May 31st marks the Feast of the Visitation. In the Visitation story, we hear about the time when Mary went to visit Elizabeth. Both were going through challenging times – Mary conceived a child before being married, and Elizabeth was bearing a child at an older age, yet they found reasons to rejoice. They used their faith in God and the joy of the Visitation as a source of energy for carrying out their missions.
During formation years, I read an article by Fr. Ron Rolheiser. In his article, The Visitation Revisited, Rolheiser wrote:
“what we are carrying will make something leap for joy inside the other,
and that reaction will help draw the Magnificat out of us,
and, like Mary, we will want to stay with that other for mutual support.”
I see our discerners in our monthly Emmaus Discernment group bringing their faith in God to each other, making something leap for joy in the other, and staying with one another for mutual support. Seeing this joy in the group prompted me to ask myself: “how can I share the joy of our life of prayer, study, ministry and living in community in a way that ‘will make something leap for joy inside the other’ when everything we do has to be on screen during this pandemic and I’m hitting screen-fatigue?” How am I supposed to do that?
In our vocation ministry, we use a quote by Frederick Buechner quite often: “vocation is a place where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep hunger,” and we tell women that even after one enters, discernment continues day-by-day. This quote became very real to me during this pandemic. “God, what do you want of me? I have heard about sisters doing courageous things, and how ambitious they are. But, God, what is my vocation during this pandemic? Show me where the world’s greatest hunger and my deep gladness meet.” I started to identify “hungers”: (1) our discerners’ desire to connect more often and pray together; (2) people going hungry more than ever, and (3) my desire for less screen-time as I was hitting screen-fatigue.
As I was praying, I started to connect those dots, and how I could respond to these three “hungers” that I mentioned above. I was thinking: “perhaps, I could volunteer delivering ‘Meals on Wheels’ on weekdays.” In my inner ear, I was hearing the voice of Charlie Brown, exclaiming: “That’s it!” That is where those “hungers” and my desire meet. So, I have been doing just that. Delivering meals to those in need helps reduce hunger, and it allows me to process, to pray, to reflect, and to get a break from screen-time. Recharged by the outcome of that silent prayer time, I head back each afternoon to continue serving our discerners with renewed energy and creativity. This two-hour activity might seem like nothing, but it helps others leap for joy – whether it’s the joy of physical food for the hungry or the spiritual food that empowers us to continue planning and providing opportunities for our discerners to come together and pray together, and it helps bring out my Magnificat.
Like Mary and Elizabeth, we, too, can turn our challenges into blessings and joys. With faith in God and with Mary’s companionship, we find strength to face our fears or the unknown, and we find strength even to rejoice.
Where does your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet?
What is the message that God is asking us individually to carry out to others
in a way that will make something leap for joy in the other,
and simultaneously bring out our Magnificat?
If you would like to talk to someone about your vocation, email us at email@example.com. Also, if you would like to participate in our free, virtual, five-day long Mission for Peace experience between June 5-9, 2020, please click here for more information.