Saturday, December 31, 2011

Imagining the Lord wishing you a Happy New Year


If the Lord were wishing you  a "HAPPY NEW YEAR," and He is, it would probably sound something like this: 

"Hear the Word of my Son,______(your name)________.

Apply my Son’s Word to your life—live it faithfully.

Please yourself by pleasing my Son.

Plow through the “hard stuff” with my Son at your side; He will carry you, if necessary.

Yield to My Son’s direction—the Spirit will guide you in all of your affairs.

Never lose sight of my Son and the Spirit—they are always with you,

Even when it seems otherwise!

Waver not in the faith handed down to you.

Yield to the Spirit’s Presence,

Even when the yielding, the letting go of your will, is tough.

Appraise every situation with My Son, through My Son, and in My Son.

Rely on grace and the power of the Spirit working within you


Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy 2012


 Have a year filled with many blessings!

Assign a time for reflection and solitude,

Place God in the foreground and background of your life,

Please yourself by acting justly and loving tenderly,

Yearn for the Kingdom of God first!

Now is the time to reach out to the needy,

Even criminals need our love; for, by the grace of God, there go I

Wait upon the Lord and you shall be saved!

Yield in obedience to the Holy Spirit’s direction

Ever mindful that without God we  are lost souls.

Ardently seek truth!

Rarely be so busy that you have no time to play with and listen to your children and express your love and gratitude to your spouse and, if a member of a religious community, to other community members.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy New Year


Hoping to be one mind, one heart, one soul with God

ANSWERING God’s call

Pleasing God by the choices you make

Pausing to consider God’s will

Yielding to God’s ways

Never putting God on the “back burner” of your life

Eager to seek God’s truth in all things

Waiting upon God before making significant decisions

Yielding your will go God’s will in all things

Ever aware of God’s presence and power at work in your life

Always eager to choose the way of love and reconciliation

Reaching out in love to those less fortunate than oneself

Abiding with Jesus

We read in today’s first liturgical reading that “…whoever claims to abide in him [in Jesus] ought to walk just as he walked” (1 Jn 2: 3-11).  And how did Jesus walk? In obedience to His Father! Am I walking in obedience to God, or am I obeying someone or something else?  Jesus’ obedience to the Father reveals who the Father is.  Jesus healed the sick, the lame, the deaf and the dumb, the blind and the crippled; raised the dead to life, cast out demons, proclaimed God’s Kingdom in our midst, forgave sinners, righted wrongs, challenged the self-righteous and those who were unjust and deceitful. He looked after the orphaned, the widowed and the children and was especially solicitous for the lost sheep of Israel.  Jesus was obedient to the point of giving up His life for our sake.  Jesus and the Father are one—Jesus and the Father brought the dead back to life, restored hearing and sight, righted wrongs and challenged the unjust and deceitful, cast out demons and forgave sinners. Together they redeemed humankind by Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection from death.  Both the Father and the Son secured our salvation and brought about our reconciliation with our Creator God. Obedience was the way to that reconciliation, to our restoration with God.  Where does my obedience lead?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas in the Convent

Christmas in the Convent: “What was your Christmas like, you ask?  And don’t you miss your family?”  My family members, now, are the members of my religious community. Just as a married person refers to her spouses’ family now as her family, so, too, in religious life.  We care for one another as a married person cares about her extended family members. What happens to them is of concern to her, as for us living together in community.  Do I miss my family of origin: my siblings and their families (my parents are deceased)? Of course, I do. And as I get older, I miss them more.  It is how life is! Relationships grow with age, so it seems.

What was Christmas like in the Convent?  First of all, the most exciting part of Christmas for me was the anticipation approaching the birth of Christ—the hours of meditation on the meaning of Christmas in the liturgical readings of each day.  Midnight Mass, now celebrated at 10:00 p.m. in most parishes around Denville, NJ, was, of course, the highlight of the celebration along with Vespers or Evening Prayer I  and Morning Praise of the liturgical hours, that is, the Prayer of the Church, on Christmas Eve and Christmas day.

On Christmas Day, we three Sisters living on 1st floor of Our Lady of Sorrows Convent in Denville, NJ, had eleven of our sisters living here in NJ over for dinner.  One of the sisters brought a 95-year-old woman to the meal so that she did not have to be alone that day.  This meal, as you can imagine, was awesome. Besides the fact that we have one of the best cooks in the community living with us was the camaraderie of the sisters, the visiting and telling of Christmas stories: what it was like in some  of the native countries from where our sisters originate: Korea, Guyana, Grenada, Wisconsin.  We closed our dinner celebration with the celebration of Vespers arranged by one of the sisters and the sharing of gifts.
I hope that each of you reading this also has a wonderful Christmas and that the New Year is filled with an abundance of God’s choicest blessings.     

Feast of Holy Innocents, Dec. 28th

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Innocents, the killing of approximately 30 male children by an outrageously infuriated Herod, who, “when he realized he was deceived by the Magi,…ordered the massacre of all of the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years and younger…(Mt. 2: 13-18).  Statistics inform us that every ten seconds, in the U.S., alone, a child is abused, raped or killed by out-of-control adults.  Since 1990, 10,000 American children have died at the hands of their parents or caregivers (Source:  DreamCatchers for Abused Children).  The murder of those one sees as a threat, an inconvenience, a nuisance, a person to be used and then thrown away—is a sin against humanity throughout humankind’s existence, beginning with Cain’s slaughter of his brother Abel.  The weeping and sobbing “heard in Ramah” thunders throughout the world of today by thousands of parents and grandparents mourning the abortion, the abduction, the abuse and the murder of their children by family members, caregivers, strangers, human traffickers, pedophiles who roam the neighborhoods looking for innocent, and many times helpless,  victims.  The souls of some of these victims, in the words of today’s psalm, have “been rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare.” Others, however, continue to be abused. Who will rescue us from this horror? Who will break the snares of evil that blanket the world of today in this form of cruelty?  In faith, we know that, with Christ’s coming into the world, we have been set free. Evil will not triumph. Satan has been defeated by the obedience of Christ to the will of the Father, our salvation.  May God hasten the day when our hope in the salvation of the entire world, on the one hand,  from pedophiles, abortionists, child-murderers, rapists, and abusers will be fully realized. On other hand, may each one of us also be set free from that which infuriates us. May we be healed of our woundedness lest we, in turn, wound others in secret revenge of our own abusers.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

John, the disciple whom Jesus loved

Today we celebrate the feast of St. John the Evangelist.  St. John shares with us his experience of Christ, whom he saw and touched in person.  John, believed to be the youngest of the apostles, was one of Jesus’ closest friends. He accompanied Jesus to Mount Tabor, to Gethsemane,  was the one who rested his head on Jesus’ chest at the Last Supper,  was the only apostle at the foot of the Cross. It is to John that Jesus, during His agonizing death on the cross, entrusted His mother, certainly revealing His love and trust in John.   John was present at the Ascension and at Pentecost.  He is the one who recognized the Risen Christ after the resurrection on the shore of Tiberius, preparing breakfast for the apostles. Like John , we too, experience intimate moments with Jesus. Will I, like John, recognize Jesus in the various disguises in my life? Jesus comes to us hidden in our neighbor, in the stranger, the homeless, in a little child, in the disguise of the sick, the physician, the priest, family members—in fact, in all of our encounters, great and small, welcomed and unwelcomed.  Like John, we receive special messages from Jesus at the foot of our crosses.  Jesus  entrusts persons to us as precious to the Lord as His mother was to Him.  Like John, do I trust Jesus to the point of asking Him personal questions, as John did at the last Supper? Will I, like John, accompany others to the foot of their crosses and be a comfort to them? Will I, like John, be the one to recognize Jesus “making breakfast” for me after a busy “night” and nothing to show for my efforts? In what disguises and in which situations will I recognize the face of Christ this day and realize that, like John, I too, am Christ’s beloved disciple?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!  What an incredible feast. Jesus, the splendor of heavenly light, the Sun of Justice, the Radiant Dawn enters our world of darkness, where we live under the shadow of death.  Death, where is your sting?  Death is the last enemy that Christ conquers here on this earth.  God takes on human flesh and  journeys here on earth, healing diseases, making the deaf hear and the blind see, casting out demons, bringing the dead to life, those paralyzed walk again, those stooped over stand straight at Jesus' touch, those turning the Temple and all that is sacred into a den of thieves are cast out, those cheating the poor and oppressed are brought to justice, those condemning another sinner are challenged to face their own sinfulness. Over and over again, Jesus shows us the Father's face.  We learn, through Jesus' words and actions, that God is a God of compassion and mercy, a God of love and truth,a God of justice, a God who turns darkness to light, death to life, blindness to sight, deafness to hearing, sickness to health, deceit into honesty, sinfulness into reconciliation to those who trust in the Living Word and repent of their sin. Mary and Joseph, the shepherds and kings who visit the newborn Christ show us the way during this holy season: that of obedience to God's messengers, to God's spirit directing us to the Lord, the Savior of the world, brought into this world as a infant this night 2000+ years ago.  Happy Birthday, Jesus!  Thank you so much for coming to save us from Satan's snares.

Friday, December 23, 2011

God born according to the flesh

"The birth of Your Son, O God, according the flesh!  How great Thou art, O God! How loving! How compassionate! How caring!  Our first parents, Adam and Eve, representing all humankind, turned away from You, rebelled, refusing to be obedient to You, their Creator.  Every person on this earth, each of Your sons and daughters created in your image and likeness, have been deceived by Satan and by each other, as were Adam and Eve.  All sinned!  You alone, O God, are truth and holiness. In your compassion and love, You left heaven to take on human nature in order to show us the way back to the Father through Your Son's obedience to the point of death on the tree of the cross.  As Satan deceived Eve to disobey You from a tree and we deceived ourselves and each other from the "tree of pride," so, You saved us from the death of sin from a tree: the tree of the cross on which a humble, obedient Son returned His life to you, Father, and thereby restored us to life with you for all eternity. Thank you through this very Son of God, Jesus the Christ, whose birthday we will celebrate in a couple of days."

Thursday, December 22, 2011

My soul magnifies the Lord

O God,  my soul rejoices in You, my Savior.  You, who are mighty, have done great things for me.  Holy is Your name.” 

                 You’ve given me life.
               You  have chosen parents for me who
                            loved You,
                         honored You,
 worshipped You,
 recognized You as God and as their personal savior.
                You gave me parents for whom Church was important.
                You gave me parents of
 strong faith,
 firm trust,
and love for You and each other.
You gave me parents who
respected the sacrament of marriage,
gave their all to growing in  love and respect of each other,
and cherished their children.

Thank You, Lord, that these values are lived out by each of my siblings and are key values in my life as a woman religious.

How was any of this possible? The Holy Spirit overshadowed them and us, Lord. Thank you!


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hark! My Lover--Here He Comes

What imagery in today’s first Scripture reading, Song of Songs 2: 8-14.  It begins with “Hark, my lover—here he comes springing across the mountains, leaping across the hills. ”  That is our God, our lover, hastening  to us. Can’t wait to arrive. Passionately seeking us!  Verse 9 tells us that God “stands behind our wall, gazing through the windows, peering through the lattices [of our souls].”  What walls have I erected to keep my Beloved out of my vision, out of my thoughts, out of my actions, out of my decisions?  Whatever that wall is, God patiently waits for me to let Him into my life. He says to me in verses 10-13:

                                “Arise, my beloved, my dove, my beautiful one,
                                       and come!
                                For see, the winter is past,
                                       the rains are over and gone.
                                The flowers appear on the earth,
                                       the time of pruning the vines has come,
                                       and the song of the dove is heard in our land.
                                The fig tree puts forth its figs,
                                        and the vines, in bloom, give forth fragrance.
                                Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one,
                                       and come!”

Listen to God say to you: “Arise, my beloved,…, my beautiful one, and come!”  I envision myself on my deathbed and hear God calling me His “Beautiful One” and beckoning me to come to Him. Come, your “winter is past, the rains are over and gone.” My vine is being pruned, purified, of all that is not of God—a process going on throughout our lives here on earth.  The beauty of our souls, our true selves, the self that is one with God, is beautiful.  God sees it. Do I?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Generosity in saying "yes" as Mary did

Today’s Gospel, Luke 1: 26-38, is the Annunciation story.   Once assured that her virginity will be left intact—she had vowed virginity to the Lord—Mary says   “yes”  to the angel, wholeheartedly, graciously, generously,  believing and trusting in God and His plan for salvation.  Mary first met her need to know that her virginity would not be violated.  Every day that I meet my legitimate needs, whatever they are, I  make available my creative, life-giving energies to say “yes” to others.  If I neglect my needs,  however, those energies are stymied, blocked, obstructed by anger and resentment which quietly, or not so quietly, accumulate in my unconscious and sometimes conscious mind.  What a revelation for me, as I was fighting against myself repeatedly, putting my legitimate needs on the back burner, telling myself that I simply did not have time for myself.  I was astounded when I realized that by meeting my needs first I release gratitude, joy, peace, love and generosity: gifts needed to authentically say “yes” to others as well as energy needed to give myself wholeheartedly to my ministry and to community life. What may initially, and to the naked eye,  look like selfishness may actually, to the eyes of faith, be an unselfish choice that leads to an increased generosity in giving to others within one’s family, one’s community, one’s workplace, one's church.

Monday, December 19, 2011

God's messengers announcing important births

In both readings today, Judges 13: 2-7, 24-25a and Lk 1: 1-25 an angel announces two very important births. In  the first reading from Judges, an angel appears to a barren woman  and announces that she shall bear  a son. This son will be consecrated in her womb and, moved by the Spirit, shall begin the deliverance of Israel. Delivered from what, you ask? From those who are attempting to deny them entrance into the Promised Land. In the Gospel the angel Gabriel announces to Zachariah that his wife, also barren, shall bear a son.This son shall prepare the way for the Messiah.  If we fast forward to the 21st century, we, too, are being delivered, to this very day, from those forces that attempt to deter us from reaching God’s promise of eternal salvation and life with Him for all eternity as well as from accepting our role in salvation history. We, too have person's who prepare us for the way of the Lord and to be disciples of the Lord.  Who are the ones in your life, stirred by the Spirit, who deliver you from selfish, sinful pursuits and negative, destructive attitudes and model discipleship for you?  For me, my deliverance began with my parents, God’s messengers and faithful followers of Christ, and continues to this very day through the Sisters with whom I live and those to and with whom I minister and who, in turn, minister to me.  God's messengers in my life, "angels of deliverance" are also the authors of the Scriptures, of spiritual books, directors of retreats, homilists, a neighbor, street people, the poor and marginalized, the sick and dying, children and babes in a parent's arms, and so many more who open my eyes to God's love and mercy and invite me to be of service. Who are the “angels of deliverance” in your life? Who prepares you to walk the ways of God, to receive Jesus as the One who will set you free and bring you closer and closer to experiencing the fullness of life that Jesus promises in the Gospels?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Jesus' genealogy

Today’s Gospel,  Mt. 1: 1-17, at a fleeting glance, seems uninspiring. Who, in God’s name, are these people in Jesus’ genealogy and who cares, was my initial reaction.  When it comes right down to it, aren’t Mary and Joseph and David the persons of significance in Jesus ‘  family tree?  As we look  more deeply, however, we discover that His genealogy, all of it, carries a profound message: no matter how we turn away from God, we count in God’s eyes and are a significant part of salvation history, my own and that of others and vice versa.  And, yes, no family, not even Jesus’, is exempt from having a relative, or two or three, who has committed serious sin. We all have come into this world effected by Adam and Eve’s disobedience and are personally vulnerable to the snares Satan sets for us, even if not as blatantly immoral as David’s sin against Uriah. With Mary, we can say: My soul magnifies the Lord, for He, who is mighty has done great things in granting each of us the grace of redemption, as He did David and all of the other shady characters in His genealogy and ours. And  I need to remember that  even though the  shadiness of my sinfulness may pale in comparison to David’s murder of Uriah and attempts to cover up his sexual sin, my  sin is also a form of darkness that affects the world in which I live.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Behold, the Lord is coming with peace in His hands

The opening prayer of today’s liturgy awakens us to the coming of the Lord, who is “descending with splendor”  to visit us “with peace” and  “will bestow on us “eternal  life.” Wow!  Each of us is waiting for both of those gifts: peace and eternal life.  I thought of a cousin through marriage who is dying of cancer and has been given about a month to live.  Imagine yourself facing the end of your sojourn here on earth, knowing in faith that your God is “descending with splendor” and will be visiting you with the gifts of peace and eternal life. What more would you need in that point in time? Certainly nothing the world is capable of giving!   We know that the time will come for all of us when we will have no more than a month left to live.  How prepared am I to meet  a Visitor who comes with peace in His hands?  Or am I not ready—will God find someone who is not at peace with him/herself and not at peace with others, in short, is not a peace-maker? Will God, as Jesus said to those He sent out to evangelize, find no peace “under my roof,” need to shake the dust off His feet and sadly move to someone who’s heart is ready? Do I make a way for God by being a peacemaker when around me there is anything but peace or am I the one disturbing the peace by my obnoxious, insensitive, unkind behaviors and attitudes? Am I a  “good news” or a “bad news” person, that is, someone  who berates others, says mean things to others , is a “know-it-all” person who discounts other people’s intelligence and experiences or, much worse, am I that person who says unkind things behind people’s backs rather than confronting them directly, not out of anger but out of love,  with the behavior that is offensive to me? “Behold, the Lord is coming.” Is my house in order?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

"What did you go out into the desert to see?" (Lk 7:24)

What a message in today’s Gospel, Lk 7: 24-30.  I am asked why I have gone out into the desert and for whom am I looking?  Certainly, deserts are unwelcome places, at least for me!  So who is out there that has caught my attention? Have I gone out of curiosity? Have I gone to criticize? To condemn? To chastise myself or someone else?  Or am I responding to John’s message to repent and prepare for God’s visit to my interior dwelling place?  Am I seeking to be cleansed, purified of my sins? Am I longing for the Lord “to create a clean heart in me, put into me a new and constant spirit” (Ps. 51: 12)?  If I am expecting anything else or anything less, I will be disappointed. However, if I am preparing my heart  to receive my  Savior, my visit to the desert of my life will be an awesome experience whenever I have the courage and the humility to visit this place in preparation for the birth of the Lord anew in my heart and life.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Do I take offense of the Truth?

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is asked by John’s disciples whether He is really the Messiah or should they be looking for someone else. Jesus’ response is: the dead are brought back to life, the deaf have their hearing restored and the blind see again.  Then He adds: “Blessed is the one who takes no offense at me” (Luke 7: 18b-23).  As I reflected upon that last statement, I thought of the many  times I am, or others are, offended when the truth about ourselves or our behaviors  is revealed and how often we dance around the truth, afraid to be direct with people lest we offend them.  I wonder how often others are afraid to confront me with a truth that I need to hear.  May salvation come to my house today that I may not only hear the truth  I need to hear but may I also speak a truth that needs to be spoken in a way that it can be heard and in a way that God’s will is accomplished in me: my  salvation and my ongoing conversion into the person of Christ incarnated in today's world.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The dance of "yes" and "no"

In the Gospel of today, Mt. 21: 28-32, we read about the two sons who were asked to work in their Father’s vineyard. One refused and then changed his mind. The other said yes and did not go. Both sons exist within each of us. Sometimes we follow the Spirit’s counsel only after initially refusing to do so. At other times we enthusiastically  say “Yes, I will do that,” and simply abandon the good to which  we were called  by our God. Walking with and walking away from God is a dance in which all human beings engage.  None of us is exempt from this vulnerable state and all of us are given the opportunity to repent and return to the Lord over and over again in any given day! The Good Shepherd knows when we go astray and comes looking for us. What a great and loving God!  He never wearies or grows tired of our shenanigans—grace will triumph in our lives. That is why God incarnated Himself in human nature—an event we will celebrate in a few short days.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Today we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. On Dec. 9, 1531, Mary appeared to Juan Diego,  an Aztec Indian and a recent convert to the Catholic faith.  At the time the Aztec people had been conquered by the Spaniards and were being treated harshly.  The bishop himself had been invoking our Blessed Mother asking for help.  But when Juan Diego shared the Blessed Mother’s request with him to have a Church a church built on the hill where she appeared to him in order to thereby  make her Son known and  respond to her children’s petitions,  the bishop initially refused his request and eventually asked for a sign. A sign was given—roses appeared on the hill in the midst of winter. Juan Diego, with Mary’s help, collected a bouquet, wrapped them in his cloak and returned to the bishop. When he opened his cloak, not only was there the miracle of the roses but imprinted on the cloak was the exact replica of Mary as she had appeared to him on that hill.  Needless to say, the bishop repented and built the church as requested by Mary.

 The important message here for us is that God chooses the  lowly,  the marginalized and the oppressed to be His ambassadors, as was Juan Diego, and to be recipients of and  give birth to the Word of God, as did Mary. As Christians we live in a paganistic, secularistic, materialistic and demoralized society.  We are marginalized, shunned, oppressed in a world doing its utmost to shove God out of humankind’s awareness, so now the world says we celebrate the holidays, not the birth of Christ.  As a speaker on religious life recently said to a group of us religious, it is a great time to be in religious life, as we, too, are on the margins where both Juan Diego and our Blessed Mother were in their time on earth. That is the place God chooses for great things to happen.  I believe that we are in the right place and the right time when we experience being the lowliest of the lowly and when we are most vulnerable. It seems that it is during those times that God’s grace breaks through, barren hills are transformed into flower gardens and  ordinary cloaks are changed into manifestations of a divine visitation for those seeking the Lord.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Jesus' frustration with the crowd

In today’s Gospel, Mt 11: 16-19, Jesus expresses his exasperation with people who, rather than accepting Jesus and His message  and sincerely listening to Him, complain that He’s not like John the Baptist.  In dealing with leaders or significant persons in our lives who speak a truth, it is easy to avoid that truth by saying something like: “How come you are not like so and so” or “So and so does the same thing, so why complain about my behavior.”  By comparisons we take ourselves out of the present moment and avoid dealing with the issue at hand.  The truth that could have set us free and deepened our relationship with one another is avoided.  As we escape the reality momentarily, the wisdom of that moment will resurface at a later time when we realize that a truth was spoken that we needed to hear. Imagine Jesus being in that situation and how saddened He must have been!  He is, in fact, in each of our situations and how saddened He must be when we skirt issues by comparisons as a subtle means to avoid a truth that needs to be faced if we are going to be set free through honest interactions.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Mary's Immaculate Conception: Jesus' gift of redemption given to Mary from conception

In the opening prayer of today’s Mass, we ask that, just  as God preserved Mary from every stain of sin by virtue of Jesus’ death on the cross,  we, too, through Mary’s intercession, want to be purified and welcomed into God’s divine presence.  This led me to ponder our journey through this life, which involves being purified as gold is purified in fire through the everyday experiences of our lives. There is no other way to become worthy of entering into the presence of our God.  That purification, here, occurs as it did for Adam and Eve, as related in today’s first reading, that is, each time we, as adult Christians, try to be like God, disobeying His commands and doing it our way, living independently of God and of others, whether married or in religious life or single (in relationships with friends, co-workers, fellow parishioners  in church ministries), refusing to accept responsibility for our disobedience, we are caught naked before God, ourselves and others.  Our attempts to hide are futile. God brings us face to face with who we really are, what the consequences of our disobedience are and how we now need to live with those consequences in a way that leads to our transformation, that is, our being a follower of a Higher Will and a greater Intelligence than our own while also realizing that all of our actions effect those with whom we live, work and enjoy leisure time. We are interdependent, interrelated  human being who are meant to be in communion with God and others.  That ability to commune respectfully with God and others begins with being honest with ourselves and not entering into the blame game which both Adam and Eve had done.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

God's intimate involvement in our lives

Today’s first Scripture reading, Is. 40: 25-31, begins with “To whom can you liken me as an equal?”  In another part of Isaiah, we read: “I am Yahweh, there is no other” (Is. 45:5).  Hear Jesus say to you: “I created  you in God’s image and likeness. I redeemed you by sacrificing my life in obedience to My Father and yours. No one else could rescue you or humankind from the eternal distance and perpetual darkness disobedience to one’s Creator causes.”  No one could restore the shattered relationship of humankind with God except One who is God.  “I am God; there is no other.”  God creates the darkness,  (cf Is 45:7) the chaos, the woe that envelopes the person who chooses to commit evil, to walk the path of disobedience. God is the One who restores a sinner’s relationship with God when that person repents. The act of repentance opens the person’s heart, my heart, to Christ’s redeeming graces: darkness turns into light; chaos into order; ugliness into beauty; sin into holiness. “I am God; there is no other” (Is. 44:6). “To whom can you liken me as an equal? (Is. 40: 25)? O God, how great Thou art! And You don’t ever “grow weary”  (Is 40:28) of this redemptive grace with sinners, like me.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

"Comfort, comfort my people," says the Lord

Today’s first reading is from Is. 40: 1-11, the same reading as for the second Sunday of Advent. What a reading. Through Isaiah, the Lord asks us to comfort each other, to talk tenderly to each other. Why? The mountains of our lives, the rugged ways, the hills will be leveled. Any leveling is painful. Mountains/hills/the rugged ways of pride, selfishness, narcissism, pragmatism and feverish activity to do everything we can do, to acquire everything that is acquirable, to achieve everything that is possible for us to achieve in one twenty-four hour day leaves little, if any time, for contemplation, prayer, being attentive to the needs of the lonely, the destitute, the unloving parts of ourselves and other; in short, we are unavailable for the important things of life: growing in our relationship with Christ and one another, being there for others in the way that Christ was present to those who came to Him for healing and to hear the Word of God.  “Talk tenderly” to those whose lives are shattered because of being sinned against or because of their own sinfulness; “talk tenderly” to yourself when you have sinned, messed up, made a mistake, alienated yourself from your loved ones and long for reconciliation.  God Himself tells us through Isaiah that He will lead us to the right path “with care.” He will take us by the hand as we enter into the time of awakening, a time of repentance, a time of purification that enables the glory of God to be revealed in us and through us.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Discernment: open to God, learning from God

What does today's Gospel (Luke 10: 21-24) tell us about being open to, learning and understanding god's manner of interacting with us, that is, revealing the Father's will in our lives?  I believe the clue is in the phrase "I praise you. Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for hiding these things from the learned and clever and revealing them to the childlike."  One of the key elements of discerning god's plan is giving  God praise.  When we praise another human being for who she/he is, we open our beings to God at work in that person.  When we praise God for who God is, we open ourselves to who God is for us and in that openness God's power touches us.  The passage says of God that He has "hidden these things from the wise and learned."  In terms of deciphering the ways of the good Spirit, God's Holy Spirit revealing God's will to us implies that we need to approach God humbly and with a heart open to learning from God. A not knowing is present  as it is in the mind of a child. So three key aspects of discernment are revealed in this passage: praise of God, humility and openness to learning from God.

"Blessed are the eyes that see what you see"

"Blessed are the eyes that see what you see...and the ears that hear what you hear" (Luke 10: 23,24).  We see and hear with eyes and ears of faith because it is "the gracious will" (Lk. 10: 22) of the Father that we see and hear things the first disciples of Jesus saw and heard!  What a gift from a loving, caring, intimate God!  We see a sunrise and think of the risking Son of Justice. We see a rosebud opening to the sun light and see God opening our beings so as to reveal God's glory to those whose lives we touch.  We peer into the faces of the young and the old and see a reflection of God's radiance.  We grapple with sin in our lives and the hope of redemption swells from within.  We listen to the birds sing and we hear creation praising  their Creator. We listen to the Scriptures being read in each liturgy and hear God speaking to us personally.  "O blessed are the eyes that see what you see, for I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see, and never saw it; to hear what you hear. and never heard it" (Lk 10: 23-24).

What will you see today that opens your heart and mind to the Kingdom of God in your midst and that reveals God's presence alive in the things you do and say today?

Monday, November 28, 2011

"My servant is paralyzed"

Notice  in today's Gospel (Mt. 8: 5-11) a centurion in a matter-of-fact manner telling Jesus that his servant is at home paralyzed.  Think for a moment of sharing a major concern with Jesus as you encounter Him throughout the day and believing that Jesus can help you, beyond a doubt, and is as concerned as you are.  Without a formal request, Jesus says to you: "I will help." "I'll be there for you." "I'll do whatever needs to be done to rectify this situation for you." "I will do whatever needs to be done."  That is the kind of person Jesus is: compassionate, understanding, insightful, intuitive, caring, looking for ways to assist you. 

We might also ask ourselves in light of the Scriptures: what in my life is paralyzed, not engaging, not life-giving, not love-generating, not reconciling?  What within me is paralyzing my faith, my hope, my love, my way of being there for others?  And bring all of that to the Lord, honestly sharing our concerns with him concerning our own paralyzing states.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Prepare ye the way of the Lord

This coming Sunday we begin the celebration of Advent!  All of us can hear John the
Baptist’s cry: “Prepare the way for the Lord.”  Each of us faces several questions: what do I need to do to prepare for God’s daily visitations? How have I done that in the past? What has been missing in my preparations in past Advents? What do I want to be different this year? To make that difference, what needs to change in my routine or in my thinking?  In my meditation this morning, the following prayer came to mind:

Lord, open my heart to love you,
open my mind to know you
and open my will to follow you.

With that prayer, I hope that I will put forth serious efforts during this Advent to prepare for the Lord’s coming into my life each day: through the sisters with whom I live, how I interact with them; through the challenges to take care of myself so that I am able to serve others and carry our my ministry with greater love, deeper hope, and stronger faith and thus find God hidden in the mangers of my life.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! As I began my thanksgiving list, the top of the list was my religious community. Seven of us gathered today for a thanksgiving dinner and Vespers. It was a joyous occasion for us. I am also grateful for the gift of my faith, a faith to which Daniel gives witness in today's first reading.  Daniel was thrown into the lion's den because he disobeyed the king's decree that no one in the kingdom was to pray to any god or man except to the king over the next thirty days. Daniel trusted God. God closed the lions' mouths and none of them attacked Daniel the whole night through. In the morning the king released Daniel and had those who came up with the wicked scheme to trap Daniel and guarantee his demise were thrown into the den. They were immediately devoured.  The miracle extended beyond saving Daniel's life.  The king declared a second decree and this one was that everyone one in his kingdom would worship the one true God: "He is the living God, he endures forever, his kingdom will never be destroyed and his empire never come to an end. He saves, sets free, and works signs and wonders in the heavens and on earth; he has saved Daniel from the power of the lions" (Dan 6:28).  From what has God saved you? And for what are you grateful this day?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The writing on the wall

Today’s first reading, Daniel 5: 1-6, 13-14, 16-17, 23-28, tells the story of King Belshazzar who gives a great banquet for thousands of his lords, with whom he drank.  He used the golden and silver vessels used in temple, thus defiling these sacred vessels.  In the midst of this wild party a hand starts writing on the wall. The King calls Daniel to interpret the message.  God is always at work in our lives, calling us back to a life of holiness and integrity.  Satan’s power and deceitful ways will be exposed, as they were by the handwriting on the wall of the banquet room in which the Babylonian King and his friends were partying.  God sees the truth and how far we may have strayed. As with the King, God sends wise men and women into our lives to open our eyes to the truth. This intervention for some may be our justice system, for others a pastor, a minister or a rabbi; for still others a husband or wife, a sibling or friend, a church group or a coworker,  a professor or a counselor, a spiritual writer or the Bible itself, nature, the Eucharist, the sacrament of Reconciliation and so much more.  What opens your eyes? Who interprets the writing on the wall of your life?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Discernment: what does confusion tell me?

"God is not a God of confusion but of peace" (1 Cor 14:33).  If "God is not a God of confusion but of peace, and St. Paul, I believe is correct, then, if I am confused about something, that is not the time to make a decision about that issue. I need to wait upon God to bring clarity and peace. I also need to continue my search for  a) the vocation in life to which God is calling me, b) the person I am called to marry, c) the career in which I will best serve the Lord and humankind or d) concerning the decision with which I am grappling.

Working in the Kingdom of God or serving this world's kingdoms

Today's reading, Daniel 2: 31-45, certainly speaks to us today. It relates the king's dream of a magnificent huge, exceedingly bright and terrifying statue. Its head pure gold, its chest and arms silver, bronze belly and thighs, iron legs and feet made of iron and clay. A humongous stone rolls down the mountain shattering this statue. This stone fills the entire earth--a kingdom set up by God that will never be destroyed.  The feet and toes of the statue are made of iron and clay, which never mix and symbolize a divided kingdom, fragility and strength.

What a portrait of today's world and of us. God created humankind in His image and likeness.  As such we are magnificent in Christ. Pure gold and silver symbolize our beauty in Christ Jesus. We, too, however, have feet of iron and clay--weak humanly speaking with a propensity to live divided lives: lives of greatness in God as well as lives chasing after that which alienates us from God and puts us in disharmony with ourselves and others. Jesus tells us in the Gospels that we cannot serve both God and mammon. We will either hate the one and love the other or be devoted to one and despise the other.  Am I aware that, left to myself apart from the sacraments and the Word of God, I am standing on clay feet, not growing in my love for God or of neighbor, that I can be as self-serving and engage simply in accumulating the riches and accolades of this world as did King Nebuchadnezzar, treasures that will be blown in the wind and become chaff that will be scattered at the final judgment?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Giving our all in obedience to God's laws

Today's Gospel,  Luke 21: 1-4, is the story of the woman who puts two small coins in the treasury. Jesus notices her generosity--she's give of her livelihood, everything she possesses.  In the first reading , Dan 1: 1-6, 8-20, Daniel, in order to remain true to the Mosaic dietary laws, requests that he and his companions be served a vegetarian diet. The chief chamberlain is terrified that if he says "yes" that he may be put to death by the King if Daniel and his companions do not measure up to the same physical robustness as other servants but goes along with Daniel's request for a trial period.  Daniel and his companions thrive physically and are found to excel, as well, in wisdom and prudence.  The woman, Daniel and his companions and Mary in the Presentation in the Temple, which feast we celebrate today,  give God their all. Their poverty is their wealth. God sees the heart. God notices the generosity of those who are obedient to His Father. It is God's noticing and it's our obedience to our God that transforms the little we have into wealth beyond measure.

Friday, November 18, 2011

My Father's house is a house of prayer

Today's Scripture readings (Mac 4: 36-37, 52-59 and Lk 19: 45-48) are about the rebuilding of  the Temple, a place of worship and prayer.      Our very beings are dwelling places for our God, built into holy dwellings through our baptism, renewed into the image of Christ in each Eucharist and cleansed in the sacrament of Reconciliation. The Spirit of God dwells within us and in all of creation. Just as the Gentiles in the first reading and the merchants in the Gospel  were using the Temple for purposes other than giving honor and glory to God, so, too, can we misuse the Temples of our bodies and of the universe. Both we and the universe were brought into existence to give glory and honor to our Creator, to further God's Kingdom here on this earth and to radiate God's goodness, love, justice, compassion, and forgiveness, as we wait the return of Christ when heaven and earth will be transformed. The question we now face is: what are we doing in the here and now to realize a world in which  wars will cease and nations, religions, cultures, races, women and men, parents and children, the young and the old, humankind and the universe  are working toward the harmony promised us when Christ returns?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

God's gift of adoption

Today was a travel day for me, a time to be alone in a very special way with the Lord. Through the grace of God, I chose to begin again to read the letters of St. Paul. What a gift he left us in all of the epistles. The ones I read today in their entirety were his letter to the Romans and 1 Corinthians.  I was deeply touched by many phrases but especially by the statement in Rom 11:5-6 that "there are a few people God has chosen by his grace" and "it is not for things they have done. If they could be made God's people by what they did, God's gift of grace would not really be a gift." What an awesome God, who gave His only begotten Son to ransom us from sin and adopt us as His children, a chosen people set apart to serve Him and one another!  How great thou art, O God!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Choosing to be faithful

Today’s Scripture passage is about a Maccabean mother and her seven sons who refused to violate the law and were put to death. Each of the sons were tortured as their mother watched. When her youngest son was faced with accepting the lavish gifts the king would bestow on him if he obeyed, the mother encouraged him to remain strong in his faith.  Though none of us will likely be faced with torture or death, yet every day we are invited to die to self and rise with Christ in small, heroic ways.  For instance, the Spirit invites us  1) to stand up for another who is being bullied by gossip, 2) to not entertain ourselves or other others by gossiping ourselves, 3) to tell the truth when tempted to be deceptive,  4) or,  when another is promoting her/himself with grandiose descriptions of how better his/her way is from ours, we can choose the way of humility rather than bringing this person down by countering  with our own personal grandiose accomplishments.  To realize by our behaviors that any good we do is God acting through us is an attitude that will give us the courage to sing God’s praises and “die” to singing our own, being the queen/king others worship and choosing to worship only God.  Will I, like the seven sons and the mother, serve God or self today in the little things that contribute to heroic choices made out of humility and from a stance of faith?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Come,fall in love with Jesus with us

This past weekend I have had the privilege of attending a program for young men and women
who are studying to become members of religious orders of women and men.  We looked at
the essence of religious life, namely falling in love with Jesus and nurturing that relationship day
in and day out.  The speaker, Brother Sean Sammon, FMS,  challenged us to go back to the charism of our religious communities. He described “charism” to all religious communities  as the Spirit leading our Founders and Foundresses to read the signs of the times and respond according to God’s will. His belief was that anyone completing a novitiate today needs to accomplish two things: 1) fall in love with Jesus and 2) assimilate and embrace the Founder/Foundresses’ gift to the church.   He  went on to suggest that the question that is before us religious, both our newest members—postulants and novices and temporary professed—and the “seasoned” members is how do  we read the signs of the times and to what is the Spirit leading us in response to the signs of the times?  Brother Sean  reminded us that in Mary’s day the Word of God broke out among the marginalized of society. Mary herself was a Jewish peasant, most likely illiterate, and considered, as a woman in the culture of her day, a second-class citizen.  Then, as now, the Word of God was revealed, not among the rich and powerful, but among the poor and marginalized, Brother Sean stated.  As members of religious communities today, we are among the marginalized of the world—this is where the Word of God will be revealed and God’s will manifested. So what a grace to be in religious life in this century, Brother Sean mused.  Just as Mary said “yes” to God’s call and transformed the world  and salvation history in her day, so, too, are we called to be a source of transformation in the world and in the church of our day.  Are we willing, Brother Sean asked, to allow the Spirit to lead us in the direction that God wants us to go as a congregation, all of us endorsing a common vision, a common mission to be carried out in a variety of ways, as our Foundresses and Founders and earliest members  did? Our Foundresses and Founders, Brother Sean commented,  would probably be impatient with us who say that we are dwindling, diminishing, dying, and therefore don’t have the resources to do what needs to be done in the world of today. With fewer members and much, much less material resources,  they committed themselves to a daunting task of developing a healthcare, educational, and social justice agencies/systems that thrive to this day. They read the signs of the times in their day and responded, not with material wealth, but with the wealth they possessed in loving God and His Ways above all else.  They truly had fallen in love with Jesus and nothing He asked was too much for them. What about us?

Monday, November 14, 2011

What do you want of the Lord

Today's Gospel is the story of Bartimaeus, the blind beggar shouting to Jesus to show him pity. The disciples want Bartimaeus to stop his shouting. But he does not. He persists and Jesus notices and instructs the crowd to tell Bartimaeus to come forward. "What do you want of me," Jesus asks. And Bartimaeus is just as direct: "I want to see." A couple of things, of course: am I as persistent? do I know what I want of Jesus? Does the crowd, or whoever or whatever wants to shut me up or wants me to remain blind, get to me? Do I then withdraw my request, melt into the floorboards or wall, so to speak, and simply give up in despair,  in apathy and/or  lukewarmness? Or do I persevere, knowing who Jesus is and who I am, that is, that I need God's intervention in my life if I am going to see clearly God's coming into my life and my world; if I am going to see clearly that God's Kingdom is imminent in the world of today; if I am going to see clearly what it is God is asking of me as His disciple in making Him and His ways known?

Mother Frances Streitel: Her riches were the Lord

Amalia Frances Rose Streitel, Foundress of the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother, aka Sister Angela Streitel: In my last blog on Mother Frances I mentioned that she was living for something beyond herself and that she lived her life for others. The Other for whom she lived her life, obviously, is Christ. She wanted to belong totally to the Lord by how she lived her life here on earth. Nothing, absolutely nothing, was to come between her and her Beloved. She’d give her all. One of the means she used was that of holy poverty. Her riches were Christ. Her “Enough” was Christ.  So she treated material things as unimportant. She wanted to be as detached from material things as humanly possible, as was St. Francis of Assisi, her model of living the vow of poverty. One of the things she did as superior of the Marian Institute was to ask the sisters to exchange rooms, taking nothing with them in the exchange except their personal linen, so as to practice the virtue of detachment. Her request was not appreciated by many of the Sisters who denounced her to her Superior General. I recall in my earlier religious life having nothing but three habits, a bible, the Constitution of the Congregation, and my personal “linens.”  It was a very freeing experience. My joy was complete. I had fallen in love with the Lord and the Lord alone. I could move from place to place with one suitcase!  My joy, to this day, is simplicity of living, having little and always trying to trim down to only the essentials. I tell myself: all you need, Dorothy Ann, is the Bible. How I wish!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Figuring out what God's will is for me

Discernment:  Concluding this segment of the discernment blogs which were based on St. Ignatius’ material of how to figure out  whether a good spirit or an evil spirit (a spirit that blocks us from following God’s will) is the motivating factor, I would like to share a summary of this section.  A prayerful decision will obviously include prayer, looking at the decision from as many angles as possible (marriage--this man/this woman, single life, religious life).  Making a good decision means that we need to be patient and trust the process. Waiting upon the Lord to reveal the direction is sometimes a lengthy process.  We need to trust that God, ultimately, will lead us in the right direction. We will know, in our heart of hearts, what direction that is.  In the end we need trust our gut instincts and move in the direction that seems right for us.  Complete clarity and certainty is a rarity.  Once, however, that we have prayerfully considered the decision, consulted spiritually mature individuals, and have gathered all the data that we need, then it is time to take that leap of faith and move forward with a decision.  In terms of religious life, the postulancy is the first step in becoming a sister. This is a period of discernment, in which God’s will continues to be sought, as is true as well,  in the novitiate and temporary vow periods.  If, at any time during the initial formative process, it is clear to you and your directors that religious life is not for you and that initial formation was simply a necessary means God used for you to arrive at that clarity, then that decision is followed at that time. Or, on the other hand,  initial formation may definitely confirm that religious life is right for you.  (Source: Discernment of Spirits by Warren Sazama, SJ, National Religious Vocation Conference, Chicago, IL 60615, p. 18-19)

Seeing the Creator in creation

How is it, the author of Wis 13: 1-9, asks that we can be ignorant of the author of creation, of which we stand in awe: sunsets, sunrises, the beauty of the seasons—fall, winter, spring, summer—the stateliness, strength or power of the horse, the bear, the deer,  and so much more of the natural world and know not the Source of that beauty and power.   “…who from the good things seen did not succeed in knowing him who is, and from studying the works did not discern the artisan?” we are asked in the first reading of today’s liturgy.  If I am struck by the power and the energy of a vast universe, says the author of this passage, may I also realize how much more powerful  is the One who created it!

I just drove home from the Newark airport. The brightness of some of the autumn colors was striking. The harmony of the bright reds, oranges, yellows and browns touched my soul. Soon these trees will be bare, that is, they will enter into a dormant stage in preparation for winter and await rebirth in the spring of 2012. All of creation follows a similar pattern of letting go/dying that leads to new life, a dormancy that prepares for renewed living (sleep/awake pattern in humans), a springtime, a  summertime, an autumn and a winter.   These cycles occur on the physical, psychological and spiritual dimensions of our lives as well. They also occur on the interpersonal and social dimensions of human existence. Nature and human nature mirror each other: a reality orchestrated by our Creator!  What an awesome God!

Mother Frances Streitel: Finding meaning in suffering

Amalia Frances Rose Streitel, Foundress of the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother, aka Sister Angela Streitel:  In this morning’s meditation was a quoted reflection by Viktor Frankl on how anyone is able to survive suffering. He states, as quoted in the November 2011, Magnificat,  p. 151, “In some way, suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of sacrifice….In accepting to suffer bravely, life has a meaning up to the last moment, and it retains this meaning literally to the end…My comrades’…question was, ‘Will we survive the [concentration] camp? For, if not, all this suffering has no meaning.’ The question which beset me was, ‘Has all this suffering, this dying around us, a meaning? For, if not, then ultimately there is no meaning to survival; for a life whose meaning depends upon such a happenstance—as whether one escapes or not—ultimately would not be worth living at all.’”

Sister Angela found meaning in her suffering and is the reason she was able to say to Mother Salesia, her Superior General, that taking up the assignment at the Marian Institute caused her no suffering.  When I first read that my reaction was: “Oh, yeah, sure. Who are you kidding! I just read that you stood beneath the cross with a bleeding heart (Walk in Love,  p. 29) and that you could neither eat nor sleep and asked the Lord to allow this chalice to pass you by! And then you say: “Before God I can declare that the occupying of the Marian Institute caused me absolutely no sorrow or pain” (Letter of July 8, 1879). 

Reflecting on Dr. Frankl’s experience of the concentration camp shed light on Sister Angela’s statement. She had found meaning in suffering, the same meaning that Jesus found in offering His life for His flock, in being obedient to the Father’s plan for our salvation. In explaining herself to Bishop Pankratius concerning this period in her life, Sister Angela states that she realized that she could offer her pain in reparation for her own sinful behaviors.  Not only did finding meaning in her sufferings help her, so, too, was the fact that Sister Angela lived for others and for something beyond herself. Dr. Frankl explains that “being human always points, and is directed, to something or someone, other than oneself—be it a meaning to fulfill or another being to encounter. The more one forgets himself—by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love—the more human he is and the more he actualizes himself…” (Ibid.)  Truly Sister Angela became more human through her suffering and became more and more her unique self, coming to her full potential as a human being.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

"Wisdom is mobile beyond all motion" (Wis 7: 24)

Today’s first Scripture reading is from Wis 7: 22b-8:1). Wow!  What a reading!  The passage opens with the phrase: “In Wisdom is a spirit intelligent, holy , unique.”   Think of the fact that each one of us is created in the image of God. That means that  we are created in the image of Wisdom. Each of us is “an intelligent, holy, unique spirit.”  Obviously, we don’t always experience ourselves or the other as speaking or acting out of that intelligence, holiness or uniqueness.  This is when life gets difficult and relationships suffer.  Our consolation certainly can be to remember that Wisdom, God’s gift to us who seek her,  is “firm, secure, tranquil, all-powerful, all-seeking, and pervading all spirits…”  Neither the other or myself are Wisdom; God is!  So each of us will experience limitation in being firm, in being secure and tranquil.  We are weak and God is strong. Our seeking is limited and blurred; God’s is not.  “… Wisdom… penetrates and pervades all things by reason of her purity.”  Yes, she penetrates and pervades my being and yours and brings with her the purity of God.  She is “the spotless mirror of the power of God, the image of God’s goodness. She, who is one, can do all things and renews everything...; and passing into holy souls from age to age.” Yes, she enters into that which is sullied by sin in order to purify us.  May each of us welcome God into  our “houses”  through love, forgiveness, humility and through the Eucharist, so we, in turn, “mirror the power of God,”   and image the goodness of God while being renewed by the Wisdom, who is one with God.

Tempations to avoid or reverse good decisions

Two spirits function within us: one encourages us and the other discourages us from doing God’s will.  We need to develop an awareness of both and decipher which one is pulling at our heart strings, so to speak.  St. Ignatius of Loyola calls the spirit of discouragement desolation.  When we are down and out that is not a time to make a new decision or change one we have already made.  In desolation the decision we are likely to make sits on sandy soil and could easily be a decision we regret when we are thinking clearly and are out of that foggy, confused state. When desolate, go apart to pray more intensely. Also talk to your spiritual director or a good friend, whom you consider wise, trustworthy and spiritually mature: put everything out on the table, so to speak.  Temptations to reverse or avoid good decisions are reduced in their potency when they are looked at in prayer and with another spiritually mature person, one, who with you, is seeking God’s will above all. Rev. Sazama, in Discernment of Spirits, gives an example of a young man who was confident of his decision to enter the seminary after graduation from college.  He had come to this decision over a three-year period and felt a lot of peace and joy, a sense of rightness, about the decision. A few months before the time of his entrance into the seminary approached, he was thrown into a lot of confusion about it. He followed this counsel not to reverse his decision—a decision  made in consolation—when thrown into turmoil.  Throughout his seminary training, he remained confident, his peace and joy returned over a subsequent five-year period.   Source: Discernment of Spirits by Warren Sazama, SJ, National Religious Vocation Conference, Chicago, IL 60615, p. 17-18.