This week is a very special week in our congregation because two of our sisters are making their final, or perpetual, profession. This is a most joyous event, but also a solemn one. We are filled with joy that God has chosen them to join us for the rest of their lives, but we also stand in awe at their courage in this time of uncertainty. Since I live with one of these sisters, I have been personally involved in her discernment process, and because of this, I have reflected on my own commitment made more than 50 years ago. What a gift and a grace it has been in my life, and I pray that our two sisters will always see this as gift, too. Our whole congregation joins together in asking God's abundant blessings on them.
One of my favorite things about being a young sister-in-formation is allowing people to ask me their burning (and sometimes silly) questions about religious life. Questions like: Do nuns have jobs? Can you still go dancing and swimming? You mean you get to keep that nose ring? Becoming a sister right now is an interesting thing: religious life has changed drastically in the past fifty years, but many people’s stereotypes about it haven’t. Many of these stereotypes seem superficial (ie- all nuns wear habits; nuns don’t dance) but they may reflect deeper misconceptions about religious life… like the idea that sisters are somehow more holy or less human than “normal” people. For a long time, my own misconceptions kept me from really considering religious life. And so I enjoy the questions. I love making people feel free to ask them, and I love surprising them with the answers. After all, they aren’t really asking about my nose ring; they want to know about this way
At St. Elizabeth’s Manor, we’re making a journey through Advent using hand labyrinths to help us reflect on and guide us closer to our essence, which is union with the Divine. The first ‘stage’ of this journey, moving from the outer edges of the labyrinth to its center, is one of shedding … shedding whatever impedes growth and movement toward union with the Divine. Shedding doesn’t mean forgetting; rather, it means becoming conscious to the experiences, circumstances, reactions, things that now prevent us from moving forward, to honor the gift they have been in our life for what they can teach us, and then to gently lay them aside, into the arms of God. This is not always easy, and it’s rarely a ‘one and done’. Shedding is a lifelong contemplative practice that can bring us closer to the One we can never shed. What practices are helping you in your Advent journey? What do you need to shed in order to bring you closer to God? Kathy Flynn, OP Madison, WI
This is the message of Easter. The Risen Christ takes whatever needs to be changed or modified or transformed in our lives and comes out of the tomb to offer us a fresh start. He comes out of the tombs of our old behavior, of our doubt, of our mistrust, or of any type of reliance on false gods or securities with a new way of being for us. We all rise with Christ during the Easter season. Each of us is renewed and reenergized. As Dominicans, when we make our vows, the Prioress (which means one among equals) will pose this question to us: “What do you ask?” And, each sister answers with the same response, “I ask for the mercy of God and yours.” What an incredible promise we make to each other - mercy! It is no wonder that the Old Testament prophets said that mercy flowed like a river. To live mercifully means to live believing in the newness of Resurrection. Just like the Risen Christ’s renewing spirit, we renew and reenergize each other with our mercy. And, the most importa