Tomorrow morning I leave for a week-long meeting in Louisville. The National Religious Vocation Conference sponsors a bi-annual convocation for vocations ministers from every religious order. It's an opportunity to learn, to network and to encourage one another in this challenging, grace-filled ministry. I will be taking a break from "Monastics On A Journey" to focus my energy on the work that awaits me at the convocation. I ask your prayers for safe travel and for GOD's special blessing on all who will attend the meeting. I return on 10/14 and expect to be back on-line the next morning. Until then...
The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has declared this the year of Saint Paul. Popes can do that, you know. (Actually, Sister Veronica and I were at the Church of Saint Paul-Outside-the-Walls, in Rome last winter, when Pope Benedict formally opened the Pauline year. It was wonderful to pray with the Pope and, even more, to pray at the tomb of Saint Paul, himself.)
This year is an opportunity to reflect on Saint Paul’s enormous contribution to the Christian faith. Paul’s insights, born in his encounter with the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, help us to process the gospel from the perspective of the resurrection. In his letters to the early Christian community, Saint Paul tried to address their problems, struggles and uncertainties as they tried to make sense of this new faith. These letters are meant for us today. They remain full of truth and good wisdom. This letter to the people of Philippi is one of the most beautiful of Paul’s letters. But it begins with a nearly impossible suggestion: “Brothers and sisters: Have no anxiety at all…”
Wow, no anxiety? This is 2008. This is America. We have raised anxiety to an art form. We need only watch a few TV commercials to see that we worry about everything: plaque on our teeth, gray hair, losing bone density and the healthy function of our digestive tract. Still, there are very serious things to worry about: crisis on Wall Street, good people being put out of their homes, finding a job or selling a house in this economy and who will be our next president.
Anxiety is normal – part of being fully human. So what is Saint Paul suggesting? I think Saint Paul is telling us that faith in Christ should make a substantial difference in our daily lives. “Make your requests known to GOD.”Paul writes. Say your prayers…tell GOD what’s bothering you just like you talk to your best friend. If we do that each day, “Then the peace of GOD that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
I am a Benedictine Sister of Virginia since 2002. That's the most important thing about me. I am 47 years old - nine years in the monastery - and a native of the great state of New Jersey.
I have served as Vocation Director since 2004. It's the best "job" I've never been paid for. The heart of our life is found in these small reflections. Welcome to Saint Benedict Monastery - my home.