Saturday, February 16, 2008

Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk... 
to a land that I will show you... 
Abram went as the Lord directed him.
Genesis 12: 1a, 4a
God has a way of getting a point across in my life that always makes me laugh. When God wants to let me know something, I seem to be bombarded with the same message in both subtle and obvious ways... through random conversations, prayer, Scripture, and circumstances. 

Allow me to explain.

Right now I am at an interesting point in formation. In our congregation when a person discerns that she would like to profess first vows, she writes a letter to our leadership team requesting approval. Now, when I first realized that a letter had to be written I really didn't think it was that big of a deal. "All I had to do" is put in writing that I would like to make vows. 
Simple. 

I don't know what I was thinking! *smile* 

The letter is due at the end of this month. And as I sat to write a draft (or just some thoughts) it occurred to me -  this is no small matter! Why am I asking for vows? Why do I believe it's the next step? Am I ready? What does this mean? Am I worthy? Why should the Sisters approve such a request?

All these questions have flooded my mind. Not because I doubt that God has called me to this step, but because I thought I had to justify it or prove it somehow. Silly me. That's when God started bombarding me with something. What's that? God's been saying, "TRUST ME!" 

It all started on Ash Wednesday. One of our founders, Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, created a systematic way for people to grow in holiness. It's called the "system of virtues." There are 14 total virtues/attitudes/dispositions that Fr. Chaminade believed would help a person grow. One of our Marianists priests, Fr. Joe Lackner, explains it this way: 

Like any system, there are logical components to Fr. Chaminade's method of growing in virtue. Like any system, it requires us to know the parts and to commit to engaging in the various elements. However, it is not a process of climbing a ladder - it is more like journeying on a complex path with many twists, turns, and crossovers. We will sometimes find ourselves traveling back over familiar ground, but with a new sense of the journey.

Anyway, our community here in Dayton decided that this Lent it would be a good idea for the community to revisit these virtues. We decided that each person would choose a virtue, read about it, pray with it and seek to grow in it during Lent. So, I typed up the list of virtues, cut them into strips, folded them and placed them in a bowl for people to pick. I picked my virtue the morning of Ash Wednesday. What did I pick? A virtue called, "confidence in God." Clue #1.

Then, last week I was talking with my spiritual director about the letter. He says to me, "God can be trusted in the unknown and the unseen and that's enough. In fact, that's all there is." Clue #2.

Now... the readings for the weekend... the reoccurring theme in the readings is "God can be trusted." Clue #3.

Everything is crying out to me, "Trust God, silly girl!" I don't have to understand... I don't have to know where the road is leading... I don't even have to "be good enough." It's all about trust.

And so... I approach the letter I'm writing with a completely different attitude. I don't have to prove that I'm worthy (because, truth be told, there's no way anyone fits that)... that I've learned enough or that I "fit" with this congregation. It's not about that. I'm asking to profess vows because I can trust God - God has called me to be here and I just have to respond "yes." And that's enough... in fact, that's all there is.

Many blessings to all who read this!
Sr. N

6 comments:

Kelly_SSJ/A said...

Hello there! I am glad to see all is well. Prayers as you and your community discern the way forward. :)May your lenten journey of trust be a blessed one.

Bro. Brandon Alana, n.S.M. said...

Oh Good Sister – I like how you use the line "Silly Girl", reminds of the Trix commercial. But I know what you're getting at about the scriptures since I tend to pray with them daily. I always find Lent as a season to make a return to God. I sometimes (or maybe more) like to think that God likes my plans so much that God's actually following it. If I say that I trust in God's goodness and God's concern for my well-being and for my development, I must daily re-commit myself to allowing God to do what God does best, and (like you said) trust that with God, all will be well.

-B

Julia said...

So beautifully written. I love the idea of reflecting upon different virtues, I had this idea for our Mom's group and wasn't sure how to start it....thanks for sharing your experience! I am praying for you!

Lisa said...

My sister Nicole,

Your reflections and realizations are deep. Thank you for sharing them. I have a little passage re: trust on my blog from yesterday's homily.

The process of putting to text (writing the letter) to move from one phase of formation to the next, especially from novitiate to profession, is a unique and deeply personal challenge. There is no right formula except to share what God has gifted to you during this time of nurturing the cloister garden of the heart. In doing so and expressing your trust in God, the provincial team will have all they need to pray with as they evaluate "your" request for profession. It's a sacred journey, for sure. Enjoy each and every step even when the ground is a little (or not so little) uncertain.

Peace,
Lisa

re said...

hi! your story reminds me of similar experiences -- how God answers my doubts through the books that i read or the scripture readings. i am currently discerning and hoping to join a congregation this august as an aspirant. you are right, all that HE asks of us is to trust HIM with all our heart... god bless!

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