Walk for Life West Coast 2016 – San Francisco

February 17, 2016 by  
Filed under Reflections

Several Sisters of Life traveled to San Francisco for the Walk for Life West Coast on January 23rd. It was a blessed event celebrating life, beginning with Mass at the Cathedral, celebrated by Archbishop Cordelione, followed by the walk downtown with over 50,000 people! It was a special treat to walk with our Sisters from our new Denver mission, and to be joined by many of the students whom they serve from CU Boulder. We were deeply honored when Mother Agnes received the St. Gianna Molla Award on behalf of all the Sisters of Life and the charism of Life!

In the days before the event, our Sisters shared the charism of life throughout the Bay area, from Theology on Tap Silicon Valley to the UC Berkeley Newman Center and everywhere in between. Thank you to our brothers in Christ, the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, for co-hosting the Youth Rally for Life, with 400 students in attendance! Our annual Prayer Vigil for Life at St. Dominic’s Church was a beautiful way to kick off the weekend, and we closed with a holy hour for life at Star of the Sea Church.

“His truth is marching on….”

February 8, 2016 by  
Filed under Vocations

“Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord,” a lone voice sang out from the depths of her soul on Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C. last Friday during the annual March for Life. The woman walked about 20 minutes ahead of the hundreds of thousands of marchers and about 20 minutes behind the hundreds who walked the route prior to the official start in order to get out of D.C. before Snowzilla buried the city.

Her voice was prophetic. She sang alone until some of our novices happily joined her. She was part of the smattering of people, who became what felt like something of a remnant. “His truth is marching on…” they sang boldly as the first indications of the blizzard began to blow in their faces.

Beautiful as it was, it led me to a brief (but strong, nonetheless) moment of questioning Divine Wisdom. What is this blizzard all about, Lord? Hundreds of thousands of people were unable to attend because of threats of inclement weather. Last year there were, by some accounts, 400,000 – 500,000 people witnessing the beauty of life, this year it could have been a million, I thought to myself.

Perhaps, similar thoughts stirred in the hearts of others who participated or desired to participate in the event. I began, however, to feel consoled as I learned many of those whose plans were thwarted by the storm, organized Holy Hours around the clock for an end to atrocities against the dignity of human life, particularly abortion. They prayed and fasted to be in solidarity for the cause of human life in our nation.

And is not prayer the most powerful means of ending this culture war and restoring beauty and innocence? I chided myself for having a momentary lapse of judgment.

Prayer, is in fact, the core of the vocation of a Sister of Life – one called to be contemplative active – to recognize and live with confidence that the active life is an overflow of the contemplative life.

“Prayer is not passivity,” Cardinal John O’Connor, our father and founder, said during the first discernment retreat he held. “Prayer, I repeat, is our primary activity. It is imperative to remind ourselves…”

The deeper our interior life the more powerful our apostolic work, the Cardinal reminded the sisters. The work of prayer itself wins graces …  In essence, his Eminence said, our prayer is more powerful than our work.

“That’s Divine Wisdom. We don’t understand it. It’s an incomprehensible mystery. We know that it’s contrary to all of our human inclinations, which we must remember are the inclinations of all in human nature. So we must try to use Divine instruments. … When we go out in to the world, we continue our contemplation…”

To reach the heights of this prayer, this contemplation, he said was to live in union with Jesus’ suffering by embracing our own.  “One of the most direct routes to contemplation is acceptance of our suffering, acceptance of our loneliness, acceptance of rejection, acceptance of rebuff… It is through this suffering, through the crucifixion of Christ reflected in our suffering that we can come so very, very close to Him.”

And this contemplation truly allows us to “see the glory of the coming of the Lord,” though it may be veiled in mystery for a time.

May we remember that our prayer allows us to be a witness – and only through this prayer, this contemplation, union with Him, that indeed, His truth is marching on.

Know of our prayers for you, particularly in these last few hours of the Year of Consecrated Life. May He show you His glory and lead you ever more to His Heart.

In Him,

 

Sr. Grace Dominic, S.V.

In poverty, He comes.

February 8, 2016 by  
Filed under Vocations

The hours are fast approaching before His coming.  And lo, He does not delay! Recently, someone asked me if I was ready for Christmas. Ready? Am I ready? What does it truly mean to be ready for the coming of Jesus, anyway?

On the Second Sunday of Advent we heard the exhortation, to “prepare the way of the Lord.” We may be asking ourselves now as the clock is ticking before His arrival, have I prepared the way for Him to come to me? Have I made straight a path in my heart?

We can learn something from Our Blessed Mother’s preparation for the coming of the Savior of the world. Perhaps, she knitted a baby blanket, made little Middle Eastern onsies, a soft pillow for the Baby Jesus. Perhaps, she decorated a beautiful crib hand-crafted by St. Joseph. We can assume that she, the most perfect shelter of heaven’s glory, was as ready as ever to welcome Him into the world.

Yet, we read that just days before His birth, she is sent to travel with St. Joseph to Bethlehem for the census. Thus, allowing herself to become totally impoverished. Everything was ready for the Baby Jesus in Nazareth, but she is asked to leave it all behind – all her plans, all the beautiful things she must have accomplished to welcome Him, to show Him her love. She (and St. Joseph) must surrender all of it – and I imagine they do with peaceful trust. They became truly poor without even a decent place for the Newborn King to lay His Divine Head.

Yet, now, in this poverty, according to God’s mysterious plan, she is fully ready to welcome Him.

God chooses to come into poverty – into the piercing cold midnight hour to be placed in a feeding trough for animals. We can be confident that God Almighty, the Holy One of Israel, desires our poverty. He doesn’t wait for us to be perfect and all cleaned up. No, we must welcome Him in our poverty. The Light of the World came into the darkness of the night. He is not afraid of the dark. He is not afraid of our darkness! This is where He wants to be born – in the rough, crude, cold and smelly places in our hearts – to make them new.

Only when we are poor, humble, meek, completely empty and dependent, relying on God’s utter providence, can we be truly ready to receive our Newborn King.

For the consecrated religious, this is particularly poignant. In professing a vow of poverty, a religious empties herself to be filled by Christ. Our constitutions state, “Through the vow of poverty the Sisters commit themselves totally to Divine Providence to let nothing stand in the way of abandoning themselves into the hands of Almighty God.”

We remember the poetic prophesies we heard all through Advent – “and on that day….  He changes desert into springs…” “and on that day… the desert and parched land will rejoice… Fear not, O Zion, He will rejoice over you with gladness and renew you in His love.” Yes, and on that day, our poverty becomes a gift.

This is “that” day. May we give Him the gift of our poverty this Christmas that He may renew us in His love.

Lo, He comes – a helpless baby. Vulnerable and small. Completely dependent. King of all the ages! Here is our God. May we truly be “ready” to welcome Him.

A blessed Christmas to you and your families. Know of our daily prayers for you.

In Him,

Sr. Grace Dominic

 

The Lord speaks in the tiny whisper…

February 8, 2016 by  
Filed under Vocations

“A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but he Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound…”

Sometimes we wait for the Lord to speak to us through earth shattering events, a burning bush – a neon sign wouldn’t be bad either – and even still we are slow on the uptake.

How desperately we desire to hear the voice of God, a voice to usher us toward our next steps, perhaps, toward our ultimate vocation. We ache to find answers to the existential questions of life. Who am I? Why am I here? What is my mission? How will I love? But His yearning for this dialogue far surpasses our want. He thirsts to have this communion with us and unveil the deepest desires of our own hearts.

In order to hear Him, we must create the proper disposition within ourselves, a place of silence in our hearts to be attentive to the gentle whisper. It can take great effort to turn down the internal chaos within us, but it starts with unplugging from the cacophony of voices of the world – literally turning off the TV or radio, decreasing time on social network and the list goes on. We can be confident that Jesus will quiet our hearts.

The need for silence is crucial for this dialogue to take place. Otherwise, we run the risk of sitting in prayer and having a monologue – an experience not foreign to many of us.

To cultivate a habit of constant dialogue with the Lord we can begin by setting aside time each day to wait for the Lord to speak gently and tenderly. Praying on the Gospel reading of the day or the Psalms for 15-20 minutes is a great start. This time of prayer nourishes our hearts and opens our hearts to the Lord’s voice.

Our Founder Cardinal John O’Connor would often quote Mother Teresa’s words, “Give God Permission…” This is essentially what we do when we carve out this time of stillness and solitude with Him. We give Him permission to come and speak.

May we approach this New Liturgical Year, this time of Advent with a resolve to create a new space of stillness and silence in order to be attentive to the stirrings in our hearts. May His peace flood our hearts as we wait in joyful anticipation of hearing the voice of Him, who draws near.

Be assured of our continued prayers for you.

In the Heart of Jesus,

Sr. Grace Dominic, S.V.

“The Bridegroom is here, go out and welcome Him.”

February 8, 2016 by  
Filed under Vocations

“The Bridegroom is here, go out and welcome Him,” it is a chant all to familiar to us. In fact, it rang out throughout the church last month when grace poured out upon the entire world as eight of our sisters professed Final Vows and a day prior three of our novices professed First Vows.  

As we begin a new “apostolic” year, we remember those graces and that the Bridegroom is in fact, here, and we are called to go out and welcome Him wherever He may call us. And for some of our sisters it is a new mission, where they will use their gifts of nature and grace for the work entrusted to them.

After pouring herself out so generously for three years in the work of vocations, Sr. Virginia Joy will now be serving in our Visitation Mission, assisting women who are pregnant and in crisis. Sr. Virginia Joy has journeyed alongside many of you in this sacred realm of discernment and I trust that you will not be far from her prayers. As she transitions to a new mission, I am confident the Lord will use her many gifts, particularly, her love and compassion in the service of this beautiful work.

It is also my great privilege to welcome Sr. Faustina Maria Pia, who will now be assisting in vocations. Previously serving in the work of formation, as one of the assistants to our postulant director, Sr. Faustina Maria Pia has great zeal for souls and a deep love for Jesus and for consecrated life. She is looking forward to getting to know many of you, who are so generously contemplating the will of God for your lives.

For one who is consecrated to the Lord of life, she goes with confidence wherever the Bridegroom leads, trusting that He provides every grace necessary for what He asks. My prayer is that each of you grow in this same confidence in Him, who never fails in supplying superabundant grace. May He be praised.

In the Heart of Jesus,
Sr. Grace Dominic, S.V.

March for Life 2016 – Washington, D.C.

February 1, 2016 by  
Filed under Reflections

Our sisters joined tens of thousands of people, who gathered from across the nation and braved the blustery cold and impending blizzard, for the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 22.

A few of our sisters traveled to the D.C. area several days prior to the March for various events including a talk at the University of Mary Washington and a Holy Hour for Life at Immaculate Conception Parish in Washington, D.C.