What Riddles and the Discernment Process Have in Common

Blog by Sr. Bea Tiboldi

Recently, I heard this riddle: “What appears 1x in a minute, 2x in a moment, but never in a thousand years?” If you keep reading, you will find the answer.

A riddle might serve as a game or an ice breaker; however, riddles remind me of the discernment process in some ways. What do riddles and the discernment process have in common?

Both take time and effort

Whether it’s figuring out the answer to a riddle or praying with God’s plan for our life, the solution or path may not be obvious at first sight. It feels great when we do figure out the answer, but many times both solving a riddle or discerning one’s vocations, take time.

Both might require digging deeper for real meaning

Sometimes, riddles are meant to trip you up, but if we take a closer look at them, they challenge us to look at things from different angles.  When we look into exploring our vocation or when we start to discern, we also look at things from different angles. For example, when discerning a specific religious congregation, you may want to look at its prayer life, charism, service or ministry, and life in community. You may also want to pray with the question: “which community can I picture myself in?” The discernment process is meant to bring us to a deeper level of self-awareness.

Both urge us to recognize what’s missing

Sometimes a riddle focuses on things that are missing.  (“What is it that has cities but no houses, that has mountains but no trees, and has water but no fish?” The answer is: a map.) The discernment process helps you identify not only what religious life is but also what it is not. Also, the process can help you identify the areas where you need to grow or to assess what might be holding you back from moving forward. Knowing what you are looking for in a community or religious like can help you narrow down your search and can help you find the congregation where you can be your best self.

Both invite us to think it through

Some riddles invite us to think logically or straightforward.  In discerning one’s vocation, we prayerfully consider pros and cons, we pray to see what path God is calling us to, which way of life (single, married, or religious life) will enable us to use the gifts that God has blessed us with.

Both might stretch us

Riddles work by making us think – beyond words, numbers, or concepts—that stretch our brains and imaginations. During the discernment process, we are encouraged to stretch ourselves to become more compassionate or to try a service or mission experience to help us find clarity with our vocation. Similar to solving a riddle, these “stretching” experiences eventually help us reach an answer.

Both encourage us to keep it simple

Some riddles are long and include extra information, and if we want to be able to solve, the riddle, the key is in keeping things simple; sometimes less is more. The same notion of keeping it simple holds true with the discernment process – don’t get tangled up in the process.  Instead, ask questions as they come up to make it easier to know your vocation and purpose.

Both encourage us to notice and be aware of ‘the hidden’

Riddles are not meant to be easy or obvious. Let’s revisit the riddle that helped me recognize what riddles and the discernment process have in common: “What appears 1x in a minute, 2x in a moment, but never in a thousand years?” In this riddle, we are invited to notice the answer within the question. The answer is, the letter “m.” Notice, the answer was there even at the time the question was asked. We, too, are encouraged to notice God’s presence, who is always present in our discernment.

 

If you would like to talk to a Sister about your vocation, contact us to begin a conversation.

Posted in News, Vocations Blog

Prayers for Vocations

Last Sunday, April 25th, marked a special day of Prayer for Vocations.  During our prayer group for discerners that the Vocations team offers monthly, we contemplated peace with a guided meditation, and then we prayed for vocations.  Knowing that there is a power in communal prayer, we invite you to pray one of these prayers.

If you are a Sister, or Associate, or know someone who is discerning God’s call:

Loving God,
we pray for women and men who are discerning Your call for their life.
Open their hearts to hear your voice inviting them to be
preachers of the Gospel
following Jesus in the footsteps of St. Dominic.
Grant them generosity of spirit for selfless service
and enkindle within their hearts a desire to be your Peace in our world.
We make this prayer in the name of Jesus, our Risen Lord,
who lives and loves with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever. Amen.

If you are discerning God’s call for your life:

(The original prayer card that our team crafted can be found here.)

Loving Creator,
Thank you for calling me to share in Jesus’ mission.
I am not sure which way of life You are calling us to,
and I humbly ask you to guide me along the way.
Help me remain open and patient in this process,
whether to live the single life, the married life, or as a religious sister, nun,
brother, monk or priest.

Compassionate Jesus,
You showed us what it means to lay down one’s life for others.
As I seek to deepen my relationship with you,
help me to bear witness to the Gospel,
to lead others to you,
to speak for a more just and peaceful world,
to give voice to the voiceless,
and to be there for those in need.

Holy Spirit,
Inspire me and guide me
that I may listen to the still small voice in my heart.
I ask for wisdom, understanding, and courage to follow God’s call.
Amen.

You can find additional prayers for vocations here.

May God bless all of us as we stay aware of God’s presence in our life and discern God’s call day-by-day.

Posted in God Calling?, Vocations Blog

The Gift of the Empty Tomb

Pat Dual
Blog by Sr. Pat Dual, OP

Can you imagine Mary Magdalene’s incredulous encounter with Jesus that first Easter morning—moving from experiencing the depths of sorrow to indescribable joy?  Can you imagine hearing Divine Love speak your name, revealing to you the Living Hope of God?  I cannot fully comprehend the joy of Mary Magdalene’s encounter—discovering the empty tomb or meeting the Risen Christ on that first Easter morning.  But centuries later, with other Christians, I celebrate the gift of the Empty Tomb of Easter and the eternal Living Hope that emerged.

How do you celebrate these two gifts? Usually, I celebrate the Easter season by attending the Easter Vigil Mass, to help welcome new members into the Church, and by singing the ritualistic “Alleluias” that elevate my spirit and bring me to a closer encounter with Living Hope.  This Easter season, however, has been different for all of us, not only because of the life-changing effects of a 14-month pandemic but also because of escalating divisions and violence in our nation.

In this Easter season, when so many families mourn the death of a loved one, I struggle to sing, Alleluia. At a time when centuries of racism and inequity tears at the fabric of our society, I struggle to sing, Alleluia. At a time when daily violence is claiming the lives of our youth and loved ones, I struggle to sing, Alleluia.  In a time when peace seems many times to be an elusive dream, I struggle to sing, Alleluia.

Faith and my life experience teach me, however, to look for the hope in difficulty, just as Mary Magdalene did in that moment when she emerged from sorrow to joy. While I know there are many circumstances that contribute to temporarily losing sight of the joy of Easter—I also know that the Living Spirit of Hope will eventually renew my spirit and restore my voice to sing the “Alleluia” of the empty tomb, not just during Easter, but throughout my life.

If we are open, this living hope of the Spirit will come in different ways and at different times to renew each of us. Recently, I experienced this renewal and hope as several of our women in formation prepared to enter the next stage of their formation journey. Sr. Margaret Uche will renew her vows, Candidates Cathy Buchanan and Tram Bui will become novices, Sr. Ann Killian will return from the novitiate and become an Apostolic novice, Apostolic novice Sr. Ellen Coates will make First Profession, and Sr. Ana Gonzalez is preparing to make her final vows as a Dominican Sister of Peace. Amid the challenges of our times, these, and all our women in formation who are discerning God’s call in their life, are part of the hope and joy of our future.

How have you experienced the renewal of Living Hope during this Easter season? How has Jesus, our Living Hope, shown up for you?   I invite you to listen to this inspiring song, Living Hope by Phil Wickham, as you ponder this question.

If you feel called to join us in sharing Living Hope with others as a Sister, contact us!

Peace.

Posted in God Calling?, Vocations Blog

Journal Writing as a Spiritual Practice and for Discernment

Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George, OPA

What is it about journaling that is so appealing?  What are some of the benefits of journaling?  Can journaling help you learn more about yourself?  Can it help you discern how God might be calling you at this time in your life?

Journal writing (or keeping letters or diaries) is an ancient practice that many have found beneficial and useful for a variety of reasons and purposes.  When you are discerning where God may be calling you and how to respond to this call, journaling may serve to help you pour out your concerns and fears and to receive clarity and understanding with the path God is calling you to follow.  Journaling offers a freedom to be yourself, a “safe place” to put down on paper your experiences and all that you hold inside, all that is sacred.  You can jot down what may be opening or expanding or forming within you. It is a place for expressing what is important to you, what is happening in your life and how you perceive life.

As a spiritual practice and a spiritual discipline, journaling has many benefits.  Writing in a journal can offer us moments of clarity, of inspiration, of perspective in understanding our own selves and others.  Journaling can deepen our relationship with God and help us to go deeper into ourselves because “buried in the stuff of our lives, underneath the running current of daily activities, lies the treasure, if only we are willing to risk looking and seeking.”  This quote is from Helen Cepero’s book, Journaling as a Spiritual Practice: Encountering God Through Attentive Writing.”  The author also notes that “all spiritual disciplines and practices, including journaling, are about learning to be aware and awake, open to God, ourselves and the world around us.”

In my journal, I include passages from books and articles I have read that I want to remember and reflect on further. I use my journal to record daily events, musings, and insights that come from the stillness or the restlessness of wherever I am when I am writing.  I try to put aside judgments by writing quickly and not censoring what emerges. I use my journaling time to listen to the inner movements that are directing me or inspiring me.  In this listening to the thoughts that emerge within, I may remember a moment or situation that draws my attention, inviting me to look closer for a treasure or a message.

Journaling helps me to clarify my jumbled feelings and thoughts.  The act of writing seems to free my spirit to find its own way and voice.  Journaling is a personal experience, a personal encounter with the Spirit of God.  Journaling is an experience perhaps like what the psalmist writes in Psalm 139:1-2, “Lord, you have probed me, you know me: you know when I sit and stand; you understand my thoughts from afar.” In the probing to understand ourselves and in seeking to be understood through our journaling, we ultimately come to a deeper relationship with God, where we lay bare our lives to find forgiveness, compassion, and love awaiting us from the Divine.

Journaling offers us an opportunity to get in touch with our personal stories, our personal histories, and sheds light on who we are, where we are, and where we have been.  When we look back at our journal entries, we may see patterns and themes that depict what has been on our hearts, revealing insights about ourselves and about God’s presence and movement in our lives.  We may also see that our journal entries are love letters between us and God, revealing God’s faithfulness to us.

So, grab a pen and a notebook and begin a practice of journaling, where God awaits you.

If you are discerning your vocation, you may find that journaling helps you identify the joys, challenges, and resistances that you may be experiencing as you explore the possibility of life as a religious sister. Emotionally, journaling can help ease your worries about going into the “unknown” of following God’s call.  Let God speak to you through your journal entries and when you are ready to begin a conversation about where God is calling you, we invite you to contact us.

Posted in God Calling?, Vocations Blog

Live Each Day with a Mindfulness of Peace

Blog by Sr. Maidung Nguyen

“Peace be with you” is the greeting that the risen Christ used to reach out to his disciples after his resurrection and before sending them out to the world. This greeting is for each of us too, encouraging us to live each day with mindfulness of peace to be sent as peacemakers in the world.

Being mindful of peace helps us to recognize God’s gifts around us. Pause for a few minutes from what you are doing and look around. You will realize that you are so blessed with beautiful flowers, fresh scenery each day with new green buds/leaves, and the sound of bird song. Such moments provide inspiration and opportunities to refresh your soul and feel at peace, moving you to praise God wholeheartedly.

Our Congregation was founded at the beginning of Easter 2009.  Living into our name “Peace,” we strive to be messengers of the peace of the risen Christ in our time. We are sent with new enthusiasm to preach with a new fire, striving to live and work for peace in all facets of our lives. We are inspired by the scripture, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Isaiah 52:7. We often ask, how do we practice living peace each day?

We practice be-build-preach peace in various ways both as individuals and as a congregation. As an individual, I would like to offer you one of my daily practices of the mindfulness of peace:

  • When you wake up: Do not hurry to start your day. First, smile and look around your room. Lift your mind and heart to praise God for the new day. Then, sit up. Commit yourself to be peace: “I commit myself to be-build-preach peace today by… (state one action here that you want to commit.) I will be more attentive and keep myself open to opportunities for peace that come to me during the day.” After that, stand up. Pause for ten seconds to breathe in and out before you move. This practice of mindfulness will help you enter your new day joyfully and gently.
  • Throughout your day, pause for a minute or two to be aware of what is going on in nature or around you. Be aware of your feelings at that time. You can do this more than one time per day.
  • At the end of the day, before you go to bed, do a “Peace Examen” which can be added to your Ignatian daily Examen. For example,
    • What type of peace did I receive today? Then smile, and with a grateful heart, praise God for each peaceful moment you received.
    • How and to whom did I share God’s peace today?
    • What opportunity to bring or receive peace did I miss?
    • How did I communicate with others today?
    • Where and when did I encounter God today?

Being mindful of peace and practicing a daily peace examen helps us to be aware of God’s peace present in our life, to raise our own consciousness of, and to grow in being peace for peace mission. When practicing mindfulness, remember to practice smiling too. Smiling is often considered as an act of peace sharing, reducing tensions at works and in families and making others relaxed.

The Easter season is a good time to practice being mindful of peace. Let us live each day as messengers of Christ’s peace here on earth. If you feel called to be peace, build peace, and preach peace as a Dominican Sister, contact us to begin the conversation.

Posted in God Calling?, Vocations Blog