Live from the Thomas Merton Center

Here is the video of my live interview in cased you missed it.  Feel free to ask questions by commenting on this post!

Meet a Sister!

Save

Image

A Journey Just Begun

group photoWould you believe it’s been five years since I entered the Sisters of Mercy! I have grown deeper in my faith, in the community, and in my self-understanding since I began this journey; now, as I think of my first vows ceremony, which was less than a week ago, I see that my journey has just begun. In fact journey was the theme I was thinking of when I picked the readings for the ceremony. I started with a reading from Catherine McAuley where she reminds us that developing a relationship with God takes time, practice, and trust; the theme was echoed in the psalm I picked out. My second reading was Jeremiah’s call which reminds me that God has always known me, and that all I need to do is my best to be faithful and attentive to my relationship with God. The Gospel reading was “Peter do you love me” from the end of John. What attracted me in this reading was how Jesus met Peter where he was in this moment of reconciliation and, though Peter had messed up, their relationship did not end but rather had the opportunity to begin anew and deepen.

IMG_1811

An open heart- cover art for the program

In the weeks leading up to my ceremony I was thinking and praying about all of these readings; I drew a mandala reflecting their themes as the cover art for the program showing the idea of keeping your heart a little bit open so God will have a way into the world. When you let God through then your relationship has a chance to grow, you become more co-creative with our God, and also a little more open than before.
My ceremony ritualized this idea of journey for me because there was not one but three moments for me where I committed myself. I verbally said ‘yes’ when asked, I signed the official document, and just before the whole ceremony had started I went for a walk by myself and shared a private moment with God.
The morning after the ceremony I gathered with a group of Sisters to reflect on the day. What struck me then was the absolute gratitude I had felt during the ceremony while I was surrounded and affirmed by community. So many Sisters, family, and friends came to celebrate with me and God’s generosity in my life became apparent in that moment.

IMG_1907

A journey just begun

A few days ago I drew a second mandala reflecting on my memories of the day; it is filled with joy, life, and delight. In this mandala I see that my journey is unfinished and I couldn’t be more excited with that realization since sometimes I need to be reminded that life has no finish line. I am at the beginning of this journey and I do not know what more is to come, yet I know now more than ever that my potential for life is great in my community of Mercy.

What These 397 Incredible Days Have Meant

Wingspan Prophetic witness seems like such a huge part of this whole life as a Mercy to me, and it scares me a bit. I so resist the idea that as a sister I need to be presentable at all times, I need to be patient, and people will not always accept anger as a reasonable emotion from me. I do not like the idea that as a sister I will be expected to be wise, learned, and a theologian. I do not feel prepared for this burden, I do not feel equipped for this call. I do however; feel called to be something different, to step out of life as we know it, out of the rat race, and by so doing to say to the world, “Hey, there is another way!” Or in the immortal words of Olaf the magical snow man when his friends were faced with an impossible mountain climb, “Not sure if this is going to solve your problem but I found a staircase that leads exactly where you wanted to go.” Like Olaf I may not have the gifts the world is looking for, but I might have the gifts that are needed, enough to cause ripples if I dare to rock the boat. I do not always see in me the gifts I see in other sisters of Mercy, and I do not know for certain that courage-a trait I see in many others-is one of my gifts. I am however, beginning to see some of my own gifts emerge and they do enable me to be something different than what the world has already chosen.

As I’ve worked through this integration time I am reminded of a movie I watched in my Religion and Art class in college. We watched “On the Waterfront” in which Marlon Brando is an ex-prize fighter turned dock worker struggling to stand up to his corrupt union bosses. The new and just union leader is murdered and at the funeral Marlon receives his coat and experiences a conversion leading him to take up the man’s cause. The coat is like a prophet’s mantle, the sign of a prophet in the Old Testament, and just as Elisha inherited Elijah’s place so Marlon inherits the role of the union leader. I find myself faced with this same choice as I move through formation so I can fully join the ranks of those who have come before me, and live a life that will preach the Gospel louder than any words could. So as a symbol of my year I have knit my ‘mantle’: a spiral ever deepening, ever wider, made up of all of these parts of my year- all knotted and looped together to form a whole story woven together in me.

“Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.”

This hasbcc6103b68691588b121fcc5b33ddb20 been an interesting time for me.  I have just six short week left before my canonical year of novitiate ends and I move out.  Some days this seems less real than others, but today it feels very real and very near as I helped to welcome the new group of novices to the novitiate.  I am surprised at how nostalgic I feel as I experience these welcomings from a new perspective.  In addition to the new arrivals we also welcomed a new candidate to the community yesterday.  Witnessing and participating in the entrance ceremony was an amazing experience for me.  In the Mercy community we have a tradition of blessing individuals with a sung triple Amen of affirmation; I have been the recipient of this blessing many times.  Now, being able to offer it to another woman stepping out on her journey in Mercy made me feel as if I had come full circle from my own entrance four years ago to this next big step in my life as I finish my novitiate year.

www.pinterest.comAnother special moment for me as I witnessed this ceremony was the second reading (Song of Songs 2:10-13) which just happens to be one of my favorites.   I was so struck by this reading because this passage describes spring when it is safe and easy to travel and when figs are easy to pick along the way so there is always enough to eat.  This is a beautiful reading for an entrance ceremony and it fits my own experience as I prepare to leave and continue on my own journey deeper into mercy.  I was so grateful to be reminded that now is the acceptable time for me, and that there will always be enough for the journey no matter where my life in Mercy takes me.

The Crew’s Reviews: Two movies you need to watch.

We watched “The Human Experience” as part of our segment on Christian Anthropology.  What is Christian Anthropology you ask?  Well it’s what the Christian faith has to say about being human.  This movie however, isn’t really presented from a Christian perspective but rather from the perspective of human curiosity which works out well since Christians believe that being a good Christian begins with our first vocation: being a good human.  I found this movie to be a great window into the quest for a deep experience of humanity.  It’s really a powerful story of searching and healing as the main characters share their past experiences and gain greater understanding of themselves throughout the journey documented in this film.

The second movie in today’s double feature is titled “The Peaceful Warrior” and is based on the true story of a young Olympic hopeful who must face his inner demons when he is crippled in a motorcycle accident.  This movie is a parable for the inner journey we are all invited to.  As children we develop an outer armor which protects our sense of self, but as adults the armor only gets in the way since it is psychologically meant to be like training wheels for our development.  If we don’t let go of our training wheels we can easily convince ourselves that we are happy, but in our true self we will know this to be false and hollow.  In his book The Naked Now Richard Rohr, one of my favorite authors, uses the verse, “Unless a grain of wheat should fall to the ground and die, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies it produces much fruit” (Jn 12:24) to describe the imperative need to let go of our training wheels and really change our selves and not just our behaviors.

Living in Community: “a daring and not quite rational undertaking”

They say that “young people” today are seeking community, but no one really talks about what that means.  There are two ways to look at community according to Sandra Schneider: common life (monastic or structured) and congregational living (loose structure but intentional).  When people talk about “young people” seeking community it sounds like they suppose this means common life; I can tell you that I am young people, and common life doesn’t appeal to me.  What does appeal to me is sharing my adult life with like-minded, and like hearted people.

Catherine McAuley

We’ve been studying community at the Novitiate for the past couple of weeks and I really loved Tony Gittin’s article “Community, Communitas and Downward Mobility.”  According to Gittins communitas, a vibrant kind community life, is just a brief moment  like a match being struck.  As I read his article I couldn’t help think of Catherine McAuley’s own communal beginnings.  Her dream was impossible, her companions were insufficient, and the audacity of her imagination and faith were unstoppable (Gittins 19).  It’s hard to imagine choosing the circumstances which would facilitate communitas today: incredible odds, and little hope of success.  The payoff however, is an incredible burst of imagination fueled by “a burning commitment both to the idea and to the community” (Gittins 20).  This choice, to live on our liminal edge, to live vulnerably and therefore authentically, is a daunting and simultaneously alluring challenge.  We are no longer a new community, new foundations are not being sent out as in Catherine’s day.  So how do we rekindle communitas?  We can’t re-strike a match, but we can bring a new match to the embers of the original fire.  For me these coals are found in the members of my community, the history of the order, Catherine’s charism, and my inter-community peer groups both here this year as well as within Giving Voice.  The challenge to me personally will be to seek out areas and experiences which will present me with incredible odds that can only be faced with a strong commitment to community and to the call God has given me.

“In Silence there is eloquence. Stop weaving and see how the pattern improves.”

Novitiate Sweet NovititateIts been more than a month since my last post and what can I say…  This has been a heck of a summer!  I’ve been here there and everywhere and now I’m in Missouri, the new home of the US Novitiate.  Well, this will be a year of reflection and deepening discernment for me so I will be posting with less frequency.

Moving into the Novitiate has kept me busy, but there has been plenty of fun things too!  We went to the Arch, the World Festival, and a Cardinals’ baseball game!  But its not all goofing off we have had classes and meetings too.  This week will be focused on discerning a ministry site, and a spiritual director.  It’s too early to say how the rhythm of life this year will feel, though I expect it will be a very helpful as I seek to deepen the retreat-like atmosphere.  Frankly, right now I’m just glad to be unpacked somewhere and as strange as it may sound to some I look forward to silent Fridays!

Last Friday was a welcome break after packing, flying, and unpacking!  I needed very much to take a day to be still.  We are allowed to spend our retreat day as we see fit so the experience is very individualized and stress free.  I took advantage of my surrounding and spent a good part of the day outside which for me is always a peaceful place to be.  I began to feel like myself again by the end of the day; it amazes me how moving can shake up your whole life, but maybe that’s not a bad thing.

What is your quest?

n21906971_31376987_9045Last week I was invited to be on a panel composed of women, ranging from a college sophomore to a theologian, who gathered to discuss women in the Church.  A touchy subject these days, but nonetheless the conversation was very good.  We each took a few minutes to let the audience know who we are and what our experience of Church has been.  I am so glad that I had just come back from a weekend workshop on community otherwise I don’t know what I would have talked about!

I had notes prepared outlining my life from being a cradle Catholic to a candidate with the Sisters of Mercy, but I couldn’t see what held together all these important moments in my life.  As I reviewed my notes the day before the panel it occurred to me that the common theme was community.  The first community of my family, who instilled in me the importance of faith, led me to desire a peer group who shared my faith.  I found this in high school when I left my public school for a Catholic one.  Having classes in religion was helpful, but the more important thing was being able to “act” Catholic with my friends.  We went to mass at school on holy days, had retreats, and clubs.  I knew this was important to me so I found a Catholic college run by an order called the Marianists.

At Incorp Wkd - March 8 - 10 2013college I found the same sense of camaraderie with my classmates and friends.  I didn’t know it at the time but this was the same thing I was looking for when I started to discern.  I knew God was calling me to religious life so giving up the partnership of marriage wasn’t a big deal for me; however, figuring out in what way God was calling me to live my life was another story all together.  I had so many orders send me information and I visited so many people, but when I saw how the Mercy sisters were in community I knew I had found my home.  And now I can’t wait to continue on my journey with this wonderful group of like-minded women all seeking God with their lives.

Journey: Not Just a Band

Hey all!  I was a guest blogger on the Sisters of Mercy’s official blog to recognize vocations’ week.  I wrote about my journey to becoming a Sister of Mercy.  They posted a picture of me from work to go with it but here are some other photos that I think illustrate my journey.

Previous Older Entries