Saturday, November 22, 2008

Community and Growth (shout out Jean Vanier!)

I started this blog to share my journey into religious life, and it continues to be a journey into (and out of!) vocation (with a little bit of funny life tibdits, because it's me, after all!).

I am finally embracing and recognizing how beautiful the unknowing is.

Don't get me wrong, it's still hard, but last year I struggled so much with the unknown. Now I'm finally seeing that the unknown is the everyday. And our world tries to make things known, but only the Lord can do that for us.

Not sure where this is going yet. Bear with me once again.

I just got back from spiritual direction. I go once a month, which is such a blessing after having spiritual direction every other week while living in the convent. It was one of my main priorities to find a spiritual director once I got settled. God has provided once again!

Alot of this blog has already been based on what I've received in spiritual direction. The 'Abandonment to God's Providence' is definitely what helped me the last few months of transition, and has helped me to come to the conclusion that I began this blog with today.

My next focus is- in embracing the unknown- how do I take action? I can feel myself wanting to take that 'next step'. I do feel like God has called me to be His apostle. He has called me to that through youth ministry, through the Daughters, and now even in my current job at the Pallotti Center. He continues to send me out from place to place, person to person, encountering Him and spreading His Gospel. And I love it!

But one thing I have also learned is that I desire so much to be in community. And He has shown me that. And He has led me back to this beautiful community of Catholic U friends, and friends affiliated with service in the big discernment now is, how can I be an apostle, but also have a stable community to live in?

My spiritual director pointed out to me that being sent, or 'going out', doesn't always have to be literally like I've taken it to mean thus far. It is the going out of myself, letting go and doing, in the everyday that He is now calling me to. And that is a little tougher for me.

One of the ways the Lord has given me community currently is through the Women's Group that some of my friends and I have formed. We meet once a month and take turns leading each other in spiritual readings, reflection, and prayer. We've only met twice, but both times have been so fruitful, because we get to step outside ourselves, share what the Lord has been doing with us, and also witness how He is working with others. It's been a perfect mix, for me, of apostolic 'reaching out' but being in stable community.

I really have been missing the 'reaching out' aspect of ministry, and am discerning maybe going back to grad school to get a Masters so I may become a campus minister or teach. That may be my 'next step' in God's plan for me, so I am praying about it.

Now to kind of switch gears, but it'll all tie back in, don't worry :)

Advent is coming up, so my spiritual director naturally asked me, 'how about Advent?'

How about it, indeed! I can't believe that this weekend begins the first Sunday, and I haven't even thought about what I'm going to do.

I have been journeying with St. Paul this whole year. Naturally, since it is a Pauline year and I lived with sisters who have a Pauline charism! The feast of his Converstion in January these past two years have also been spiritually fruitful for me. So, with the help of my spiritual director, have decided to journey with St. Paul (as well as the Blessed Mother) during this Advent. St. Paul's faithfulness and confidence and LOVE of Christ, despite the hardships sent his way, inspire me. But also, St. Paul was in waiting, waiting until he would encounter Christ again. And that is definitely what we are doing during Advent. And how did Paul wait? Actively. In communities, and in 'going out' to the people.

At our last women's group meeting, Gina led us in Lectio Divina, which I had done regularly with the sisters in St. Louis. I realized that I miss the practice, and also am going to try to get back into it for the Sundays of Advent.

I encourage you to think about how God is calling you to wait with Him this year. My spiritual director shared a beautiful reflection with me on how Christ literally grows in Mary's body during Advent. How are we going to allow Christ to grow in us?

Can you tell I just got back from spiritual direction? ha. It was so funny because when I walked in, the parish office looked like a doctor's office- people waiting in front of the receptionist's window to be 'seen' by the priest. I 'got in' right away since I had an appointment. But I thought that was kind of a beautiful sight and testimony to the priests of the healing power they have in Christ!

Sorry if this has been too much for one blog. I've been away for the past month it seems and haven't been able to breathe. I'm excited to have time to reflect on Advent!

God bless,


Lisa said...

Hi, Julia, I am friend of the Daughters of Saint Paul since they had a Media Center in Jersey City, NJ many MANY years ago. I follow the Postulants blog from time to time and today happened to discover your blog via the comment you posted. I was glad to find it. As I had noticed that you were no longer in the postulancy with the Daughters, I had been praying for your journey also. While I see from your post that much discernment lies ahead of you, I sense that you are at peace and content in knowing that you are walking God's path for you. That is the most important thing. And in the midst of it, the ability to recognize and acknowledge the blessings one has experienced along the way, such as your time as a postulant, is also a great grace. The reality is that life is an ongoing process of discernment and one of the most valuable lessons I learned in my own journey of vocation discernment is not to miss the opportunities and graces of the present moment when looking towards future decisions. Know that prayer continues to accompany you!

Blessings in abundance!

Christine Marie said...

Hey beautiful, just wanted to let you know I loved reading this!! You encourage me more than you know.

Thomas Joseph said...

Amen to Christine's comment! On this Thanksgiving morning I am thankful for YOU and so grateful for your gift of encouragement in my life recently. I'm praying for ya... :)