God Calling?

Do you dream of doing something more with your life? Are you longing for deeper meaning and sometimes feel that there is more to life than what you are currently doing? Maybe God is inviting you to explore becoming a Dominican Sister of Peace. Share your gifts with others who want to make a difference in the world. For more information, contact us to begin a conversation.


 

Behind the Scene: Experiencing Sisters’ Life through Residency Program

Blog by Sr. Mai Dung Nguyen

After I finished my bachelor’s degree, I saw an article about a residency program for inquirers or discerners like me to stay and have a real experience with sisters.

– “Should I go or not go? How about my search for a job?” I debated back and forth.
– Well, just a few months with them would be like going for a long vacation. Why make it a big deal?

Finally, I decided to participate in the program and moved forward.

I lived with professed sisters from different stages of life as well as those who were learning to become sisters. They treated me as another member of that community. I signed up for cooking, did house chores, and was involved in other activities. Every week day, we came together to pray and went to Mass, then to work, volunteer, or study. In the evening, we ate and prayed together. After prayer, we stayed in the community room or went to our own rooms.

From the outside, life in the convent seemed very much routine and boring. But, I found that it was not what I thought or observed from the outside. The first week I moved in, the community spent about one hour each evening eating and chatting around the dining table. I thought to myself “Don’t these people have a lot of things to do besides talking like this? It wastes time!” Making this wrong judgment, I left the table while people were still talking.

Later, I realized that by spending time at the dining table, we shared our life stories from work and school, blessings, challenges and difficulties, good and bad news. We also laughed, joked and enjoyed multicultural food and traditions through the meals we cooked. Most of the time, after work, I was eager to head home because I knew that there would be something wonderful waiting for me to receive from this community. Opening the door, I could smell the food and hear laughter from the dining table. It replaced my tiredness right away. Gradually, I began to build up my trust with them, and learned sharing and listening skills as well as how to support and care for each other at a deeper level. All of these activities represented the images of living daily Eucharist.

Laughter and joyful moment can be spontaneous at any time even while washing dishes. Photo was taken at the Dominican Sisters of Peace House of Welcoming in New Haven, Connecticut.

We continued to carry life sharing from dinner table to washing dishes then to prayer time. When we prayed, we shared the word of God that touched and moved us. A lot of times, sharing around the dinner table and listening to the Word of God became interwoven. It was a such profound experience of how to live Scripture on a daily basis and how to bring the Word of God to life, right in the midst of our busy life.

All of this sharing connected me to the outside world as well as to my inner world. I must admit that without this Residency Program experience, my life may have turned in another direction. No words can express enough about my wonderful experience because it was “behind the scenes” and came from the love of God through the community.

If you want to experience living with our Sisters through our Residency Program, or if you want to have a conversation with a Sister about your vocation, you can text, email, or make a phone call to one of our Vocation Ministers. Click here for our contact information. We look forward to hearing from you!

Posted in God Calling??, News

Morning Prayers

Blog by Sr. June Fitzgerald, OP

Morning Prayer –

+ O God, come to my assistance.

  • O God, make haste to help me

+ Glory be to the Creator, to the Redeemer and to the Holy Spirit

  • As it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever.

Amen.

 

Each morning we begin our Morning Prayer from Dominican Praise with this sequence of calls and responses.  Each morning the psalms flow between us, within us and around us as we pray these ancient hymns of praise, lamentation, and glory.

There is a comforting rhythm to this prayer time – there is a grounding and a weaving together of our day.

Each community I’ve lived in within our Dominican congregation prays the same words and yet the style and rhythm is a bit different.  Just as each community is different because of its members – so too it is different because of our ministry schedules, preferences, and personalities.   Yet, it is the same prayer.

I have come to appreciate community prayer, especially the Liturgy of the Hours as I’ve lived this life.  At first, praying the Hours was awkward as I fumbled for pages, hymns and the cards with the Canticles that always seemed to be falling from my book just when I needed them.  I recall sitting next to Sr. Barbara in our retreat chapel in McLean, Virginia when I was first learning how to pray the Hours.  I would rush in on the way to work – looking forward to praying Morning Prayer and Mass with the Sisters.  She patiently pointed out where to place the ribbons – which canticle card to use and even nudged me when I got confused as to which group I was supposed to be praying with.  Now, I am the one pointing out where to place the ribbons and which canticle card to have cued up next.

I live in our House of Welcome here in New Haven, Connecticut and have the blessing of living with the women who are new to the congregation – our Candidates.  It gives me great delight to see them become more familiar with community prayer – to begin leading us in prayer and even stretching their spiritual wings as they add a little spice with Lectio Divina or a short preaching on the scripture reading for the day.  We are all enriched by our lives together, the giftedness and willingness of each to embark on this amazing journey of religious life.

Each morning as we begin our Morning Prayer we sing as one to God and we live what it means to be a community of disciples committed to something greater than ourselves.

Interested in learning where the ribbons go?  Being called by God to something more?  Contact one of us to begin the conversation or consider attending our next Come and See Discernment Retreat on September 7 – 9, 2018 at our Motherhouse in St. Catharine, KY.

Posted in God Calling??, News

Finding God in the Prayer of Music

Blog by Sr. Pat Dual, OP

Not long ago, I read an article that reminded me of how the arts, such as poetry, writing, dancing or music often allow us to experience God in different and profound ways.  The article started me thinking about how music has always been a way that helps me more deeply experience the presence of God.  I have many memories of being in the parish where I grew up, St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Norfolk, Virginia and feeling deeply connected to God as our gospel choir ministered to the congregation.   Many times I recall myself and others meditating, standing, clapping or lifting our hands during a song being sung by the choir.

Gospel music deepens my experience of the Divine, but other Christian music also speaks to my spirit. One such song that seems to always move my spirit is “Holy Now” by Peter Mayer.  No matter when I hear it, there is a sense of reverence and divine connection that stirs within. One would think that you could not forget those things that enhance your relationship with God.  But during my most recent retreat, I was reminded that in the busyness of life, I had unintentionally lost sight of something that is a special part of my relationship with God—prayer through music.

As I began my retreat, I realized my words of prayers seemed routine. I found myself asking, “Where are you, O Holy One?”  Perhaps your spirit has never been in such a place and perhaps you have never asked such questions. But I was in such a place, where my words of prayer seemed to hang in the air, “stuck” between heaven and earth, when the thought of “praying with music” suddenly occurred to me. It was not a new idea for me, I simply had not thought of it for a while. So I gathered my headphones and cell phone and headed outside to a beautiful quiet spot and proceeded to listen to one of my favorites, “Holy Now.” As I listened to the song, it felt as if a floodgate had opened within and that God and I were, once again, “in sync.”   All of us have experienced times of deep connection with God.  For me, this was one of those special times of connection.

On my last full day of the retreat, I was quietly reflecting on all that had happened during the retreat, when suddenly a flash of red startled me as it flew across my line of vision and disappeared in a tree. Excited, I was hoping the red bird would come back—a little slower next time—so that I could really see him. Well, guess what, that red bird flew low across my line of vision three times before he finally went on his way. As I sat there thinking how lucky I was to be in the right place at the right time, I recalled four of my favorite lines in the song, “Holy Now.”

This morning outside I stood,
Saw a little red wing bird
Shining like a burning bush
and singing like a scripture verse…

The experience became a confirmation for me of God’s presence during the retreat and reminded me of the deep prayer connection with God that sometimes happens for me through music.

What about you?  Do you have a unique way of prayer that deepens your experience of prayer and listening to God? As you ponder these questions later, perhaps you might wish to enjoy the “Holy Now” Youtube video using this link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KiypaURysz4

Is God possibly asking you to consider “more” for your life, perhaps as a Dominican Sister of Peace?  Explore the possibility at our next Come and See weekend on September 7-9, 2018 in St. Catharine, KY.

Posted in God Calling??, News

Poetry as Prayer

Have you ever written a prayer poem to God?

Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George, OPA

In my teens and young adult years, I found writing poetry to be an effective way of expressing my thoughts and feelings. Words that I found difficult to express aloud flowed easily and freely when pen and paper were my writing tools. Now, my medium for writing and expressing myself is through these once-a-month blogs, using a wordprocessing software program instead to capture my thoughts, and sometimes applying graphics to spruce up a piece.

I think the need to express oneself is important to our well-being and to our soul. We may find that writing or music, art, dancing, acting, or engaging in a hobby empowers us to express who we are. Writing in a journal or writing in a quiet place, for example, are ways that can help us hear and discern how God is speaking to us.

Sometimes we can have a profound experience with God when we engage in the expressive arts. As I look back on my early years of poetry writing, I can see that God was present in these moments when I was searching and discovering what life was about.

At various times throughout my life, poetry served as a form of prayer for me. Poetry became a way to connect with the divine spirit in me and for God to speak to me. One such poem, entitled “Let Me Be With You” that emerged where I believe God was speaking to me is shared below with the hope that perhaps its message enfolds you in God’s caressing care.

Let me fill your emptiness.
Let me heal your brokenness.
Let me nourish you and console you.
Let me speak to your heart and give you peace.
You need not always search deeply for me.
Sometimes I am a quiet whisper.
Sometimes I am a gentle breeze upon your cheek.
Sometimes I am in the silence or in the thunder.

But always I am with you and for you.

Come to me and let me love you.
Come to me and rest from your busyness.
Come to me and just be
So I can embrace you in my endless love.

How is God speaking to you? Is God calling you to religious life? Come and explore God’s love in our community and get to know more about how you might serve God as a Dominican Sister of Peace. Our next Come and See weekend is September 7-9, 2018 and is being held in St. Catharine, KY.

Check out this Come and See Flyer for more details and for registration information. We’d love to have you join us!

Posted in God Calling??, News

Rowing Backwards is the Only Way Forward.

Blog by Sr. June Fitzgerald, OP

I love the sensation of being out on a lake in a boat – a quiet lake, a row boat, no one else around.

Having rowed the boat out to that quiet place, I lift the oars and let them rest on the sides.  Then, I lean back and listen . . .

What do I hear?  I hear the water lapping against the boat, the movement of the water, birds, the breeze and the myriad of living things around the lake.  I hear my heartbeat, my breath and my thoughts.  In this place of quiet and solitude, I begin to reflect on my day and ask God to help me see where God was present with me.  As the moments come to mind I look for God and for my response or awareness of God or lack thereof.  As one memory becomes more focused, I pause there and wait for God to illumine that for which I will give thanks and that for which I will ask forgiveness.  Resting with God I give thanks and pray for the grace to be and live always in God.

Sitting up and looking around the lake, I begin to row back to shore.  As I did so, looking at where I’ve been in order to get to where I’m going, rowing backwards, I realize, rowing backward is the only way forward.  Thus it is with the Examen.  Regularly taking time to reflect on God’s presence and action in my life leads me to understand how God is calling me to live my life forward while understanding it backwards.

The practice I described above is that of the Examen Prayer – often attributed to St. Ignatius of Loyola and the Spiritual Exercises he developed.  It has five basic parts.

  • Resting in the presence of God.
  • Reflecting back on the day, recognizing moments of blessing with gratitude.
  • Focusing on God’s presence & action in your day.
  • Become aware of times you’ve walked away from God or did something you regret. Ask God’s forgiveness and if necessary plan to make amends to any you have wronged.
  • Pray in thanksgiving for all that has been and ask God to give you the grace you need to live as God wills now and into tomorrow.

I like to close my prayer time by singing the Sucipe prayer, which was set to music by John Foley, SJ and is sung here by a group of young women:   https://youtu.be/ItJnhOEPiS0

As a Vocation Minister I often accompany women as they discern God’s call in their lives. If you are ready to begin a conversation, contact us here.  Come BE PEACE with us.

Posted in God Calling??, News