Seeing the Spirit at work in the world
- Vocation and Discernment
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Categories Catholic culture
Gymnast Simone Biles and swimmer Katie Ledecky both say an important source of strength in their lives is their Catholic faith. For Ledecky, who attended a Catholic school run by the Sacred Heart (R.S.C.J.) Sisters, support also comes in the form of the sisters from her high school who have cheered her on. Both Biles and Ledecky won four gold medals apiece at the 2016 Olympics and both qualified for the 2021 Olympics in Japan.
Biles has noted that she carries a rosary in her gym bag: “My mom, Nellie, got me a rosary at church,” she told Us magazine. “I don’t use it to pray before a competition. I’ll just pray normally to myself, but it’s there just in case.”
Likewise, Ledecky told journalists that her faith was a mainstay in her life and that she likes to pray a Hail Mary prior to competitions: “I do say a prayer—or two—before any race. The Hail Mary is a beautiful prayer and I find that it calms me,” Ledecky told The Catholic Standard.
In her autobiography, Courage to Soar, Biles noted many Catholic milestones in her upbringing. For instance, she wrote about her Confirmation day: “I marched into St. James the Apostle Church that Sunday in a line of teenagers with solemn faces . . . in a way, our procession reminded me of a medal ceremony, except that no gold, silver, and bronze medals would be given out. Instead, our prize would be something much more powerful: in a few moments, each of us would bow our heads to receive the Holy Sacrament of Confirmation.”
In drawing upon their faith and the support of Catholic sisters, Ledecky and Biles are continuing a tradition familiar to many Catholic athletes: turning to God and community for strength, courage, and perspective.
Categories Vocation and Discernment , Consecrated Life
Many who join monastic and contemplative religious orders take a vow of stability, committing themselves to a particular community.
The vow of stability means that a monk stays put. Unless he’s sent somewhere else by his superiors, or gets a dispensation from Rome, a monk must remain in the monastery of his profession. [Cistercian writer Thomas] Merton explains: “By making a vow of stability the monk renounces the vain hope of wandering off to find a ‘perfect monastery.’”
There’s a lesson here for happiness. It’s often tempting to think that we’d be happy if only external circumstances would change. Sometimes it’s true that some external change would make a huge difference to our happiness . . . [But] sometimes we need to embrace a vow of stability and make our happiness in the situation in which we find ourselves, instead of searching restlessly for perfect circumstances.
From “Monks Take a ‘Vow of Stability.’ Maybe You Should, Too” by Gretchen Rubin, on Slate.com.
Categories Vocation and Discernment , Catholic culture
My most beloved teachers were nuns who taught us to help the poor, pray for the sick, and send our milk money to El Salvador. It was there that I learned of the necessity—and the possibilities—of self-sufficiency and cooperation. . . . In their polyester pantsuits and orthopedic shoes, Sister Irene and Sister Betty—my first- and second-grade teachers—emanated a sense of joy and purpose I found infectious. . . .
I was 5 when I began first grade in the fall of 1981. Sister Irene, with short, silver hair and oversize glasses, sat before my class in a little orange chair. With a map of Central America pulled down behind her, she passed around a badly photocopied picture of the sisters’ burned-out van [American sisters killed by Salvadoran death squads]. I don’t remember her words, but I remember the sensation: the gravity of the shock tempered by Sister Irene’s insistence on forgiveness. We did not learn about “capitalism” or “revolution.” The nuns did not traffic in propaganda . . . Sister Irene taught us that vulnerability didn’t separate humans, it connected us.
The nuns taught us generosity and introspection as directly as fractions and cursive. My education, in other words, was never only about me, but also about the world I was poised to inherit.
From “Everything I Know About Feminism I Learned From Nuns” by Liesl Schwabe, New York Times, Feb. 16, 2019.
Categories Vocation and Discernment
Plenty of valuable data exists about who has been entering religious life recently and why. The National Religious Vocation Conference has made this information available in a highly visual “storymap” online.
That research, and other data, also appear in written form at “Studies” at nrvc.net.
• Newer members express hope about the future, even as they acknowledge that the demographics of religious life are changing fast.
• Newer members are diverse, ethnically and in terms of age, although most are young. The newest research shows the median age for those entering religious life in 2020 was 26.
• What draws new people into religious life are a desire for prayer, spiritual growth, charism, the joy of community life, a sense of call, and mission.
Many religious communities are offering online liturgies, prayer services, retreats, and discernment discussions. Please check out the VISION calendar for upcoming events.
Prepare the Word, a parish evangelization resource published by TrueQuest Communications, has a round up of some prayers and reflections and livestreamed liturgies: https://preparetheword.com/publication/6284/article/21380-resources-during-covid-19-pandemic.
Find additional resources on Prayer, Discernment, and Being Catholic in VISION's article library.
Categories Prayer and Spirituality , Catholic culture
Categories Vocation and Discernment , Consecrated Life , Mission & Evangelization
After 90 years on earth and 70 years as a Catholic sisters serving seven popes in the Vatican, Sr. Maria de Céu, a Franciscan Missionary of Mary, has learned the secret to a happy life: "A life given to others,"
In an interview in Rome Reports, Sr. Marie explains, "If we don't give ourselves to others, what's the purpose of living? The Lord always comes first."
Categories Vocation and Discernment , Consecrated Life , Catholic culture
Millennial sisters with many doors open to them chose religious life. That was the theme explored on a recent Tamron Hall Show, a new daytime talk show. The Catholic sisters featured on the show, Sisters Anne Marie Findlay C.S.S.F.; Elizabeth McGill, I.H.M.; Rachel Lauritsen, F.M.A.; and Boram Lee F.M.A. were brought to the attention of Tamron Hall producers by VISION publisher Patrice Tuohy, who worked closely with the show's producers to provide information on the contemporary religious life, Two of the sisters are also recipients of grants from the National Fund for Catholic Religious Vocations, established by the National Religious Vocation Conference to help alleviate the obstacle of educational debt to religious life. Patrice Tuohy and Phil Loftus, Executive Director of NFCRV, were in the audience to cheer the sisters on.
Categories Consecrated Life , Catholic culture
Serveral VISION sponsoring communities from New Jersey received a nice writie up in the North Jersey Record article "Number of nuns are dwindling, but these Jersey millennials are still hearing the call" by Deena Yellin.
And VISION got a mention too!
As many orders are dwindling, some remain strong. The Salesian Sisters of Saint John Bosco . . . is among the largest women's orders in the world, with more than 13,000 sisters in over 90 countries. It is also among the few orders that are growing. This year, three new women joined the order in New Haledon.
Some women continue to feel the pull to the religious life, offering hope that nuns will continue to serve, perhaps in new ways.
The Felician Sisters in Lodi have four women in different stages of discernment, the multi-years process of considering religious life. The Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace in Englewood Cliffs had six women take vows over the past 15 years. The Discalced Carmelites in Flemington has two candidates this year, and Sisters of Christian Charity in Mendham has 12 women in various stages of formation.
Patrice Tuohy, publisher of Vision Vocation Guide, which provides information about religious communities, says an average of about 3,000 women fill out profiles each year, seeking to be matched to a religious community, but that number rose to 3,500 last year. "That surprised me," she said. "They were predominantly people under 30. There's definitely been an uptick of inquiries into religious life."
Categories Mission & Evangelization , Catholic culture
In September 2019, Pope Francis will make his fourth visit to Africa. Among the key reason's for the Popes special attention to Africa: Africa is the fastest growing Catholic population on the planet. Read more in a recent BBC report.
Related to the growth of Catholicism in Africa, is the rise of African priests in the U.S. Martin Emehs, former president of the African Conference of Catholic Clergy and Religious in the U.S., estimates that in 2013, "there were about 700 African priests in the country and believes the number is much higher today." African priests are serving as "reverse missionaries," doing what their Global North counterparts did for several centuries: "taking God’s word to people across the ocean."