The blog on the Daughters of Saint Paul website for young women who are discerning with us is running a lovely series of posts for Advent that I thought you might find helpful.
Last year at a special meeting in Rome on the apostolic mysticism of our congregation the Daughters of Saint Paul (#MediaNuns), several of the presenters stressed how important it is to be obedient to the inspirations and work of the Holy Spirit. Gradually, this focus on listening and obedience to the Spirit, as well as surrender into the hands of the Most Holy Trinity, has become a key point in my daily prayer, reflections, and examens. This a passage from the document that summarized our two-week meeting captures it well. (Note that all the quotations in the passage are from our Founder, Blessed James Alberione, from one of the key texts he wrote about Pauline Spirituality, Donec formetur Christus in vobis [That Christ Be Formed in You.])
“…It is necessary to detach ourselves from a voluntaristic or moralistic approach to the spiritual-apostolic journey and entrust ourselves to the love of the Father, who, through the Spirit, forms Christ Jesus in us. It is the Trinity that carries out this work of conforming the life of the believer to Christ, to the glory of the Father and for the growth of the Kingdom of God.
As it was for Paul, surrender to God is essential in our journey of adherence to the dead and risen Christ (cf. Ga. 4:19), a process that our Founder loved to call “Christification.” It is up to us to be docile to the inspirations of the Spirit” so that:
* our mind, activated by Jesus Truth, adopts “the thoughts and judgments of Jesus,” in particular his mentality, his way of viewing the various realities and situations of life, so that our thinking will be based more and more on the Gospel (DF 65);
* our will; moved by Jesus Way, detaches itself from selfish choices and does what is pleasing to the Father: “May your will replace my will” (DF 40);
* our heart, in communion with Jesus Life, nourishes the same feelings as his heart: love, mercy…so that this love will become a “fire” that reaches those far away and those thirsting for the truth: “Replace my love for God, for my neighbor and for myself, with your love” (DF 40).” – You Conquered Me as You Conquered Saul Internal Document of the Daughters of Saint Paul, 2017
In keeping with that focus, a good friend and I were talking about our favorite prayers to the Holy Spirit, and she shared this video of the famous advice and prayer to the Holy Spirit written by Cardinal Mercier. It is powerful advice and a powerfully beautiful prayer.
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!
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/
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.)
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 . )
Thank you for your patience with me as I return from my trip to Illinois and catch up with a few urgent projects. For the beginning of the New Year, I will be in Los Angeles for meetings with our sisters, and I am taking that opportunity to offer a retreat day at our Pauline Book & Media Center in Culver City, CA, on Saturday, January 7th. Retreat will be followed by Mass at our chapel at 4 PM.
A day of retreat is a wonderful way to re-discover and rejoice in the gift of God’s love and to allow his love to transform us. Abiding in his love enables us to discern God’s will for us in this new year, and once again align our will with God’s. If you live in the Los Angeles area, this is a marvelous way to start the year.