Friday, June 20, 2008

Friday Five - Words

From Singing Owl at RevGalBlogPals:

This post is loosely based on previous "wordy" Friday Fives from Reverend Mother and Songbird. I liked the results, and so we are doing another word association . Theirs were based on words from a lectionary text. Mine comes from the Lovin' Spoonful song, "Summer in the City."

Think summer......are you there? Below you will find five words or phrases. Tell us the first thing you think of on reading each one. Your response might be simply another word, or it might be a sentence, a poem, a memory, a recipe, or a story. You get the idea:

1. rooftop
Over my head. Lots of things are over my head lately--my work (too much to do!), my discernment (ack!), and a very powerful summer sun.
(my own picture--rooftops in Paris, from Sacre Coeur)

2. gritty
Nitty Gritty (My mom's phrase). That phrase always makes me think of scrubbing floors on my hands and knees. Not that I ever really did that (at least not more than once or twice). Or of rolling up my sleeves to do a particularly dirty job.

3. hot town (yeah, I know, it's two words)
Yes, it is a hot town... hot, sticky, sweaty in the summer town! Yet in the song, I always thought the phrase was something else...
(Dallas, one hot summer city)
4. night
Stars. I haven't taken time to look at the stars for way too long. I just planned a trip to northern Montana in July, where I'll be camping with my dad. That should be a great opportunity to see more stars than can be seen in the city anyhow.
(Gotta love Van Gogh)

5. dance
in the rain!
(picture shamelessly borrowed from someone else's blog)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Reflecting on religious life

I got out of the habit of blogging, and now it is hard to return! But I am finally back in my own home, and adjusting to a new summer schedule. So here's to blogging, once again!

I had a wonderful 3 weeks of travel, to California (both northern and southern) and to St. Louis, Missouri. I was fortunate to be able to attend the Jesuit ordinations in St. Louis--what a powerful ceremony. It was really a wonderful journey for me, and it helped me to see some things about religious life that I hadn't noticed before.

One of my concerns lately has been the question: how does living as a woman religious in today's world really contribute to the church? If we (women) can't be ordained, then what is the use of becoming part of the institution, so to speak?

I guess I struggle with this because I don't really understand the reasons for keeping women from priesthood to begin with (but that is another story for another time). Yes, I know what the church teaches, and I accept it for the sake of union, but it just doesn't make logical sense to me.

There is a second reason why I struggle with this issue: I believe that I do contribute to the church. I teach Catholic theology, and I feel that this is a gift that God has given to me, that I then share with the church. So, why become a nun? How does that make any difference at all? I mean, I contribute without being a nun, so what does it matter if my lifestyle is different?

I still don't know the answer. But watching the four men who were ordained Jesuits in St. Louis helped me to see that ordination for them does not define their service to the world. These are men who have lived religious life for over a decade each, and ordination (it seems to me) is simply another step of their formation and their life. It's not meaningless, but it also isn't what defines them in their lives as religious. They did not become Jesuits solely to be priests (if they did, they surely would have chosen something with a shorter formation program!), but their priesthood is part of a greater contribution to the Catholic world.

Maybe that's the distinction I need to see also. I do not want to become a nun to serve the church, per se, but to serve the world and the human beings who live in it. It's not about an institution, but rather it's about sharing God's love with people!

So while I don't really have an answer to my question, I have a better understanding of the value of religious life. It offers me a way to live that makes it easier to serve the world in a bigger way than I can on my own. That's certainly not the whole of it, but at least I feel like I've understood another little bit.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Home and Gone Again

I'm only home for a couple of days before travelling again, but a post is long overdue here. My trip to San Francisco was wonderful. I spent about a week in Oakland, and then a couple of days at the nuns' retirement facility before returning home.

Both places were fantastic. In Oakland, I spent lots of time with an international group of RSCJ, learning a little more about their respective cultures, and the international charism of the order. Every sister I met is such a wonderful woman--so loving and self-giving, truly living out the love of God.

I had two days in the school, one working with kids of all ages for their Field Day, and a second tutoring a middle-school boy one-on-one. I'm certainly not experienced in such teaching, but it was a rewarding experience on many levels. It definitely requires one to be patient, but also not to be a push-over!

A couple of days with retired sisters will make anyone a happier person. These women are amazing. I know, I just said that a few paragraphs back! The women in the retirement facility range from in their 70s to 98. Many are over 90. Now, this is not a nursing home, but rather a place for rather independent women! All have served God and the world for so many decades in many different ministries, and their love for God and others radiates so strongly. I had some lovely conversations, and got some very profound advice.

In one conversation, we were talking about the discernment process as sort of "dating" God... The sister I was speaking with said, "Always keep dating God."

Excellent advice, no?

I can certainly tell that she was "dating" God, even after her decades of religious life.

I am very thankful for the time that I spent in California. I learned so much from each of these women. I am truly blessed to be a part of their community, and I look forward to being even more closely united with them.