words from God or others that have stayed with you. Take time to journal what you recall and what emerges for you as you reflect on your experience.
- Take your reflections to prayer. Sit before God and ask God to help you see and hear what is next, or how you are called to share your experiences with others, or how you are to live out your life in service to others or to the world.
- Speak to a trusted friend, spiritual guide, or wise person to get their perspective on your experience and your prayerful reflections.
- Pray, pray, and pray some more.
- Take the first step, even if it is a small step, a step of faith, a step of exploring possibilities, steps that bring you closer to the life God desires for you. Remember, a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.
Perhaps you are feeling that God is inviting you to explore religious life. If so, consider attending our Come & See Discernment Retreat – “Called by Name.” September 8 – 10, 2023 in St. Catharine, Kentucky. Gather with other discerning women and the Dominican Sisters of Peace for prayer, presentations, sharing with the sisters, and time for rest and recreation. The retreat is free, and some travel assistance is available. For more information, click the link above or contact Sr. Mai-dung Nguyen, OP at firstname.lastname@example.org or call or text her at 405-248-7027.