I made applesauce over the weekend and noticed how many seeds each apple contained. As I sliced about a dozen green Granny Apples, I suddenly realized each one of those seeds represents the possibility of new life, even orchards of apple trees in the future. Of course, that got me thinking about how much the seeds are like the ways we discern our future.
When other people look at our lives, they don’t see any more clearly than we can about ourselves what are possibilities for our life choices: Married? When and to whom and how will I know? Single? Forever? For now? Until I meet someone special with a mutual attraction for me? Religious Life? When? Where? Active or contemplative? Missionary?
So, you see, many “seed-questions” show up once we've opened ourselves to them. Much like the apple seeds, they only become visible once we go deeper into the apple’s core. The challenge is to take the risk of opening ourselves to God’s call to us. Each of us has a calling. Our happiness is linked with our response to that call.
Pray to be ready for the opening. Trust that God is never outdone in abundance! Our part is to slow down, listen and consider the possibility that God is calling you to a life full of meaning.
I pray with you for this grace,
Semillas de Posibilidades
Hice salsa de manzana este fin de semana, y me di cuenta que tantas semillas cada manzana tiene. Mientras partí una dozena de manzanas tipo “Granny”, de repente me di cuenta que cada una de esas semillas representa la posibilidad de nueva vida, aun huertas de manzanas en el futuro. Por su puesto que esto me hizo pensar en cómo las semillas son como nosotras dicernimos el futuro.
Cuando otras personas miran nuestras vidas, ellos no ven algo más claro de lo que vemos de nosotras mismas cuales son las posibilidades para nuestras decisiones de la vida: ¿Casada? ¿Cuándo? y ¿Para quién y ¿Cómo sabré? ¿Soltera? ¿Para siempre? ¿Por ahora? ¿Hasta que conozca alguien especial con una mutua atracción? ¿Vida Religiosa? ¿Cuándo? ¿Dónde? ¿Activa o contemplativa? ¿Misionera?
Como te puedes dar cuenta, hay muchas “preguntas sobre las semillas” que aparecen al momento que nos abrimos a ellas. Como las semillas de las manzanas, solo se hacen visibles al momento que nos profundizamos al corazón de la manzana. El reto es de tomar el riesgo de abrirnos al llamado de Dios. Cada una de nosotras tenemos un llamado. Nuestro gozo está ligado a nuestra respuesta a ese llamado.
Reza para estar lista para la apertura. ¡Confía que la abundancia de Dios no tiene fin! Nuestra responsabilidad es de ir más despacio, escuchar y considerar la posibilidad que Dios te está llamando a una vida llena de significado.
Rezo contigo por esta gracia,
Parents raise their children to be independent and capable. I’m not sure it necessarily follows that we have to do everything on our own just because we’re capable of being that “independent person”.
I once had an experience walking on a leaf-covered pathway through the woods after a downpour of rain. The size and diversity of the many trees with their trunks darkened by splashes of the rain caught my eye. Upon leaving the woods I had an insight: each of those trees not only “got along” with the others, but each was dependent on the others for their survival. Although they obtained their own nourishment through their roots and leaves, somehow they were not standing alone in a big field or meadow. They weren’t having to fend for themselves, but were part of this diverse collection of trees and they all were thriving!
We humans are also part of a diverse collection of creatures, depending on one another for support, caring, listening, playing and working together. At times we need a listening heart or wise advice to get clear about what we think and feel about our lives. It helps to know we matter to others. These others can be parents, good friends, roommates, co-workers, pastors, and spiritual directors we can count on when we’re searching out a life choice.
Check out this upcoming event for a chance to be with others who care that you find the right choice for your life’s purpose.
There is a famous question, “If you were charged with being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” In other words, does the way you live your life really reflect what you claim you believe and value? Most of us fall short, but in general, we can recognize if we are muddling along in the direction toward what we hold sacred and true or away from it.
For Dominicans, we view it in a slightly different way. How does your life preach? How does the way you live proclaim to the world? We are members of the Order of Preachers, after all. Dominican houses were and are called “Houses of the Holy Preaching.” That doesn’t mean we sit around listening to homilies and reflections. It means we strive to recognize that what we do – how we treat each other, how we live together, how we reach out to others – is a way of preaching Christ’s Gospel.
How do I preach with my life? What do I preach with my life? Does my life say what I want it to be saying? Does my life align with God’s desires for me? Asking these questions can help us figure out if we are on the right path and can help us discern the forks in the road.
Ultimately God’s desire for our lives and our deepest desires are united. But it takes a while to understand and accept those deepest desires within us.
Take some time this week to ask God to show you how you already preach with your life and, perhaps, show you new ways you may be called!
That famous question, “Who do you say that I am?” occurs in this Sunday’s Gospel. It can be a very important discernment question because how we answer it affects everything. If you say Jesus was a good man who set a good example, that may be nice, but it doesn’t necessarily call a person to any radical change. If you say Jesus is the one who will judge us in the end, then it might just make you anxious and act out of guilt. If you say Jesus is the creator of the universe manifesting in human form to teach us how to live and love, you might feel more drawn to respond with your life.
At a very personal level, we probably answer this question differently from others, and even for ourselves at different points in our lives. Because Jesus is also a ‘person,’ we are in a relationship, and relationships change over time. Jesus may not change, but our understanding of him and way of relating to him will. Some of the different answers I have had to this question: Jesus you are… my partner… my hope… a caress… a challenger… the one I take time with each night and morning… the core relationship in my life.
Discernment involves other people. But the strongest voice in becoming who I am, and discerning what I am called to do, is the voice of Jesus.
Who do you say Jesus is?
I look upon you with such love. You are so hard on yourself. You feel guilty for all you do not do, and for some of the things you do. I see it. I know you. You can’t hide anything from me and you don’t need to. You are safe with me. I don’t condemn you. I want to cheer you on. I want you to be all that I made you to be. I see the goodness inside you even when you don’t see it yourself. I do call you to be more, but out of love, out of knowing the goodness that is within you.
Sometimes it is hard to look at the pain in yourself, in those around you, in the world. I know. It is overwhelming at times. When I walked the Earth it pained my heart that I could not cure all. It caused me such sadness that my message about God’s reign was twisted and used against me and my followers. It angered me that the poor suffered so much due to the greed of those in power.
It’s not easy being a human being and trying to follow me is it? Sometimes it means you will have to suffer. There are times you will feel like you are being put on a cross.
Maybe you will be judged falsely by those around you.
Maybe a relationship will be ruptured that will not be repaired in this life.
Maybe you have experienced a loss you weren’t sure you could bear.
I know. Look at me up here. I know all your hurt and all your pain and I embrace it. And transform it. An empty tomb is actually a sign of new life.
Pay attention – there is hope in places you might not expect. Look for the signs of new life, within you and around you. I did not stay up on this cross. Yes, it was a shameful, excruciating death. But it passed over. God raised me and God will raise you. Once you accept and know the cross, you do not need to stay there.
Honor what has been, in my witness and in your own life, kiss it, venerate it, bow before it.
And then get ready, because resurrection is on its way!
Composed by Sister Lorraine Réaume, OP
If you are going to make it through the birth canal, baby girl, you need to change your direction. I hate to tell you this, but you are going the wrong way! Your twin sister has already left the womb. She was positioned headfirst and made it out with no problems. Since you are positioned feet first, you have a more complicated assignment. Don’t panic! I made you resilient and adaptable. Help is on the way. A female doctor with small hands is reaching in as we speak. Her gentle touch is encouraging you to make a somersault and head out in the right direction. Ah! There you go! You did it! Welcome to the world!
As you may have guessed, I was a breech birth — born one hour after my twin sister. Back in the 1950s, breech births were a threat to the life of both the baby and the mother. So, first of all, I feel blessed to be alive. The story of my birth, however, speaks an urgent message: new life demands necessary change! Hard fought effort on our part is required. God takes the lead and shows us the way.
Here is where discernment steps in. We need to decide when change is a good thing. Change for change’s sake, chasing every new experience for the excitement and pleasure of novelty, or running away from healthy commitments do not equal healthy, life-giving change in our lives. If God is calling us to make a change for the better, it is usually because we are beginning to experience a failure to thrive in some important area of our lives. Like me in the womb; I had to make a change in order to experience new life.
Are you heeding the call to healthy change in your life? Do you believe you can make the necessary changes with the help of God and others?
Do you have the water? Or the jug? Or are you thirsty? A regular Lenten reading is the Samaritan woman at the well. In a way, the Samaritan woman could be any of us. She is coming to get water, to get what is needed for her and her family to survive, but she is tired of having to come day after day. The thought of receiving water that would quench her thirst forever sounds like a wonderful idea to her!
Our Lenten practices can help us become aware of what we truly need. By giving something up, we can no longer use that food or habit or thought to distract us, and we can encounter our own deep thirst. If we don’t realize we are thirsty, we will fail to drink the water we need. When we become aware of our spiritual and emotional thirsts, we can bring them to God and ask for that life-giving water only God can provide.
The wonderful gift of encountering our own thirst, and allowing God to ease it, enables us to then offer water to others. We know what it is like to thirst. We can share in that struggle with someone. We can help them lower the bucket to their depths in order to receive true water. Where are you this Lent? Are you avoiding your thirst? Are you allowing God to quench it? Are you called to help someone else lower the bucket into the well?
Sister Lorraine Réaume, 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!