Spirit of Generosity

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 vocations@oppeace.org. If you would like to participate in a discernment retreat, please click here for more information.

Posted in God Calling?

What Itch Distracts You from God?

Blog by Associate Theresa Kempker, OPA

In Sunday’s first reading, we hear that the king of Nineveh ordered everyone to wear sackcloth and he sat in ashes.  In fact, we often read in the Bible that penitents wore sackcloth and sat in ashes or put ashes on their head.  Why not just say dirt?  Isn’t that the point, that a penitent would sit in ugly sackcloth and be dirty?

Well, no.  Sackcloth, as you can imagine, is not only unfashionable, but it is rough and itchy.  I’ve always imagined that it must not be good at keeping out the cool of the night, either.

But what always strikes my soul is the use of the ashes.  Wood ashes, when combined with water, make lye, a terribly caustic chemical.  Most of the farm families I knew growing up made their own soap with commercial lye, and everyone had a healthy respect for it.  A small can of lye poured into a crock of water could have it nearly boiling in seconds.  Children were to be kept away from soap making so that they wouldn’t get any lye on their skin and be burned.

If a penitent sweated or if dew fell, the water would combine with the ashes and make small amounts of weak lye.  But it would be lye nonetheless.  And it would itch, maybe burn.  It would be terribly uncomfortable to be scratched by the sackcloth and then burned by the lye from the ashes.  And after?  We don’t hear about people being done with this ordeal.  It must have felt so good to leave the sackcloth and ashes behind, take a bath, and put oil on all the places that were rubbed and irritated.

What itch is distracting us from closer union with God?  What fear or pride burns at our souls so that we are not at peace with God?  God does not want us to stay this way.  God wants us to remove our sackcloth, bathe in His mercy, and feel His Love soothing us.

God made you and loves you because you are worth loving.

Posted in Associate Blog

Following God Joyfully

The dictionary defines a vocation as “a strong feeling of suitability for a particular career or occupation.” This “feeling of suitability” also extends to our life as Christians. Some of us feel called to family life, or to serve the church as educators or Extraordinary ministers. Some of us feel that “feeling of suitability” or calling towards life as a religious Sister.

If you believe that your calling is to serve God as a Dominican Sister of Peace, then this is the place for you.

Your next step? Learning more about religious life, more about the Dominican Sisters of Peace, and entering a process of discernment …  of determining God’s desire for your life.

To learn more, contact Sr. Maidung Nguyen
(405) 248-7027
Click here to email.

To register for this FREE virtual event,
click here.

Posted in News

Being Pruned

Blog by Sr. Mai Dung Nguyen

One of my favorite Gospel quotes is: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. (John 15:1-3) This message spoke to me during the retreat in preparation for my first vows and recently in the prayer before our Ministry of Welcome – Vocations team meeting.

Pruning can be a painful process – but the fruits are well worth it. Looking back at the time before I entered the community, I thought religious life was a life of prayer and helping the poor. The concept of helping the poor has evolved in me over the years.  I have come to see the poor not just as those who are materially poor but those in need of love, a spiritual life, and equal justice. The need to work on justice and dignity is present not only at the human level but also in the life of other species and the earth. This understanding broadens my view of ministry and daily prayer. Today, I realize that the call to live religious life is a call to live prophetically. This prophetic life is a dynamic one that must be built on faith and in the reality of life where I am living. So, it calls me to be open to on-going transformation and to accept the pruning necessary for new branches to form.

Another example of needing to be pruned happened when I was first called to religious life. At that time, I was worried that I would need to leave behind my love of engineering, life experiences, friends, and even my personal freedom when entering religious life. Later, I realized God did not ask me to cut them off completely but pruned me to see how to view them to bear more fruit and so that God’s work in me could be accomplished a hundredfold.  Thus, I am reminded of what Jesus said, “I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them.” (Mt 5:17).

Now, we are dealing with COVID, job layoffs, violence, and division in our country. The questions that have been raised within our community echo inside me: “What does the world or our society ask from us?” “What does the earth ask of us?” These are all big questions. To respond prophetically, you and I must be pruned so a new way of thinking, living life, and doing ministry can bring forth and bear more fruit. How willing are we to be pruned for this process? And God will make the way for us to live such prophetic life.

The call to live in religious life is the call to live prophetically in our time, with one another in God’s grace. This is an authentic call from God. Are you willing to be pruned by God and to accept this call to be prophetic? If so, contact us or visit our vocation webpages to learn more about the discernment process. We also have a virtual Discernment retreat this March 12-14, 2021 at no cost. An online register link is coming soon.

Posted in God Calling?

Don’t Give away your Shot!

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP

I hate shots.  No, I mean I really hate shots….so much so that I can barely watch someone getting a shot on television.  So I was pretty surprised when, after getting the first dose of the Moderna vaccine that I felt so darn good.  It was a feeling of relief and of hope. Maybe there was a light at the end of the Covid tunnel.

I think everyone who can, should get the vaccine too.  Why? During the past year, I’ve worked at St. Raphael Hospital in New Haven as a chaplain intern.  I’ve been present at the bedside of a dying patient because his son could not come into the hospital. I’ve prayed with a daughter and her father who had Covid using a telephone and video conferencing.  I’ve comforted nurses on a Covid unit as the second wave ramped up in our hospital. They were already exhausted, nervous and afraid.  I’ve tried to connect over telemedicine with a Covid patient who had recently lost her father to Covid. (It wasn’t very successful or satisfying for either of us.)  I’ve felt the fear of being with a patient who later was diagnosed with Covid and watched the disruption of our convent when someone had unknowingly spent time with a Covid-infected person.

I want Covid to go away. Don’t you? That’s why I pray and ask that you pray that everyone who can, will get the vaccine. Science says that it can help us overcome this pandemic and allow us to get back our lives.  I’m not a huggy-type person, but I miss hugs. I want to be able to hold the hand of a patient who is lonely and afraid and I want to sing again at Mass. What do you miss?

If you are confused or still have some doubts about the vaccine, check out this YouTube video. It’s a good explanation.  Please encourage your friends and family to get the shot.  In the meantime, please keep wearing your mask, stay six feet apart, wash your hands and stay safe.

 

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog