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.
In a couple of weeks, we will be celebrating God’s gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. As I read through the Easter readings from the Acts of the Apostles and the gospel readings where Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit, I began to reflect on my own experiences of the Spirit. Holy Spirit moments are unmistakable. They are moments that bring clarity during a time of confusion. They are moments that bring peace during a time of chaos. They are moments that bring comfort during a time of suffering. No matter how we may experience the Spirit’s presence in our lives, we are not likely to forget it.
One such moment occurred during the early years of my discernment about religious life. During a weekend retreat, I recall earnestly praying and asking for clarity about discerning religious life. While the participants on this retreat were contemplating their entrance into the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil, as their RCIA Coordinator, I was silently praying for an answer about this inexplicable idea of a religious vocation.
The retreat had been a wonderful experience for everyone. But I remember feeling disappointed that my prayers that weekend had seemingly not been answered. As I prepared to leave, I noticed a small bible that had, seemingly, been left behind by one of the retreatants. When I picked it up, a slip of paper fell to the floor with the words, “I choose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit. The kind that endures.” I never did find the owner of the bible, but the note helped me to find my way during a time of uncertainty. In fact, these words have turned up unexpectedly often in my faith journey. Over time, the full discernment process for me included talking with good friends, with vocation directors, along with spiritual direction. The discernment process helped open my heart to God’s invitation to religious life.
Our faith tells us that the Holy Spirit is always present around us and within us. As we prepare to celebrate the feast of Pentecost in the next few weeks, I invite you to recall those “Holy Spirit” moments in your own life. Recalling these moments of grace helps to remind us that despite the circumstances in our lives and in our world, God is here. The Spirit is here. Hope is here. I also invite you to listen to one of my favorite Holy Spirit songs.
If the Spirit has invited you to consider religious life, why not give us a call. Peace.
Spring and summer are good times for gardening. In early Spring, I planted flowers. I also grew vegetable seeds in small pots. Every day, I searched for a bit of green showing up, then gradually, I saw young leaves. Later, I saw some of their roots at the bottom of the pots; I knew that these plants needed more space and soil to grow. When removing them from the tiny jars, I saw roots curling around the pot wall, which signifies that these little plants in small pots need more space to expand, grow, and bear fruit. I stirred the soil in my garden and put fertilizer in. Then, I transferred these plants to this soil and watered them. I hope that my garden this year will have a lot of garden veggies.
Gardening reminds me of my vocation call. When I was young, God planted a vocation seed into this small pot of a girl. This small pot helped germinate this call. With the basic faith foundation, the root of this call began to curl and form according to the shape of the small pot. Then, at a particular time, God invited me to consider joining a religious order. I heard the voice saying, “it is time for your encircled roots to expand and time for your call to grow and bear fruit.” Through a discernment process, I said “Yes” to let God transfer me from this small pot to the soil of the Dominican Sisters of Peace to fulfil what God said.
The fertile soil of the Dominican Sisters of Peace has given me space to grow. My roots begin to uncurl, daring to step out of my comfort zone to stretch out as far as possible. My leaves grow and absorb air, water, and elements from earth, allowing me to dance with the life around me.
Yes, this religious life opens my heart and mind, allowing me to touch the absolute love of God, both at personal and communal levels, helping me to be deeply rooted in my faith foundation and heritages. My community helps me to expand my knowledge and passion on mission and understanding in spirituality as I pursue higher education, which is important in my ministry. In community, I also have opportunities to build different friendships and to be exposed to various ways of life through these connections and sharing.
Religious life teaches me how to use my time to reflect, to be mindful, and to integrate what I have received, shared, and been exposed to for the mission. Being touched by the interconnectedness of God’s creations on various levels, this life encourages me to trust in God’s providence, envision and embrace a future full of hope. Hope gives me the energy I need for the mission of God on earth. I see religious life as a call to live a prophetic life. Within this lifestyle, we grow to know ourselves better, are encouraged to expand our roots in many directions and to see our interconnections with each other and God’s creations. We share life’s realities with love and compassion for one another and seek to be united in God with our mind, heart, and spirit. All that we do is done for the glory of God on earth and for God’s mission.
Religious life is beautiful and is worth exploring to see what might sprout, especially within the soil of the community of the Dominican Sisters of Peace. If you feel a call to expand your life or are curious about this life and want to explore this life, I invite you to participate in our Mission for Peace event on June 22-27 in Kansas. Please contact the vocation team for more information about religious life or this event.
Just this past Wednesday, we heard Jesus saying in the Gospel:
“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger (…)
I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me.”
(Jn 6:35 & Jn 6:38)
I believe most Christians are very familiar with this Scripture passage and many Catholics can even hum the song. However, what does it mean to us on an individual and also on a communal level?
During my novitiate year, we were asked to work on a collage that would help us reflect and express how our year was going on a personal level. One of my goals for the year was trying to figure out what receiving the Eucharist meant to me. And here I was, I was asked to make a collage out it? I wasn’t sure how I was to do that… However, I ran into a Snickers (chocolate bar) advertisement, that stated: “you are not you when you are hungry.” That really resonated with the line from John 6:35: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger.” So, that chocolate advertisement caught my attention, but then shortly after I read this: “extraordinary fuel for everyday adventures.” There is no way that God is like chocolate. No way. But, this advertisement and statement helped me find some words to describe how I would feel without the Eucharist: I would not be myself, and the Eucharist is indeed the extraordinary fuel for everyday life.
So, then the next question is, fuel for what?
Whether receiving God in the blessed sacrament or through people’s care, there is only one requirement: to be open and to be ready to receive. I love to pray with this song: Lord prepare me to be a sanctuary.
The apostle, Thomas, used the words: “my Lord and my God.”
What does it feel like when you receive the Eucharist?
I love this other song: “I received the living God” Why? Because I feel recharged or re-energized to keep sharing God’s love, especially where it is most needed.
One of the daily reflections I used to receive in emails noted how in receiving the broken bread, we are united in the brokenness of Christ, and how we are transformed by that: “Recognizing our brokenness is what begins change within us. Accepting the blessing of our brokenness is what empowers the change. And offering our brokenness to the Lord – to be used in loving service for others, like Jesus – is what completes the transformation.”
I believe we are transformed by the paschal mystery, by the Eucharist, by the joys and the challenges of our lives, and by the joys and challenges of the lives around us and in the world. Receiving-and-then-being-Eucharist hasn’t been easy all the time but receiving the Eucharist with a spiritual intent can help us. The Eucharist is a source of strength each time we face a challenge. Receiving the Eucharist encourages us to remain open to God and to let God use our challenges to transform us, and then to be used in loving service for others. A song that I love and resonates with being in loving service is the Servant Song by D. McGargill (What do you want of me Lord? Where do you want me to serve you…)?
LET YOUR WAY BE MY WAY
So, what do we do after receiving the Eucharist?
In an article from Our Sunday Visitor, we read about how God wants us to serve God:
“Christ has no interest in making us into mere consumers;
he means instead for us to become capable of loving him.”
We hear the answer clearly in the Mass reading from this Wednesday: “not to do my own will but the will of the one…” (Jn 6:38) Before each Mass, I never know what call or inspiration I might leave with. However, my prayer in the light of the daily reading or in the light of the needs of the times is: “Let your way be my way.” If we are truly open to God’s ways and tuned to God in our hearts, then God is there to show us the way to do God’s will.
This poem by R. Voight was the first poem that helped me “translate” how I could be Eucharist, broken and shared with others in daily actions. Later, I fell in love with a song, because it really brings the living bread home to me: Holy and Living Bread by Thomas Aquinas and Owen Alstott. This song continues to strengthen me and encourage me each time I pray with it.
I invite you to pray this song together in Spirit. You can listen to the song here or you can read the lyrics below to pray with it.
Holy and Living Bread,
wondrous food from heaven sent,
God’s sacrifice foretold – now in our hands we hold.
Sign and reality,
challenge for us to be humble servants to all the poor.
God, holy Three-in-One,
through this off’ring of your Son, all now on earth can see,
what we are called to be:
Hope for a world in need,
signs that love can succeed
where true justice and peace endure.
I am reminded from Wednesday’s daily Mass reading: not to do my own will….but yours, God…. What are you being called to right now, in this moment?
If you are discerning God’s call to religious life and would like to explore ways of being Eucharist to others, we are offering a “Mission for Peace” experience June 22-27, 2022. Click here for more information.
As I was browsing through my email messages, two subject lines immediately caught my attention: “Because TWO are better than ONE!” and “It’s time to cross this road.” Then there was a third one, “Looking for Something?” Hmmm. Messages can appear at the unseemliest time and place. Yet, if we are open to seeing them, these messages can illuminate our path and serve as a call along our path to God.
What strikes me about the first message, “Because TWO are better than ONE” is how we are invited into relationship with others and with our God. Certainly, we are familiar with the Scripture passage from Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” What a powerful reminder that God is always present to us in each other! We are not alone; we are called to be with each other, to be helpmates—this is part of our makeup, being called into union with one another.
The second message, “It’s time to cross this road,” conjures up images of initial resistance, then surrendering and moving forward, taking that first step, a step of trust and faith in the unknown. Just as Jesus knew it was time to take up his cross to Calvary, he knew that this step was necessary to fulfill his mission in life of sacrificing his life for the good of all humankind. Even in this moment of suffering, Jesus is befriended by Simon of Cyrene who helps Jesus carry his cross. Who are the people who help you carry your cross? Who are the people whose cross you help carry? We do not have to cross the road of difficulty or possibility alone. We are invited to be in community and to walk in solidarity with one another.
The third message, “Looking for Something?” speaks to me of a lifelong quest to find one’s essence, to find one’s calling, and to follow where that essence and calling invites us. When we’re looking for something, like lost keys, when we pause long enough to examine where we’ve been, and where God is calling us, we can often find what is missing. So too with our spiritual quest to know ourselves and our Creator, when we pause in prayer or take time to be with our God, in whatever ways God speaks to us, we often find that what we are missing is a connection with ourselves, with each other, and with our God. What we are looking for is within us and around us. We just have to open our eyes and our hearts to see and be aware of God’s presence. But, we get lost in our own darkness, and that’s when we need to be reminded of yet another familiar Scripture passage from Matthew 7:7, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” It is in the searching, in the seeking, in the opening of doors that we will find what we are looking for.
Looking at these three messages together: “Because TWO are better than ONE!,” “It’s time to cross this road,” and “Looking for Something?,” are all part of the same message of seeking and finding God in our midst. These messages are also about recognizing how we are connected to each other and are called to be there for each other, mending broken hearts, working in solidarity with others, bringing about peace and justice, being the Light in someone’s darkness, bringing hope to the downtrodden. We know these messages. We need reminders though that we may need help from others, and we need God’s help to walk across the road as we seek to live out and bring the Gospel message of love and peace to others.
If you are ready to cross the road and to find out whether God is calling to religious life, we invite you to contact us. Together, we will journey with you as you seek to find your heart’s desire and God’s desire for you. Better yet, take the leap and meet us in person at our Mission For Peace program, June 22 – 27 in Kansas. Along with other women in discernment, spend a few days in prayer, community, and service while exploring the possibility of vowed religious life.
My nephew kept asking me many questions like these above. Sometimes, I found it hard to explain to him. At the same time, I am happy to see that he is using the gift of holy curiosity to learn about life and about God.
Holy curiosity is a gift from God to us as human beings, to search for God, to be intimate with God, and to be inspired by God’s mission. Holy curiosity urges us to raise questions and to take quiet time to grasp the mystical meaning of God revealed to us through creation, life, and our call. Holy curiosity, without quiet reflection, will lead us nowhere. Quiet time allows us to listen effectively, to reflect, to integrate what God reveals to us daily, and to respond to God’s personal call to us and to the needs of our time.
My vocation call came from the holy curiosity of my childhood. After reading many saints’ stories, I asked many questions too: “why can only dead people become saints? Why can’t I or other people who are still alive be saints?” Searching for answers, I learned that all of us are called to be holy as God is Holy. That sounded wonderful, but how? This “how” urged me to search more, which required more quiet time to reflect.
Later on, when I was participating in the discernment process for religious life, holy curiosity helped me raise questions with the mindset of “freedom for inquiry,” which gave me the latitude to search for clarification of my call from many perspectives. My holy curiosity helped me to look at my call through my faith, traditions, culture, history, and the signs of times. I realized that my consecrated call was not purely to say “Yes” to religious life, just once, but an ongoing call to continuously search for God, to grasp and practice how to live a prophetic life. Of course, living a prophetic life is a process of letting go so we can grow, be transformed, and do God’s mission. God is present in these processes, and holy curiosity motivates me to recognize God’s works in the diversity of life, even beyond human beings.
Throughout human history, God has granted individuals and the church the gift of holy curiosity and the desire for contemplation. Indeed, this curiosity, when practiced in quiet time, is really the quintessential experience of a believer, from Augustine’s “restless heart” to Catherine de Siena’s “The Dialogue” to what we are reading from more contemporary voices like Dorothy Day, Richard Rohr, Brian Massingale, Joyce Rupp, or Wendell Berry. As we journey together as people of faith on earth, you and I may ask ourselves the following questions:
How can we use this gift of holy curiosity to search for deeper meaning in living our faith and how can our actions be for the common good?
How can we utilize our freedom for inquiry to raise questions, to challenge the status quo, and to respond to God and to the needs around us with more positive energy and vision?
For those who may be hearing the still small voice of God nudging you to think about being a sister, I would like to invite you to search for the meaning of this and other voices with the gift of holy curiosity. Take time to reflect and to explore openly what is being revealed to you. Here are some other ways you can satisfy your curiosity about religious life and about us: