February 2nd marked the 25th World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life. As I was listening to Bishop Brennan’s homily on that day, there was a phrase that kept resonating with me: “spirit of generosity.” Generosity is usually associated with kindness, charity, dedication, and often with offering more time, attention, care, or money than expected. Having a spirit of generosity is about having the openness to be generous without having any expectation of receiving anything in return. In the homily, we heard examples of this generosity from the day’s readings, like God’s self-emptying love, or Anna’s and Simeon’s prophecies of sharing God’s message without expecting anything in return. Later, Bishop Brennan thanked religious men and women for their spirit of generosity that God is calling out from each and every one of us.
The World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life also happens to be Candlemas Day, when candles, representing the light of Christ, are blessed. I heard several ways that we can reflect Christ’s light in the world from a panel conversation by the National Religious Vocation Conference, when six religious sisters and brothers reflected on God’s call in Pope Francis’ newest encyclical on Fraternity and Social Friendship, Fratelli Tutti. Click here for a video recording. Fr. Joseph reminded us that we are called to be hope bearers. God needs us to respond to the cry of the suffering, the marginalized, the abandoned and the neglected by sharing God’s hope with them. Sr. Leslie invited us to identify with the vulnerability of others, like we hear in the parable of the Good Samaritan. Fr. Steve shared insights on effective love and encouraged us to let love bubble into action and live out our caritas as true and effective. At last, Sr. Nicole shared about recovering kindness – recovering what it means to recognize God in one another and in otherness. This last thought brought me back to the spirit of generosity that I mentioned at the start of this blog.
Having a spirit of generosity can call us to “look beyond personal convenience, the petty securities and compensations which limit our horizon, and it can open us up to grand ideals that make life more beautiful and worthwhile.” (Fratelli Tutti, #55) The world is filled with hard hearts, and Pope Francis highlights several current issues in his encyclical. “If you today you hear God’s voice, harden not your heart.” (Psalm 95:8) How is God calling you at this time?
The combination of discerning God’s call in my life and the urge to work toward a more just and peaceful world led me to look into religious congregations that worked for peace and justice. I found the answer in becoming a Dominican Sister of Peace. I entered religious life in 2011, but it was not until early 2014 that I was able to put into words what I felt about our congregation while watching “Call the midwife,” a BBC TV series. A line in the last episode of the first season spoke to me as I was reflecting on my discernment journey with the Dominican Sisters of Peace: “I found grace, faith, laughter, tenderness, I found a purpose and a path, and I worked with passion for the best reason of all. I did it for love.” And I am doing it for the love of God…
I’m grateful to my Sisters and Associates, who help me become more aware of the cries of this world and show me where God’s love, hope, and peace can be shared joyfully. May the spirit of generosity, which God is calling out from each and every one of us, radiate in our hearts as we continue to reflect Christ’s light in the world.
If you would like to talk to a sister about discerning God’s call to religious life, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to participate in a discernment retreat, please click here for more information.