God Calling?

Every vocation story begins with a call – a call to share your gifts with others who want to make a difference in the world. If you believe that you’ve heard God’s call, and you want to write your own story with the Dominican Sisters of Peace, contact us to begin a conversation.


 

Blessings For Our Home Church

Blog by Sr. June Fitzgerald

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship… They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.” (Acts 2:42 – 46)

Just like the early believers, we have embraced our home church with grace and creativity as our church buildings are closed and we are worshiping via live-stream Masses, prayer services and days of reflection.

A popular meme shows the devil proudly declaring to God, “With COVID-19, I closed your churches!”  Then, God answers, “On the contrary, I just opened one in every home!”

And to this, I say Alleluia!

The fact that we have opened a church in every home is a blessing amidst a time of great tragedy and challenge.  In the early church, the believers met in their homes and many were not able to go worship in the temple as they had done so.  Their homes became their sanctuaries, much as ours have become.

I do not know about you, but this Holy Week was one of the most prayerful ones I recall in many years.  The connection with my sisters in preparing for the services was pure grace.  From the cutting and arranging flowers, placing the consecrated hosts on the gold paten and crisp linen corporal on our coffee table, to setting up the live-stream link on our television – it was an experience of community collaboration.

For us, daily Eucharist and Mass is a way of life, as is written in our Constitutions:

“We participate in the sacramental life of the Church.
In the Eucharist we gather at the Lord’s table,
celebrating in this most sacred mystery the redeeming love of Christ.
In this communion we include in our embrace
those entrusted to our care so that all may gather at this
banquet of love and the banquet of life.
We find sustenance in Word and Sacrament.” [11]

As many of us continue to gather at our coffee and dining room tables, desks or wherever we participate in worship these days, how are we praying?  Do you consciously create a place of prayer for your times of worship?

You may wish to put a tablecloth or placemat in front of your monitor, upon which you place a candle, a crucifix, an icon or other symbol and your scriptures or worship aide.  Take a few moments before Mass begins to recollect yourself.  Become present in body, mind and spirit for the great mystery that is about to take place.

Then, after Mass is over, take a few moments to pray in thanksgiving for this time of prayer and worship.  If you are with others (physically or virtually), take some time to share your faith.  This can take whatever form is most comfortable for you.  Sharing a word, thought or phrase from the scripture, or the homily or whatever touched your spirit.  This is a way we can continue to create community and build up the Body of Christ – of which we are all members.

One of the precious memories I have of this time of quarantine is that of sharing faith with my sisters in community.  I believe it has brought us closer together and God has spoken to us through each other.  Thank God for community!

God continues to call men and women to religious life.  Is God calling you to something more?  If so, contact us to begin the conversation.

*[11] Constitutions of the Dominican Sisters of Peace.

Posted in God Calling?, News

“Let Us Resolve to Make This Week Holy…”

Pat Dual
Blog by Sr. Pat Dual, OP

Several years ago, I purchased a book of quotes and writings by Sr. Thea Bowman, FSPA and discovered a meditation she had written for a Holy Week series for the Jackson, Mississippi diocese in March 1990.  It was published April 6, 1990, about a week after Thea’s death on March 30, 1990.  For those who may not know, Sr. Thea Bowman was an African-American Franciscan nun who died much too early after battling cancer for several years. Her cause for sainthood opened in November 2018 and she has the Church title, Servant of God. Thea was a gifted speaker and advocate for racial equality both within and outside of the Catholic Church. However, that is a story for another blog and I invite you to learn more about the incredible life and times of Sr. Thea Bowman.  Today, I simply want to share with you her Holy Week meditation, entitled, “Let Us Resolve to Make This Week Holy.

Over the years, I sometimes revisit Thea’s meditation during my own journey of Holy Week. During this Holy Week, in the midst of a global pandemic—her words from 30 years ago are still rich with meaning and truth.  These are unprecedented times and we are in the midst of an unprecedented Holy Week.  The global community is traveling the Lenten journey together in the midst of a pandemic that brings “social distancing” and isolation. This distancing also comes at a time when we would normally draw closer together to remember and celebrate the central truth of our Christian faith—our salvation through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As I meditate with Thea’s reflection during this exceptional Holy Week, I find her words still ring with relevance and hope—especially in times such as these.

Sister Thea Bowman

In her reflection, Thea wrote, “Let us unite our sufferings, inconveniences and annoyances with the sufferings of Jesus… and stretch ourselves beyond our comfort zones to unite ourselves with Christ’s redemptive work.  Let us be practical reaching out across the boundaries of race, class and status to help somebody.” As I read these words, I thought of the countless suffering we hear in the news or from our friends, family or co-workers.  However, we also hear stories of the selfless giving of healthcare providers, workers from all stations in life, friends and even strangers. If we look, we see countless selfless acts that people are doing all around us to help another.

An important and consistent message that the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us is that we are connected—globally connected. We can no longer truthfully deny that fact. Included in this fact is the truth that we all need each other if we are to be successful in controlling this virus.  The Coronavirus has shown us that our survival really is connected to how we love and care for one another.

As we continue our prayerful journey through this extraordinary Holy Week, I invite you to read Sr. Thea Bowman’s Holy Week reflection. How might it inform your own journey through this Holy Week on your path toward Easter joy?  For Holy Week 2020, Sr. Thea Bowman’s ending words continue to be relevant—“During this Holy Week, when Jesus gave his life for love, let us truly love one another.”

Posted in God Calling?, News

Kindness 101: A Lesson on Gratitude

Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George, OPA

On an evening newscast, the feature story was about an “On the Road” reporter who was teaching an interactive, online class to students of all ages:  Kindness 101.  Students from all around the country tuned in to learn about heroism and “how heroes today are wearing all different kinds of uniforms.  Their assignment for the week was to pick one of these new heroes and thank them in any way they could.”

Some students immediately got on the phone and called everyone from the pharmacist to the fire chief to nurses.  Others went outside and used chalk to post messages on driveway asphalt, writing thank you messages to postal workers and delivery care workers for their service.  One little girl even extended a thank you note on a long pole up to a sanitation worker sitting in his truck, who was visibly moved by a seldom-given thank you in his line of work.

In these difficult times with the COVID-19 crisis, we can find many individual heroes—doctors, nurses, pharmacists, medical technicians, custodians, distribution warehouse workers, food service and grocery store workers, and many others.  We can also find heroes and witness goodness in the people around us.  We can each show kindness to ourselves and to each other as we face and move through this crisis together.  Kindness is a friend that gives us hope in the darkness and shines a light on the beauty of the human spirit.

During a time when so much is beyond our control showing kindness and gratitude is something we can do.  We can spread positive thoughts, uplifting messages, inspirational words to bless those who have blessed us.  We can be instruments of God’s peace, holding each other in prayer and embodying the prayer of St. Francis.

As we enter into Holy Week next week and reflect on the Stations of the Cross, we see two acts of kindness extended to Jesus as he carried his cross.  First, Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry his cross and then Veronica wipes the face of Jesus of his blood and sweat.  These acts of kindness speak of the compassion we are capable of especially during troubling times.  Whatever cross we may be carrying or have yet to carry, let us lighten each other’s hearts with kindness as we pray this Celtic blessing:

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every [person] who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.”

Click here to listen and view a video of another rendition of this prayer.

Maybe you have heard the voice of God calling you to be Christ to others as a religious sister.  If so, contact one of our Vocation Ministers to begin the first step in answering this call.

Posted in God Calling?, News

The Annunciation: A Moment of Unparalleled Courage

Pat Dual
Blog by Sr. Pat Dual, OP

This week, the Church’s celebration of the Feast of the Annunciation occurred in the middle of the more subdued season of Lent.   Yet, it seemed very appropriate to celebrate the event that set in motion God’s plan of salvation for humankind.  Without Mary’s “yes,” the Paschal Mystery, as we know it, would not exist. What a phenomenal decision for a young, unmarried Jewish girl to have to make—with no certainty about how her answer would affect the rest of her life.  Recently, I learned of a beautiful poem that focuses on the courage of Mary in that moment.

We do not often reflect on the courage of Mary in giving her “yes.”  The poem, Annunciation, by Denise Levertov, offers a beautiful image of Mary and this moment in salvation history.  Of this decisive moment in Mary’s life, Levertov writes, “God waited.  She was free to accept or to refuse, choice integral to humanness.”   The poet then asks a question that is relevant for each one of us today.  “Aren’t there annunciations of one sort or another in most lives?”  The answer is a resounding, “yes!”

Think about the significant times of discernment and choices in life.  These occasions might include choices about health, careers, marriage partners, or religious life discernment.  The moments of choice or “annunciations” in our lives come with no guarantees and the path forward is often not clear.  The only guarantee we have is the same one that Mary had—faith that God could be trusted.

How have you responded to the “annunciation moments” in your life?   For me, there have been times when I have said “yes.”  There have also been times when I have turned in fear, a time when as the poet said, “God waited.”  It takes courage to say “yes” to the “annunciations” or invitations from God in our lives.  Nevertheless, God is persistent, constantly inviting us to grow, to live and to love.

Mary is an example for us of both grace and courage.  The beautiful words of Denise Levertov’s poem, Annunciation, blessed my spirit.  I look forward to praying with it during times of personal discernment.  I invite you, also, to take time to sit and reflect with Levertov’s poem and consider the “annunciations of some sort or another” happening in your life.

May we all be blessed with the courage of Mary during times of discernment, uncertainty and when facing the unknown.

Perhaps, an “annunciation” in your life is feeling called to consider being a Sister.  Call us, our Vocation Ministers would be happy to speak with you.

Peace.

Pat Dual, OP

Posted in God Calling?, News

Trust in the Lord With All Your Heart

Blog by Sr. June Fitzgerald, OP

What does trust in God mean to you?

In January, I had the privilege and challenge of preaching a retreat on the theme of, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart,” from Proverbs 3:5.  This was before the coronavirus invaded our lives.  It was before we learned there was a St. Corona or that Lysol wipes would become something I carry in my purse.  Even though some things have changed since January – many things stay the same and for me, trust in the Lord is one of them.

What does trust have to do with our Vocation blog, God Calling??  Well, I think it has a lot to do with discernment, prayer, making a commitment to religious life and living our vows each day.  I know that when I was discerning my call to religious life, I had to learn to trust God and to trust myself also.  I did this through prayer and through experiencing God’s abiding love and presence in my life.

Now, I would challenge you to pause for a moment or longer in your reading and think about a few questions:

  • What does trust in God mean to you?
  • Do you trust God? If so, why? If not, why not?
  • Think of the people in your life. Who do you trust?
  • Who trusts you?
  • Do you think God trusts you?
  • How can you grow in trust?

A definition of trust is:  “It is a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.”  Similar words that convey trust are: confidence, belief, faith, freedom from suspicion/doubt.

So, to answer a few of the questions above –

  • What does trust in God mean to me? I believe that to trust God means to know that God will always be with me, even if I can’t feel that presence.  It is based on faith – which is similar to trust but deeper because it is based on things I can’t really see. I believe trust is a gift.  I pray that God helps me to grow in faith, especially in times like now that are difficult and challenging.
  • Do I trust God? Yes, I trust God.  Well, most of the time.  I must admit though that at times I have doubted.  One time, in particular was when I was on retreat in preparation for my first profession of vows. I was in the chapel praying before the tabernacle.  The scripture verse was from Jeremiah 29:11: “I know the plans I have for you.  Plans for a future full of hope” (paraphrased).  As I prayed, I felt empty and that God was far away from me.  I stuck it out and stayed for the full hour, as my retreat director had recommended.  I stood to leave and said to Jesus, “Where are you?”  In that moment, as I turned from the sanctuary, I felt a warm presence envelope me, as if I was being hugged by a person who was right behind me.  I knew it was God in the person of Jesus embracing me.  I stood there for a long time savoring the consolation before thanking him for his abiding presence with me.  I knew in that moment that Jesus was affirming my decision to make my vows.  This is one of those “touchstone” experiences I recall whenever I need reassurance or lack trust that God is with me.
  • Who do I trust? Who I trust and who trusts me have become life sustaining and lifesaving in this time of social distancing, caring for one another by adhering to hand washing and other disease reducing protocols.  Today, as I ventured to the store for some necessities, I washed my hands several times, kept using sanitizing wipes and thanked those who were working in the store.  Another sister and I picked up some essentials for our sisters in a neighboring convent so they wouldn’t have to venture out.

I’m still working on the other questions I posed above.  So, I will end here, but I encourage you to continue to reflect on the role trust plays in your life and to think about the faith of St. Joseph which we read about in today’s Gospel from Matthew 1:18-21.  Pray with St. Joseph and ask him to help you and all of us to grow in faith and to trust God to lead us in all ways and always.

In the meantime, if you feel God calling you to religious life, contact us to begin a conversation with one of our Vocation Ministers.

Posted in God Calling?, News