By Sister Judith Benkert, OP
I’m inspired to write about my gift of faith and the grace accepted. Grace is offered many times a day and it’s up to me to accept the grace, to engage and act as a Christian according to my baptismal gift. I would like to identify two specific graces that are an integral part of my life. I received the grace of Baptism very early in my family life and it’s that grace that urged me to accept a second grace, later in my life, that of a call to be a member of religious life, a Dominican Sister. Of course, I ask “Why me? Why not another person, who am I that I have been graced twice with regard to my vocation?” At the time I wanted a family and I wanted to become a sports star (the sports star was a real overreach). Well in one way or another I have accomplished that and much more. As a mother I would have been a guide to my family. As a Sister, I became a guide to many families over my years as an RN and a Certified Nurse-midwife. God’s gifts are only limited by our imagination. I continue to minister even now as an RN in a parish with a commitment to the homeless and service to frail seniors. I’m still preaching with my hands both being ‘in-touch’ and ‘touched’ by the people of God.
What is the direction in your life and are you open to God’s Grace?
After a winter of snow, ice, and freezing weather the new blossoms of spring seem so far away. We hear of a new wave of cold arctic air to hit the Northeast. And yet the first blossoms are bravely opening with the urging of the warm sun.
Discernment was for me a chilling winter. Where was the answer to my seeking? Where was the God I so believed in? Give me an answer, and soon! Then one morning I was out the back door and peeking through the winter soil was the small point of a peony plant. I lived in the Midwest. I was able to see the warmth of the sun bring the decision to light. I haven’t looked back. Spring blossoms are always reminders for me to believe in the warmth of God’s grace.
A close friend of mine was out with her beloved Grandmother. They were waiting for the light to change before crossing a busy street. Grandmother says to her granddaughter, “See the blind man across the street: Go and tell him your name, and offer to walk him across the street.” Of course, the little girl did exactly what her grandmother said. “My name is Marianne, may I walk across the street with you?” This was a life-changing event in the young girl’s life. In this simple act, she discovered the joy of service. She has been a Franciscan Sister of Peace for many years now.
We may receive such gifts during this time of Christmas, small gifts that shape our lives into the future. And then there are gifts that ask us for the big response: the “Big Give,” such as a vocation to religious life that asks for your life to be the hand of Christ for others.
Being the hand of Christ for others can take many forms. The invitation and the grace to say “yes” come from God who lives among the people, especially those who are on the margins. Women have many options. You will do it in your own way. It’s an unknown future. How is God asking you to be the hand of Christ for others?
Sister Judith Benkert, OP
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Get out your bell-bottoms and platform shoes, because DISCO is here!
Okay, so it's a little less dancing, a little more talking... Sisters Lorraine Réaume, OP, and Sara Fairbanks, OP, have a new video series called DISCO (Discernment Conversations): Dancing with the questions of life!