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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Still moving along...

Things are a little less confusing to me than they were a week ago, thankfully. After much prayer and some conversation with friends, I think I can let go some of my worries and just try to be! And now, of course, it is almost Christmas, a time of being with relatives and friends that I rarely see. So the emotional issues are transferred to that stress instead!

Actually, I'm hoping Christmas will be a little less stressful this year than in years past. I am already away from home, at my mother's house on the west coast until the end of the month. What's less stress this year? My brother and his wife are coming! Yay! We have had Christmas apart for the last two years, so I think we are all looking forward to spending the time together.

I am so thankful for so many things this year--a year of new job and city, new levels of discernment, new friends and support. I am at peace, and it feels so good to say that and really mean it.

Merry Christmas to everyone! (even though it's still advent)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Retreat and Return





This past weekend I attended a lovely retreat for discerning women. I say "lovely" but that doesn't necessarily mean peaceful... in fact, a number of things came up that left me confused. But confusion can be good. As my spiritual director says, confusion can lead to progress.

Two parts of that confusion had to do with religious life: the issues of obedience and living in community. When I began looking at religious orders, community living was one of the characteristics that attracted me. I don't want to join a religious order only to go on living alone in an apartment. I crave community living, although I also love living alone. What came out of the retreat was one of the sister's concern that I am too idealistic about community living.

I was actually pretty shocked by this, and also confused. I live alone, and have for several years, but I don't think I am quite that idealistic. Definitely a little, but that is in part because I have not lived with others recently, and I desire community life for its positive aspects, like shared meals, prayers, and accountability. (I say accountability because I am much more likely to wash my dishes in a timely fashion if I know others will be using the kitchen!) I want those things, and I fully expect that they come at the price of some conflict--dealing with different personalities and personal needs, asserting my need for personal space, and resolving disagreements in a healthy way (among other things, I am sure). I know those things are not easy. I also know that I will not fully understand the depth of their difficulty until I experience them in community living. I am an academic, and I love to answer questions and doubts through reading, but this is one area where reading cannot help much.

Another thing I have been thinking about is obedience in discernment. I don't really understand obedience as doing everything someone else tells me to do, but rather more like working together with someone who recognizes my gifts and helps me to achieve more than I can imagine on my own. I have decided that I want to seek admission to the rscj, but I know that this decision is not the end of the story. The society has to discern with me that this is a good idea.... to me, that is obedience. Handing over that decision so that someone else might work with it and I might continue with the process. Discernment works both ways--on behalf of myself and the part of the order about my fit as well. To work in this way involves a different mentality, a counter-cultural outlook. When someone is trying to advance in a career, they seek to become more successful, they promote themselves. This mutual discernment is distinctly different from self-promotion.

I guess I recognize that my life is not in my hands. (Not that it ever has been, but now I am acknowledging it wholeheartedly.) I have placed that decision in the hands of Jesus and of the society, and now we can all discern together. And while I am somewhat confused about some things, I am at peace with relinquishing control.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Busy at the end of the Semester...

It never fails--the end of the semester always has me scatter-brained and running from one thing to the next. But, at last, I will take a few minutes to blog.

Life is generally going well, though I had a fight with Verizon this week--I am finally getting high speed internet at home, but only in a very frustrating series of events. I really hope that I never have any problems with it. Who knows whether I would ever be able to get anything fixed. Since moving to my new home in the Southwest, I have had a number of issues with utilities billing and such that are frustrating, but fortunately getting resolved.

This weekend is a retreat, a "women's retreat" by my favorite nuns. I am really looking forward to it, and to the time that I have away from so many work responsibilities. I have had some life-changing prayer experiences lately, and I hope that they will start to make more sense. (More about that in a later blog, I'm sure.) I'm also looking forward to being in my former hometown, and seeing some of my friends. I think I basically have every second of time taken up with friends! It will be very lovely.

More to come.

Blessings to all!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Crazy BlogThing

Your Biblical Name Is...

Zahavah Lisabet

You will not live to see the end of times.



Dee--lightful

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Consolation=Peacefulness?

Spiritual direction can be a lovely thing when it goes well, or distasteful when you have to deal with things that you don't want to talk about... Fortunately, right now, for me, direction is lovely.

I have a great director--Fr. Joe. Amazingly spiritual, and a gentle person. I talked to him this morning, mostly about the desire to apply for religious life. This has felt like a huge decision that I am trying to make (whether or not to apply for acceptance into the community), and it is good to get some perspective. He's a Jesuit, so his advice is about consolation and desolation, paying attention to what my insides are telling me. So that is the task: talking to Jesus about this decision, and attending to the peacefulness or lack of peacefulness in my heart.

Right now, I am so positive about the things that are going on in my life, and also positive about the path to life in a community of religious. I think I need more time to blog about it, but for now, consolation is a beautiful thing.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Holiday!

Happy Thanksgiving! I am off to Houston tonight, to meet the baby of some good friends, then New Orleans for the holiday. Wahoo!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

My Discernment Story

I have been considering religious life seriously for over a year, since I went on a retreat in July 2006. When I first thought about it, it came as a total surprise--I have graduate degrees in theology, and I had spent years adamantly telling people that I was not going to be a nun! That seems to be the question people ask when they find out you are studying theology. Then that July, a few months after I finally graduated, I knew I had to really think about that question. Am I called to religious life?

I looked at a few religious orders, but I soon had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted. Habits hold some fascination, but the orders that wear habits are generally too "obedient" for me--too focused on the dictates of Rome, not willing to ask the questions that I want to ask (I am a theologian, after all). I'm happy to follow the Church's rules, but I need the freedom to ask "why" and to speak my mind when I think the reasons for something are insufficient.

The religious order that I ended up getting to know was the Society of the Sacred Heart, founded in 1800 by St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, who modeled the formation process after the Jesuit formation process. Lovely! The history fascinates me, and I can relate to the emphasis on education, especially an education that is transformative. And I love the Jesuits, their spirituality, and their educational systems.

The RSCJ women I have met are amazing--they welcomed me from the beginning almost as one of them. Above all, I see in them fantastic women who make a difference in the world because they love everyone with the love of the heart of Christ. I think I will always be in awe of the way they live and share their lives with the world.

I'll have to finish this story later! It's getting near bedtime!

Wednesday

Wednesdays always seem long--I don't have any classes, and I usually spend the day preparing for tomorrow's class. But it's hard to just sit and read and create a lecture all day, so I end up at Starbucks (alas...no other coffee shops around here). Reading still, but with gingerbread latte accompanying me. Much nicer!

It's been one of those Wednesdays. Tomorrow there is a lot to do--pictures for the university website, learning how to tape lectures for online education, dinner with a friend from out of town, and then evening class on women in the church. It will be an interesting one--we are looking at missionary women to Quebec in the 17th century, then missionaries to Louisiana Territory later in the early 19th century. The really interesting part will be examining images of Mary during that time, and how the submissive obedient image we inherit of Mary in the Catholic Church developed over time.

Ever notice that Mary in the Gospels is not so submissive? She's the one who walks to Elizabeth's home when she is clearly with child, the one who tells Jesus to make wine from water, and then tells the waiter at someone else's house to do whatever Jesus asks! Does that sound like a submissive woman? Or maybe rather it sounds like a woman who gets things done, who does what she knows is right. It will make for interesting class discussion.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

One Laptop Per Child

This is an incredible program that is just coming out, for getting laptops to underprivileged kids in poor nations. Check it out!

laptopgiving.org

I'm proud of my brother--he's purchasing one for himself and one to give away. Yay!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Responsibility

I had an interesting encounter with a student yesterday, who seems to think that all single people are by definition selfish. She implied that there is nothing that she (as a married woman) can learn from single people in her church.

I started to wonder how deep that stereotype really is. Do most people think that single people are selfish and promiscuous? Our society has been harmed by sitcoms that glorify single life as one endless stream of meaningless sexual encounters. So where does that leave all of us who are faithfully single and celibate? For many that is a temporary state, but many others today have embraced it as relatively permanent and a meaningful way to live in the world.

It's no wonder that the church has been slow to recognize the needs of single people in their parishes. Especially if the stereotype is incompatible with Christian moral values.

So what can a married woman learn from the single people around her? She can witness the time and talent that person can contribute to society because she does not have children and household to take care of. She can take advantage of the services that a single person might be able to offer the parish that others cannot--babysitting, or leading bible studies, or serving donuts and coffee after mass.

On the other side, I think that being single in the church reminds me that there are lonely people who have needs that are not met. It also shows me the value of family life--something that I miss greatly, as I live far from my own family.

I wish that the families and couples in parishes could recognize that single life for most Catholics is not about sex and freedom from responsibility: it's about living out the life Christ has called us to, to love and serve God in all things! That is a heavy responsibility.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Life is Good!

Your Life is 11% Off Track

No doubt about it, you are living the right life.
You've made some great decisions, and they've definitely paid off.
Keep it up. You're on the right track!
Are You Living The Wrong Life?

Good to know! Life is good right now, even on the discernment path. I love where I am and what I am doing. Now, what does God want of me?

Monday, November 5, 2007

Vocations Prayer

- from usccb.org

Creator of the Universe,
God of the Nations,
Your people are longing to hear your word.
Send laborers to into your harvest--
women and men on fire with your love:

- Dedicated single people who incarnate your presence in their daily lives, whose availability enables them to respond to a diversity of needs.

- Married couples whose relationships serve as a sign of your fidelity to your people, whose love overflows to their children and neighbors.

- Ordained ministers who gather the prayers and longing of your people, who serve as a channel of your presence through the sacraments.

- Religious sisters, brothers, and priests whose life in community foreshadows our eternal unity in Christ, whose service brings your life to the world.

May each of us respond
with courage and generosity
to our particular vocations, and
may the Church recognize the Spirit's call
to men and women of good will,
trusting in your abundance
to answer all our needs.
Amen.

First posting

Here goes! I never intended to start a blog, but here I am. I'm sure it will become a great distraction to me! But I hope also that it allows me time and space to release thoughts that keep me distracted from other things.

Blessings to all who find me here!