Pray for vocations during this National Vocation Awareness Week!

This week, November 4-10, 2018, is National Vocation Awareness Week, with a special focus on discerning the call to priesthood, religious life and diaconate. In these difficult days for the Church, it can be especially hard for young people to discern whether God is calling them to dedicate themselves totally to building the kingdom of God. Please join this week in praying for the holy vocations that the Church and the world so desperately need.

If you are a young person discerning your vocation, check out Pope Francis’ Message for the World Day of Prayer for Vocations here. I think these short paragraphs in particular offer much-needed encouragement and insight:

God continues to “come down” to save our human family and to make us sharers in his mission. The Lord continues to call others to live with him and to follow him in a relationship of particular closeness. He continues to call others to serve him directly. If he lets us realize that he is calling us to consecrate ourselves totally to his kingdom, then we should have no fear! It is beautiful – and a great grace – to be completely and forever consecrated to God and the service of our brothers and sisters.

Today the Lord continues to call others to follow him. We should not wait to be perfect in order to respond with our generous “yes”, nor be fearful of our limitations and sins, but instead open our hearts to the voice of the Lord. To listen to that voice, to discern our personal mission in the Church and the world, and at last to live it in the today that God gives us.

May Mary Most Holy, who as a young woman living in obscurity heard, accepted and experienced the Word of God made flesh, protect us and accompany us always on our journey.

– Pope Francis, 2018 Message for World Day of Prayer for Vocations

 

The National Religious Vocation Conference put together this five-minute video that offers insights into various communities of consecrated life and discernment:

If you need inspiration in praying for vocations, check out this collection of  vocation prayers hosted on the USCCB site. There are over 40 prayers—more than enough prayers here to choose a different prayer for every day this week!

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Tips for following the Synod for Young People

We are just beginning Week 2 of the Synod. (It runs from Oct. 3-28.) The more I follow it, the more I have been enjoying the way the Synod is “modeling” community discernment for the Church.

The Synod offers insights that are helpful for anyone discerning how God might be calling them to serve, as the it highlights the needs of humanity across the globe.  Here are my current favorite sources for following the Synod. (If you are already following the Synod, please share below in the comments how you are following it, and what has impressed you!)

Archbishop Fisher’s Daily Blog of the Synod    This is the first place I check every day. Archbishop Fisher’s blog is accessible and offers real insight into what is happening there on a daily basis.

Synod 2018 on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram   The Synod’s official social media.

The Synod’s Official website (with the Instrumentum Laboris or Working Document)  If you wonder what IL is, or what “document” everyone is talking about, you can find it here. It’s a bit long for an easy read, but if you download the document and search for discernment (or any other topic you’re interested in), you will see what the small groups are referring to.

Salt + Light TV’s Frequent Synod Updates (including blogposts, 5 minute video updates, and longer TV shows). The link goes to the blog for yesterday, Oct. 9.

Catholic News Service offers fairly comprehensive coverage that offers more detail.

If you are a young person discerning your vocation, I would love to hear from you. Have you been following the Synod? Why or why not?  And if yes, have you gained any insights?

You can comment below, on my Facebook page, or email me.

Discernment Wisdom from the Saints

In today’s Office of Readings, we are offered some discernment wisdom from a saint. We follow the discernment of a young woman—already a cloistered Carmelite—who seeks to discover the core of her vocation/mission in the Church. She turns to Sacred Scripture—specifically, the Letters of Saint Paul and finds her answer in the Letter to the Romans.

Blessed James Alberione was a man on fire for the Gospel, who, like Saint Paul was  constantly discerning where the Holy Spirit was leading him next. He founded the nine religious institutes and one lay association that make up the Pauline Family, and he had a genius for seeing how others could collaborate in spreading the Gospel. Today,  the Pauline Family worldwide has thousands of members. I find that his words are always timely:

For many good reasons (and some not so great reasons–like trying to juggle too many things!) I haven’t gotten back to blogging regularly here. Even though I’m traveling quite a bit this month, as I follow the Youth Synod, I will highlight the insights on discernment that might be helpful. (And you may want to follow the discussions of the Synod closely as well.)

 

 

Sneak Peek of Online Lenten Retreat!

As I blogged about earlier this week, My Sisters is offering our FIRST online Lenten retreat entitled, Seeking God’s Will. I am so excited about being able to offer a retreat this way, as it can reach so many people! (I’m also looking forward to the feedback I will receive from those who make the retreat, so that the next one can be even more helpful!)

Sr. Mary Lea Hill launches the retreat with a mini-conference. Here is a sneak preview of how she makes a retreat sound do-able!

We just finished putting up the retreat Friday afternoon. If you’d like to make a retreat  this Lent, consider joining My Sisters. It is only $1 for the first trial month. You can find more information at: http://www.22s.com/mysisters or https://mysisters.blog/  

Upcoming Lenten Retreat on Seeking God’s Will

It’s great to be slowly getting back to blogging! My first couple of blogposts will simply be to offer some resources for you as you continue to discern God’s call in your life. This first “resource” is very special: an online retreat on God’s will hosted by two other Daughters of Saint Paul and myself:

 

Retreats aren’t just for priests and sisters, but they are one of the best “perks” of my life as a sister. So I am delighted to invite you to join us at My Sisters’ very first online Lenten Retreat beginning on March 3rd, 2018: Seeking God’s Will Online Lenten Retreat.  The online retreat can be made at your own pace, according to your own schedule. I envision some people making the retreat in 3-4 hours, some people taking a full day for it, and others breaking the retreat into three or six parts, taking one part each day or each week.

A special bonus for members of My Sisters is the Facebook Live Spiritual Accompaniment sessions that I will be hosting on the evenings of Monday, March 5th, and again Thursday, March 8th, to deepen this theme of God’s will. Seeking God’s Will Online Lenten Retreat will eventually become available as a stand-alone retreat, but without a live accompaniment session.

God has a loving plan for each of us. But how do we come to know God’s will? How can know what God’s particular will is for us, here in this moment in our daily life?

Sister Mary Lea Hill, popular author (Prayer and You, Blessed Are the Stressed, Basic Catechism, The Church Rocks), is lovingly known by her readers as “the Crabby Mystic.” She has the knack for making the spiritual accessible, and she’ll start this powerful Lenten retreat by unpacking that mysterious term, “God’s will,” and how our happiness and God’s will are connected.

Sr. Marie Paul Curley, author, blogger, and film reviewer, delves into how we find God’s will, love, and presence when things get tough and life’s challenges become overwhelming.

Sr. Margaret Michael Gillis, FSP, is Vocation Director for the Daughters of St. Paul throughout the USA and Canada. In her work with young people discerning religious life, she has become somewhat of a “specialist” in discernment, and her insights and suggestions come from years of accompanying young women in their vocational discernments.

An engaging, popular speaker (enjoy her distinctive Staten Island accent!), she offers both practical and spiritual tips on how we can discover God’s will and receive the grace to follow God’s invitations–big and small–in our lives. 

An online, downloadable Retreat Guide is also available to help guide retreatants through the various movements of the retreat, offering reflections, guided prayer, a Holy Hour, and suggested takeaways to help you to bring the graces and insights you received during this retreat back into your daily life.


Into the Deep Retreats are designed to be spiritual experiences that you can make in the midst of your every day life, at your own pace. You can make this retreat as a true spiritual getaway by dedicating a whole day (or long half-day) to it. You can also break the retreat into three sessions—and make it over three days or three weeks. Or you can simply give your Lent a spiritual focus by going through each retreat element in the way that fits best into your day/life.

However and whenever you make this retreat, our prayers, and the prayers of all the sisters of our community, will accompany you.

My Sisters is an online community devoted to helping you meet Christ and experience his love in your daily life. Created by the religious sisters of the Daughters of Saint Paul, My Sisters is a portable and accessible “sacred space” for asking the big questions, exploring the faith, and nurturing your identity as God’s beloved one, no matter where you are in your walk with the Lord. (And it’s where I have been spending most of my time online lately.)

 

What Is It REALLY Like To Be a #MediaNun ?

It has been a long time since I have been able to post regularly; I am looking forward to doing it again soon!

In the meantime, our Mission Campaign and Live Rosary Novena to Our Lady of Fatima, which is running from Oct. 5-13th, will offer many “inside glimpses” of religious life as lived by my community, the Daughters of Saint Paul. Every day, our Ask a Catholic Nun Facebook Page, and our fundraiser website www.pauline.org/TheWordHeals will have at least two new stories from our sisters about how the Word of God has changed lives, as well as sneak previews of some of our newest evangelization projects!

In addition, you can pray with us at the following times, or on your own:

If you are too busy with everything else, download our Novena Prayer, written by Sr. Julia Darrenkamp, FSP, and pray with us. (Sr. Julia is a wonderful advisor on the next great spiritual read who is also very active on Instagram as srjulia . )

#Discernment and Advent Resources

nrvc2016_960x245_nodateSalt + Light TV did a special broadcast of a unique web forum on vocational discernment, “So You Think You’ve Been Called?”  hosted by the lively Deacon Pedro Guevara-Mann. I missed the initial stream, but right now you can still replay it on-demand here.

Last Thursday, I was delighted to go live on Spirit Catholic Radio on their Spirit Mornings program for a brief conversation about discernment. You can listen to the segment here. 

These past two weeks, I have been preparing content for radio programs, for our website, for our sisters on the theme of Pauline Apostolic Mysticism, and for the Advent retreats that I will be leading in Illinois. Although it’s a huge series of deadlines that can be unnerving at times, I have to confess that I am enjoying being able to “sink deep” into the beautiful mysteries of our faith! I think that my Advent this year will be extra-special.

To find some excellent and free  Advent resources, visit my latest Windows to the Soul blogpost here.

By the way, if you live near Chicago or near Mercer County, IL–near Aledo, Matherville, or Viola–I will be there in December. It would be great to meet you! Here are the events:

In Chicago:

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In Mercer County (Aledo, Viola, and Matherville, IL)

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Prayers for #Discernment

The Annunciation

The Annunciation

The past few weeks, I keep running into some wonderful prayers for discernment, so I thought I’d share them here:

The Archdiocese of Santa Fe has a lovely collection of Prayers for Discernment from a variety of Catholic spiritual traditions (Francis of Assisi, Carmelite, and one of my personal favorites by St. Thomas More).

The USCCB site has over 40 prayers for vocations, as well as another page with some excellent resources on discerning one’s vocation.

The Archdiocese of Boston has a short selection of prayers for discerning one’s vocation, including one written by our Founder, Blessed James Alberione, and another beautiful prayer written by another Daughter of St. Paul, Sr. Nancy Michael Usselmann, FSP

IgnatianSpirituality.com has many wonderful resources on discernment, but this is a page that I frequently send people to: it is a list of prayers by St. Ignatius of Loyola and other Jesuits. There are many wonderful prayers here–not all about discernment–but most of them reference seeking to know or follow God’s will in some way.

Finally, I’ll close with a short prayer for discernment that I wrote when I was vocation director,  and which is included in our Discern It! App for discerning vocations:

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Wonderful Resource for Discerners Available Again!

I’m delighted to announce that the best resource that I know of for learning and understanding in-depth the spiritual art of discernment is once again available!

DiscernmentRupnik

Discernment: Acquiring the Heart of God by Jesuit priest Marko Ivan Rupnik is back in print!

So many people have been requesting this marvelous book that our editorial team  were able to put it back into print. Discernment: Acquiring the Heart of God is the most complete, all-in-one guide to learning how to discern God’s invitations in our lives that I have found. (Other books are very, very good, but I have found nothing so complete, in one small—but densely packed!— volume.) In addition, this superb book is a wonderful guide to the spiritual life.

This book has been so valued that, even though it only went out of print early this year, amazon sellers were selling individual used copies for over $50 each.

Contents include:

  • Discernment as relationship with God.
  • Understanding temptation.
  • How to surrender to Christ.
  • Practicing discernment.
  • Discernment one’s vocation.
  • Discernment in community.

If you have been enjoying this blog, but are interested in going deeper into the spiritual life and the practice of discernment, you certainly want to consider reading this book.