Monday, November 24, 2014

Religious Life as a Franciscan

Sr. Gillian Angela Marie Jerome, a Sister of the Sorrowful Mother, who are a Franciscan Order,  reflects on the meaning of our Franciscan heritage as Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother. She writes: "Many different parts of our Franciscan heritage inspire me, but the one that speaks to me the most, is the simple Prayer of St. Francis…”Lord, make me an instrument….” In the past I simply mouthed those words; now I pray the prayer more consciously. I realize that in that prayer lies the fullness of the “Kingdom of God” to which I am called to contribute to make a present reality. Hence, to the measure that I am at peace is the same measure that I give to the world….A Franciscan way of living, therefore, calls me into right relationship with God, self, creation and others, and I cannot think of a better way to do this, than to be in right relationship with myself. It is a challenge, yet it is possible. My prayer is that as a Sister of the Sorrowful Mother I will continue to strive to live simply and consciously, with a deeper love and respect for others, so that my example may speak for itself."

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Being a Franciscan Sister of the Sorrowful Mother: What does it mean?

What does religious life mean to me?  Sister Jeanine Retzer, a Sister of the Sorrowful Mother writes:

“I have been deeply affected by my Franciscan roots. I love being part of something larger than myself--the spiritual teachers and example of both St. Francis and Clare and of our foundress Mother Frances Streitel. Over the years I have studied and grown in my practice and appreciation of our congregation’s Franciscan heritage. The last several years I am daily reminded of the Franciscan virtues as prayed in the Franciscan Morning and Evening Praise: conversion of heart, poverty, contemplation, and minority or humility. Through the Franciscan Federation I am in touch with Franciscans throughout the U.SA. and Caribbean, as part of my efforts to bring what I believe into action. My Franciscan roots have greatly enriched my life and daily living.”

Monday, November 3, 2014

Discernment: Brief Look at the Vows

THE VOWS of poverty, chastity and obedience  are essential dimensions of religious life.  As one contemplates entering a religious community, an inquirer needs to  look briefly at each of the three vows.  Concerning poverty, the discerner might ask herself:  Can I live a life of poverty, where I pool all my resources in a common fund for mission, ministry and communal living? Can I live on a very limited budget for personal needs?  Concerning obedience: Can I live a life of obedience as modeled by Jesus, who said, “…I have come from heaven, not to do my own will, but to do the will of the one who sent me” (Jn 6: 38).  That is the foundation of a Sister/Brother/Priest’s obedience to their superior.  Will I be open to seeking  God’s will above my own?  How would I respond to a request to take on a ministry for which I certainly am well qualified but one that would not be my first choice of service? Would I be able to endorse a final decision when the outcome  of communal discernment is not what I wanted it to be.  Concerning chastity: From this point forward,  can I live a celibate life and am I willing to grow in intimacy—into-me-you-see?   Is my loving inclusive of others? Am I willing to deepen my ability to identify with the needs of another, the sorrows and the joys of another on an affective as well as on a cognitive basis? Am I willing to grow in my ability to listen actively?  Am I willing to become an even more  generous person, willing to be available to help people on their terms, willing to serve others?  Am I willing to strengthen my skills for being other-centered, for appropriate confiding, interpersonal trust, loyalty, appropriate expression of affection, commitment to long-term, life-long ministry? Am I willing to deepen my ability to be faithful to one’s commitments? (Source: Adapted from Rev. Raymond Carey, Behavior Assessment I Workshop, Catholic Theological Union, Chicago, IL, July 14-16, 2008)