Five Other Common Concerns or Myths about Religious Life

Blog by Sr. Mai Dung Nguyen

My March blog was about five common concerns or myths in pursuing religious life. Today’s blog is going to address five other common concerns.

  1. Personal doubt: I am not sure if I can be a sister for the rest of my life. I don’t feel I am worthy to be a sister.

We are all sinners, and yet, worthy and precious in the eye of God. Nobody knows what the future holds, which is true for all life styles: married, single, and religious. If we trust God’s provident care, we will enter the future with an open mind and heart and trust without fear. God will lead us into the future and provide more than what we need.

  1. Reality of religious community: Religious life is lonely because I cannot have a life partner. Also, most sisters are older than me. I want to hang around and live with people of my own age, not my grandmother’s age.

We do not focus our love and partnership on a certain person like those who are married. Our love and partnership are spread out to various people within and outside religious communities, making religious life a real blessing and a fulfilled life. I, myself, very seldom feel a sense of emptiness or loneliness since I entered the religious life.

Yes, most of the U.S. religious communities have many elderly sisters, and yet, they are vibrant and joyful with young hearts and contemplative spirits. They are pioneers who have built a strong foundation. There are other women discerning with our community who are candidates, novices, and temporary professed members. We invite you to join us to share the gifts of life and to carry on the mission and the torch of faith now and into the future. We also encourage you to have friends of your own age as well as other ages so you can learn life experiences from different cohort groups.

  1. Culture: I am from a different culture. I may feel lonesome and will miss my ethnic food.

We heartedly welcome you. Your cultural sharing with us will enrich our lives, help us to value more the diversity of life and enhance our sensitivity on discrimination and racism issues. You can help us learn what it means to be Christian from your cultural perspective.

We encourage each other to live out and share cultures, including foods and cultural celebrations. We have sisters from Peru, Vietnam, China, Ireland, Germany, and more.  We have Native American, African American, Nigerian American sisters. Some of them are the first person from their ethnic group who have entered our congregation.

  1. Student loan: I didn’t know if I could join a religious community if I have educational debt.

Depending on each situation, this issue can be resolvable. We encourage those who are discerning a call to religious life to try to pay off their student loan as much as they can before they enter their novitiate year. Don’t let your student loan block you from pursuing your call to be a sister.  To know more about this, contact us so we can discuss your situation with you.

  1. Wearing the habit: What is the point of being a sister if I just wear secular clothes like lay people?

There are communities wearing the habit and there are communities who don’t. You have both options to consider. Different communities fit different people.

When discerning my religious call, I looked for communities wearing the habit. Later on, when I encountered sisters without the habit, I questioned myself: “What is my religious life truly based on, the habit or the call from God? Does this community make me feel at home and help me to be the best person I can be in order to live my call radically/authentically?” In my community of the Dominican Sisters of Peace, some sisters are still in the habit and we respect this decision.

Be courageous in responding to God’s call and allow God to fulfill your life. Don’t hesitate to contact us (vocation@oppeace.org) if you have any concerns. Consider joining us for our Come and See weekend coming up September 7-9 in Kentucky for those who want to explore more about this life.

Posted in God Calling??, News

Seeing is Believing

Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP

Recently, the Sunday Gospel reading told the post-resurrection story of Thomas, who has the very unfortunate reputation as somebody who did not believe that Jesus rose from the dead. Most of us are familiar with the phrase Doubting Thomas. This is the guy. For some unknown reason, he did not show up for that first gathering when the disciples were visited by Jesus in his resurrected state.

A week later, Thomas is there at the gathering when Jesus appears and he invites Thomas to touch his wounds as proof he is alive. Thomas, of course, proclaims his belief saying, “My Lord and my God.”

Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” This is what condemns Thomas’ reputation — that he needed to see in order to believe.  Thus, for 2000 years his fate is sealed by a moment when he actually asked a legitimate question. How many times have you said, “I’ll believe it when I see it”?

Most of us are like Thomas I would wager. We need to see lots of things before we can believe. There are some things in life that are so fantastical, so dream-like, and so unreal to us that seeing is believing. Like the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series. (Oh right, I forgot they did win after waiting 108 years.)  We are all doubters, too bad Thomas gets the bad reputation we all could claim.

Seeing is believing is not a bad thing when it comes to God. Sometimes we believe God is acting in our lives because we see it – in a life that is changed for the good, a sickness that is unexpectedly healed. We can see God all over the place if we really look. Just go to the nearest window and marvel at what you see.  After all, John describes the believers as we who have seen His glory. (John 1:14)

When we believe because we have seen, we have experienced something marvelous, some unexpectedly wonderful. How can you not believe after seeing a sunset or the moon rise? (If you need a little inspiration watch this 4 minute video of the moon rising in New Zealand).

Belief is a gift, a gift that comes after being blind to God in some way. But we can come to belief either way, by the sheer gift of God in a moment of awakening to faith, or by seeing something, being a witness to something in life that awakens us to faith.  Start with faith. Start with needing to see. Same thing in the end. What God desires for us is that we come to belief.  Does it matter to God one way or the other how we come to faith? I don’t think so, just as long as we can get there in the end.

Thomas, you did us all a favor by being absent that day and coming to faith by naming what most of us hold in secret.  We can turn: “I’ll believe it when I see it,” into “I see because I believe.”

 

Posted in News, Wednesday's Word

I’m Glad I Don’t Eat Fish

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP

Have you checked to see if the fish you eat has been labeled plastic free?  That may be coming soon given the amount of plastics being dumped into the oceans.  In fact, at the rate we’re going, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the water than fish (by weight). Fish don’t know the difference between a tasty worm and a bright plastic lid.  Unfortunately these plastic items can block their digestive systems resulting in starvation.  Plastics can fill up their stomachs leaving little room for real food.  Because plastics don’t break down, they can end up in the fish you want to enjoy for dinner.

One recent study by the University of Ghent in Belgium calculated that humans eat up to 11,000 plastic fragments in their seafood each year. The biggest culprits are microbeads, the tiny plastic particles found in facial scrubs, toothpaste, body wash, and other cosmetics and microplastics, tiny sometimes microscopic pieces of plastic. Eight trillion, yes, with a TR, enter the waterways in the U.S. every day. Scientists have found that these substances are like tiny magnets for toxins. That’s a lot of toxins being eaten by fish in our oceans. The fish then absorb them into their tissues.  When you eat fish polluted by the toxins, they become part of your body.  Fortunately, microbeads are banned here in the U.S. and increasingly around the world.

Pollution in our oceans and waterways was documented as early as the early 70’s and come from uncaptured (countries with no or poor waste management) waste, sewage systems, road run-off and littering.  The pollution can be found from the coastlines to remote ocean hotspots where plastics, caught up in ocean currents, are gathered into huge garbage patches that collect on the ocean surface and below. Picture 26,600 Boeing 747 sized containers of plastics entering our waterways every year.  It’s not a pretty picture.

Rivers are equally subject to this pollution so river fish can be just as dangerous.  In the Hudson River, millions of fibers from the process of aging clothes (like jeans and other denim clothes) pollute the river and the Atlantic Ocean. These fibers harm fish and human.

So what can we do to ensure our fish is safe?  We have to get plastics under control.

  • Reduce or eliminate single use plastics such as plastic bags, water bottles, straws, cups, utensils, dry cleaning bags, take-out containers, frozen meal containers and any other plastic items that are used once and then discarded.
  • Avoid beauty products that contain microbeads. Look for these plastics: polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), or nylon.
  • If you must purchase a single use plastic item, make sure it can be recycled. Check out the recycling requirements in your community. Many communities have cut back on the products they recycle.

 

 

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Dominican Sisters of Peace Address US Attacks on Syria

In response to this weekend’s punitive assault against Syrian forces,
Justice Promoter Sr. Barb Kane, OP, has issued this statement:

The Dominican Sisters of Peace strongly condemn the recent bombing in Syria by US and coalition forces.
We protest the immoral death and injury of innocent children and adults who have suffered from the effects of chemical weapons.
We urge diplomatic solutions to permanently end this conflict that strangles the people of Syria. The Syrian government demonstrates no concern for its own people and we call on the US government to do more to move President Assad to bring about a peaceful resolution to this war.

We ask that all Sisters, Associates and friends pray for a peaceful resolution for the people of Syria.

Posted in News

LIFE IN UNEXPECTED PLACES

Blog by Sr. Amy McFrederick, OP

This morning as I stepped outside our backdoor to share some seeds with the birds, I was surprised by what I saw! Colorful life in an unexpected place.

Last fall, Cathy Arnold, OP had planted countless jonquil and tulip bulbs in our front garden, and we were anticipating a colorful outlay of yellows, reds, whites, etc. come spring. But when the tree fell on our house in early March, the clean-up and repair necessitated the entire garden and sidewalks be dug up to replace broken pipes.

Cathy had asked if the men could save any bulbs they came across in their digging if it wasn’t too much trouble. They pleasantly obliged, and placed what they found in a white bucket for later replanting.

So this morning, the sight of two bright jonquils and an unopened yellow bud rising out of the bucket of tossed together bulbs, caught my eye and took my breath away! A precious moment to simply pause, savor, and feel praise, joy, and gratitude well up in me, as I contemplated colorful life in this unexpected place.

Last Friday in the Akron Beacon Journal, a commentary Congress achieves something big caught my eye–much like seeing life in an unexpected place. I guess I had pretty much given up on anything good or life-giving for the common good coming from our deadlocked bipartisan congress, so I read on and was happily surprised.

Marc A. Thiessen wrote:

Many Americans despair that Republicans and Democrats seem incapable of coming together to do anything important.

Take heart–the two parties just did do something big together. Wednesday, (4.11) President Trump signed into law the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act. A bill designed to crack down on websites that knowingly facilitate the online sex trafficking of vulnerable persons, including underage boys and girls.

And the FBI, informed by evidence collected during a nearly two-year bipartisan investigation by the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, just seized the website Backpage.com—which the Center for Missing and Exploited Children says is responsible for 73 percent of the 10,000 child sex trafficking reports it receives each year—and arrested seven of its top executives.

Hurray! Life continues to show up in unexpected places!

This Easter Season is especially dedicated to celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus. And the many stories of Mary Magdalene and the apostles meeting or discovering Christ and New Life among and within them—prepare our hearts to seek and find God in unexpected ways and places.

Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” How and where have you discovered LIFE in ways/places you didn’t expect?

Posted in Associate Blog, News