Posts Tagged ‘Calling’

“The word of Christ is that God is love; and if God is love, then we, every one of us, can prove God in us by expressing God in our life. According to the external customs of the different religions, one goes to church, one to the mosque, one to the synagogue, and another to the temple. The inner church however, is none of these, but in the heart of man, where God abides and which is the habitation of Christ.”

by Hazrat Inayat Khan

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“To become saints means to fulfill completely what we already are, raised to the dignity of God’s adopted children in Christ Jesus… The saints bring to light in creative fashion quite new human potentialities… The saints are themselves the living spaces into which one can turn… There is no isolation in heaven. It is the open society of the saints and, consequently, also the fulfillment of all human togetherness… One might say that the saints are, so to speak, new Christian constellations, in which the richness of God’s goodness is reflected. Their light, coming from God, enables us to know better the interior richness of God’s great light… Nothing can bring us into close contact with the beauty of Christ himself other than the world of beauty created by faith and light that shines out from the faces of the saints, through whom his own light becomes visible.”

Pope Benedict XVI

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“Vocation does not come from willfulness. It comes from listening. I must listen to my life and try to understand what it is truly about—quite apart from what I would like it to be about—or my life will never represent anything real in the world, no matter how earnest my intentions…. Vocation does not mean a goal that I pursue. It means a calling that I hear”.

Herbert Alphonso, SJ

Listening for God’s call to holiness; which is a personal and unique invitation to live our deepest purpose in life; is a lifelong clarion call to a conversion of heart. In the silence of a contemplative, listening heart, we can respond to His gratuitous gift of our life in deepest gratitude. A gratitude that is in actuality a faithful, trusting response to His will. Think Mary’s “Yes!”. Our personal vocations, each lived distinctively, contribute to the prism of Christ’s light shining in our world. A vocation which God has created specifically for you, at this time, now, in history. It is a dance of Creative Love that the Trinity wishes to engage you in, and for a certain part of this dance, only you alone know the steps. As we discern God’s will for us in the quiet of prayer, you realize your questions were always being answered. You only needed to listen for the music.

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The Annunciation by Henry Ossawa Tanner

“In her total dedication to God in faith and love, Mary is the model for our daily surrender to the ever-new call of the Lord.”                        Constitutions #12

In the above passage from the Constitutions of the Sisters of Notre Dame, the surrender of Mary to the call of the Lord is paramount.  Surrender is “to give up possession or power over, to yield.” Mary’s surrender was not the weakness of someone who feels overpowered by another, who feels compelled to give up or give in.  Mary’s surrender, her fiat at the Annunciation, was a wholehearted “yes.”

The entire event is a miracle.  Mary takes the word of an angel – what an astounding visit that must have been – whom she credits with telling her of God’s will for her – to bear the Christ.  Not so surprising, is it, that Mary, an unmarried teenager, asks the angel, “How can this be?”  Imagine the struggle within as Mary absorbs the angel’s words and gives them divine credibility, but in the human scheme of things, cannot understand how it could come about.

Here’s where the surrendering of power, letting go of defenses, enters in.  The angel tells her that the Spirit is involved in this request.  Another moment of pondering for Mary, but then she surrenders the power that she has over her own life, of making her own choices – and she becomes the mother of Jesus Christ.  On the subject of letting go of our defenses, Macrina Wiederkehr, in Seasons of Your Heart, writes

when I let

my defenses go

blessings came running

and there appeared stars

i had never seen before


to me

for me

and then suddenly

in me

and through me

i ran forward

carrying the torch

bearing the prize


a star shining

when I let my defenses go

Scripturally, we only have snippets of Mary, her life and her words.  What little we know of Mary can perhaps only be spoken of in words of praise, of poetry and song.  As Thomas Merton wrote of her in Ascent to Truth :

And far beneath the movement of this silent cataclysm Mary slept in the infinite tranquility of God, and God was a child curled up who slept in her and her veins were flooded with His wisdom which is night, which is starlight, which is silence.  And her whole being was embraced in Him whom she embraced and they became tremendous silence.

Because of Mary’s fiat in the Annunciation, we are a people embraced and redeemed.

In Christ,

Sr. Mary Carlann Paganelli

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St. Joseph with Christ Child by Michael D. O'Brian

March 19

Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son and you will call His name, Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.

Matthew 1:20

If St. Joseph were living in our century, we might describe him as a loyal husband, a hard-working craftsman, a wonderful role model for Jesus, a “down to earth” religious person, a devoted son of the Law, a Faith-filled member of the House of David.

We find little “windows” to St. Joseph’s vocation and mission in the Gospels according to Matthew and Luke. In many ways, he is a “silent man.” We “hear” his actions not his words.

In Matthew’s Gospel, Joseph learns about Mary’s pregnancy. He responds as a faith-filled, loving and trusting husband. “Her husband, Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.” In some special circumstances, the Law of Moses tolerated divorce. The Law of Moses determined that the punishment for a woman who had committed adultery was stoning to death. Joseph did not seek the letter of the law, but in a spirit of compassion sought a private separation from Mary because he knew he was not the child’s father.

After being assured by the angel of Mary’s miraculous pregnancy,  Joseph lived his vocation as husband to Mary and guardian of Jesus diligently. He became a refugee, an exile in Egypt, to protect his wife and Jesus.

St. Joseph supported his family as a working man, a craftsman. St. Matthew’s and St. Mark’s Gospels describe St. Joseph as a “tekton” – a mechanic in general and a carpenter in particular. He taught those skills to Jesus.

He knew the effects of “job insecurity.” There were times when he needed to travel to other cities and towns to secure employment. Does the need for work possibly explain why he would have moved from Bethlehem, the city of his ancestor David, to the far north, to a province known for its political unrest and extensive non-Jewish population? Herod provided a burst of work opportunities for a “tekton” in Galilee with his plan to build a new and elegant city that would redound to his glory.

The last time Joseph appears in the New Testament is Jesus’ bar mitzvah. He prepared Jesus to become a “son of the Law.” From Joseph’s everyday faith, devoted love, and care of his family, Jesus learned how to live the spirit of the Law.

In 1870, Pope Pius IX named St. Joseph Patron of the Universal Church. Pope Pius Xll created the feast of St. Joseph the Worker in 1955.  We celebrate that feast on the first of May.

St. Joseph, loving husband of Mary, guardian of Jesus and patron of all workers, pray for us!

Sr. Emilie Ann Palladino

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An insightful meditation on being patient with the now and not yet:

“Above all, trust in the slow work of God. We are quite naturally impatient on everything; to reach the end without delay. We would like to skip the intermediate stages. We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new. And yet, it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability – and that it may take a very long time. And so I think it is with you; your ideas mature gradually – let them grow, let them shape themselves, without undue haste. Don’t try to force them on, as though you could be today what time, (that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will) will make of you tomorrow. Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming in you will be. Give the lord the benefit of believing that His hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete”.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J.

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Back in January those of us in formation in the SND Congregation got together in Toledo, OH for a weekend of prayer, instruction and plain old socializing. One of the most memorable days there was a visit to the “Big House”, otherwise known as the Provincial Center. It was a joy visiting with the many Sisters in residence there. A beautiful and very thoughtful gift they gave each of us were bags full of hand written notes of inspiration and encouragement from all the Sisters. What a blessing it is to know that so many are praying for you! Among the lovely notes one struck me as the perfect description of Vocation, and I’d like to share it with you:

A Vocation can best be described as

A Strong Challenge

A Great Gift

A Singular  Joy


Always a Mystery!

Handle it with Reverence.

Note it starts with Challenge! 🙂

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Our pastor recently said in a homily, “In order to get to Heaven, you need a letter of reference from the poor.” This message resounded in my heart and I prayed for guidance pondering, “Will I get in?”

A few weeks later I was in downtown L.A. on business.  Astounded by the number of homeless and realizing how they had become “invisible” to most commuters, I asked a few people that were attending our meeting, “What can we do?”  Providentially, a few folks had the answer!  We are hoping to form a consortium of six or seven churches to collaborate in a “van project” that will serve meals to the homeless on a daily basis, concentrating on those parts of L.A. that are now underserved.  We are still very much in the research and planning stages. but the goal is to have our wheels moving by next autumn.  We know we won’t solve the entire problem, but, in the words of St. Julie, “You are not asked to do all the good in the world, but only the good that is within your power.” Please join us in prayer for this new venture!

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“Let us remind ourselves over and over again that holiness has to do with very ordinary things:  truthfulness, courtesy, kindness, gentleness, consideration for others, contentment with our lot, honesty and courage in the face of life, reliability, dutifulness.  Intent, as we think, on the higher reaches of spirituality, we can overlook the warp and woof of holiness.”

“Fire Upon The Earth: The Interior Castle Explored” by Ruth Burrows

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Our Foundress and first Sisters were social mystics, women rooted in God and sent on a mission to help poor children. Time has not dimmed the witness of their lives…lives that testify that authentic prayer leads to care of the most vulnerable and action on behalf of justice. Today women responding to the call to religious life likewise desire to be rooted in God and sent on mission. We, too, with God’s help will be social mystics in our own day.

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