#TheseSistersHaveNames

#TheseSistersHaveNames #InternationalWomensDay #NationalSistersWeek #IWD2016

These Sisters Have Names

Anselm, Reginette, Judith and Marguerite.

These are the names of the four women religious slain in Yemen last Friday March 4.

The lives of these four Missionaries of Charity came to a sudden end while they were preparing breakfast.  Four gunmen stormed the nursing home where the sisters worked and and killed 14 in total, according to church officials.

Would you join us in sharing the four names of these ‘martyrs of charity’? We pray for them and all the other countless women religious in the Church’s history who are martyrs for their faith.

In St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis prayed that Blessed Mother Teresa “accompany to paradise these daughters of hers, martyrs of charity, and that she would intercede for peace and a sacred respect for human life.”

Sister Anselm, 57, was the youngest of seven siblings in an Indian family of farmers. Fellow missionaries said she lived and died for the people. While not much is known about the three other sisters, including 44-year-old Sister Margherite and 32-year-old Sister Reginette, both of Rwanda, and 41-year-old Kenyan Sister Judith, they are not forgotten. They were daughters, sisters and spiritual mothers to many. Bishop Paul Hinder, the Apostolic Vicar of Southern Arabia, which includes Yemen, said they  “sacrificed their lives by following their own charism.”

Churches and communities across the world have rallied to support these four martyrs across the world. Photos show Yemenis gathering the next day to protest the attack. In Jerusalem, His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, will celebrate the Holy Eucharist March 11 with other clergy, religious and lay faithful. In Rwanda, a requiem Mass honors the mission accomplished by the sisters, leting other Christians know of their sacrifice, Bishop Smaragde Mbonyintege of the Diocese of Kabgayi told Rwanda’s The New Times.

Telesphore Cardinal Toppo, archbishop of Ranchi, India, said “this is an act of wanton killing; a pointless murder of nuns who had opted to lead a life of celibacy; to be of service to God, the poor and the needy. The dedicated sisters were brave women who had chosen to ignore the ongoing turmoil and violence in Yemen to be by the side of the elderly and the needy” to The Telegraph.

Sister Sally, the mother superior of the Yemeni community, survived the attack and safely escaped. Father Tom Uzhunnali, an Indian Salesian priest who was in the chapel at the time of the attack, remains missing, ANI reports.

The names of these four Missionaries of Charity were released on March 8, which is recognized as International Women’s Day as well as the first day of National Catholic Sisters Week, which runs through March 14.

“The dignity of women is their strength and faith in the God who created them,” said Father Leo Patalinghug, a well-known priest and host of Grace Before Meals said in a Facebook post. “If we want to know the power of women, look no further to the one who gave birth to us. And in a special way, look to these women – Missionaries of Charity – martyred in Yemen by terrorists. They stood strong to care for the poorest and weakest. They gave the ultimate sacrifice. Why do news outlets avoid talking about these wonderful and powerful women? May these Holy Women of God pray for us.”

Since January 2015, Yemen remains battered in an ongoing civil war. According to the United Nations, more than 2,400 have died in the conflict, including many children and civilians, both Muslim and Christian.

Sisters Anselm, Reginette, Judith and Marguerite, pray for us.

James Ramos is a storyteller and designer with the Texas Catholic Herald in Houston. Follow him on Twitter (www.twitter.com/plusjames) and Instagram (instagram.com/plusjames). He’s also great at high fives and group selfies.

My Jesuit Journey with St. Therese, by Stefanus Hendrianto, S.J

October 1st is the Feast Day of St. Therese of Liseux, a 19th century French Discalced Carmelite nun, popularly known as the Little Flower of Jesus. St. Therese is dear to me because she is the first saint that I knew and she is one of the saints who constantly prays for me in my life journey, especially in my journey as a Jesuit.

Therese_von_LisieuxI got to know St. Therese for the first time in primary school. Although I was not Catholic at that time, my parents decided to send me to a nearby Catholic school for my primary education, thinking that it would provide good education. The patron of the school is St. Therese of Lisieux. Every year on October 1st, all the students were required to go to the local church for the Mass dedicated to St. Therese, but I never knew what it all meant.  My impression about the Mass was merely that we had to kneel for a long time. When I was in the fifth grade, my mother pushed me to join the catechumen program. My mother made that decision for me for pragmatic reasons: to secure a position in one of the best Catholic Middle Schools in my hometown for my secondary education. I was very reluctant to join the program, and began to ask why I have to become a Catholic. I refused to join the first catechumen class. My mother was very angry with me and punished me for my contempt. Later, I came to the class just to avoid further punishment from my mother. Having gone through the period of catechumens, I was baptized on the Easter vigil of 1986. Not long after my baptism, I successfully secured the position in one of the best Catholic Middle Schools in my home town, which also took St. Therese as its patron saint.

Fast forward to my years in college, I began to question my Catholic faith because found I found that being a Catholic student was very boring. Our faith seemed no more than Mass, pilgrimage, retreat and feast. Meanwhile, outside the Catholic circle, I found that the secular student activism on campus was much more interesting. There was so much discussion about social and political issues among the student activists. Through my interaction with the secular student activists, I had come into this conclusion that the Church and Catholicism never provided an adequate answer to the cause of issue of human suffering. At that time I stopped attending the Church regularly and slowly I began to change my creed into “I believe in Marx, Freud and Darwin; I believe that everything is OK as long as you don’t hurt anyone, to the best of your definition of hurt, and to the best of your definition of knowledge.”

Having spent five years in the wilderness of faith, on one Sunday morning, my then-girlfriend invited me to go for Sunday mass with her. I decided to attend Sunday mass simply because I wanted to please her. Having spent many months attending mass with my girlfriend, I began to re-think about my Catholic faith. At that time I was working in an international financial institution in downtown Jakarta, Indonesia. There is an old and small Catholic Church that is located around two blocks from my office. The Church is named after St. Therese of Liseux. One day, I decided to attend a daily mass in that Church, and perhaps it was one of the first moments that I decided to go to the Church on my own instead of pleasing my girlfriend or mother.10515326_631390506978857_4219475172879684896_o

As God brought Joseph from desert to Palace and Moses from palace to desert, He brought me from a small mining town in Indonesia to Seattle, Washington. In the Emerald city, I experienced a deeper conversion and later decided to enter the Jesuit Novitiate. I submitted my application to the Society of Jesus on October 1st.. Little did I know that this was not only a simple coincidence, but rather, a sign of abiding grace in which St. Therese had been praying for me long since my time in primary school and she would continue to pray for me in my journey on the religious path.

Every Jesuit has to make the Spiritual Exercises, a thirty-day, silent retreat developed by St. Ignatius Loyola. During my silent retreat in the Novitiate, I had a chance to reflect more about my faith journey: one day, I prayed over my relationship with St. Therese of Liseux. The Holy Spirit helped me to see that St. Therese is one of the greatest Saint of modern times, because the beauty of her spiritual childhood was a testament to how a saint can change the world. Through my faith journey, I realized that secularism is not as powerful as we thought. I ran away from God and tried to live a life without meaning, but the beauty of St. Thérèse’s spiritual childhood rescued me from such despair and nihilism.

 

Stefanus Hendrianto, S.J. is a Jesuit Scholastic. He taught at Santa Clara University Law School and Political Science Department.

Surrendering to God’s Will

Written by a young woman named Helena, just before entering religious life.

Entering religious life has held major lessons in trust and surrender for me. I’m goal oriented, a planner, a person who likes to know the next step and do it. Over the time of pre-postulancy, I’ve been pulled, stretched, and formed in ways I would not have even imagined, and I know this will continue to happen after I enter. It has not been easy; on the contrary, it has been the hardest, most painful, emotional experience of my life.But, at the same time, Christ has been there so beautifully and lovingly, every step of the way. He continues to show me that everything I surrender to Him is taken care of and even returned in ways I could not have planned.

When I came to the realization that religious life was a very real possibility for me, I was devastated. (Yes, I know this sounds contradictory to the heavenly chorus one might think accompanies such a decision, but hear me out.) I was devastated at the realization that the plans I had for my life might not be Christ’s plans for my life. It didn’t make sense. However, over the next few months as I tried to wrap my head around what He was asking of me, I kept returning to the image of the Cross. Christ gave us everything He had. The people around Him did not understand. They mocked, betrayed, even tormented Him. The suffering of the Cross did not make sense to human beings, but the divine joy of the Resurrection and hope of eternal life could not come without the sacrifice of the Cross. In comparison, the sacrifice of my plans, car, career and physical separation from family and friends, while major sacrifices to me, seemed so insignificant in comparison to Christ’s sacrifice for us.

I was also comforted by Christ’s words in Matthew 26:39 during His agony in the garden: “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me. Yet, not as I will, but as you will.” This became my constant prayer. At first, I identified with what I thought was Christ’s doubt and struggle. But during this time, I came across a reflection on the Garden of Gethsemane by Mother Teresa, who beautifully wrote: “No. There was no doubt. It was only for a moment that He felt unsure. That was as a human being. That was natural. The moment you accept, the moment you surrender yourself, that’s the conviction. But it may mean death to you…then there is no doubt. The moment Jesus said ‘Father, I am at your disposal, Thy will be done,’ He had accepted. That was His agony. He felt all things you and I would feel as human beings. That’s why He was like us, unto all things, except sin.”

God the Father was with Christ as He cooperated with the plan for salvation. I had to trust that He would be with me as well, as I tried to cooperate with His plan for me. The promise was there. The doors were open. What would I do?

St. Faustina phrases her acceptance much more eloquently than I, in imitation of our Blessed Mother’s fiat: “I thank you Jesus, you who first drank the cup of bitterness before You gave it to me, in a much milder form. I put my lips to this cup of Your Holy Will. Let all be done according to Your good pleasure.”

Regardless of His ultimate plans for me, we are all called to say yes to following Him, every day, in every state or stage of life. (Even if it simply starts with reaching for a prayer book instead of our smartphones when we open our eyes in the morning!) When we surrender our plans for His, even in the little things, the joy and peace that comes from doing His will is indescribable.

 

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Our Online Store is Open Now!

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We are happy to announce that we are re-opening our online store for the first time in a year! Our merchandise will be available for purchase from Friday, October 24th until Sunday, November 9th.

Because Imagine Sisters is such a small organization, we are not able to keep a constant back-stock or provide continuous shipping. Therefore, we open the store for a limited period of time, gather all of the orders once the time period has ended, and then place complete orders with the company or companies who produce our merchandise. These companies produce the merchandise and ship it back to us. Then, Amanda and I (and some volunteers) package, address, and mail them to you! It is a lengthy process, but for now it how we must operate, and we thank you all for your saintly patience with us. *NOTE: To anyone who donated to our fundraising campaign and selected a t-shirt, calendar, mug, or sweatshirt, these perks will be produced and shipped at the same time as the products from our store! You can expect them to arrive approx. 1 to 2 weeks before Christmas. Thank you!!

As we announced previously, we have recently settled in Steubenville, Ohio. We discovered that an awesome Catholic printing company is stationed in this same town, and have partnered with them to produce our merchandise. This is a great opportunity, because it allows us to meet with the company to perfect the items we want to feature in our store. God be praised!

The company, Nelson Fine Art and Gifts is a small, family-owned manufacturing business founded in 1994. The Nelson family and their company are strongly committed to quality craftsmanship and to the Catholic Faith. All products are handcrafted in the company’s own workshops to ensure that each piece is made with care.

We are featuring a couple new items this time! In addition to our ‘One Sister Can Change the World” T-shirt and sweatshirt, we will also have an Imagine Sisters coffee mug, wood-carved graphic magnet, set of mini Imagine Sisters buttons, new car decals and bumper stickers, and more!

Orders will be shipped via priority USPS mail during the first week of December, and will arrive to you early in the second week of December. Plenty of time before Christmas!

International shipping is available. (Yay!) However, because the Earth is a very big place, we cannot guarantee that the items will arrive before Christmas.

Please do check out the store and consider purchasing to support TWO Catholic organizations and spread the message that NUNS ROCK!

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An Inside Look into a Discernment Group!

An Inside Look
by LaVerta StrahamNun Run 005

“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” – Frederick Buecher

College is the time that you are supposed to discover who you are and what you are called to do with your life. You are faced with all of these different options: what the world is telling you to do, what you want to do, what other people want you to do, and what God is calling you to do. Sometimes these things line up or they converge somewhere, and other times, much to your disappointment, they don’t.  It is because of this that discernment is so important in college.

My sophomore year in college I was entrusted with the care of a very new idea at my university parish, a discernment group specifically for women. We had a men’s discernment group, but we had not quite gotten the women’s discernment group off the ground. We finally had a group that was dedicated to helping college women ask those tough questions and shine light on possibilities that many women may have never considered, or did not have an encouraging atmosphere to consider them in.

Our goal is to help women answer their call to holiness through whatever vocation they are called to, yet at the same time we want to shine a light on the beauty of religious life. We started out by working with a sister in our diocese and had meetings once a month. During those meetings we looked at how women discovered their vocations, we read stories about people who were currently discerning, and we Skyped with sisters and learned about their communities and charism. In addition to that, we went on retreats together, we frequently met for prayer, to watch movies, or just to discuss where we were in our faith journey.

We got to a point where we wanted to encounter these different communities and not just hear about their charism but experience them as well. We wanted to get out of Oklahoma and see what religious life was like in action. Due to this, we planned our very own Nun Run. Our goal was to go from Oklahoma to Maryland and back over nine days and visit eight orders in five states. It was quite a large undertaking for a discernment group that was only a few months old, but we felt that this was where our discernment needed to go. We realized that this was a huge trip to plan and that it would take a lot of work, and so our motto was a quote by Mother Teresa, “God has not called me to be successful; he has called me to be faithful.” For three college students to plan this trip not knowing where we would get the money from, how we would get there, and even if other women would give up their entire Spring break and go along with our plan, we knew that our planning had to revolve around being faithful to God’s will and not necessarily totally oriented around the outcome. If this trip affected one person by giving her the chance to meet orders she had never met before or by just sparking a tiny thought—then it was worth it.

We were surprised by the outcome of our planning; our entire parish rallied behind us and helped us with the trip! Many people were inspired by the fact that young women wanted to visit religious orders and that there were people even discerning. We had a great response in women who were interested in coming with us as well. So, the first Saturday of our Spring break at 6AM, nine ladies piled into two cars and started our drive to our first destination, St. Louis, Missouri.

WDGDuring our Nun Run we met so many women who desired a radical relationship with God, and to dedicate their lives to the service of others. We saw women so dedicated to Christ that they gave up what the world would call freedom, in order to live a life of true freedom through the Eucharist. We met women whose apostolate involved being mothers to the world, women who dedicate their lives to preparing the elderly to stand before Our Maker with no regrets, and we visited a religious family whose goal is the evangelization of the culture through the prolonging of the Incarnate Word. When we returned from our trip we realized that this was an experience that we wanted to bring to a larger group of people, therefore we decided that for the next year the women’s discernment group would pair with the men’s discernment group and put on a vocation festival for our Archdiocese. During this weekend we brought orders in and recreated the experience that we had for a larger group of high school and college students in Oklahoma.

Our discernment group is built on seeking out God’s will. Everything that we do is a leap of faith towards a much greater cause than ourselves and it is a process. We started out with an idea and a hope that maybe just one person would show up to a meeting or sign up to be emailed. College is the time for discernment and the time to develop a relationship with Christ. An important part of that is developing that relationship within a community. It has been a process, it has been a struggle but also, it has been one of the most influential parts of my discernment process.

“It was not you who chose Me but I who chose you.” John 15:16

When the Little Flower Trumps the Father of Nihilism

When the Little Flower Trumps the Father of Nihilism

By Stefanus Hendrianto, S.J.

A Greek philosopher named Plato once said that beauty is the theresegreatest among the triad of truth, goodness and beauty. Plato described beauty as the eternal splendor of the One showing through the Many. As the Church celebrates the feast of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, let us pause and reflect on how the beauty of a saint has been showing through the Many. Saint Pope Pius X proclaimed St. Thérèse of Lisieux as the greatest Saint of modern times.  Indeed, she is the greatest Saint of modern times, because the beauty of her spiritual childhood was a testament on how a saint can change the world.

Marie-Françoise-Thérèse Martin, later known as St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, was born January 2, 1873.  A year before Thérèse was born, a German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche published his first book entitled The Birth of Tragedy. Nietzsche stands as a true son of Enlightenment era, who used the masks of rationality and Godless philosophy in his nihilistic approach to life. Meanwhile, Pope Pius XI declared that St. Therese is the “word of God descended from heaven to reveal to us the way of spiritual childhood, and she has traced for us a sure way of salvation.” Indeed, the birth of St. Thérèse was a divine plan to counter the darkness of Nietzschean world of nihilism.

There is a legend that a young Thérèse and Neitzsche did meet when they stayed at the same hotel in Paris in 1887. At that time, St. Thérèse was with her father and her sister on a diocesan pilgrimage to Rome for the priestly jubilee of Pope Leo XIII. It was the year when Nietzsche published his work Beyond Good and Evil. In Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche wrote, “Perhaps the day will come when…the concepts of ‘God’ and ‘sin’ will seem no more important to us that a child’s toy and a child’s pain seem to an old man – and perhaps ‘the old man’ will then be in need of another toy and another pain—still child enough, an eternal child!”

St. Thérèse would agree with Nietzsche, but she would give her own version of an “eternal child.” An eternal child is one who lives with humility, because a little child is naturally weak. Then, there is poverty in an eternal child because he owns nothing. There is also confidence in an eternal child because he knows that parents are always there to help him, and give him all he needs. Next, there is love in an eternal child, who loves his mother and father. Finally, an eternal child is simple in his thoughts, words and actions. He is only capable of little things. St. Thérèse then would say to Nietzsche that an “eternal child” is not a sign that God is no longer important, but rather a way for us to build a union with God.

In 1888, Nietzsche published one of his final and most notorious writings, in which he proclaimed that “God is dead.” In the same year, Thérèse entered Carmelite Monastery and became a Carmelite postulant. St. Thérèse proclaimed by her life that God was not dead. Moreover, she lived the words of Jesus to his disciple, “Because I live, you also shall live.” Not long after he declared that God is dead, Nietzsche suffered a mental breakdown and his life went awry from that point. Nietzsche lived for another decade, but he died after two strokes partially paralyzed him and left him unable to speak or walk. St. Thérèse also died in 1897 after her long suffering from tuberculosis, but even in her weakest moments she gave glory to God.

As the true son of the Enlightenment era, Nietzsche attempted to find an alternative way in which modern man could try to save humanity from death. Perhaps St. Thérèse would laugh at Nietzsche because he should know that the philosopher Socrates once postulated that philosophy is basically preparation for death! Again, St. Thérèse trumps Nietzsche because she knew the greatest philosopher, Jesus Christ, who transforms the meaning of a good death into the meaning of a good life through his death on the Cross.

Nietzsche’s legacy was the world of nihilism and despair. Nonetheless, the beauty of St. Thérèse’s spiritual childhood rescued the world from Nietzschean despair and nihilism, for there is always hope in the spiritual childhood of St. Thérèse. G.K. Chesterton once pointed out that children always say, “Do it again!” God, too, tells the sun, “Do it again!” every morning. There is always hope in our God who has this eternal appetite of infancy. Although we grow old in our sins, God is always younger than us – he tells us to try again.

 

Stefanus Hendrianto, SJ is a second year regent at Santa Clara University where he teaches both at the School of Law and Political Science Department.

A Single Rose Poem by Jacob Boddicker, SJ

In honor of today’s One Rose Invitation, Jesuit scholastic Jacob Boddicker, SJ wrote this beautiful poem as an offering of his own kind of “rose.”

A Single Rose

In the quiet of thy heart comes thy KingSmall_Red_Rose
To thee, fair one, dear one, dove and garden closed,
and to thy windowed soul He sighs and sings,
thorn-crowned, wound-red, myrrh-sweet: yea, Sharon’s Rose.*
Chosen soul! Let thy heart break forth a-dawn;
spill o’er the sill of fear that damned and dimmed,
Let thy pride fall that thou might rise anon
Bourne aloft in His heart, caught up in Him.
What sweeter prison tower could thou find
Than the love-petaled bower of His breast,
Impossibly free though gentle tethers bind
Thee heart-to-heart, from which no sin can wrest
For He’s thine and shant rescind what’s given;
Give Him thy “yes” and He’ll give thee Heaven.

*Song of Songs 2:1

Let Fall a Shower of Roses: One Rose Invitation 2014

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The One Rose Invitation is an Imagine Sisters tradition that takes place annually on October 1st, the Feast of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. St. Therese is the patron saint of Imagine Sisters, and a perfect model and friend-in-Heaven for those considering consecrated life as a religious sister. She entered a Carmelite monastery at 15, and spent her life loving Christ through prayer and small sacrifices. Before her passing at the age of 24, St. Therese said, “After my death, I will let fall a shower of roses.

The inspiration for the One Rose Invitation is drawn from these words. In the days leading up to St. Thérèse’s feast, Imagine Sisters asks our followers to think of and pray about a young woman whom they believe would make a good religious sister. Then, on October 1st, you are to let her know by offering her a rose. This rose is an acknowledgment of the beauty of that young woman’s soul, and a symbol of the invitation to consider a vocation to religious life.

Will you take part in this beautiful tradition? Here are some suggestions!

1. Spend some time in prayer with the Lord, the Blessed Mother, and St. Thérèse. Meditate on the virtues and qualities of a bride of Christ, and think of young women in whom you see those features. Is she someone at your parish? In your dorm? A student in your grade or high school? A daughter, granddaughter, goddaughter, sibling, niece or cousin? A friend?

2. Ask God to help you decide who to present your rose to. If you want to give roses to multiple women, that is absolutely allowed!

3. Next, plan for how you will acquire this rose. There are many options: flower shops or grocery stores are a good bet, and this year’s Feast is on a Wednesday, so stores will be open. Rose bushes are also typically still in bloom at this time in the season, so you could clip one from your own yard, or ask a neighbor for permission to clip theirs! It is for a good cause. 😉 In cases where it is not possible to acquire and give a real rose, some people choose to mail a greeting card with a rose on it, draw a picture of a rose, or even e-mail/post a digital image of a rose. These are all good options!

4. When will you give her the rose? You could ask her to meet with you, or leave it for her with a note, or mail it on Saturday to ensure it arrives by Wednesday.

5. If she has not yet heard of Imagine Sisters, you may direct her to our web pages if she is interested in discerning religious life!

6. Continue to hold her in prayer. Why not pair your One Rose with one Rosary? :-)

For more ideas, photos, and testimonies from the One Rose Invitation in years past, read this blog post!

You may use this pre-designed note if you wish!

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The Hound of Heaven, by Helena, a young woman entering religious life.

houndofheavenI fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after…
But with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbèd pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
They beat—and a Voice beat
More instant than the Feet—
‘All things betray thee, who betrayest Me’.

I can relate to Francis Thomas’ feelings of being “pursued” by One so persistent yet gentle, the One who asks me (and all of us) to follow Him.

If you had asked me about two years ago if I thought I would be entering a convent this summer, the answer would be a resounding “Absolutely not.” I knew where I was headed. I had a college degree, a job, a nice car, and all I needed was the right man to walk into my life so I could have everything I was “really” supposed to have.

In the meantime, I filled my calendar with just about every possible activity I could jump into, assuming that God gave me this single season of life so that I could be productive and use my time to be helpful to others. And, it is certainly true that one should be content with the single state in life. It’s not a ‘waiting for’ stage; Christ has a purpose for every stage in life. The activities were good and productive, but I was still not finding peace because I was merely filling time and ended up having no time for anyone. I soon found myself in a very self-focused, miserable stage of burn-out. I wasn’t really giving of myself to anyone. My prayer soon evolved from asking the Lord to make things happen for me, to simply asking to do His will.

And past those noisèd Feet
A voice comes yet more fleet—
‘Lo! naught contents thee, who content’st not Me.’

As I realized I needed more balance in my life, I scaled back my calendar and tried to focus more on prayer and listening to the Lord. I rediscovered my love of reading (of books, not websites), made time to exercise and be outdoors, and signed up for the vocations retreats that everyone had been hinting that I needed to attend.

(For, though I knew His love Who followed,
Yet was I sore adread
Lest, having Him, I must have naught beside.)

Throughout high school, college, and beyond, I had sat through various “vocations talks” (you know, the ones that faithful Catholic youth may encounter at various retreats and conferences, along with the occasional “chastity talk”) with a scowl on my face and resentment running through my head (‘THIS doesn’t apply to me, why am I here? I don’t need to listen because I know it’s not for me’). But underneath my denial, there was an uncomfortable question, the burning little “What if?” that bothered me whenever the thought of a religious vocation was presented to me. I would shut out the fearsome thought and move on with life.

So, when I slowed down, stopped running, turned around, and looked at the Lord, I faced the beautiful, overwhelming possibility that He was calling me. When I finally admitted this, I was able to answer, as C.S. Lewis says, “I know now Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice?’

He didn’t force me. He didn’t overcome me all at once. As the hound in the poem, He pursued me, and convinced me little by little, step by step, that He may want more for me than I wanted for myself. One by one, fears that I have had along the way have been put to rest and provided for as I could never have planned myself. I am done running from Him, and even though I am continuing to discern and still do not know the ultimate picture, I am open to whatever surprises Christ may wish to send me. As a priest so beautifully put it to me, “He WILL be a faithful Husband. The question you need to ask yourself is, can you be a faithful wife?”

Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee,
Save Me, save only Me?
All which I took from thee I did but take,
Not for thy harms,
But just that thou might’st seek it in My arms.
All which thy child’s mistake
Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home:
Rise, clasp My hand, and come!’

We NEED priests!

We need priests!”

You’ve almost certainly heard this comment before. Maybe you heard it in a homily, at a vocations event, or from someone at your parish. You may even have said it once or twice yourself.

As a seminarian studying for the priesthood, I know I certainly hear it a lot – nearly every week, in fact! The truth is, we do need priests, because we desperately need the grace of the Sacraments only they can provide for the Church. We need Christ’s presence, both in the priest themselves and in the immense gift of the Masses they offer.

I’m glad we recognize this, most especially when I see how many other men are invited to consider the priesthood for the first time, just because someone saw the need for holy priests and took the chance of encouraging him.

As one of those guys, though – the ones being invited and formed for a vocation to the priesthood – I want to tell you about the unsung heroes in my own journey of discernment and formation: Religious sisters. I always met these women in unexpected times and places, and I was always surprised by the humility and quiet joy they radiated without speaking a word.

I remember the first time I met one of the sisters, when, three years ago – give or take a week – she and several of the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia showed up for Eucharistic Adoration at my campus ministry.

Two years of discernment and one seminary application later, the same sister stopped me on the sidewalk in Washington, DC . . . to tell me that she’d been praying for me since I began discerning the priesthood.

Many of these women have inspired me to try to be a better person than I am. A few have legitimately changed my life.

The Poor Clare, barely noticed in her rural cloister, who quietly supports me through her prayers.

The Missionary of Charity who wakes up every day to make dozens of beds and wash the dishes, who handed me a mop and told me with broken English and an eloquent smile, “By doing, you learn.”

The many, many friends who are so willing to hear Christ’s invitation to live as His brides, and to offer Him their lives and vocations.

Yes, we need priests.

What you won’t hear as often, though, is this:

Priests (and seminarians) need sisters.

They are our spiritual mothers, who devote themselves to praying for us, as flawed and human as we are, so that we might one day be able to bring Christ to the world in a very real way. They are witnesses to the true joy we can find in giving ourselves totally and completely to God and His Church. They are the ones who hold us up and keep us going with their sacrifices.

God has given these women a crucial mission, but as much as we need their intercession and support, they need ours, too. If we want to create a culture that will nourish their vocations, we need to pray for our religious sisters and discerners, support the people and organizations –like Imagine Sisters – who exist to show the world the beauty of the consecrated life, and invite others to do the same.

We like to say, “One sister can change the world.”

I know they’ve certainly changed mine.

– Cassidy Stinson is a Seminarian for the Diocese of Richmond, currently in 1st Theology at Theological College and the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.

 

Consider helping Imagine Sisters continue to inspire young women to consider giving their lives to Christ in a religious vocation through a tax-deductible donation: HERE