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Sunday, 21 June 2015

Kim's Prayer

Just sharing...



Lord, open our hearts. Open our minds. Help us to see things as they really are. Help us to know the truth. Father, call on us. Bring us ever closer to you. Lead us ever deeper into the depths of your love. Holy Spirit, guide us. Lead us to doing His will. Envelop us in the love of the ever-faithful Triune God. Jesus, pray with us. Amen.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Community Spotlight: Community of St John (Active Sisters)


Order:
Community of St John (Apostolic Sisters)
Gender: Female
Apostolate: Their work is varied: children, youth and campus ministry, retreats for families, hospitality, parish ministry, education, ministry in nursing homes, visits to the poor and homebound.
Eligibility: Unknown
Formation: Postulancy of 6 to 12 months, novitiate 2 - 2 1/2 years, temporary profession 4 years.
Vows: Chastity, Obedience, Poverty (More info. on vows)

Practices:
Typical Weekday in a House of Formation
6:15 Silent Prayer
7:00 Lauds
7:30 Breakfast
8:00 Lectio Divina
8:45 Fraternal services
9:15 Classes or personal study
11:15 Sext & Mass
Thanksgiving
1:00 Lunch
Rosary
Manual work
4:30 Class
5:30 Vespers
6:00 Holy Hour
7:00 Dinner
8:15 Compline

History:

Founded in France in 1984 by Fr. Marie Dominique Philippe, the Congregation of the Apostolic Sisters of Saint John is the third branch of the Family of St. John. It is a Roman Catholic religious institute with a monastic spirit and an apostolic mission. It was recognized by the Bishop of Autun (Burgundy, France) as an institute of diocesan right in 1993.

Today there are 17 priories throughout the world.

Recommended: 'Follow the Lamb' ('Wherever He Goes')

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Guides: Opposition to Religious Vocations

When discerning a religious vocation, many people experience some form of opposition. Whether this be from close family, friends, extended family, co-workers, acquaintances or total strangers it can be a very daunting and painful part of discernment. These issues are often as simple as misunderstandings, miscommunications and plain old stubbornness. So this guide aims to help discerners who are having such struggles both understand why they are facing opposition and positive ways to help.

Sometimes when people oppose your discernment, it can be because their fears due to past experiences may surface. Often one of the best ways to combat this is simply to show them that whatever it is they are afraid of, their fears may not be reality, so whether they come for a visit, or talk to the vocations director, try it out, because then perhaps they will come round to the idea after a while.

Section 1 - Parents

The most painful opposition often comes from one's parents - it can be very disheartening to find that your parents oppose the possibility of a religious vocation. However, having a child discern or enter religious life can be very difficult for parents and it is important to understand that. These suggestions are aimed at helping parents understand and come to terms with the reality of discerning religious life.

1. Listen to your parent's concerns and let them share why they are opposed. They may have valid concerns, or be coming from a place of misunderstanding or misinformation. Even if you feel their concerns are irrational or unfounded, they are obviously troubling so be respectful. Stay calm, and respond to their concerns or questions without being angry or defensive.

2. Arrange for your parents to visit a community/communities with you. If you are discerning seriously with a community, see if one of the members or particularly the vocations director can meet with your parents without you present and in confidence. This gives your parents a chance to speak openly with a member of the community and settle some of their questions or concerns. Parents often worry that their children are taking a romanticised or unrealistic view of religious life, so having someone from the community to speak to can be very helpful. Even if you are not discerning with a specific community see if there are any religious communities nearby you could visit with your parents, or visit communities you are interested in with them. Even contact by phone or email could be helpful.

3. Give it time. Don't expect an immediate conversion. Often parents can feel, especially if you have not shown interest in a religious vocation before, that it is a temporary whim and not grounded in reality. It is often true that when one feels the first call to a religious vocation they can be somewhat 'swept up' in it - something that is difficult to see in yourself. So by giving things time and showing, if your feelings of a religious vocation continue, that it is not just a whim then that can allay a lot of concerns your parents may have.

4. Remember that your parents care for you and want you to be happy. Most likely, their concerns and opposition comes from fearing that you would not be happy in a religious vocation.

Section 2 - Siblings and close family members

A lot of what applies to parents applies to siblings and other close family members.

1. As with parents, listen to their concerns openly. They love you and only want what is best for you (even though they may not know how to show it!). Try to explain to them, but bear in mind that it is part of the vocation that you cannot expect those who have not been given Religious vocations to understand.

2. While siblings may naturally be included in parental visits to communities, try to keep family visits to communities you are seriously discerning with - this is simply because you don't want to be flooding communities with visitors.

Section 3 - Close friends

It can be difficult when close friends don't support your decision. It may be because they don't want to lose contact with you - this is one of the biggest fears of those connected with people who enter Religious Life - the significantly less contact they will have with them, especially during the earlier years of formation.

1. Explain the importance of the time you need to discern without influences from elsewhere, hence the less contact with them for a while. Try to help them to understand that this is what you believe God is calling you to, and that you must respond in the most loving way to serve God.

2. Know your boundaries. If you truly believe that it is God's will for you to enter, don't let pressure hold you back. Go with what you know is right. There will come a time where people will try to talk you out of entering, but don't succumb to their requests. Firmly tell them that this is your decision and they need to respect it.

Section 4 - Acquaintances 

Even aside from those close to you, there will be acquaintances who may question your decision. Whether these be classmates, co-workers, neighbours, even people you are not close to can be outspoken in their confusion and opposition. Dealing with this is very different to opposition from loved ones.

1. You do not have to defend your choice. If people are antagonistic and attack you or your choice then you shouldn't feel you owe them a defence. A simple "I feel this is what I am called to and where I will be happy and grow in faith" or words to that effect is more than enough. If you feel able to respond to specific issues they have then feel free to but try to avoid getting into debate because chances are your efforts are futile.

[We may update this at another point in time, but for now, here it is, and we hope it helps!]

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Guides: What to do if you are asked to wait...

I have come across several instances where people have been asked to wait before entering into the formation process or in between formation stages in Religious Life. It is not uncommon nowadays for people to be asked to wait for various different reasons. However, if you are feeling a bit lost as to what to do because you have been asked to wait, here is some useful (or at least, we hope it's useful!!) advice...

Time for God and Liminal Space...
For those times we didn't plan, the times of waiting, especially in our daily lives, turn to God and say a prayer. It doesn't have to be long or of a particular format. It could be very simple, just something like, "Jesus, thank you for this day, and for all its blessings. I trust you to help me through the rest of it. Amen".

Always be mindful of your mission for God's people...
A Tyburn Nun once said to me, "Be faithful in all the current duties of your life, because that is what will help you grow closer to God". If you are not faithful to the current duties of your life, then how can you expect to be faithful to your duties in Religious Life? Do everything you do whole heartedly, and the best you can. Don't worry about what others think. This is between YOU and GOD.

Learning to leave it all in God's hands...
Surrender to God and leave it in His hands. He is THE Father, and knows what is best for you, His Child. God is the perfect Father, so as long as you leave it to Him, then you should be fine.

Trusting in the Lord...
Our Mother Mary trusted in the Lord at all times. There were many times where she did not understand what was going on, yet she still trusted.

St Therese of Lisieux said, "Though he might kill me, yet I will still trust in Him". This faith is what you need in times of waiting and uncertainty.

Reflect on those two things above and see if you can do the same. Believe that "God works with all who love Him and turn all to their good". (Romans 8:28)

Time to grow closer to God, and to grow in maturity and fully as a person... 
Sometimes time can help us to see the bigger picture, as well as to know ourselves better. Initially, it can be very frustrating if you know you desire to enter Religious Life, but for whatever reason, which may be out of your control, due to your circumstances, you cannot enter at this moment in time. However, you have to remember that if God's will is that you will enter, and you are open and willing to say YES to Him in HIS time, then your vocation is not going to suddenly "disappear into thin air".

Take time to learn more about yourself. What are your gifts? your hobbies? interests? Where do you find the most fulfilment? Where can you best serve the Lord in the current situation you are in? How can you grow closer to Him? Perhaps pray about having a spiritual director to help you grow in your prayer life? Ask yourself these questions and pray about them, then, with an open heart, attentively listening for the voice of God, wait for the answer. It might not come as you expect it, so be warned! There are many ways of finding out things. :P

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Vocation Stories: Sr. Mariae Agnus Dei, Sisters of Life

Sr. Mariae Agnus Dei


SMAD&NoaWhen my twin sister and I were born, we numbered six and seven of what would eventually be eight children, making for a childhood full of life, creative adventures, and loving chaos nestled in the woods of rural Maine.
While a public school education didn’t afford much in the formation of faith, my mind and heart grew to appreciate and engage the spiritual world of Divine love and grace through the witness of my parent’s lives and a powerful experience I had when attending a summer Catholic youth conference before my freshman year of high school. For the first time I was exposed to Eucharistic Adoration. I remember gazing at the Eucharist and being pierced to the heart. I knew it was God. Tears rolled down my face, my soul was filled with peace, and my heart was filled with an invitation – “live life with love and compassion.” I was overwhelmed by God’s personal love for me. As I began high school I started making different choices. My encounter with Jesus in adoration that summer filled my heart with great expectations for life. God had a plan for me and I wanted to live it. Though many activities and passions filled my high school days, when it came time to graduate and look for a college one priority rose above all the others. I wanted to go somewhere I could nourish the seed of faith planted that summer and let God’s plan for my life unfold. Following the lead of grace, I left Maine and headed to Washington D.C. to begin a degree in nursing at Catholic University of America.
The next four years were pivotal in my faith journey. Whether encountering patients as a nursing student, training with teammates for cross-country meets, or attending the many activities offered on campus, God sought to reveal Himself and draw me into a fuller vision of faith. For the first time I had Catholic community, friendships, and opportunities to learn how to pray, all of which served to guide me through the joys, sorrows, uncertainties and challenges of my college years. The discouragement, confusion, and pressure I felt trying to keep up with a world that measured worth on appearances or by what one could do or achieve, fell away as I listened to the words of John Paul II, especially his teachings on the Theology of the Body. I was drawn into a new world of hope realizing my immeasurably dignity, sacred worth in the eyes of God, and the call to self-gift as a means to fulfillment. As my relationship with God grew and I became more and more open to His love I began to look at the deeper questions of my heart with Him. Who am I? How do I live life in a way fulfilling? Where am I called to love and be loved?  As I encountered vibrant young religious and the beauty that emanated from young married couples who shared a love founded on God, my heart was filled with freedom to entrust my future entirely to Him. I knew the beauty that I sought to live and possess in life would source and center on Him, and He was the only one who could lead me there.
One afternoon I went to the large Basilica on campus to pray. As I visited the various side chapels devoted to Our Lady, the Lord placed Romans 12:1 on my heart. “I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice…” In that moment I knew the loving gaze of God the Father. I experienced deep within my heart the call to be a “living sacrifice” for the Lord, and to live in response to His great love for me.  While this grace didn’t grant understanding about whether I was called to marriage or consecrated life, it steadied my heart in a time when it was discouraged and impatient with the purifying process of discernment. Fear and anxiety would at times grip me. Did I miss my call? How come I didn’t know yet?  My young twenty-something-year-old heart was discouraged at not having an answer to that deep ache to lay my life down in love. This experience of prayer steadied me. God’s promise of abundant life and love would be fulfilled – I just needed to be patient with Him.
When I graduated college, nursing jobs were abundant. I could find work anywhere and in any field. I decided I was open to anything, except I didn’t want to stay in the WashingtonD.C. area and I didn’t want to do intensive care nursing. As I explored hospitals and programs, grace led me right to the door I had closed. After a bit of an arm wrestle with the Lord, I surrendered to His will and began working in the intensive care unit of a hospital just outside D.C. city limits, ready to be surprised by God in last place I planned to be.
Though steadied by a prayer life and vibrant community of Catholic friends, working in intensive care as a new nurse was challenging and often discouraging. The dignity of the patient was often lost amidst the technology and fast-pace of the floor, co-workers readily opposed my Christian ideals, and love seemed all but lost in the conviction that health-care was a business of economy and utility rather than healing, service, and ministry. Little did I know that as each night shift passed the seeds of my vocation were beginning to grow. This year brought to life the charism that I was soon to be called to – that of protecting and enhancing the sacred dignity of life.
Late into a quiet night shift, I was sitting at the nurse’s station and grace drew my attention. Something in my heart had shifted. It was as if a door had opened, and God was inviting me to step through – to look at a part of my heart I had yet to explore with Him. I called the vocations director for the diocese as soon as I got home and scheduled a time to meet. I knew I needed help exploring this new grace that filled my soul.
The vocations director gave the best advice I could have received in that sacred time. He simply told me to go and be quiet before the Lord and pray for the grace to know the deepest desires of my heart. He concluded, “and pray for the grace not to be afraid of what comes in answer to that question.” As I left the meeting my whole soul was filled with a peace I had never experienced before. I continued on to a nearby Church for Mass, knelt down in the pew, quieted my heart and let the Holy Spirit lead my prayer. My interior seemed to possess nothing but the peace of Christ’s presence. As it came time to receive the Lord in Holy Communion I knew He was inviting me to receive Him in a new way. The veil of my heart was drawn aside and the Lord answered my prayer. I was given the grace to see that the deepest desire of my heart was God. God and God alone was the treasure of my heart and worth all my life and love. A loving invitation followed this realization. It resounded throughout my soul with gentleness and clarity, “consecrated life with the Sisters of Life”.
As my heart received the grace of this call I could see God’s presence of mercy and love in every moment of my life – in all the crosses, resurrections, joys, sorrows, and challenges. Each were for a reason, each had helped prepare me to respond to this moment of invitation with love and freedom. Forth from my heart poured a most pure, love-filled, totally free “yes!” to the Lord –a yes that led me to enter the Sisters of Life that fall, and continues to draw me deeper and deeper into the inexhaustible beauty and gift of His love today.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Blog Update: Year of Consecrated Life Inspiration...

Since it's the Year of Consecrated Life, I am going to be posting various articles, vocation stories, information on Religious and reflections to inspire you. I hope that you will enjoy reading them, and that you will ask God what His will for YOU is.

Know that you have my prayers as always,
Kim Lee

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Blog Update: Catholic365.com Articles

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

I am sorry that Emily and I haven't written much lately. Life has been so busy with so many things that it has been hard to keep up with everything. We have not forgotten you, and we always keep you in our daily prayer.

Lately, I've been writing articles which are being published on Catholic365.com - please do check them out. There are a lot of good write-ups on various topics on there by Catholic writers and bloggers. If you believe God gave you a gift of writing, as He has with me, then please do offer to contribute to use your gift of writing to evangelise and catechise.

The vocations chat is still up and running, though not many people have been online, so I am now proposing that on Wednesday evenings, 8-10pm UK time (currently in BST - GMT+1) discerners can log on and chat together. You will have to figure out what time that is for you!
The link is: http://us23.chatzy.com/42621103301760

Please do stay tuned for further updates, reflections, and information. If there is any specific information you would like us to add to this blog, please do drop me an email:
franciscan.klt@gmail.com 

Thanks.

God bless,
Kim Lee